Fundrazr has been one of the Vancouver startup scene’s most notable success stories. Now, they’re taking their brand of charitable fundraising from the computer screen to the small screen with a new television program to air on September 22nd called The Crowd Funder Show.
Originally inspired by Gawker’s ‘Crackstarter’ campaign, the program will initially air on FOX 29, which reaches 3.5 million homes in Southern Ontario and southwestern New York state; once established, the show will air on affiliates in Boston, Ottawa, Montreal and Seattle. Six campaigns will be featured per episode, and all segments will also be featured on the Fundrazr site for those who miss the live broadcast. The first episode is complete--the first season should run between eight to ten episodes, with the likeliest forecast being the full ten. Each episode will be 22 minutes.
Executive producer Jordan Whelan explains the scope.
“It’s a cornucopia of different themes--our parameters are really large.There’s apps, some tech inventions, some causes, some things in the arts...this technology has the capability to be disruptive and shake up the status quo of fundraising.”
For him, Fundrazr was the obvious choice.
“Looking at the other platforms, (Fundrazr is) the most established in Canada. There’s no constraints when the money’s processed; they don’t hold the funds. I love the social media sharing and integration, the gadgets and widgets. And of course, I’m a Canadian boy, so I want to go with the Canadian juggernaut.”
While other shows of its kind exist, like Project Startup on A&E, The Crowd Funder Show’s competitors are constrained to entrepreneurs. And it’s safe to say Whelan has a singular vision of the disruptive capacity of the show.
“I wanted to create a show where there was no constraints in bringing projects to fruition; I wanted to move it away from this ‘one guy in a suit in a building’--I wanted to eliminate him, and transfer power to the buyers. Essentially, the buyers are the audience, so why not cut out the middleman? The grassroots campaign for Obama was very encouraging; I think this is a serious shift in the elimination of venture capitalists in this area. “
The hosts, Preet Banerjee and Stacey Englehart, boast experience on OWN’s Million Dollar Neighbourhood and Canada’s Brand Power, respectively. Jordan’s background informed the decision--and attracted their talent.
“My background is in radio production, with a little bit of tv production and some writing on the side; I wanted to bring on people who are great broadcasting professionals who I knew could deliver, and they also bring a wealth of knowledge and credibility to the table. Stacey runs a production company; Preet’s a financial wiz, and also made an investment in Tunezy, a Toronto startup that won Most Innovative Startup in 2012 by Billboard.
Campaigns that are featured on the show will have a unique selling point to would-be donors; if a campaign is featured on the show, donations will be matched in value by a gift card from corporate sponsors. Fundrazr CMO Bret Conkin explains:
“We want to be more than just a destination site; this is no longer entirely an online game. The campaigns will run for 100 days. Throughout, people are able to get the sponsor benefits. We feel that we’re creating a network benefit. Sponsors will be able to participate in different categories; they could offer perks for green projects. Others could focus on medical campaigns. We’re really on the leading edge.”
Jordan is as proud as Bret is--perhaps even prouder--of the sponsored perks of fundraising.
“I was doing a lot of research while making the treatment; campaigners were unable to spec the costs of development, and unable to develop on the perks. A lot even failed to deliver on the pre-orders of the products. What we did was we created the sponsor-funded perks. You get the intrinsic value delivered to the project, and receive back a gift card in safe value in kind. You could support multiple projects because the sponsors are places that you already shop.”
Darryl Hatton, the co-founder of Fundrazr, will have his own segment on the program where he gives how-to crowdfunding advice and comments on the state of the industry. With Fundrazr’s transition into the fluid space of transmedia, here’s hoping that even more people can be helped by The Crowd Funder Show; buyer and fundraiser alike.