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Bless A Buck offers startups a leg up

Thanks to southwest-area business owners Michael Durant and Joe Sanchez and Centennial Hills-area resident Gary Sturm, there’s no longer a need to beg Mom and Dad for a loan.

The team recently launched blessabuck.com, a crowdfunding website in which entrepreneurs and dreamers can collect funding for ideas or services they create.

Crowdfunding is the effort of individuals networking and collecting money from online members to support or fund an idea.

“With people losing their homes and jobs in the economy, they get so discouraged,” said Sturm, Bless A Buck’s CEO. “We’re giving them their dreams back.”

The catch is that the idea must positively impact society. For example, an individual raising money to open a business can have a positive impact by creating jobs.

“All our hearts are based on philanthropy and giving back and helping people,” said Durant, creative marketing officer. “Everything we do is about leaving a legacy.”

Each individual who contributes money to a campaign will receive a reward from the campaign holder depending on the amount.

“Five dollars might get your name on a website, but $50 might get you a T-shirt, a thank you card and your name on the website,” Durant said. “They’re not only incentives but also ways to give back to the community.”

The idea of the company was sparked during a conversation about raising money for Sturm’s nephew to go to church camp.

“(My nephew) said, ‘It would be great if everyone could just bless us with a buck,’ ” Sturm said. “It just hit me, just like that. I knew there was something there; I just didn’t know what.”

Sturm told Sanchez to research the website domain name and purchase it. After a year of tossing ideas around, the team decided to pursue a crowdfunding platform.

Although the idea of crowdfunding is not new, the team developed ways to stand out, such as promoting clients and offering long-term advice.

Bless A Buck shares campaigns with its partners, just as its clients are expected to share campaigns with their friends and family.

“We promote, you promote,” Durant said. “We actually take part in your campaign.”

In addition, the company will coach clients on how to promote campaigns using videos, photos, social media and public relations.

After campaigns finish successfully, the client can receive marketing and manufacturing help through the company partners.

“We see the holes you have, and we help you plug them,” said Sanchez, chief technology officer. “Most platforms don’t care, and that’s the biggest difference.”

Honor Flight Southern Nevada, a nonprofit organization, is running a campaign through October on blessabuck.com to raise $50,000.

The money will fly about 60 World War II veterans living in Southern Nevada to see the World War II monument in Washington, D.C., with all expenses paid.

According to Peter Maheu, a volunteer in the campaign, the organization connected with the company because it feels safe.

“They seemed like an excellent platform, and they make it easy for contributors to donate without a lot of hassle,” Maheu said. “Some say this is a flight of a lifetime for these vets. It’s a very emotional experience, and I hope we can do it for them.”

Unlike some crowdfunding platforms, Bless A Buck allows each client to keep the money collected, even if their goal was not reached.

“If you were raising $100,000 but you only got to $95,000, you still worked your butt off for that,” Durant said. “We will make sure you can still use that money.”

The team plans to create a Build A Buck website once the U.S. government finishes writing regulations allowing clients to offer equity in their businesses through crowdfunding platforms.

While other websites such as kickstarter.com or indiegogo.com have similar crowdfunding models, Durant said each platform has its own niche.

“It’s like saying, ‘Why does Vegas need another restaurant?’ ” he said. “This is a niche market, and we found ours in providing social good.”

Contact Southwest/Spring Valley View reporter Caitlyn Belcher at cbelcher@viewnews.com or 702-383-0403.

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