“GoFundMe is a kickstarter platform for causes," opened Rob Solomon, the company's Founder & CEO. With many of Silicon Valley's biggest companies helping deliver groceries or connecting riders with a carpooling service, Rob Solomon is driven to make what he calls a real, meaningful impact in the world, leveraging technology and human compassion to lend a helping hand. It took the team five years to raise the first $1 billion, and just a year longer to reach the next billion. Now home to about 100,000 monthly campaigns, GoFundMe has made it a huge business out of raising money to help.
"If we were a non-profit, we would be the 4th-largest nonprofit in the world," GoFundMe's Founder Solomon continues, with the grander intention of "making a positive impact" in the world - by "disrupting giving."
Sitting with Accel Partners investor Ryan Sweeney at the Startup Grind Global Conference, Solomon gave his full story of growth and impact, adding "most non-profits are using direct mail. That's crazy to me. By leveraging technology, we'll change the way people give on a global scale."
Watch the full talk between Rob Solomon of GoFundMe with Ryan Sweeney of Accel Partners here, and catch our highlights below.
Doing the Right Thing Well
Solomon is a man of principles, and he focused on a handful he applies to his own business:
On building for impact: "The pendulum is swinging back to rational behavior. Running a business responsibly is harder, but it's the right thing to do.”
To Rob, and those who donate to causes on GoFundMe, rational behavior is helping someone less fortunate pay a medical bill or donating money to someone who lost their home to a fire. It is the right thing to do. GoFundMe is making it possible for people to reach out and give help when it is needed.
Today, too many companies are looking to cut corners and pocket as much profit as possible. But that is an irresponsible way to run a business.
On fundraising: "It's better to build a business when it's harder to get money.”
Raising money has been seen as a badge of honor, but it really doesn’t matter. A company should be able to grow organically by investing in itself and focusing on building the right team.
On hiring: "As a CEO, if you're not spending more than 50% of your time recruiting, then you're doing your company a disservice.”
Is it impossible to recruit the best talent? No. How can you recruit great people? You need to invest time and money to find the right people.
On competition: "You cannot control the competition. You should be focused on your own destiny. The focus should be on building great products.”
How much time do you spend worrying about the competition? Yahoo focused too much on what Google was up to and failed because they decided to play the search game. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out too well for them.
On getting the startup idea right: "If you don't get it right within the first 2-3 years, then move on to something else.”
You have a finite amount of time to make something work and need to be ready to make changes when the time comes. But remember to follow your passion. Do what feels right and be responsible when it comes to running your business.
Finding Inspiration in Your Work
Rob’s favorite story from GoFundMe is James Robertson's. James walked 21 miles every single day to and from work for eight years - almost a marathon each day!
A young man decided to start a campaign to raise money to buy James a car, thinking it was impossible, but deciding to do it just to see what happens. He figured even raising a few hundred dollars would help James - but definitely didn't expect the kind of support he eventually got when the campaign went viral.
13,280 people contributed a total of $350,009, obliterating the goal of $25k.
The campaign was a life-changer for James - and it is just one of many stories that keeps Rob following his passion and making a difference.
"Go faster than the laws of physics. It's possible with hard work.”
Rob Solomon is the CEO of GoFundMe, the San Diego-based crowdfunding platform that helps people raise money for a wide variety of different causes. The international community on GoFundMe has raised more than two billion dollars to help people around the world.