Laughing and giving to charity are good for the soul, and Cogo enables you to do both at the same time.
The startup live-streams performances from comedians who are raising money for charities and passion projects. Formerly known as Laffster, Cogo redesigned its platform to focus on quick fundraising campaigns and include a wider range of celebrities.
“We are creating what can be considered the modern day telethon,” cofounder and CEO Dan Altmann told VentureBeat. “Crowdfunding campaigns take weeks to do, [entail] a ton of marketing on behalf of the artists, and yield mixed results on whether the funds will ever even be accessible. We created Cogo as a unique and easy-to-use platform where artists are given all the tools they need to easily turn on a camera and crowdfund in one evening.”
Actors, authors, musicians, and athletes are now also using Cogo to raise money for their patron causes. Artists set a time and date for a performance and determine incentives, such as signed merchandise or a personal voicemail. Fans tune in to watch and can purchase the incentives or make a donation to support the cause.
Examples include Jimmy Pardo, Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm, and Patton Oswalt helping to raise over $140,000 for Smile Train in just 12 hours. Walking The Room hosts Greg Behrendt and Dave Anthony raised over $3,300 in only an hour for their podcast in the back of a comic book store in Hollywood. And Timothy DeLaGhetto, one of YouTube’s top personalities and Wild n’ Out star, helped raise over $8,500 in 90 minutes for the Philippines and World Food Programme.
Altmann said this is preferable to other crowdfunding for two reasons. First, as he mentioned above, celebrities are busy and don’t necessarily want to get tied up in a two-month-long crowdfunding campaign. It is also useful for time-sensitive causes, like the Philippines disasters.
“By focusing our platform on a unique live streamed experience, content unfolds in real-time right before the artists’ fans,” Altmann said. “This effectively creates a moment that quickly drives donations, condensing the amount of time it takes to raise funds for the given cause.”
Crowdfunding has become a powerful force to raise money for good causes as well as creative projects. It generated $5.1 billion in 2013 across hundreds of different platforms. In some cases, long campaigns are effective, for example, when a company is generating pre-orders for a product. However short-burst campaigns are effective in cases like calls-to-action for charity. Razoo, which sets up 24 hour online Giving Days for good causes, recently passed a milestone of $200 million raised.
Altmann said Cogo makes crowdfunding more interactive and fun, and capitalizes on celebrities’ fame to attract potential donors.
Santa Monica-based Cogo emerged out of Los Angeles-based accelerator MuckerLab and has raised seed funding from Wealthfront CEO Adam Nash, StockTwits cofounder Howard Lindzon, Chris Williams of Maker Studios, Greylock Partners, and Paradigm Talent Agency.