Posts from crowdfunding

Funding Friday: The Human Utility Monthly Match

And we are back with this month’s matching campaign to support a good cause.

We are moving away from the big well known causes to some lesser known but important efforts to help people who need our help.

We are going to start with helping people in need pay their water bills and keep clean water flowing to their homes.

The Human Utility helps almost 1000 families in Detroit and Baltimore pay their water bills and avoid a water shutoff.

We are going to match the first $20k of donations that anyone makes to The Human Utility between now and Sunday night (midnight PST). If we fully utilize this match, we will raise $40k which might get another 100 families their water back. That would be awesome.

To donate and have your contribution matched, go here and hit the big blue Donate button and make sure to tweet out your donation so we can match it.

Let’s get some water flowing again.

Funding Friday: Coinlist

Some interesting developments that we have been working on came public yesterday.

  1. Protocol Labs, a company that builds blockchain-based protocols laid out its ambitious roadmap and finally got around to announcing the seed investment USV and others made in it last year. My partner Brad Burnham wrote a blog post on USV.com explaining why we are so excited about Protocol Labs.
  2. Protocol Labs will be launching a token offering soon for Filecoin which powers a blockchain based storage network on top of its IPFS protocol.
  3. The Filecoin offering will be managed on a new platform called Coinlist which was built by Protocol Labs and AngelList.
  4. Coinlist will utilize a new kind of security called a SAFT (Simple Agreement for Future Tokens) that has been constructed to comply with existing securities regulations.

While all of these are interesting developments, particularly the architecture and roadmap that Protocol Labs laid out, I thought I would talk a bit about Coinlist given that it is “Funding Friday.”

Token Offerings have been going on for quite a while now. There are over 800 tokens listed on Coin Market Cap.

But US domiciled companies have not had a good way to raise money in token pre-sales and comply with existing securities laws. This forced a number of promising blockchain projects to domicile outside of the US, often in Switzerland, and organize as Foundations for tax reasons. A US domiciled company can wait until the token is live and functioning and sell it then, because at that point it is not a security, it is a token. But if you want to raise funds in a pre-sale for a US domiciled company, there has not been a good way to do that.

Enter Juan Benet, founder of Protocol Labs, and Naval Ravikant, founder of AngelList. They collaborated on CoinList and, with the help of a number of venture law firms and their investors, including USV, came up with the SAFT structure.

Naval put it like this in a Forbes piece yesterday on all of this:

ICOs are obviously a new and interesting form of funding for blockchain-based protocols. But it’s not clear that all of them comply with U.S. securities laws or that all of them are companies that have good native use cases for new coins. So, we wanted to use a high-quality coin and team to trailblaze a legal and compliant ICO.

If you are an accredited investor and want to participate in token pre-sales, check out Coinlist.

Big Bad Wolves

Some good friends of ours are making a film called Big Bad Wolves.

It is about a group of girls who turn into a vigilante gang because of a sexual assault on one of them.

So it is a serious topic, but it also a fun film about young people growing up in NYC.

The team is starting with a short film that kicks off the story and will use that short film to introduce the four young women who are at the heart of this story and to build support and audience for the larger feature they plan to make over the next year or two.

When our friends approached us about helping them make this short film, we both said “Do A Kickstarter!” and so that is what they did.

Here’s the Kickstarter “trailer” for it:

If you would like to join us in supporting this film, you can back it on Kickstarter.

Kickstarter’s Request For Projects

Our portfolio company Kickstarter published a blog post yesterday requesting certain kinds of projects in the Design and Technology category:

as part of our endless quest for projects, we’ve decided to try something new. Inspired in part by Y Combinator’s requests for startups, we’re going public with a list of the things we’d love to see more of on Kickstarter. We hope this inspires creators who are working in these areas to get in touch. If your project fits the bill, we can help make it shine and spotlight it for our community of 13 million backers.

The three areas they are most interested in are:

  1. Tools For Creating Things
  2. Boundary Pushers
  3. Delightful Design

If you are a creator who works in the Design and Technology category, please read this post and if you have a project in these areas, please consider doing a Kickstarter for it.

Funding Friday: The Ollie Chair

The Gotham Gal is an investor and Board member of Rock Paper Robot, which designs and manufactures furniture for modern living environments. Their newest design, The Ollie Chair, is coming to market this year and they are running a Kickstarter campaign to pay for the manufacturing of the chair. It launched this week and has already passed it’s initial goal of $80k, but I know that they would like to raise more than that, and they already have. It’s an awesome chair and an awesome company. If you want to get an Ollie Chair and/or support this campaign, the Kickstarter is here.

Here’s the video. It’s great and well worth the 3mins.

The Monthly Match

Last month, when the Gotham Gal and I and our friends Brad and Amy combined to match $20k of donations to the ACLU and ended up raising $120k on a weekend that saw the ACLU raise over $25mm, we committed to do a match every month for all of 2017. Part of me wants to keep doing this as long as we have an administration hostile to the rights of minorities in the White House but we will see about that. We are going to keep doing this monthly match for the rest of 2017 and then we will see how we feel about it.

So, today we are launching a second match offer. Brad, Amy, Joanne, and I will match the first $20k of donations to the National Immigration Law Center, which “engages in lawsuits that defend the fundamental and constitutional rights of all Americans, including low-income immigrants and their families, often in coordination with other local and national civil rights organizations.” You can read about their work and their mission here. The NILC has been around for almost 40 years and has done some amazing work over that time and we need them more than ever right now.

Why did we pick the NILC over many other groups that need our support right now? Well first of all, we plan to do this every month with a different organization that is supporting the rights of minorities that are at risk under this administration. So we have a long list and this is just the first of many we will support with our monthly match.

But more importantly, we remain upset and anxious about the efforts of this administration to throttle immigration and the rights of immigrants, both those in the US and those coming to the US. We have had some early victories in the courts but we need to keep up the fight for as long as the administration continues to pursue these efforts and along with the ACLU, the NILC is an important leader in this fight.

Here is how the monthly match works:

  1. Go to our monthly match page and hit the donate button and give whatever you feel like giving (min is $10).
  2. After you complete the donation, TWEET your donation out on the post donation page. That will register it for our match.
  3. If you don’t use Twitter, you can forward your email receipt. The instructions will be on the post donation page. We would vastly prefer you tweet it out if you can.

Last month, we used Twitter for this and had to manually record every tweet including a receipt. That was fun but a pain to administer. This time we are using Crowdrise for the donations and the accounting but keeping Twitter for the virality that was so awesome and brought in so much money. We have customized Crowdrise to make it feel as much like the Twitter campaign we ran as we could. We think this will work better and we will be optimizing this as we continue these monthly matches for the rest of the year.

I hope all of you who agree that we must fight the efforts of this administration to throttle the rights of minorities will join our monthly match campaign this month, and every month this year, and support the NILC. Go here to do that.