After graduating this May from Middlebury College, Michael Campbell joined the Launcht team to help push us through the summer months. He leaves the Launcht team on August 1. We asked him to give us his final thoughts on Launcht before leaving.
In early June, I came to Boston to intern with the Launcht team having very little knowledge on how a startup works and how to crowdfund properly. I leave Boston and Launcht not only with a stronger appreciation for what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, but also with a deep sense of hope for the future of Launcht, and Launcht.org.
At various points in the course of my summer, it became clearer to me how far Launcht has come since its earliest days as a startup. A couple of mini-crowdfunding campaigns turned into a partnership with the William James Foundation at the end of 2011. This then led to a few more white label deals platform contracts early in 2012 and an early crowdfunding portal for social entrepreneurs that couldn’t find its way off the ground.
In April and May, the Launcht web developers began tinkering with the site, preparing for a new rollout for white label platforms with a sleek and refined look and feel. This breathed new life into the prospect of a revamped, stronger platform for social entrepreneurs, now known as Launcht.org.
We unveiled Launcht.org and its first three campaigns on July 18th. The platform now has five campaigns going strong, with several more in the pipeline to be published in the next few weeks. WeBike, a bikeshare program powered by mobile technology, leads the crowdfunding pack with more than $4,000 raised so far. Seeking funds for a prototype of a bike lock that automatically changes its combination after each use, weBike is showing promising signs of being able to hit its $15,000 goal. They have also been featured in a few different articles, one from the William James Foundation, and the other from the DC blog InTheCapital.
Beyond Launcht.org, Launcht has at least seven white label platforms set to go live by this fall. ThreeRevolutions, a Launcht-powered crowdfunding platform centered on sustainable foods, is already up and running. Two campaigns are close to $1,500 raised so far, and one other campaign is within $100 of reaching its goal after only two and a half weeks of campaigning. FundPride, a crowdfunding platform focused on LGBT-friendly entrepreneurs, and Fund-Her! for women entrepreneurs, are accepting campaign submissions and preparing to roll out soon.
The future of the Launcht.org crowdfunding platform for social entrepreneurs is promising, but it’s just as clear that more and more people want crowdfunding platforms tailored to their interests. This is where the white label model comes in. In each area, popular enthusiasm for crowdfunding is only continuing to snowball.
This is all great news for Launcht, but it’s also a major positive for entrepreneurial and small business communities across the country. Access to capital has been broadened to immeasurable lengths by tapping into the power of the crowd.
While I feel it is the right time to pursue new professional challenges and adventures, I am sad to leave Launcht for a number of reasons. Boston, for one, is a great city to live in. The coworking space at the Cambridge Innovation Center was completely new to me, and there’s nothing like having your ear to the ground of a city’s startup scene. The camaraderie shared within the Launcht team was like nothing I’ve had at any other job. Co-Founders Freeman White and Spencer Taylor provided mentorship that will last throughout my professional career. And who knows? Maybe I’ll be back for more crowdfunding someday.