When you think of fundraising, what does come to your mind? TechHub Riga startup Funderful plays a major part to make fundraising different, more engaging and interesting for people who are about to donate. We met Raimonds Kulbergs, Funderful CEO, to find out where they are, what they do and where they are heading. Read now what he has to say!
So you are a startup. Where do you see yourself in this world?
We see ourselves as a design-first business, fighting to fund great causes by making them digital, interactive and engaging. There is so much global potential to unleash if you stop thinking of giving as charity, and start thinking of fundraising as a service. With regards to education, the number of alumni giving to their alma matter has been steadily decreasing as a global trend for the last decade. Furthermore, that is still not a huge proportion of people to begin with: a lot more could be convinced to donate to charitable causes globally, if they were more exciting. The problem rests in a lot of causes simply loosing the competition for peoples� attention, especially online, and lacking innovation in how they communicate. What makes it tougher for them is that we see people now requiring more sophisticated appeals to donate than they used to. That is why our philosophy is to provide a service designed to serve actual human needs and win that attention back. For the client, this means raising more funds and making the community stronger; at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods. For us it means stepping in a billion $ university giving industry and making education better for everyone.
There are ups and downs in every business. How would you describe your startup journey so far?
A positively rewarding struggle of discovering what our product actually is. After our success with tripling fundraising results at SSE Riga, we were flying to meet universities and getting their feedback. It was exciting to see them excited about what we do. That was also our first barrier: how slow it was to sign a university as a client. What didn't help, was the lack of strong track record, case studies and testimonials. Even so, through relentless networking we seem to have escaped that vicious cycle. We already work with well-known clients from Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. This Autumn, we're also adding new projects for UK universities. So far we have gone through different business models, product ideas, changing the team set-up. It feels like we are going upwards at every step.
Businesses are always made of people. What personalities are behind Funderful?
To make anything Funderful you need a good mix of creative and analytical skills. The core of our team has been working together since the start. From time to time we would also involve someone from outside the business to help with the creative part. Ever since the start, it�s always been a mix of business, sales, creative, design and programming brains.
By the way, how did you come up with the 'Funderful' name?
The name has truly been a big issue for a long time. We initially registered as Asteria Education and realised we cannot turn it into a brand that people would care about. Gediminas, our team�s sales and strategy brain, took up finding the perfect match that would explain what we do and portray that engaging nature of our products. While it took a 100 versions, we�re happy with what we have now and we have heard so much great feedback from universities about it. I think people like it, because it feels like an every day word, it even says 'It's Funderful to meet you' on our business cards.
What does it take to have a good startup?
Global ambition and persistence. From there you get all the other important things like a team, a product that turns to life, clients who put their trust in you and investors.
What is your 'lesson learned' while being in a startup?
There�s so much potential for new exciting things in the non-profit and higher education industry. That's a perk as much as it is a distraction. At times we found ourselves needlessly experimenting with new products, ideas, while we should have been focusing on just one. In a nutshell, it is finding the sweet spot of what we are the most passionate about and what is the client need we are solving.
In the end, you're standing here! Any insights in Funderful future?
We are beta testing our scalable product, while launching new custom projects every month. Right now, we are bringing two new education projects to life. One is for Nyenrode Business University, another is for European Molecular Biology Laboratory. We are also preparing something Funderful for TechHub Riga soon, don�t miss it!