START.ac, a new capital-raising program, combines the incubator and CrowdFunding models. Given the ever-increasing landscape of incubators and 400+ CrowdFunding platforms, more programs like IndieGoGo are highlighting their distinctiveness. If project success looks to you like half a million dollars raised in a day, perhaps all you need is the digital infrastructure to promote, collect and track donations that existing platforms like KickStarter, MicroVentures and Profounder provide. But, if you aim to build something sustainable and scalable, START.ac founder Rod Turner, suggests you need an innovative approach.
Turner believes too many CrowdFunding platforms encourage participants to be ambitious in their fundraising goals, but not in their strategies. Combining a mentorship component that allows participants to gain feedback from experts across the world and more interactive involvement of donors, START.ac is not just a site to upload a project; it’s an incubator to refine, test and add key players to a growing business. For Turner, (known for his role in building Ashton Tate, Symantec, Ask Jeeves and ArtSlant), START.ac sets a new precedent in the evolution of the CrowdFunding model.
START.ac aims to expand the VC industry’s focus beyond California and pair great ideas with seasoned expertise. Turner suggests: “The current VC model is outdated…Investments are highly concentrated in Silicon Valley at the expense of 90% of the start-up opportunity across the US and around the world. In addition, current CrowdFunding platforms are too narrowly focused in scope or geography. START.ac will democratize the VC industry in a way that is not yet being addressed.” Both the individuals who launch projects on START.ac (called Project Drivers) and venture capitalists who lead, educate and advise Project Drivers from launch to fund fulfillment, come from all over the world.
START.ac’s supportive and interactive model works through it’s core components:
The InsideTrack - Allows supporters to give critical feedback on projects they fund
CrowdAudition - Flips the current model by involving the START.ac community in selecting projects for fundraising
Mentor Program – Provides guidance to Project Drivers, by assembling and engaging a panel of experienced executives and entrepreneurs
CrowdAccelerator Program - Encourages extensive involvement of mentors for funded businesses or projects in return for equity
STARTBusinessRewards - Rewards supporters of funded projects on major company milestones
NOWReward Program – Offers a new type of CrowdFunding reward that expires after a certain time and date; this creates a sense of urgency before a project reaches the funding end date
NOWAlert - Alert the START.ac community of upcoming events
PromptPayProgram - Pays a Project Driver the second it reaches its funding goal
CrowdAltruism - Pools optional contributions into a PayItForward Fund™ that support community selected altruistic causes