Collaborative Fund & Summer Camp

Cameron

The dust has settled from Brooklyn Beta 2012, and things in Fictive Town are a little less hectic. We’re back to building Rushmore and Done Not Done, and we’re helping our beloved Summer Campers take the next step and raise funding to pursue their work. This relative calm has been a great time to reflect on just how wonderful our summer was.

Cameron, 4th December 2012.

The dust has settled from Brooklyn Beta 2012, and things in Fictive Town are a little less hectic. We’re back to building Rushmore and Done Not Done, and we’re helping our beloved Summer Campers take the next step and raise funding to pursue their work. This relative calm has been a great time to reflect on just how wonderful our summer was.

This Summer, we spent three months alongside 15 sweetheart campers who worked like mad1 to crank out five strong products.2 The dream of Summer Camp was to tell the story of designers and developers working together as partners from the start and working on things that are meaningful and fun.

The experience was better than we could have hoped, and we’ve got a couple of well-deserved thank yous to dole out. First, we want to thank our wonderful, sexy, amazing sponsors. Not only do they make the Brooklyn Beta conference possible, but they also provided the funds we needed to make Summer Camp happen.

Second, we want to thank Craig Shapiro of the Collaborative Fund. This requires a bit more explanation.

Collaborative Fund

Collaborative Fund is a relatively new fund, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at their investments. They’ve backed some of the most exciting startups around, including Kickstarter, Simple, Skillshare, Creative Mornings, Codecademy, and Task Rabbit. They also don’t act like many VCs that we know. They measure success by more than just financial return. They care about social impact as well.

We like the way they think, and it is our opinion that the world would do well to have more investors thinking about investing in this way. It opens up opportunities that might otherwise be overlooked.

The Deal

One such opportunity happened early this year when Craig placed a big bet on Summer Camp. Before we received a single application, he proposed a deal. Any of the Summer Camp teams could choose to have a $50,000 convertible note from the Collaborative Fund. All they had to do was say “please.”

Craig likes to compare this deal to Start Fund, which makes a lot of sense. In structure, the two deals are pretty much the same. That said, I don’t think the comparison gives him enough credit. In the case of Y Combinator and Start Fund, the investors were able to rely on years of a proven track record3 and very large bank accounts. Craig has a smaller fund, and we have no track record to speak of for picking teams and helping them build products.

But, Craig is like us. He believes that teams are better when designers and developers work together as partners from the start. He believes that you can make a great living, turn a profit, and still feel like you’ve made something that makes the world a better place. He’s got guts. Ultimately, he’s playing a higher trust4 game, so he deserves some extra props.

The Outcome

Craig’s early show of support fundamentally changed how we were able to run Summer Camp. Instead of focusing on getting a pitch ready in time for a demo day, we were able to put all our attention on product. All of a sudden, our Campers had enough money to keeping going after summer was over. Now, we’re working together with Craig to help each of the teams fundraise, which has been amazing for us and the Campers alike.

We look forward to what happens next. Stay tuned.

Cameron, 4th December 2012

  1. 1 One team learned iOS development, built the product, and got it in the app store inside three months.
  2. 2 Not to mention all the legal and accounting nonsense that comes with starting a business.
  3. 3 YC had already had its biggest hits, Airbnb and Dropbox, by the time the Start Fund began. That said, SV Angel and Yuri deserve huge props for the innovation and creativity behind their deal.
  4. 4 Higher trust, and therefore, higher risk.

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