Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cool Starups -

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If, by some stroke of luck, you're given the chance to play tennis with superstars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, hang out backstage with Lady Gaga, or perhaps discuss Latin American future with Mexico's former President Vicente Fox over a cup of coffee, or, say, spend some time with a Nobel Prize winner at MIT's Robotics Lab, will you grab the opportunity? Most folks would, given these are once-in-a-lifetime experiences that can change their lives forever.

And if you're like most folks, you probably would be elated to know that with Omaze, an L.A. startup founded by two college friends, for as little as $5, you get the chance to live out dream experiences while making donations to charitable causes.

After college, co-founders Matt Pohlson and Ryan Cummins moved to L.A. to get into film. Soon, they discovered they both had a passion for “cause content,” which essentially are stories that both entertain and impart social messages. As was pretty much inherent in the cause content space as a whole, while they were creating a lot of awareness for the causes that have chosen to partner with them, they weren't necessarily creating a lot of impact. Hence, their decision to go to business school to hopefully be exposed to innovative ways of thinking.

While in business school, they went to a benefit for the Boys & Girls Club of America hosted by Magic Johnson, where Magic auctioned off the opportunity to sit alongside him at a Lakers game and have dinner with him after. Being die-hard Lakers fans, with Magic their childhood hero, hanging out with him for a night would be a one-of-a-kind experience, a dream come true. Literally. Being broke grad students, however, they could do nothing but watch. The bids escalated until the winning bid finally clinched the deal at $15,000. Two questions consumed them on the way home: (1) Why were life's most awesome experiences accessible to but a select few? (2) How could such a priceless experience raise a mere $15,000 for the Boys & Girls Club?

And then it hit them. They could make the same opportunities available online. For a donation of $5, everybody gets the chance to make their dream experiences happen. As well, they help to generate substantially more money and awareness for worthy causes.

From every experience, Omaze earns 20% of the net proceeds, which is industry standard for professional fundraisers, while the remaining 80% goes to the charity.

[Via - NicheGeek.Com]

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