CrowdFunding is taking the world by storm. There are traditional crowdfunding, artist crowdfunding, project crowdfunding, tuition crowdfunding, civic crowdfunding, fundraising crowdfunding sites popping up everywhere. We’re expecting even more crowdfunding concepts to come out of the woodwork in the next two years. There are even crowdfunding sites to invest in startups, starting pop up now in anticipation of the JOBSAct regulations that should be released around the first part of the year.
A startup based in the “Cool Tech” city of Columbus Ohio, called StandOffer, is setting out to make the troves and troves of crwodfunding sites easier to navigate. Using their proprietary algorithmic system, dubbed “crowd control” StandOffer is going to connect users with the crowdfunding site that will work best for them and their needs. You may think your project is great for Kickstarter, but StandOffer may know there’s a different site out there for it. StandOffer would then show you what to do to move forward.
The founding team at StandOffer has been working closely with crowdfunding startups everywhere to insure that they offer the best, most up to date data, and an easy way for people to apply for crowdfunding across multiple sites that fit their goals.
StandOffer is like a hotels.com for crowdfunding sites and it could not have come at a better time.
We got a chance to talk with Mason Estep the founder of StandOffer in the interview below:
What is Stand Offer?
Stand Offer is crowdfunding’s first searchable database of sites and projects for entrepreneurs, investors, and supporters to find the sites and projects they’re interested in the most. We’re crowdfunding’s first functional aggregator.
An analogy that we’ve found people tend to grasp easily is to imagine individual crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter.com as Marriott.com, in which case Stand Offer would be the equivalent to a Hotels.com, but for the crowdfunding industry.We’re developing a customizable search for someone wanting to find anything in the crowdfunding universe. I’ll admit, crowdfunding is definitely intimidating when you first delve into it. The number of sites and projects is literally growing off the charts right now, and unless if you have time to go through a few thousand sites and tens of thousands of projects, you may want to try Stand Offer’s suggestions. It only takes a second.We’re still building our database of reputable crowdfunding sites, there are hundreds upon hundreds sprouting up right now, so we want to make sure we get it right. We’re developing our system around our revolutionary ‘Crowd Control’ technologies, which will basically just aggregate the troves of data present in the crowdfunding industry and offer users simple tools to navigate through it.
The Founder and President is myself, Mason Estep, and the Co-founder and Vice President is Shea Wilson. We’re from Columbus, Ohio and met while attending Ohio University. Stand Offer is really blowing up right now and it’s pretty tough to get all of our studies done simultaneously, so if we can hurry up and finish up with the $500,000 in seed funding we’re raising we’ll probably ‘take a semester off’ to focus more on growing this business.I personally have been starting tech ventures since the sixth grade, will either get rich or die trying, and really like 90’s music. We both agree the tech scene is getting really boring and is in desperate need of a new edge to get people excited again. So we’ve been calling editors of Rolling Stone to do a cover of us as “Tech’s New Bad Boys” but they haven’t returned our calls.
Columbus “Cool Tech” Ohio
The startup scene has really grown the past few years. A lot of it has to do with Governor Kasich, he’s really done a lot to funnel the kind of resources an ambitious entrepreneur like myself needs to succeed. To be honest it’s definitely dated too, we’re trying to lead a new wave of entrepreneurs who are trendsetters in every regard. Like, we’re on the verge of revolutionizing the crowdfunding industry. Okay… that’s a four hundred million dollar idea. But do we listen to Frank Ocean? There’s a lot of people turned off by the tech industry because it’s so… technical and boring. It’s time for that to change.
Well I was originally thinking about making a crowdfunding site, just like you, the neighbor, and his brother, and the more I searched for a niche to cover, the more I realized how saturated and fragmented the industry was. It’s funny, I found a market in the crowd because the crowd market was overcrowded.
