Tuesday Mar 19, 2013 by Ben Mirin - Contributor, VentureFizz
Hopping into the seventh floor elevator at Communispace with an armful of candy boxes, Matt Slaman wanted to revamp his sales pitch.
“We should offer free candy,” he exclaimed. “Who doesn’t love free candy?”
Most of Slaman’s team was still upstairs, but from among the 45 students and alumni assembled at Startup Institute Boston’s (SIB) GiveHack event last Saturday, a handful were out campaigning in the streets. In six separate teams, and paired with mentors from previous classes at SIB, these young entrepreneurs were participating in the Institute’s first ever GiveHack, a three-hour intensive exercise in developing and launching a fundraising campaign.
“They’ve been thrown into a realistic startup scenario,” explained Kailey Raymond, SIB’s Program Manager and an alumna of the Institute’s Summer 2012 class. “They have no initial funding and must rely on their own creativity and entrepreneurship to accomplish a common goal.”
The teams are working to raise $500 in donations for One Laptop Per Child by the end of this week (March 23rd). Each team is required to host its online campaign on the Boston-based social fundraising platform Fundraise.com.
“Startup Institute is entirely about community,” Raymond said in explaining their choice of online platform. “Fundraising in partnership with local companies through events like GiveHack is one of many ways we work to reinvest in the vibrant Boston tech community that has allowed SIB to thrive.”
Aside from these basic guidelines, there are no limits on how the GiveHack teams choose to engage potential donors. Only one other rule was scrawled casually on the whiteboards in the Communispace classroom: “Don’t break the law.”
As we raced downstairs with additional candy boxes, Slaman explained that he was grateful for the chance to apply skills he is learning at SIB in a focused and real-world setting.
“As a networker I know I have to employ a diverse range of strategies to support myself and the causes I believe in” he explained. “Putting a face to a cause is always productive, and today it might bring new people into the fold of Boston donors supporting OLPC.”
Brooke Morrissey, who was already outside with her team’s billboards, said her team had taken that concept even further.
“Our team has tried to maintain a personal element in our networking and fundraising across the board. Our online strategy reflects that. We’re posting team photos, building our digital footprint through social media, and reaching out to a variety of contacts in the Startup Institute network.”
Their approach seemed effective, as Slaman, Morrissey and their peers had reportedly raised $130 for their teams by five o’clock that day. As their numbers indicate, however, each team still has a ways to go. If you’re interested in making a donation, you can do so here.