Please Spend Our Money

The AVC community has been very generous so far on the Brooklyn Castle project. 69 of you have contributed a total of $5,737 as of 6am on July 3rd. I really appreciate it and it is for a very good cause.

However, the Gotham Gal and I have promised a $10,000 match against the AVC community's gifts and so far that is only costing us $5,737. So there is another ~$4300 of the match to be spent. If you would like to spend a bit of your money to spend a bit of our money, you can do that here.

Once we get the full $10k of AVC community funding done, the project will be about half funded as these numbers don't include the value of our $10k match. There are some big name funders coming and we are going to start promoting this campaign broadly once the July 4th holiday is over.

So I think we'll get this project fully funded in the coming weeks, but I would sure like to see the AVC community provide the seed funding that gets the project off to a great start. Here's a picture of the kids this is going to help:

Is 318 team

#hacking education

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    My pleasure–a little more of your money is now spent.Need to say that whenever I have a choice of Amazon or PayPal, Amazon is the choice.Every try to resolve a dispute with PayPal? Oy! Yesterday had a large item arrive through Amazon broken. One call, they send a replacement and schedule a no cost pickup. A real biz.

    1. jason wright

      all hail the rise of bitcoin

      1. awaldstein

        We shall see.PayPal sucks cause its a pure transaction that holds no responsibility to what is being transacted nor to the person transacting.Amazon is great cause they conceive of themselves as a broker responsible to the parties around the transaction. Customer service is what you pay for.Amex is a hybrid. Ostensibly they care, but their processes of caring are so convoluted.Bitcoin? There’s a difference between the currency and the transactional system of exchange.

        1. jason wright

          bitcoin could become the backbone of a new generation of providers, and not just a substitute payment method for PP, credit cards, cash could give rise to a whole new interweb.

          1. awaldstein

            I agree. I’m not a full believer as yet but not a doubter as the culture of transactions is something I think about a lot.As long as the bitcoin ecosystem understands that currency is not just a ‘standard’, its the behaviors around transactions, I’m all in!

        2. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Maybe Square could find a place for themselves here. Their user experience is tremendous.

          1. awaldstein

            I agree great UX but to my understanding online is not there strategy,

          2. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Right. I was thinking along the lines of sending person to person – I should have clarified.

          3. awaldstein

            NPI want them there as the space needs a disrupted

          4. Kirsten Lambertsen

            That’s for damned sure!

        3. LE

          “Amex is a hybrid. Ostensibly they care”We had a call from Amex the other day where they left a message on a voicemail asking that money be refunded because a customer “didn’t get what they ordered” (and of course if you know what we do you know that’s not really possible). They left a phone number and a reference number and asked us to call back. So somebody did but at the other end of the 800 number they had no clue of how to help us figure out who the customer was or what the problem was. And passed it to 2 different departments. It was one of those comical things that I’m sure everyone has experienced.My guess is that if they felt they had a basis for getting the customers money back they would have simply issued a credit and stuck us with the charge (that happens all the time with clear fraud transactions with mc/visa/amx/discover) although we’ve figured out how to filter the vast majority of those simply from the way the customer info is filled out and some other factors.Here the service seemed to be simply being an ombudsmen or something. And doing a really poor job of it.I’ve had the same experience with Amazon Edit: that you have – positive!. However I will say that once they kill off the competition that will most likely change. [1]Amazon probably puts the onus for all of this on the merchant. In other words if you want lulitonix to be sold by some major chain until you become must have they will most likely want you to take everything back that the customer doesn’t like no questions asked.This is probably similar to what happens pricing wise with both books and clothing (markdowns for unsold merchandise).[1] I buy a ton of stuff from amazon. I’ve returned 1 laptop and 2 expensive (tumi) laptop bags that I didn’t like. UPS came the next day picked it up it was great. I simply can’t see them doing that type of thing forever though when they don’t have to. The tumi was the same price as on the tumi website.If you buy from Amazon you really should sign up for an affiliate code you will get 4 to 6% back on everything you buy from them (if you play it right that is).

          1. PhilipSugar

            I think Amex, Amazon, and Costco clearly side with the consumer, which is a direct negative to the seller.As consumer however, I love them. As a seller, no way, but if you refuse you will lose a large base of consumers.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            In principle this is great. More power to the consumer…One of the reasons my enthusiasm for selling on eBay was dampened is that they took this position — which I understood to an extent because without consumers you don’t get sellers.But the sellers on eBay are the “content” and without content you don’t get consumers. Back then, I didn’t feel like they were doing enough to care for the seller — this may have changed by now. Now there are a lot of mass sellers on eBay and why would I buy from them when I can buy from Amazon? Much of my buying was because I was already there selling. It felt like a community.eBay was sort of like an Etsy for me back then.#backintheday

          3. awaldstein

            Great answer.I’m thinking about it from mine as the consumer side.I do take Amex through two gateways through two of my projects. No disputes yet, so no data to reflect on.