This is where I make tech un-cool again. I spent an upwards of two to three hours a night for about a week thinking of names and making sure the corresponding domains were available. It’s not the most glorious process but for some odd reason it may be one my favorites. There’s something about branding, marketing, and design strategies that really excites me. It forms how the entire world will portray your company! My dad once told me that I can have the best idea in the world, and if I didn’t mass produce it, it’d be as valuable as no idea at all. So with that idea in mind, if you manage to make your product or service available to the masses, and you can’t convince them your product is the best, it may as well be available to no one. Because it’s not going to sell, and that starts with marketing, which starts with branding, which starts with your logo, which starts with a name. So yeah, I put a lot of thought into the name. And then we pivoted our entire business. Luckily, somehow the name works even better with our new objective.
Crowdfunding collectively solves a lot of issues, but as with a lot of emerging technologies growing rapidly, sometimes the growth itself becomes a problem. The sheer number of sites offering various crowdfunding services grows every single day, and in 2013 that number is going to quadruple. How on earth can you expect to find the best project for you to invest in or support if you have tens of thousands to choose from, assuming of course you have the time to scan hundreds of sites to find them. This is clearly holding back the industry and could really put a strain on the growth. We solve the issue, plain and simple. We basically ask our users ‘what are you looking for’ and clear the marsh to show them where it is. Quick and easy.
Our secret sauce is our “Crowd Control” technologies. It basically speaks to the back end development behind our engine, which powers our searchable database for our users. It’s really amazing, and that’s no secret at all.
You probably could’ve asked “What’s the one issue facing every startups?” And the answer would be the same for everyone: Dollars. Funding. Capital… But I think it’s actually important for every start up to go through a period of bootstrapping, putting every dollar you have to your name into your idea and then some, to really experience that sense of urgency to drive results. I think this is something every successful entrepreneur has gone through and I’m actually excited to go through it myself… but once we’re done with this round of funding it will be nice to not have to decide between food and marketing.
Dave Lukas of Grasp Technologies has provided us with a lot of invaluable advice. He’s helped us out a lot. My dad is the biggest influence on my life, whether or not he knows it, he’s why I can’t live a day satisfied, which I think is a good thing. I think satisfaction is the antonym for ambition, and ambitiousness is the best word to describe me. So i guess I can actually say I’ll never be satisfied since I’m the farthest thing from it.
And as far as business role models, I read a lot of books and tend to obsess over the most successful business and tech moguls, so I could go on forever. The top names that come to mind however are Steve Jobs, Howard Hughes, Jack Dorsey, Richard Branson, and Pete Rose. Steve Jobs was an evil man, Howard Hughes died a recluse with OCD, Richard Branson has dyslexia, and Pete Rose gambled, lied to the world about it, and has a lifetime ban from the sport he set the record for most hits in a career, and Jack Dorsey isn’t known to have anything noticeably wrong with him yet, so inclusion on this list should make him feel a little uneasy. I respect them all for different reasons. The best way to sum it up would be that Pete Rose, a baseball player for the Cincinnati Reds, always sprinted to first base when he was walked. Typically in baseball, when you receive four balls and don’t reach three strikes, baseball players lightly jog to first base, getting a free ‘walk.’ I learned about this at a young age and embodies a shared quality all of my idols have which is embedded in the deepest trenches of my brain. Sprint when you can walk and you’ll go farther, faster than everyone else walking.
We’re talking with a lot of founders of crowdfunding sites and are still developing our fully functional concept and our goal is to have it not just done, but provide the most simple and effective experience for our users to navigate the crowdfunding universe. The development process is excited for us because every day we get to see more of what the final product will look like. I know it can be less exciting for our fans, so we’ve been trying to engage the crowdfunding community through tumblr and twitter by featuring other sites and projects. I hate not reaching deadlines, that’s why I set them unrealistically. Because I dread the idea of reaching the level of progress I had already established so relentlessly, it provides a full tank of fuel even when the team is running on empty. So you can expect Stand Offer’s revolutionizing Crowd Control technologies before 2013.