Social entrepreneurism at its finest right here: HandUp, a site that allows people to donate to homeless people in their neighborhoods safely, just closed its first seed round of $850K.
The new funds will allow the company to expand across more of the San Francisco Bay Area and to the East Coast.
Rose Broome, CEO and co-founder of HandUp, got the idea for the site while out walking on a cold night in San Francisco. After walking past a homeless woman sleeping out in the cold she “wondered why we can press a button on our smartphone to call an Uber or order dinner, but that we have no similarly convenient way to help someone in need right here in our own community,” she said. And with that thought in mind, she set to work.
“I believe that new solutions to poverty are within our reach,” she told VentureBeat.
HandUp is a site that allows people to donate to specific homeless people they meet. Or you can visit the company’s website and read members’ stories. You can also see what he needs the money for and opt to give a one-time donation. You also have the option of offering monthly and ongoing support to the homeless in your neighborhood. Once you’ve donated, you’ll receive updates from the members to see how they’re doing.
Upon signing up, members are given cards they can hand out to people they meet on the street with information on how to donate to them.
When the site first launched last year, the team was quick to point out that it enables people to give donations without having to worry about if the money will fuel drug or alcohol addictions. Rather, the money can only be redeemed at local partner organizations with the help of a case worker like Project Homeless Connect, Compass Family Services, and North Beach Citizens. Members can fundraise for a variety of items like medical services, housing, dentures, phones, and computers to aid in the job search.
L.A.-based entrepreneur and investor Jason Calacanis led the round with numerous high-profile tech investors following. They included Boris Wertz of Version One Ventures, Urban.us, SV Angle, 1776, Marc Benioff, Arjun Banker, Ron Conway, Michael Birth, Cyan and Scott Banister, Thomas McInerney, Leah Pearlman, Karl Jacob, Eric Ries, Scott Wainner, Kathy Salmanowitz, and Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian. Tumml, who supported HandUp from its inception, also contributed.
HandUp launched in June 2013. It was founded by Rose Broome and Zac Witte and is incorporated as a Delaware Public Benefit Corporation. The company made an appearance at Launch earlier this year at which time a HandUp member, Adam Reichart gave a moving first-hand account of how the site has helped him.