          4. PhilipSugar

            Its better to know what you stand for and have people love and hate you than to have nobody care.

          5. awaldstein

            That’s my philosophy in a phrase,

        4. LE

          Want to make it clear that I’ve edited my comment to indicate my amazon experience is positive.

      2. Matt A. Myers

        People only like being paid in Bitcoin because they will charge higher-than-expected low points of value.And then those who are paid in Bitcoin will wait until their value is the highest before spending.I don’t see this cycle resulting in the most fair way for consumers.

      3. kidmercury

        the bitcoin exchange rate cost will probably be more expensive than a 3% paypal fee.

    2. fredwilson


      1. awaldstein

        My pleasure. My dad taught me chess and a board was always set in some corner of our home. My brothers (computer programmer and biologists) just kicked my butt game after game.

    3. Richard

      PayPal has very dubious business practices.

      1. awaldstein

        One of my best examples of how not to do things.

        1. btrautsc

          I despise PayPal more than mosquitos. A ‘resolution’ in PayPal’s eyes is the *customer* gets so frustrated that they stop trying to address the problem.

          1. awaldstein

            I would like to have someone from PayPal enter this string and help us understand why we should love them. Or why anyone should ever use them if there is a choice.Open window for them to sell the best of themselves…or get emasculated.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            I don’t have the bandwidth to fully weigh in right now, but I’ve used PayPal with success for a decade. I may not be the most tech savvy, discriminating user. Also, I don’t have a lot to compare it with — I’ve signed up for Dwolla but haven’t really engaged with it yet.As someone who had a side business as an eBay seller for a while, it was a fantastic tool, even in terms of recordkeeping and reporting. The biggest complaint that I had was that it was hard to get through to a live customer service rep and this has improved. In fact, I now have several messages in my inbox begging for feedback on my most recent call. And those calls are generally around my kids paypal cards — each of my kids has a “student” card and I use it to allocate funds to them. PayPal is quick to freeze the card if they see something strange.What are your issues with PayPal?

          3. awaldstein

            They don’t care about me, that’s my issue.I don’t want to do business with anyone that won’t help resolve a dispute or come up with a solution.They are the ultimate middle person. A toll booth who doesn’t really give a damn about either side.

          4. kidmercury

            siding with donna in this beef. i’ve used paypal extensively for years now. very few problems, what have occurred have been resolved quickly. i wouldn’t say i’m a fan of them, but i do think they get the job done and i appreciate and admire them for that. they are also in the mother of all regulatory nightmares, so i sympathize with some of the challenges they face. i believe some of the gripes they face regarding their practices are the result of regulatory requirements.

          5. Donna Brewington White

            I’m not wearing their t-shirt, but they’ve delivered for me.Their exposure and vulnerability are enormous. Gained a greater appreciation for the challenges reading their history in Founders at Work . .…But more importantly,1. Kid says I’m in a beef.and if that wasn’t exciting enough,2. It has been called by the Kid.3. The Kid sided with me.This is graduation day for me at AVC. 🙂

          6. kidmercury

            lol i hope disqus adds badges soon…..we need to award badges for winning beefs! 🙂

          7. ShanaC

            the problem with monetary services is you need to have network effect.My landlady will take paypall but doesn’t know what dwolla is (we briefly discussed this) and she has service exhaustion creep

          8. William Mougayar

            In the meantime, Brainstree has processed $10 billion in payments. They are the Paypal competition…while my Paypal checkout just failed again on the Donors Choose.

          9. Richard

            Dont trust Paypal to be a steward of your accounts.

          10. Donna Brewington White

            How do they steward accounts? I don’t follow.

        2. LE

          “how not to do things.”But yet it hasn’t stopped the world (at least the media which essentially controls what people think) from fawning over the founders has it?Right now people are lining up blinding to help Musk cut out dealers because, after all, they are just useless middlemen offering no value. Which is simply not correct.http://www.businessinsider….

          1. Max

            Right now people are lining up blinding to help Musk cut out dealers because, after all, they are just useless middlemen offering no value. Which is simply not correct.I have another opinion…top-univercity

      2. Matt A. Myers

        I remember Elon Musk mentioning in some video interview how PayPal could have been the world’s banking/payment platform if they had fixed a few things – actually be the world’s, not just claim to be.Maybe it’ll get cheap enough someday for Elon to buy it back with Tesla money, and then he switch it up..

      3. Donna Brewington White

        Such as?

    4. Dave Pinsen

      Why don’t they offer Dwolla?Speaking of “Oy!”, the Israeli Water Engineer offers a brief post on the expression: Oy! Oy!. He should take you up on your free consulting offer. He’s always complaining about getting buried by the work in his engineering business.

