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[June 25, 2014]
Colorado Springs startup joins statewide effort to commit equity for nonprofit assistance [Gazette, The (CO)]
(Gazette, The (CO) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Software company FuseSport has pledged 1 percent of its equity to the Entrepreneur's Foundation of Colorado, making it the first Colorado Springs startup to join a growing list of companies committed to helping out the state's nonprofits.
FuseSport, which provides cloud-based sports management software to event organizers worldwide, moved its headquarters from Australia to Colorado Springs last year. Andrew Clark, the company's vice president of innovation, said the company joined the foundation to demonstrate FuseSport's commitment to the serving the Pikes Peak area.
"We wanted to do more in terms of impacting the local community," he said. "We didn't want to come in from another place and just take." EFCO, founded in 2008 by several tech companies, encourages Colorado startups to pledge 1 percent of their equity or annual profits to nonprofits in Colorado, from philanthropic foundations to local charities. Sixty-five companies have pledged nearly $3 million to date.
"The idea is that startups can pledge equity before it's worth much," said Morgan McMillan, EFCO's executive director. "It's a really easy way to build giving back into company culture." EFCO, staffed almost exclusively by volunteers, hired McMillan as a part-time employee two years ago. The foundation's membership has doubled since then, and within the last year, two prominent startups delivered thousands of dollars to Colorado nonprofits upon outgrowing the startup phase. Rally Software, a business solutions company, went public last year and revealed a pledge worth $1.4 million. In April, Twitter acquired GNIP, a social data provider, making the startup's pledge worth $587,000.
"We are trying to continue to expand, and we hope that these companies show other companies how easy it is to give just a little bit of equity away now," McMillan said. "We would love to bring on 100 companies by the end of the year." Clark said FuseSport is pursuing an aggressive growth strategy that could result in an acquisition or an IPO within the next several years. The company holds about 25 percent of the market share for multi-sport event management, a figure Clark hopes will grow to 30 percent within five years.
"We're looking to expand rapidly," he said. "We already have customers, revenue and angel investors." Since raising $1 million from local investors in the spring, FuseSport has hired 12 people, bringing its workforce to 23. Clark said he expects the company to add 20 to 30 employees and seek venture capital in the next year.
FuseSport's software products are used by hundred of sport and event organizations worldwide, including The Color Run and the World Lifesaving Championships. Within the last year, the company has acquired 38 U.S. customers.
Though EFCO members are afforded the opportunity to choose which nonprofits receive their pledge money, Clark said FuseSport hasn't specified which organizations it would like to support.
"It will probably go to an umbrella organization along the lines of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation," he said.
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