Featured Startup Pitch: Jump Start City seeks to compete in the crowdfunding space with a ‘backer-centric’ approach
Headquarters: Spokane, Washington
Year Founded: 2013
Founders: Mark Baker and Billy Smith
Brief Company Description: Jump Start City is the world’s first backer-centric crowdfunding community, featuring a three-stage funding process designed to increase success rates for project creators.
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Crowdfunding backers want a community to be a part of. Project creators want a community to support their creations. Crowdfunding has exploded in popularity over the past few years. Yet, so far, no single crowdfunding platform has addressed both of these needs. Billy Smith and myself, Mark Baker, are co-founders of Jump Start City. We feel the backer community is hungry for something that isn’t currently being offered. In the current crowdfunding world, the community of backers has only one role: pulling out their wallets. Yes, despite the apparent lack of natural crowdfunding community structure in place, there is a growing group of die-hard crowdfunding enthusiasts. And they are forming their own communities outside of the traditional crowdfunding platforms in social hangouts such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Jump Start City was created to address this need by launching a platform that is designed with the backers in mind. It is the crowd that makes crowdfunding work, so we’ve set up a community that welcomes them to take part in many different activities. Backing events is still a key role that the members play in Jump Start City, but in addition to this there are a number of other important and fun roles. These range from building up your rank in the community, to voting on which projects will be allowed to launch, to actually playing an active role in marketing the campaigns themselves. The structure of our new platform offers some great perks that will keep the backers excited to be using the site. Once members reach a level three rank in the city, they can start getting paid every time a creator contacts them to share an event. It is a win-win situation. Creators have the opportunity to share their idea with as many community members as they want (for a small fee) and the money paid goes into the pockets of the community members getting contacted.
With this feature, we anticipate many members of the community earning hundreds of dollars a month and some of our most active members earning thousands. What we believe will happen in Jump Start City is that it will become a central ‘hang out’ and a true community for crowdfunding enthusiasts, not just a place to spend their money. Another feature that offers the community members an opportunity for perks is the Promoter Leaderboard. In Jump Start City, each event creator chooses a set of ‘Promoter Rewards’ which cannot be bought, but only won. Backers of an event can sign-up to become official Promoters of a project. When they do, they are assigned a unique link which tracks their social outreach. The more visitors and backers they recruit to the event, the higher they move up the leaderboard. At the end of the event, the highest Promoters win the special rewards. A third perk is the one percent profit sharing that Jump Start City does with its backers. At the close of every successful event, Jump Start City deposits one percent of a backer’s pledge back into their Metro Cash Account. This can be used later toward backing other events.
Jump Start City launched on June 1 with a group of 61 initial events spanning a wide range of categories. Active-stage funding for these initial events will begin at the end of the month of June after the Elevator Pitch and Promotion stages are complete.
Key Differentiating Factors from Other Crowdfunding Platforms:
Three-Stage Funding Process – All events run through three stages: the Elevator Pitch, the Promotion stage and the Active stage. During the Elevator Pitch stage, the community members vote to approve or reject ideas based on a 60-second video. The Promotion stage allows creators the chance to get their idea out into the wider world. Recruiting a tribe of excited backers who are eager for the launch of the Active stage event is the goal. The Active stage is the big show. This is where pledges are taken and rewards are claimed.
Promoters – Backers can sign-up to become a promoter for an event. When they do, they are assigned a unique link which tracks their social outreach. The more visitors and backers they recruit to the project, the higher they move up the Promoter Leaderboard. Each event offers exciting (and often exclusive) rewards to the top Promoters of an event.
Backers Getting Paid – Creators want to reach as many people with their idea as they can. The biggest obstacle that unsuccessful projects usually face is a lack of exposure. In Jump Start City, the creator doesn’t have to sit by idly for people to notice or hope they will get anointed as a special pick. In our city, the creators have the opportunity to pay a small fee (ranging from $0.10 to $1.50 based on the community member’s rank) to get their idea in front of members. Creators love the chance to share their idea; backers love getting paid for being contacted. Members who get paid can use this cash to back events in the city.
Mark Baker – I’m an inventor and web entrepreneur. I founded www.TheVacationBrain.com and www.aSimplerWeddingRegistry.com. I have been a crowdfunding enthusiast and pro bono promoter of crowdfunding projects on Twitter (@5toclose). I hold a master’s degree in International Business Management from Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington.
Billy Smith – Self-employed entrepreneur since 2000 in a variety of fields with a love for the startup phase of businesses. Creative, outside-the-box thinker. Prior to 2000, Billy served as the vice president of sales for two different Southern California companies with a national presence.
Having used Kickstarter and Indiegogo heavily, I noticed a number of weaknesses on the sites. I watched many great projects fail to reach their funding goal mainly because they didn’t have enough attention. I also saw that there was a growing crowd of crowdfunding enthusiasts, but that they had nowhere just for them to be excited about crowdfunding. So, Billy and I started brainstorming solutions and within a few days, Jump Start City was born.
Our promotion strategy includes: 1) media coverage of the site; 2) event creators bringing their own network of fans to join the site; 3) promoters of events sharing specific events with social media sites.
Kickstarter has a near monopoly on crowdfunding. Indiegogo falls in line with a very distant second place. Yet, Kickstarter rejects many great technology and design projects. There seems to be a clear opportunity for a third player to enter the crowdfunding world and rise to the same level as these two.
Jump Start City charges a five percent fee of all funds successfully raised on the site by event creators. We also will offer a store for successful events to continue selling their product in, which will lead to additional revenue for Jump Start City.
As the site gains traction, we will be looking to hire full-time developers for the site development and enhancing many features for both backers and creators. We are currently seeking first round investment funding for Jump Start City.
Jump Start City – www.jumpstartcity.com