Jan 292012
 
Authors: Andrew Carrera

For one Fort Collins start-up organization that launched Sunday evening, “anything is possible.”

“We have invented a platform that has shape, but is limitless. It is adaptable to the user’s needs and offers the education and tools necessary to fund anything that is a good idea,” said co-founder McCabe Callahan, who’s also the owner of both local Mugs coffee shops.

So what is this new group? CommunityFunded.com.

Those in need –– from students, to businesses, school programs, nonprofits, neighbors and others –– now have a platform to advertise their situations to the Fort Collins community and ask for its support through the newly minted organization.

Eager to share the news about what’s been the center of his universe for the past four months, Callahan discusses Community Funded –– a project that has Fort Collins philanthropists grinning.
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How would you sum up CommunityFunded.com in a few sentences?*
CommunityFunded.com is a website designed to help people and organizations with projects find the ideas, funding and resources they need to be successful. Our platform connects the community and all of its resources to people with ideas.

How will you judge its success?
Well, I would say for me personally, successfully funded projects that have positive impacts on communities would make me feel Community Funded is a success.
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Do you see this reaching outside of Fort Collins?*
It will be impossible for it not to reach outside of Fort Collins. “Our Project” is the first project that hosted on the site. It aims to raise $1 billion in funding for projects by Dec. 12, 2012. This may seem ambitious, however, the numbers are pretty amazing. If one person pledges $10 to a project on the site and asks two people to do the same, and then those people follow suit, each asking two more people to do the same and so on, technically in 27 days 100,000,000 people will have pledged $1 billion. Now, this rate of growth has never been seen by any site, however we have 11 months to accomplish our goal, and we hope the community is behind us. I applied to the Guinness Book of World Records for the record of “Fastest Billion Dollars Raised for Community Projects.” I hope they accept our nomination!

What’s been the hardest part of putting CommunityFunded.com together?
We are trying to create something the world has never seen, something that is completely amazing with no capitalization. We want to see if our sweat equity can build something that resonates with people so easily that it becomes wildly successful in its message alone. Each of us is working 50-plus hours a week on our day jobs while still trying to complete the website.
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Is there anything in particular about Fort Collins that you think will make CommunityFunded.com successful?*
Absolutely! Fort Collins is a melting pot of good ideas and innovation. We are so excited that out of all communities, we are able to launch here in our hometown. (Co-founders) Blue, Ryan and I are all CSU graduates, and each of us have businesses here in Fort Collins already. We could not have asked for a more perfect scenario.

What need in the community is your organization filling?
We are providing a place for people to showcase ideas and find the resources they need to be successful. We are filling the need of giving people easier access to the power of their community by all of us sharing in the community. Our site will make the fundraising of organizations and people much easier by uniting the masses to collectively share what they have to offer. This website could not at a better time as we can all agree now, more than ever, there is a better way to do things. Anything is possible when it is Community Funded.

People are going through hard times financially. With that in mind, do you think people are still going to be able to participate in a platform that asks them to be financial donors and volunteers?
I think the point you make is exactly why we have created this site. Community Funded makes giving easier and more realistic for everyone. If someone knows that they can help a project creator do something really cool in their community for $10 or $20, it becomes much more manageable than feeling like you have to open your checkbook and write a big check. By offering a tool that can create mass participation, everyone only has to share in a little bit. As well, when you give, most projects will offer a “Gift-back” as an easy way to say, “Thanks for supporting my idea!” It is a win-win for everyone.
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How is Community Funded different from other organizations that are vaguely similar? Kickstarter.com comes to mind.*
This is probably the most commonly asked question. The answer will be most obvious when we launch our full site in the end of February, however, the biggest difference is that we are not a platform just designed to simply raise money for projects. Rather, CommunityFunded.com is a tool that provides communities the ability create larger impacts uniting around the core value of doing things better by sharing resources.

How many people do you have ready to put their projects on the website?
We are trying to determine the perfect blend of projects and people for the full launch. At this point, we have pulled together around 25 potential projects. Next week we begin the process of collecting information and setting up projects for our full launch in the end of February. Now that our website is live, we are fairly certain that the viralness we expect will lead to many new projects submissions.

Where did you find these people?
As silly as it may sound, serendipity has been a theme throughout this project. Almost every connection to individuals and organizations with projects seems to have crossed our path at appropriate times throughout the development of this site. The Mugs Community has also offered a wide spectrum of people with creative ideas. I am sure there are so many communities in Fort Collins that will soon offer that many more projects.
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The website’s concept is pretty groundbreaking. What makes you confident that it’ll take off?*
We have witnessed other similar sites that already exist have huge impacts, however, each of these examples does not compare to the quality or functionality that Community Funded will boast. Our website is an evolutionary leap forward in how resources are shared in a community and intends to offer a unique and easy way to fund your “it”!
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In five years, where do you expect the website to be in terms of membership and money generated? What about 10 years?*
The first project on our site upon full launch in late February will be our project. Our project intends to raise $1 billion for projects by Dec. 12, 2012. This is typically where people I tell this to either laugh or clap, however, based on the responses from people that we have showed this to, it continues to feel more and more attainable. With this being said, in five years we hope this website is helping people around the world. We want to eventually offer an international website providing a useful tool to any community helping to better use their resources in turn strengthening communities. Ten years, I can’t even imagine. When people actualize the power of this tool, possibilities are endless … I will say that one of the slogans we have been using is, “Anything is Possible When It is Community Funded.“

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Do you feel like your experience as the owner of two local businesses has prepared you for this new endeavor?*
Absolutely! Over the 10 years of owning Mugs, finding funding for projects has always been the biggest impediment to progress. The challenges I have experienced have motivated me to find a better way. Also, my experience creating the Mugs Community over the last decade helped me understand the value of communities. Because of this, I set out to create a tool that strengthens communities in a way that has never been done before.

You said your theme for the website was, “Anything is Possible.” Can you expand on this a bit more? Why this theme? How’d you come up with it?
We chose “Anything is Possible” as one of our slogans because Community Funded is only limited by an individual’s ability to be creative. We have invented a platform that has shape, but is limitless. It is adaptable to the user’s needs and offers the education and tools necessary to fund anything that is a good idea. The community makes the final decision on what ideas are good by funding and supporting those projects.

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What kind of preparation went into this idea?*
Well, my friend Blue Hovatter and I got the idea in June of last year. We immediately invited our friend Ryan Stover because we valued his creative genius. We spent the next three months developing the concept and building the amazing team we have today. Matt Price was added in the end of September and we began website development in October. Needless to say we have made tremendous progress in a short amount of time. What can I say? Big ideas motivate individuals. Hopefully a theme in our website.

How many hours a day did you pour into this project? How many meetings did you have?
Currently we have poured over 600 hours each into this project which does not seem like much for what we have developed. We all have full time jobs and try to work on Community Funded outside of that. As well, we are averaging 14-hour meetings for the last 12 Saturdays. We are very excited to see this fully launch in the end of February.

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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