On Thursday, Omaze, a charitable giving platform announced it closing a $9 million funding in Series A led by FirstMark Capital along with early seed and angel investors that include Michael Eisner’s Tornante Company, Vayner/RSE, Warby Parker co-founder and co-CEO Dave Gilboa, Boulevard Capital’s Dave Leyrer, CrossCut Ventures, FFVC and entrepreneur and philanthropist, Adam Press.
Founded in 2012 by Matt Pohlson and Ryan Cummins, the startup Omaze has remodeled the traditional auction model. It raises money and awareness for causes by offering the chance to win once-in-life-time experiences like winning to cast in next Star Wars movie or to riding with Arnold Schwarzenegger in his crushing cars to sing along with Taylor Shift.
However, rather than the wealthy crowd donating $25K or $50K to meet their sport hero, Omaze allows anyone to take part in the auction by donating as less as $10 for a chance to win. Social media marketing technique is used to spread and pass the word. As the result to the campaign, it raised 20 times more for their charity partners than they would raise at the traditional auction. The famous Star Wars campaign alone raised $4.26 million for the UNICEF Innovation Labs.
“Individual giving is a $240 billion market that is still incredibly inefficient,” said Pohlson. “Only 6% of donations are made online and non-profits have to devote a disproportionate amount of their resources to fundraising. We exist so these organizations can focus on what they were founded to do – making a positive impact.”
“The venture community is just starting to take notice of the enormous opportunity for growth that exists in the giving market,” said Cummins. “And like in so many of their other early stage investments, we are excited that FisrtMark has the vision to be at the forefront of this new category.” The company handles the complete work for production of all videos announcing the campaigns and all the back-end works of analytics, social distribution and of course, transactions.
Couple of days ago, Omaze had launched its biggest campaign till date, getting all eight stars of the upcoming Star Trek movie signifying the union for eight different causes by offering a walk-on role in the forthcoming movie. Since its announcement yesterday, it has already created more than 300 million total media impressions and received funds from more than 68 countries.
With the latest funds, the company intend to expand beyond blow-out campaigns to offer a self-serve model, enabling any charity, school or congregation to raise funds on the platform with the Omaze experience.
“Matt and Ryan have a compelling vision for a three-sided marketplace that can transform charitable giving,” said Heitzmann. “They have established Omaze as the category leader, and we are excited to partner with their team to help them broaden their marketplace by adding categories, products and services that can capture the huge opportunity.”