Don’t hold it in. Rossland-based Yodel aims to help people realize their dreams and boost charities.
There is a new breed of entrepreneurs emerging, for whom profit is just one reason for being.
Often referred to as “social entrepreneurs”, they buck the trend of measuring performance simply in terms of profit. This new breed of enterprising folk, like the Rossland-based team behind Yodel, also take into account a positive return to their customers and to society in general.
Imagine, if you will, a business which creates positive life benefits for its community, generates money for local charities, and makes a profit for its founders and their investors.
Such an idea was spawned through inspiration gained and a challenge thrown down at the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon.
“Andrea and I attended WDS in 2012,” recalled Mike Kent, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of the team launching Yodel. “The premise was: “How do you live a remarkable life in a conventional world?”
With lots of idea seeds duly planted, stoke levels maxed out, and new contacts secured, the true genesis for Yodel lives in the closing moments of that conference.
“They gave every attendee $100 of their registration fees back, called it the $100 investment, and challenged us to really do something with that money,” continued Kent. “Pretty quickly after we left, we decided it would be great if we could turn that $100 into $100,000 for charity. But how would we do that?”
Project co-founder and chief executive officer Andrea Winckers came up with the idea to launch a new platform that would support people doing awesome things for themselves, meanwhile raising money for the local charities they felt passionate about. Hooking up with friends and now business partners Aerin and Jimmy Guy (marketing and web development experts respectively), the group formed Copper Hut Technologies to hone and launch the concept.
The result is Yodel, an online community and social fundraising site designed for people that want to make a positive change in their life and raise money for local charities at the same time. While still in the development phase, Yodel is aimed at people who have goals and challenges they would like to achieve. Yodel’s suite of tools and features provide the nudge to make it happen.
Like Movember, for example, people raise money toward achieving a goal. The proceeds raised are donated to charity. But, unlike Movember, the element of personal priority and choice is paramount, as Yodellers choose and complete unique feats of personal awesomeness such as finishing a triathlon, or simply pledging to spend more time with family, rather than simply growing a one-size-fits-all ‘stache. Yodellers also get to choose their local charity partner. Yodellers then ramp up their pledge efforts through their on and offline networks, and can access a community of support through the site.
Yodel takes a small percentage of the money raised to cover administrative costs.
“People who sign up for Yodel can commit to a challenge and go through a coaching process that gives them the tools to make these challenges more likely to be fulfilled than the typical challenges you find on other sites,” explained Aerin Guy, co-founder and chief marketing officer.
“People are also able to connect with a local charity through the site, so that the impact of their personal challenge is felt at the community level. The ability to see that impact and have the money raised go toward organizations that people see on a daily basis around them is something that really adds to the experience.”
Inspired by real life yodellers (and glamourous lederhosen), the name itself fits directly with the concept of sending out positive vibes, and drawing in other users.
“The name came from the ripple and vibration effect when yodellers chant their song from mountaintop to mountaintop,” added Guy. “When we thought about different names, we wanted something that really resonated, and there is nothing in the world that resonates more than a yodel.”
With lots of inspiration and support and general concept in hand, the Yodel team has accelerated their business development by reaching out and utilizing local services such as those provided by the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST), including the Venture Acceleration Program (VAP).
“The Venture Acceleration Program from KAST has been an amazing resource for us,” explained Guy. “Our mentor, Don McCormick, has been an absolute joy to work with. We connect with him both in person and online and he has been instrumental in helping us hone our positioning statement, work on our business model, and keep on track and accountable for the things that we need to do moving forward toward launch.”
“He really gets what we are doing,” added Jimmy Guy, chief technology officer. “It’s like having someone get directly involved and help us put this business together rather than someone simply telling us to do this and do that.”
In preparation for its upcoming beta launch, the Yodel team is working through a market research program to further hone their product and test their assumptions. Interested beta testers can contact Aerin Guy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Early in 2014, the first yodellers will begin singing from the mountaintops as the site goes live and users can begin posting and carrying out challenges.