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Innovation & Job News

D.C. startup Edbacker raises funds, will hire one

Edbacker, a D.C. startup that is changing the way elementary and secondary schools raise funds, is raising money itself and will be hiring an app developer in early 2014. The company, which placed second in its division in the D.C. Regional Challenge Cup competition, was founded earlier this year by siblings Gary and Alaethea Hensley.
"We are raising a round," Gary Hensley explains. "We've got $100,000 of a $400,000 round committed."
Edbacker uses a crowdfunding model to tackle the issue of school fundraisers. Much like campaigns created on crowdfunding websites like Indigogo or Kickstarter, Edbacker invites potential fundraisers to create a project on their site, upload either a photo or video to accompany the project and then design rewards or perks to go along with the different levels of donations.
"Designing rewards and perks is what differentiates us from Donors Choose," Hensley says, referring to a competitor's site. Hensley believes that having fundraiser-designed perks at different levels increases donation amounts. For example, Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School's current campaign on Edbacker is to raise $35,000 for a trip to New Orleans to help rebuild areas still suffering from Hurricane Katrina. Backers who donate $25 receive a thank-you note from students; if they donate $300, they receive student-created artwork.  A $1,000 donation nets the backer "partner" status, with representation on the school's website and newsletters. There are other levels, with other perks, in between.
After creating the campaign itself, the perks that go along with it and a campaign's duration, Edbacker provides "an easy mechanism to share the campaign via email, social media and [other systems]," Hensley explains.
Though Edbacker placed second in the regional competition, Hensley says that going through the Challenge Cup process was "a fantastic experience all around." He credits Michael Chasen, former Blackboard CEO and current Social Radar CEO, as a "great mentor." Hensley has been through the startup grind before—he founded Intagrade, an early warning and analytics program in 2006 and sold it to Pearson Education in 2009. 

Read more articles by Allyson Jacob.

Allyson Jacob is a writer originally hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is the Innovation and Job News editor for Elevation DC. Her work has been featured in The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati CityBeat. Have a tip about a small business or start-up making waves inside the Beltway? Tell her here.
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