Some of the Neighbor.ly team hard at work in their Kansas City, Mo., headquarters.
Neighbor.ly has kept its foot on the gas over the last year. In May, it was accepted into the Points of Light Civic Accelerator and won a $50,000 investment in September as it was selected by its peers as the top for-profit company. In June, it received a $175,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
That momentum continued Monday with its first day at the Tumml accelerator in San Francisco. Focused on early-stage companies that provide products and services that better urban living, CEO Jase Wilson told Silicon Prairie News it was a natural fit.
“It’s an accelerator for exactly what we do,” he said. “We felt like with a little more acceleration we’d be where we needed to go.”
The Kansas City-based civic startup joins four others in the program, which runs through May 6 and provides a $20,000 seed investment for about 5 percent in equity. But unlike Points of Light, the end goal isn’t a prize. It’s about the journey and experience. Wilson and the rest of the team will take turns flying out to San Francisco to stay in an apartment they’re renting near Tumml’s downtown space.
Wilson said they applied primarily for the expertise, which includes “world leaders on public finance policy,” and the opportunity to make connections in Silicon Valley. He doesn’t think they’ll be able to raise a multi-million-dollar Series A in the Silicon Prairie, and the company is planning to make a run at that in the coming months.
More than anything, Neighbor.ly can use the accelerator as a way to truly evolve its product, like they hope. Long known as a crowdfunding platform for public projects, Wilson has far bigger aspirations. It’s transforming into a fundraising toolkit, he said, with crowdfunding, corporate sponsorships, challenge matches, auctions, public finance tools and more.
Without hesitation, Wilson said “the big, hairy goal is to disrupt public finance. The really big picture is to repatriate funds to be put back into communities.
“We intend to help communities help themselves. When our communities are suffering, we’re all suffering. We want to be this enabler. The time is right to do this.”
Sunlight Foundation, too
The team also recently received a grant from the Sunlight Foundation to build the “first-ever” open civic crowdfunding API and reporting specification.
“Because this is crowdfunding that affects the public realm, it ought to be transparent,” Wilson said. “The open API will help Neighbor.ly become the most transparent crowdfunding platform.
Credits: Photo from Neighbor.ly’s Facebook page.