“I’m not an MIT genius who can catch lightning in a bottle,” claims entrepreneur Barry Hinckley, “but I am good at discovering opportunity and finding the unexplored territory within that, then hanging around long enough to find a product/market fit.”
He did that with his last company, Bullhorn, a software and operations solution for the staffing industry that now employs more than 700 people globally. He’s at it again with his startup Yotme, an experience marketing and social relationship management (SRM) platform that he describes as being “at the crossroads of customer relationship management and social networking.”
And this time he’s got philanthropy built into the very business model of his enterprise.
Many entrepreneurs around Boston have committed to giving back to the community through Pledge 1% Boston by planning how much to give and to which organizations once they have a “liquidity event.” Hinckley’s twist on this is to pledge up to 10 percent of the company’s value and to get the nonprofits involved well before the giving event; in fact, they “can participate in wealth creation,” he says: By using the product (for free), which includes a ticketing and event management tool combined with a networking platform enabling guests to connect before, during and after an event, they are bringing the business closer to that magical liquidity event and earning credits toward a share of the returns.
Hinckley has launched for-profit companies and worked for nonprofits as well, but says this is his first opportunity to merge both. “I’m fired up about it,” he says. His approach to starting a business is to take something that’s disorganized and make it organized, he explains. With Yotme he’s addressing the sometimes scattered world of fundraising events and two inherent challenges: for hosts, producing events efficiently, and for guests or donors, organizing their social community to get more out of the time and money they invest in those events. Hinckley loved the idea of Pledge 1% Boston and wanted to find a way to reasonably up that percentage, which is how he conceived of his brand of IPO, or “initial philanthropic offering.” Pledge 1% Boston brings out the innovator even in innovators.
Yotme has recently given shares in future stock to the Boston Foundation to establish it as the custodian of the Yotme Charitable Fund. On the occasion of a future liquidity event, the Foundation would be responsible for distributing grants to eligible charities based on the resulting available funds. Under the terms of the IPO, nonprofits that use the Yotme platform to sell tickets to their events would be eligible for grants from the fund.
“The Boston Foundation has a long history of working with business and other organizations to strengthen and expand their philanthropy,” says Paul Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “This Initial Philanthropic Offering concept is a unique way for Yotme to demonstrate its commitment to the nonprofit sector and potentially drive millions of dollars in charitable donations in years to come.”
Hinckley is aiming for that, with a vision to make Yotme a billion dollar company.
“My goal as an entrepreneur is to support my family, of course,” he says, and also, “in my father’s words, to leave the world better than I found it. Pledge 1% Boston is a way to do the latter.”