It is a long way from selling Legos at a garage sale to co-founding a crowdfunding company.
But, like most interesting journeys, the trajectory makes perfect sense in hindsight.
Freeman White explained in a recent interview that so much of the will and enthusiasm that led him to create and co-found Launcht stems from his earliest experiences in business: the family garage sales of his childhood. “It was incredibly alluring, this idea that I could make money from selling my stuff,” he explained.
That lure of the entrepreneurial spirit never left White as he wended his way from selling Legos to attending college, through work in educational reform, and towards what has become Launcht. “I always knew I wanted to start a business,” said White, “I thought I could do it and I really respect entrepreneurs. The founders of various businesses that I saw and knew, I didn’t see that they were much different from me. They had an idea and they followed through. It’s really compelling to see that self-respect and dedication manifest itself in the world.”
When White and co-founder Spencer Taylor tried to figure out what sort of business they would like to start, it was clear it would be a social enterprise, “I wanted to have an impact on the world. It was important to define in my own terms how the world would see me and see the company we were founding.” Having had early experiences working at the Bement School in Deerfield, MA, and with New Leaders for New Schools in New York, White was hesitant to get pigeonholed too early as a teacher or a non-profit guy. In co-founding a business, he felt more in control of how he presented himself to the world, which allowed him to remain more flexible in his own thinking as well.
Having decided to create a business, White and Taylor began the process of figuring out what sort of business they wanted to create. White explained that he is and was attracted to crowdfunding specifically because of how the model can be used directly by organizations in the social enterprise and innovation spheres. “We originally were working hard on trying to create a destination crowdfunding site for social entrepreneurs, then we kept getting requests from other organizations to build similar sites. That’s when we started making a more malleable and dynamic product that our clients could easily make into their own crowdfunding platforms.”
And so, they launched the first white-label crowdfunding platform. White is enormously pleased that crowdfunding itself has evolved as Launcht has, and comments that: “it is incredibly exciting to be part of the evolution of this industry.”
One way in which White has most actively participated in the growth of the industry is through his work on equity crowdfunding legislation. He is one of the founding board members of and works regularly with the Crowdfund Intermediary Regulatory Advocates (CFIRA) to ensure that crowdfunding becomes and remains a viable mechanism for investment.
Much as White’s entrepreneurial spirit had its roots in the independence of selling his used toys to other kids, he is most impressed by what he has learned about interdependence through his experience with Launcht. “I originally thought I could do this by myself; not so. I think that the measure of a good entrepreneur is at heart their ability to bring a team together. I’m constantly impressed by the people I’ve been able to work with in building Launcht, our staff and our clients.”