How it Works

What is UFunded?

UFunded is the only crowdfunding platform dedicated to accelerating entrepreneurship within university communities. UFunded leverages the natural connections among students, alumni and faculty enabling entrepreneurs to showcase their product, service or creative vision to an existing but untapped resource of university-affiliated Funders, advisors and collaborators.

Crowdfunding is the next generation of financing for entrepreneurship.  It is clear that crowdfunding is more than a phenomenon, it is a game changer.  Crowdfunding is a simple way for individuals to network and pool their money and expertise together to support entrepreneurship.  Crowdfunding leverages social media, revolutionizing the way entrepreneurs get the funding, expertise, mentorship and exposure they need to be successful.

Two forms of crowdfunding are emerging and both are supported by UFunded.  One form of crowdfunding involves entrepreneurs raising money through donations in exchange for unique rewards for the Funders of their company (“Rewards-based”).  The other form (which will become effective in 2013) will allow entrepreneurs to raise equity capital through regulated crowdfunding portals (“Equity-based”).  Currently, UFunded allows companies to establish a Company Profile in order to showcase their business to potential accredited investors.  To learn more about how UFunded supports both entrepreneurs and funders, please read below:

I.  UFunded University: A Guide for Entrepreneurs

The status quo for entrepreneurship is broken. Entrepreneurs carry a heavy burden and substantial risk when they pursue their dreams. Entrepreneurs need a mix of funding, market validation, early customers and luck to be successful. Finding the right mix of these factors is extremely hard and inefficient. Entrepreneurs need the help of a community to make it but are often restricted to their personal networks for support.

UFunded offers a solution to this problem. Every entrepreneur faces challenges and will need help along the way. UFunded is the only platform that connects entrepreneurs with the alumni from their university community who understand the emotional bond that is shared across generations, geography and cultures. UFunded allows an entrepreneur to reach an untapped network of university-affiliated Funders who share the same traditions, values, pride and passion that you have.  Your university community can accelerate your entrepreneurial vision.

Entrepreneurs can be off and running with built-in community support. Entrepreneurs can now get funding, validate their concept, acquire customers and rely on a supportive network of Funders through an easy and efficient process. Setting up a campaign allows entrepreneurs to dive into the market without relying on blind faith. Innovative concepts are championed by Funders who desire your rewards and want access to your products, services or creative vision. Funders also want to help in other ways by introducing entrepreneurs to relevant contacts and potential customers.

UFunded is about more than simply raising money for entrepreneurs and their supporters.  We connect entrepreneurs with people who have a pre-existing passion to advise, mentor and otherwise help entrepreneurs from their schools.  Mentors and advisors can search for the people and companies they want to help.  Entrepreneurs can post company “needs” for any part of their business that needs expert help-such as legal guidance, public relations, sales, marketing, etc.

What does UFunded provide Entrepreneurs?

UFunded provides a customizable template that allows entrepreneurs to promote their product, service or creative vision. Campaigners create videos, post photos and give detailed information to explain their product or service. Entrepreneurs share their ideas with family and friends using built-in social media tools that link to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube.   Funders and supporters evaluate entrepreneurs and support the people they care about.

UFunded provides marketing services, such as newsletters and other promotions that assist in generating buzz.  UFunded also crafts custom marketing messages and email templates to help individual entrepreneurs share their story with family, friends and associates.  All the support you need is provided, including tips, to set up and deliver the best possible campaign.

What types of Content will UFunded host?

Entrepreneurs can create a Company Profile, a Crowdfunding Campaign, or both on UFunded.  In the section below is a description of the important distinctions between these services to help you, the entrepreneur, select the model that best fits your needs.  In the meantime, a couple of general ground rules:

UFunded only hosts content that has commercial appeal. This includes content for startups, social entrepreneurship, existing companies and artistic causes (music, movies, books, art, etc). Campaigns need to show a tangible product, service or creative vision that will result from reaching a fundraising goal. Funders will see a transparent vision of what is being created. The best entrepreneurs do an effective job of showcasing their vision and explaining it to the world.

UFunded will not host personal cause or illicit content. UFunded loves charity and people but will not host content that aims to fund a vacation, wedding or non-commercial cause. Content focused on drug use, violence or illicit causes will not be accepted. UFunded is dedicated to maintaining supportive university communities that focus on connecting entrepreneurs with funders and supporters for content with commercial appeal.

Should I post a Company Profile or a Rewards-Based Crowdfunding Campaign?

