Crowdfunding a POPVOX App with Appbackr
In January, Congress changed its rules to allow iPads on the House Floor . We realized that POPVOX had all of the information that Congress needs to see on those iPads to stay on top of bills and know what people have to say about the issues. We wanted to get to work on the app by raising just enough money to design, develop, launch and get it it into the hands of Congress and those paying attention to Congress. Appbackr made that possible by allowing us to “crowd-fund” the app. It’s been almost a week and we are almost halfway to our goal !
The rest of the story:
One of our first moves as a startup (even before we had incorporated or decided on a name) was to enter a startup contest held by the Silicon Valley Association of Software Entrepreneurs (SVASE). First prize was a little bit of seed money and some wonderful mentoring. We entered; we were picked as finalists; until it came to the part where I was supposed to give a slide presentation and SVASE realized that we were a little more “early stage” than they had in mind. (They still provided some tremendous advice and introductions.) The winners of that competition, however, were two incredible entrepreneurs: Trevor Cornwell and co-founder Sam Zappas of Appbackr .
Trevor and Sam believed that we were in the early stages of a long-term trend focused primarily on applications rather than large software bundles or even websites. They understood that development of many of these apps is a relatively low-cost endeavor for entrepreneurs -- requiring much less than would make sense for venture capital or angel funding -- yet not something that many could go take a bank loan to make happen. Why not, they thought, allow people who think the app concepts have merit to buy units at wholesale and provide the funding needed for development? Appbackr is the marketplace that facilitates that wholesale purchase.
I was intrigued by the concept but busy with other things until two things happened:
(1) The House passed a rules package in early January allowing iPads on the House Floor (and I got very excited.) The POPVOX team quickly realized that we had the information that Congress would need to access to make use of those iPads on the House Floor, and we needed to build an app.
(2) A dear friend and mentor from my hometown sent around the nicest email ever to about 400 of his closest friends to tell them about what we were working on with POPVOX, and many wrote back saying they would love to pitch in and help us make it work. Unfortunately, as an early stage company, there was just no good way to accept those very kind offers from the wonderful people of Jackson, Tennessee. (Our thanks for the recent shout-out by the local paper!)
Then I remembered Appbackr. It seemed like the perfect way to get the app funded and under development with the help of the wonderful people who believe in what we are trying to do. That is why we have decided to crowd-fund the iPad app with Appbackr’s “Social Publishing Platform,” and we are so grateful to those who have purchased wholesale apps and helped us get to almost half of our goal in less than a week.
Trying to find the funds to launch a startup is hard! The POPVOX team has heard many times from potential funders that we don't "look like" traditional teams and we don't have a very conventional model. (It's all true.) The nontraditional Appbackr solution is providing an amazing opportunity for us to get this small but important piece of the POPVOX puzzle off the ground while continuing to pursue more conventional methods.
We are so grateful for to the friends and strangers who have pitched in to help us make this happen!!