Snooze for Charity

The moment you have all been waiting for. Snooze is in the app store. Download and start snoozing for charity now!http://t.co/4dDOhPS

Calling all App Developers, Game Developers, and Hackers,

LetGive is inviting you to take place in our first annual LetGive “Hack For Good” contest—the first time (well, to our knowledge!) that developers can build an app or game in support of a charity of your choice.  The contest will take place during the month of September, with a kick-off event (food and drink provided) on September 6th and an awards ceremony in mid-October.  Stay tuned for more on the awards event, as we’re working with our awesome judges to lock down the date.

Details, details, details… 

LetGive has created an API that allows anyone to include a charitable giving component within their application.   Applications built on our platform are transformed into powerful fundraising vehicles for Nonprofits and Charities.  

 The first application built on the platform is an alarm clock that resides on your iPhone.  When you hit the Snooze button, a donation is triggered to the charity of your choice. 

 Any type of application (game, newsreader, calendar, alarm clock, mail reader, map/location based, Twitter/Facebook client) can be turned into a giving application.  If you need inspiration for an app, reach out!  We’ve got tons of thought starters to throw your way: hackforgood@letgive.com.  

We’re lining up some amazing Non Profits to provide inspiration, great judges to help pick the best app, and a $1,000 prize for the winning entry.  For more details or to register, please visit http://www.letgive.com/hackforgood/

What a difference 10 years makes (aka LetGive’s first Blog Post!)

A couple weeks ago,  I attended a great free presentation (breakfast provided!) hosted by NYC Small Business Solutions (a city agency) entitled “Prepping to Pitch: Advice for Pitching Investors”.  In the room was a group of 40 amazing, eclectic, entrepreneurs – spanning all ages and ethnicities.  There was a woman who had designed a new type of fashionable woman’s rain boot (think cheetah prints meets rubber boots) who was seeking advice on how to fund manufacturing in the US rather than oversees.    There was a guy who was representing a new beverage company in the city who was looking to expand across the US.  Another woman was starting a company to create interactive, IPAD based children’s books.  

The path that brought me to this event, and the fact that this event even exists in the first place illustrates the focus of our first blog entry – the amazing differences and surprising similarities between starting an Internet 1.0 company at the height of the dot com bubble in early 2000 to starting an Internet 3.0 company now – 11 years later.

My journey to NYC passed through a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Shelbyville, IN.  There, I met two brand managers from Proctor & Gamble – Ned Elton and Steve Turk.  They had an idea to create an Internet based new product launch platform that could be used by Consumer Packaged Goods companies.   Although I didn’t know Ned or Steve personally, I was introduced by a mutual friend.  At the Cracker Barrel, I realized they had a great idea, an amazing vision, and the business chops to pull it off.  They also wanted to locate the company in New York City; I had recently graduated from Indiana University and was itching to get out of the Midwest so this seemed like the perfect move for me.

The company, New2World, arrived in New York with 4 co-founders (myself, Steve, Ned, and another P&G alum named Sean Connell) in March of 2000 with $1MM in angel financing.  Sean’s wife, Patty, had used the Village Voice to find an office at 67 Irving Place.    

My job was the Director of Technology – which meant I was responsible for all product development and providing IT support.   And that’s where the differences begin…. 

Our first two weeks was spent setting up the office infrastructure.  Servers were bought at Comp-USA (now out of business) to host Microsoft Exchange.  A wiring closet was built and Ethernet cables were laid to make sure we had Internet connections for everyone.  We visited many data centers to find a place to put our production servers and settled on Globix  (now out of business) which was located at the corner of Lafayette and Houston.  I wrote the entire application on Perl using a Sybase database back-end.  I used Sybase because, at the time, there were no free databases but I recalled from a previous consulting gig that I could get a “free” copy of Sybase from InterShop who was one of the original shopping cart software providers.

Fast forward 11 years…  Email is served free by Google Apps (5 minutes of set-up) – no server purchase required.  Ethernet cables?  Who needs them – wireless is ubiquitous.  Office Space?  Coffee shops throughout the city have served quite adequately as the ever moving World HQ for LetGive.  (As an aside, I highly recommend Argo Tea Café on 11th and University – on any given day you’ll see a who’s who in the New York tech start-up community.  It’s just down the road from DogPatch, and just up the road from New York University).   Data center?   Completely unnecessary – choosing between Amazon Web Services or RackSpace is the only decision needed here.  Database?  There are a few great free databases such as MySQL and PostGres.

Rewind back to March of 2000.  The name of the game was to get funded.  Revenue?  Who needed it.  Business model?  We’ll figure that out later.  Unfortunately for New2World, we were preceded by the likes of Pets.com (remember their sock puppet?) Kozmo.com (thankfully SeamlessWeb and Delivery.Com picked up the slack without needing to raise $250MM), WebVan (who I am sure FreshDirect thanks every day for blowing through $500MM).  April of 2000 marked the beginning of the end for the first Internet bubble and New2World was left with no ability to raise additional needed capital.  By the summer it was clear that New2World was headed to the dot com wasteland.

So, what’s remained the same?  The excitement of doing something new and “living the dream”.  The sleepless nights and anxiety filled mornings.  The constant decision making without ever feeling secure that the decisions are correct.  Learning the elevator pitch.  Learning to condense the elevator pitch from 80 stories to 20 stories.  The anticipation and fear that precedes an important meeting with investors or partners.  The emotional disagreements of co-founders who are learning that they are now in a relationship that more resembles a marriage than anything else.  The value of one’s personal networks.   But most of all, the complete and utter satisfaction that exists when you know you’re doing exactly what you have wanted to do your entire life.

This week we  moved into our new offices at 1500 Broadway, along with 9 other companies where were accepted into the inaugural class of the ER Accelerator program.  We are thrilled to have the support of some of the tech world’s most successful entrepreneurs and are looking forward to an amazing ride.