Whether you decide to craft a Company Profile or a Crowdfunding Campaign, showcasing your idea on UFunded will help you connect with students, alumni and faculty supporters from your university community.  Entrepreneurs who elect to raise money through rewards-based crowdfunding typically can produce a tangible good or service with the potential to resonate with a broad consumer segment of the population.  Rewards-based crowdfunding allows the entrepreneur to test consumer demand, prove the value of a good or service and solicit feedback from a broad audience on their initial ideas.  In addition, rewards-based crowdfunding allows entrepreneurs to raise capital without giving up any ownership interest in their company.

Rewards-based crowdfunding does have limitations.  Not every company or business idea is well-suited to raise money by offering rewards for donations.  For example, businesses that sell products or services to other businesses are limited in their ability to mobilize rewards-based donations.  The products they offer simply are not branded to resonate with a broad consumer audience.  This makes it inherently difficult for those companies to build support from a very broad consumer product oriented audience (i.e., “the crowd).

Business-to-business companies need capital to grow just as much as consumer facing companies.  Unfortunately, all entrepreneurs seeking equity capital are often limited to venture capital funds, angel investors or friends and family.  In addition, entrepreneurs in the United States have to traverse many legal roadblocks in order to raise equity capital through crowdfunding sites.  However in April of 2012, the JOBS Act was signed into law and when the SEC finalizes the regulations in 2013, entrepreneurs will have a much easier time raising equity capital via SEC registered crowdfunding portals.

The JOBS Act is very exciting for entrepreneurs and for the funders who wish to buy equity in companies.  The law will not be implemented until 2013 after the SEC refines the legislation.  At UFunded, we believe that the existing laws, in place before the JOBS Act was passed, should be used to benefit entrepreneurs and the university communities that support them.  In the meantime, UFunded is offering entrepreneurs the opportunity to showcase their idea using a Company Profile page.

Things to Know about creating a Company Profile

When creating a Company Profile entrepreneurs can describe its equity or convertible debt issuance to accredited investors.  The terms of these investment opportunities are only available to accredited investors.  SEC regulations limit access to convertible debt and equity financing terms to sophisticated investors who understand the inherent risks of investment in companies.

Until the SEC finalizes the rules around crowdfunding and crowdfunding portals, the entrepreneur cannot currently raise any equity capital through the UFunded site.  All equity transactions must take place directly between the entrepreneur (issuer) and the accredited investor.  No transactions are available using the UFunded site.

Things to Know about creating a Rewards-based Crowdfunding Campaign

Crowdfunding campaigns for university-affiliated, 501(c)(3) non-profits do not have to reach their fundraising goals to receive donations. If the affiliated university recognizes the donation as a tax-deductible charitable contribution, the crowdfunding campaigns will keep all funds donated. Please read the individual campaign descriptions to verify this. You will receive a tax receipt from UFunded after making a donation.

Every other crowdfunding campaign on UFunded must reach its fundraising goal to receive the donated money. For-profit companies and non-profit organizations not affiliated with a university will use an all-or-nothing format. Any Funder that contributes to a campaign that does not reach its goal will have their money refunded. Entrepreneurs must explain what the funds will be used for and need to reach that goal to execute their plan. Of course, every campaign is allowed to exceed their fundraising goal!

We turn crowdfunding into a fun, engaging and competitive event.  Something magical happens when passionate university communities are in a competitive environment. Regardless of who you root for, there are multiple intense natural rivalries that exist.  We leverage the intensity of these rivalries by tracking engagement and funding results between colleges with real-time leader boards, head-to-head matchups and fun creative promotions.

How do I create a Company Profile or Crowdfunding Campaign

  • Go to our “Start Your Campaign” page
  • Fill out the simple required categories
  • Create a video
  • Give a detailed explanation of your campaign
  • Spread the word and get yourself funded!

Pricing

  • There is no fee to join and setting up a company profile or crowdfunding campaign is free!
  • UFunded collects 5% of all funds raised through a crowdfunding campaign reach the stated target.  There is no fee for creating or maintaining a Company Profile.
  • Each transaction is handled by a payment processor who charges a fee based on the dollar amount of the funding received.  Typically this ranges from 3% to 5% of your funding.  Current rates are $0.30 per transaction plus 2.9% per transaction.

II.  UFunded University: A Guide for Funders

Why Should I support an Entrepreneur

UFunded helps alumni stay connected with their university community in a new way. Remember your college years? Tailgates. The Big Game. All-night study sessions. Graduation. It provided a lifetime of invaluable, treasured memories and friends. College is often where you first lived away from home and built the foundation for personal and professional growth. Everyone’s college experience is unique but the love for your university is special. Once graduated, your pride and passion for the university has only grown and been rewarded.