      1. awaldstein

        Thanks Dave…A bit bowed over by the response to try out Office Hours for a month. July filled up before noon but think I’ll do a few each month, so creating an August list.I really enjoy the dynamics of working a few times a month with an entrepreneur and often with a team. And a trial is a great way to feel comfortable on both sides before committing.

  2. William Mougayar

    Haha, so we are providing the “seed” money, and big name funders will provide the Series A funding. That makes sense.Funny I was thinking yesterday about adding a bit more when I saw it was only about $5K. Will do.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Funny, I was thinking the same. Staring at those numbers willing them to move doesn’t seem to work.

      1. William Mougayar

        If that trick worked, then we’d be staring at our bank accounts 🙂

    2. Aaron Klein

      Exactly. And I’m thankful for the second reminder. I have to give over time, so having more opportunities arise is a good thing.

  3. JimHirshfield

    Saw the headline and thought it was a plea to portfolio companies to spend USV’s money.

    1. btrautsc

      my first reaction was similar. “Yes, Fred. Thank you. I will kindly take said money off your hands.”

  4. Richard

    It was the great russian chess player who said that – Avoidance of mistakes is the beginning, as it is the end, of mastery in chess. Hope these kids learn that mistakes have their role in life.

    1. karen_e

      Great quote. Comment of the day!

  5. CathleenRitt

    Fred, I have a meeting scheduled with Grandmaster Capital on Sunday 7/7 to discuss this. Will send you background.

  6. Will Sommers

    I read your site on mobile often and the CSS puts this donation field at the very bottom of the page.

  7. Paul Sanwald

    thanks for the reminder, just made a donation! given the rich boxing tradition of my home borough, hopefully at least one of these kids will advance the sport of chessboxing in the tri-state area.

  8. RyanComfort

    A little insight into what drove me to donate this time vs the last time. It made me think about how to create more effective call to actions.1) ‘Please’: It jumped right out and hooked me. It was particularly influential coming from Fred since he’s created so much good will through this blog. 2) The picture of the kids. Harder to say no when the beneficiaries are looking right at me.

    1. LE

      I think that’s a great point. For me it was “Please Spend Our Money”I was thinking the call to action was good also.Only thing that would have worked better is to put the word “nudity” into the request.I had a customer years ago that had a web page and he put a link that said “nude pictures of me” at the bottom. When you clicked on it it was an appeal to raise money. IIrc after asking him about it it worked very well.

  9. LE

    Just made another donation.One suggestion I have. Linkedin has groups that revolve around chess (in addition to a million groups on everything I’ve even started a few which people signed up for.) The teacher and/or the students should join some of these groups and post info and questions (I’ve found good results with that) which will allow them to attract attention that will result in donations and further interest. I would imagine that there are a fair amount of members that are even in the NYC metro area.Here is a list of linkedin chess and chess related groups:

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Excellent suggestion, LE.You have to be careful not to spam, though.This is a great way to i.d. talent in recruiting as well, but time consuming.

      1. LE

        Thanks.Yes. The idea though isn’t to ask for donations. The idea is to get involved and participate in discussions and then say “by the way” or perhaps to ask for help and ideas to fund raise from people interested in chess. One of those people could have a budget for that at their company and might be willing to sponsor them or have some similar benefit.Separately I have found from past experience that being a student is a tremendous prophylactic that allows you to get all sorts of info and help from people. I used to gather quite a bit of “intel” even far out of college by simply doing umm, “research”. People really open up to someone asking questions as opposed to someone who simply is looking for something. The reason is, is that the art of asking someone for help is rewarding and provides the benefit to the person helping that they need to justify spending their time.

  10. ShanaC

    I giggled when I saw that title

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Yeah, but I knew there was a catch. Albeit a great catch.And the first feedblitz I’ve received in a while after a hiatus … so it came to my inbox with that subject line. That got me out of bed.

  11. Anne Libby

    I’m not bashing Paypal (I usually have good luck with them) but Donorschoose and Paypal aren’t playing nicely today….

  12. JJ Donovan

    Have you ever considered adding an “Auction” component to your fundraising through Congratulations to you and the team for embarking on another worthwhile educational effort. Please remember to apply corporate matching gift if available. JJD – Willing to pay…

  13. Pete Griffiths

    Done my small bit.Great project. The evidence is clear that chess is hugely beneficial. Check out what they are doing in schools in Armenia.

  14. William Mougayar

    I’m extremely frustrated by the DonorsChoose payment system. Paypal is stalling on checkout, and when I put my Credit card, it doesn’t like my Canadian Zip code.Double-dipping hasn’t been easy. We need easier e-wallet/e-payment options on the Internet that are universal and quick.