In the startup world bootstrapping and getting funding from friends and family can only get you so far. Fundraising is a necessarily evil for most startups; a process that not only takes time away from developing product and service, but one that easily results in internal tension and outright burnout. In an attempt to help entrepreneurs overcome these challenges, there are a few apps out there taking the Tinder model to till.
Unicorn is a mobile app that connects early stage investors to entrepreneurs in search of early stage funding. According to the website, since fundraising is exhausting, the app creators wanted to make things a little more fun. Like Tinder, digital introductions through the matching process are meant to be quick and painless. To use the service, entrepreneurs must be looking to raise an early stage round between $20K-$800k, while investors need to be accredited.
After the user creates their profile they simply swipe left or right to indicate whether they like or dislike a profile (startups only get 5 right-swipes per 24-hour period). When both parties have swiped right – an investor to an entrepreneur and an entrepreneur to an investor – the system sends a notification to each. It’s only when that match is made that users are able to communicate directly.
On the entrepreneurs’ side, the app allows them to upload a 15 second video pitch. They are also are able to create an open-ended bio to highlight the problem they’re solving and how they’re going about solving it. Investors on the other hand showcase their portfolio companies.
The app was created by Scott Dunn and his two brothers, Brian Dunn and Barry Dunn, who were inspired to create the app from their own difficulties navigating the fundraising field. In an interview with Built in NYC Scott summed up his inspiration by saying, “The real problem is the effort that’s required to raise money and that detracts from development,” said Scott. “Our ultimate goal is to create a more meaningful dialogue among mutually interested parties.”
Although catchy, Unicorn isn’t the only app designed to match investors with entrepreneurs through a Tinder-esque experience. In the UK there’s a startup called Off3r which is focused on equity crowdfunding deals. The service is also available on a limited basis in the US due to regulations (though that’s all in the process of changing).
With Off3r, users create an account and then swipe left or right to indicate whether they respectively dislike or like the investment opportunities presented to them, sourced from a number of different crowdfunding platforms. The app offers fine grained filters to enable investors to curate the most appealing kinds of investments to their personal interests; by expiration, percent funded, investment amount needed, etc.
Once the user has right-swiped / selected investments they find attractive, similar to how you might make travel reservations through Kayak, the system compiles the opportunities into a single list. From there, the user can set up alert parameters in order to receive alerts when the opportunities reach certain milestones; days until expiry, funding goal remaining, etc. In order to actually contribute money to an investment, an account must be created on each separate crowdfunding site.
Off3r is currently partnered with 24 crowdfunding portals including Crowdcube, Seedrs, Angel List U.K., Angels Den, Crowdfunder, Funding Tree and Investing Zone. They currently have 155 active deals across 75 countries. To date the company has raised $693.07k in a seed round from investors Daniel McPherson, Earlymarket LLP, Kamal Haider, and Tom Singh.
There is no charge to use the service, and the app is currently available for both iOS and Android devices.
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