UFunded is an innovative way for alumni to network with entrepreneurs from their university community. Your support makes a difference in the lives of the entrepreneurs you support. UFunded gives you the opportunity to pay it forward by providing mentorship, making connections and being recognized as a positive force by members of your community.

Supporting entrepreneurship on UFunded can get you cool stuff! Entrepreneurs that run a rewards-based crowdfunding campaign offer up cool rewards, products and services to the Funders that support them. These rewards are offered by the entrepreneur to give you an incentive to fund their dream. Rewards are usually based on the product, service or creative vision of the entrepreneur. Check out each campaign to find a reward that you want and then fund that campaign. UFunded helps the entrepreneur track their donations to make it easy to deliver the rewards.

What is the difference between a Crowdfunding Campaign and a Company Profile?

Rewards-Based Crowdfunding Campaign.  When you support a rewards-based crowdfunding campaign, you are providing non-equity capital (i.e., a donation) to the entrepreneur.  If the entrepreneur has done their job effectively, their UFunded campaign will explain what they are planning to do with the funds to advance their idea.  In return for the donation, the entrepreneur will typically offer a “reward” that is associated with their product or service

Company Profile.  Some entrepreneurs may choose not to run a rewards-based crowdfunding campaign.  Rather, using UFunded’s Company Profile feature, the entrepreneur can showcase his or her company to their alumni community in order to receive feedback, mentoring or professional services necessary to take the company to the next level.  In addition, if you are an accredited investor, (click here for the definition) you can view the terms of the securities offering on a secure page and contact the entrepreneur directly to find out more information or conduct further due diligence on the investment opportunity.

Things to Know about Company Profiles

UFunded offers accredited investors access to convertible debt and equity investments. Perhaps you like the product, service or creative vision so much you want to own a piece of it!  If you are an accredited investor, you can connect with the entrepreneur directly and make an investment.  The JOBS Act passed April 5, 2012 and changes U.S. investment laws in 2013 to allow non-accredited investors the opportunity to use crowdfunding for equity investments.

There are no guarantees for success and any investment you make can fail.  If you are uncomfortable with this possibility you should not make convertible debt or equity investments.  It is imperative that entrepreneurs and accredited investors do their own due diligence and independent fact-checking on investment terms and opportunities.  UFunded allows for online connections to be made but investors and entrepreneurs must make their own independent decisions.

In the United States, current SEC regulations only allow accredited investors (typically individuals with either net worth of over $1 million, excluding their home, or income exceeding $200,000 for 3+ years) to purchase equity online through a registered broker dealer because they are considered sophisticated investors.  New investment legislation, the JOBS Act, was passed April 5, 2012 and changes U.S. investment laws to allow equity investment through crowdfunding in 2013 for all Americans, regardless of income. UFunded embraces these progressive changes.

UFunded screens all crowdfunding campaigns to protect Funders and to ensure these criteria are met.  Company profiles are not screened by UFunded because they may or may not contain convertible debt or equity financing terms.  We do not endorse investments into any company.  Entrepreneurs and accredited investors need to perform their own due diligence on any investment opportunity. 

Things to know about a Rewards-based Crowdfunding Campaign

Crowdfunding campaigns for university-affiliated, 501(c)(3) non-profits do not have to reach their fundraising goals to receive donations. If the affiliated university recognizes the donation as a tax-deductible charitable contribution, the crowdfunding campaigns will keep all funds donated. Please read the individual campaign descriptions to verify this. You will receive a tax receipt from UFunded after making a donation.

Every other crowdfunding campaign on UFunded must reach its fundraising goal to receive the donated money. For-profit companies and non-profit organizations not affiliated with a university will use an all-or-nothing format. Any Funder that contributes to a campaign that does not reach its goal will have their money refunded. Entrepreneurs must explain what the funds will be used for and need to reach that goal to execute their plan. Of course, every campaign is allowed to exceed their fundraising goal!

We turn crowdfunding into a fun, engaging and competitive event.  Something magical happens when passionate university communities are in a competitive environment. Regardless of who you root for, there are multiple intense natural rivalries that exist.  We leverage the intensity of these rivalries by tracking engagement and funding results between colleges with real-time leader boards, head-to-head matchups and fun creative promotions.

Pricing

  • There is no fee to join.
  • UFunded collects 5% of all funds raised through crowdfunding campaigns that reach the stated target.
  • Each transaction is handled by a payment processor who charges a fee based on the dollar amount of the funding received.  Typically this ranges from 3% to 5% of your funding.  Current rates are $0.30 per transaction plus 2.9% per transaction.