1. What’s your startup called?
Heroes2u and our tagline is Memorable Conversations, Meaningful Causes, based in Columbus, Ohio.
2. What’s your big idea?
Video chats for charity – we host group video chats with high profile people to raise money and awareness for a cause they care about! We want to create a platform for the next generation of givers, that’s why we use the technology we use and sell $5 dollar tickets. The way it works is simple – first we identify a Hero who is someone that is passionate about a cause, has a story to share, and has an online community. We set up a campaign with the Hero – they pick the date and time to do a half hour video chat from anywhere with an internet connection/webcam and also where the money goes (they pick the charity). We then sell $5 dollar tickets on our website with $4 out of every $5 going to the cause being uplifted throughout the campaign. At the end of the campaign 30-40 days we pick 8 people randomly out of all the tickets and they get to be face to face with the person of their dreams, while everyone else who purchased a ticket gets to watch live and submit questions to our moderator and follow along on Twitter! We record all these chats and send out clips to the winners and the charity so everyone has their 5 minutes of fame with their Hero!
3. What’s the story behind your idea?
The story started when we were working on our last startup which used video to train people with fitness goals, so that’s where video over the internet came from. One day we were sitting and going through ideas and we thought what if you could video chat with celebrity x and people were telling us they’d pay to do that. So we thought ok why would the celebrity care to get in front of their computer for a half hour and chat with fans, and we realized how meaningful it could be if they were raising money and awareness for a cause they care about. A lot of them have their own foundations and causes they support so it made sense and we went out and raised an investment of 175k last June (2013) from Tony Wells and his family Foundation to make our dream a reality!
4. Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
I am one of the founders – John Weiler – 25 and one of my best friends is the other founder – Jeremy Meizlish 25. Jeremy graduated from Capital and studied English, and I attended Ohio State and studied Economics. We both knew we wanted to be entrepreneurs from a young age and started our first LLC in school, then got involved in a health and fitness video training over the internet start up and then left that to start this about 2 yrs ago.
5. Where are you located, and what’s the startup scene like there?
Columbus, Ohio and it’s a growing community – we have had tremendous support from Ohio State and their Technology and Commercialization Center and have attended the local Startup Weekend, and actually spoke at the last one here a few weeks ago.
6. What milestones have you reached?
We raised our initial investment in June of last year and since then we built and tested our platform, we did a private alpha in Quarter 4 of last year and held chats for free with several TEDx speakers. Earlier this year we launched our public beta in February and started raising money for charities and working with names like Jack Hanna, Country Music star Phil Vassar and several NFL players! We’ve now raised over 10k for charity in small money donations and are just starting! Our last chat had viewers in 23 states and the 8 winners were in 7 different states (none from Ohio) and the cause being a local Ohio based charity A Kid Again, getting national exposure was a big achievement for us!
7. What are your next milestones?
Our next milestones are to start working with even bigger names and causes, we have seen traction and want to start growing our pipeline of Heroes we work with! We have a lot of ideas in the pipeline in terms of product evolution and different phases to build out for the non profit partners we work with as well as our fans, but for now we want to keep things simple and scale what we have!
8. Where can people find out more?
People can check out any of our website heroes2u.com or our social media accounts to stay up to date – twitter @meetheroes or our YouTube/meetheroes or our Facebook/heroes2u or Instagram/heroes2u and read our blog at blog.heroes2u.com