It wasn’t too long ago – this past July to be exact – that we covered the launch of MindMixer. Today, seven months later, they report they’re cash flow positive with a growing client list that includes cities such as Burbank, Nashville, El Paso, Kansas City, and their homebase of Omaha.
“It’s been fun watching MindMixer evolve from ‘wouldn’t-that-be-a-cool idea’ into a growth company that’s pushing communities to think differently about how they engage their citizens,” said co-founder Nick Bowden in a press release. “We are really excited about the team we are assembling and the direction we are heading.”
With their core focus of making it easier to for constituents to share ideas about improving the communities in which they live, MindMixer is aiming to build an easy-to-use and efficient platform. “If I ask you how to improve downtown while you are sitting in your house, you might have two ideas,” said Bowden. “But, if I ask you how to improve downtown while you’re walking in downtown via text message, you might have 10 ideas.”
Currently officing out of the Mastercraft Building (a renovated warehouse gaining popularity amongst the city’s startup and creative companies), MindMixer’s three-person team consists of three of its five co-founders: Bowden as CEO, Nathan Preheim as COO, and Mark Hasebroock as chief of community commerce (also founder of Dundee VC).
The startup will be putting the new capital to work by adding team members (we’ve been listing a position in our Opportunities on the Prairie post), upgrading infrastructure, and, at their core, building a full-scale community engagement platform for municipalities, elected officials, and other quasi-government entities seeking the input of their constituents.
“MindMixer is in a unique position to remake the civic engagement process,” said Bowden. “In a short time we can envision MindMixer as the defacto brand with which communities discuss and collaborate development and design in an open forum.”
To learn more about their fundraising efforts and what lies ahead, I recently conducted an email interview with Bowden:
Bowden: This is our first round of funding. Everything to this point has been fully bootstrapped. As we grew we realized we needed to seek out that first round of funding. But we didn’t just want “capital” we really wanted someone or a team that would add value to our efforts to remake the civic engagement process.
(Left, photo from mindmixer.com/about)
Could you talk a bit about the past few months and about the experience of fundraising?
Bowden: The past few months have been a complete whirlwind. I mean, seven months ago all we had was an idea. Now, we have projects with cities across the U.S., with the number growing weekly. The fundraising experience was stressful, educational, and exciting at the same time, if that’s possible. For us, the money was only part of the equation. The ability to build a team of employees and advisors that have lots of experience was most important. The funding process was definitely educational because there are so many considerations to take into account. At the end of the process though, it’s all really exciting and gives us a great boost of momentum as we look to build our client base.
Any comments about raising the funding locally and working with Mark Hasebroock of Dundee VC?
Bowden: I don’t think we would have looked outside Omaha for funding because building the team was so important. We wanted someone who could bring value everyday. Mark made the process much easier because he is straightforward and honest about everything. In addition, he’s got a great track record and his experience and expertise fit in well with our future goals for the product.
What is your revenue model going forward?
Bowden: Our revenue model is client subscriptions (cities, counties, etc.) essentially ongoing virtual town-halls where new topics are constantly being pushed for citizen ideas and feedback. We know that if we can build a critical mass of users within a community, it’s going to be really valuable for city leaders, making it really difficult to “turn off” the product. We are fortunate to be cash flowing the business already.
Who are a few competitors?
Bowden: Honestly, there are not a lot of competitors that are purely focused on municipal or elected decision makers. UserVoice is an example of an idea generation platform, but there market is much different. Spigit is another example of a sophisticated idea generation platform, but they tend to focus on enterprise clients. I am sure there is someone out there doing this, we just haven’t come across them yet. The one advantage we have is our background in community planning and the relationships we have developed over the years. We know the topics and processes communities go through as we have been there every step of the way.
Who are you looking to hire?
Bowden: We are looking to bring on a board a lead application developer. Someone to lead a complete upgrade of our current product. It’s pretty exciting to think about having development in house and naturally we think it’s a pretty cool position. Additionally, we can foresee adding to this technology team as more markets come on to the MindMixer platform.
Anything else to add?
Bowden: We are totally grateful for the success we have had thus far and can’t wait to see what the future holds.
To learn more about MindMixer, see our article: “MindMixer provides online idea collaboration for offline communities.”