More Details from Fledge’s First Class of “Conscious” Companies

9/11/12Follow @curtwoodward

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cut down on the amount of things that people buy to use once or twice, and then leave sitting in the garage.

“We want to make it easier to rent than it is to over-consume and buy stuff,” Dunn says. “The more we can get people to connect to their local rental shop, their local lending library, the more stuff they’re going to be doing—and it’s a real driver for the local economy as well.”

—Community Sourced Capital: At first glance, I thought this company might be a crowdfunding service taking advantage of the recently loosened federal regulations around platforms akin to Kickstarter for startup companies.

But it’s a little different. Community Sourced Capital’s idea is to have loyal customers support local businesses by lending them money. The loans themselves would be revenue-based financing, that alternative financing model we’ve seen in the Seattle area through the startup LighterCapital.

That means, if my local bakery needed to raise some money to buy a new oven, it could borrow money from its customers through Community Sourced Capital, and repay them by sending back a portion of revenue. The individual stakes would be pretty small, between $25 and $250, for instance.

Unlike in commercial lenders who use revenue-based loans, however, the customers wouldn’t get a big interest payment for risking their capital. Community Sourced Capital’s model contemplates the customer loans as a zero-interest arrangement, with the idea that they would get their money back quicker if the business does well, since the repayment would be a percentage of revenue.

“We not only get small businesses access to capital quicker, it’s also from people that they know. And by basing the payback off of revenues, we’ve created a relationship where these hundreds of investors are vested in the revenues of the business,” co-founder Casey Dilloway says. “We believe that their loyalty will grow, and the overall local movement will grow as well.”

There will be limits on how much lenders can pledge, co-founder Rachel Maxwell says, and Community Sourced Capital will also examine the businesses’ books on an ongoing basis to help protect lenders. But the company will make sure that people know there are no guarantees.

“We’ll make it clear to you that there’s a real chance that you could not get your $100 back,” she says. “And at the same time, though, you will know the business. So, part of our hope, our intent, is to create this circle of community around responsibility.”

—Here: This digital community startup took root after the New York apartment building that Sean Kean called home tried to clean up some clutter by clearing off the community bulletin board that neighbors had been using to keep each other updated on open rooms, concerts, parties, and other things going on in the community.

With that retro social feed gone, Kean built a simple website to replace the bulletins, and found an eager group of users. “Within six months, the building was all doing it and it turned out to be this really effective form of communication,” he says.

Now, Kean and co-founder Nina Carduner are hoping to expand that concept for communities everywhere. The idea has grown to become much more visual, taking inspiration (as so many have done) from the out-of-nowhere rapid growth of Pinterest, the visual-centric social network that is particularly popular with women.

Tying back to that original apartment-building experience, Here thinks it will have success building a user base by focusing on existing communities and offering the service as a way to amp up their community interactions. That could mean finding other places that are already active posting handbills and flyers, Kean says.

“We’re trying to go to the physical world first. We post up our own flyer there saying, ‘Hey, this whole board has been captured on Here—check it out,’” he says. “Imagine this as a way to bookmark all of these, to pin that poster into your own personal thing.”

“It doesn’t require a huge population to be already present on the site and actively using it,” Carduner says. “You can start to engage more actively, or you can be a more passive user for a while.”

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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    Thanks for the write-up. We hope to impress in person on Demo Day too!