Another US crowdfunding company has set their sights on Europe – San Francisco-based social fundraising startup Rally.org has just announced its expansion to Europe with a self-built payment system that now processes euros and a Berlin office to support European causes.
The platform allows anyone who wants to raise money for a cause to start an online campaign, whether it be for an environmental initiative, a personal project or for charity. As of today, Rally.org, which currently claims to have three million users, will open up to Europeans – in limited beta. Rally “Cause Leaders” can open an account and accept euros but will initially need a German-based bank account to receive funds.
RallyPad, the company’s incubator for non-profit startups and social entrepreneurs, has been in Berlin since November 2011 and houses three German startups.
The crowded crowdfunding space
The concept of crowdfunding has been gaining momentum in the last couple of years with a host of companies such as Seedmatch, BerlinCrowd and Innovestment spawning in Germany alone. Furthermore, a couple of big US-based players operating in the space have already stepped onto European terrain with Indiegogo introducing euro transactions last December and Kickstarter launching in the UK last October.
When asked about these competitors, founder and CEO Tom Serres responded: “I don’t really care about competition. I just don’t pay any attention to it.
“I think they’re very limited in vision. They’re really cool funding tools but that’s all they’re ever going to be. For us, in terms of purpose and scope, we want to power the cause economy,” he added.
Similar to Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Rally charges a per cent transaction fee for each donation. However, instead of using PayPal or Amazon Checkout to process payments, the company has built their own payment system that reportedly has the capability to support 17 currencies.
Pivoting from political to personal
Rally started out as a platform for politicians to raise money and developed into a platform for individuals and organisations to garner support for causes of all stripes. The tool focuses on the storytelling and community engagement aspect of promoting a cause – not just the financial goal.
The company has also announced their first “Give Camp” event in Berlin that will be held on 8 – 10 February. By bringing together tech professionals and Rally cause leaders, Rally hopes to educate users on the best ways to fundraise online.
Last June, the startup raised a Series A round of $7.9m in funding through startup platform AngelList. Among the investors who participated in the round were Reid Hoffman of Greylock Partners, Kevin Rose of Google Ventures, Tim Ferriss and Eric Ries.