Startup helps kids break into crowdfunding scene

Piggybackr teaches kids how to raise money -- everything from cold calling a business to marketing on social media.
November 4, 2013 10:09:23 PM PST
Crowdfundung is a popular way for startups to raise capital by getting many small donations from a wide range of people. A local startup is giving that same opportunity to kids.

Sitting in a big chair, typing on his laptop, 12-year-old Malcolm McSwain looks a lot like the founder of a Silicon Valley startup.

He is. Malcolm wanted raise money to host his own server for the game Minecraft.

"I was too young for Kickstarter so I was looking around and all of a sudden I remembered Piggybackr," he said.

Piggybackr, which he read about in the newspaper, is like Kickstarter for kids.

"We hope to inspire the next gen of entrepreneurs, philanthropists and leaders just from something as simple as hopefully raising moony online," CEO Andrea Lo said.

Lo says Piggybackr teaches kids how to raise money -- everything from cold calling a business to marketing on social media.

It worked for Malcolm and now he's onto his second project, raising money to send needy kids to the Exploratorium, helping the lupus foundation, and keeping Lake Tahoe blue.

It's part of Piggybackr's One Million Leaders challenge, with prizes ranging from an autographed football to a one on one with a Shark Tank investor.

"They will be judging based on effort, based on kind of teamwork, the community buy-in and the idea's potential to make an impact," Lo said.

Of course, like other crowdfunding platforms, Piggybackr isn't just for starting things, but also taking them up to the next level. That's exactly what one teen is doing with his plan to put iPods in the hands of kids whose families can't afford them for the holidays.

Michael Daboll, 16, says toy drives often leave out the teenagers and that leaves them feeling left out after vacation.

"My self-esteem would go way down because after the holidays, all teenagers do is talk about what they got and how they're using it or whatever and show it off," Daboll said.

He's raised money at farmer's markets and grocery stores in years past, but this year Piggybackr has him on track to give away 450 iPods -- maybe with some free songs.

"It really empowers young kids to really -- shoot for the stars," Malcolm said.

The challenge has weekly prizes, and runs through Jan. 3.


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