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Sunday, 26 June 2016 10:24

GR crowdfunding firm merges with U.K. platform

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GRAND RAPIDS — A West Michigan venture initially launched to connect college entrepreneurs across the U.S. with prospective alumni investors has merged with a U.K.-based crowdfunding platform for the education sector.

CampusStarter LLC, which Tom Coke and partner Matt Larson formed a year ago in Grand Rapids, merged June 1 into London-based The company operates a crowdfunding platform that works with more than 35 university development offices and nonprofit organizations in the U.K. to help them raise money.

Coke is now the vice president in North America for the five-year-old, which has been working to break into the market.

The deal illustrates how small the world has become in the modern digital age and the partnerships that can quickly result from it. 

After executives from read a story on in April about CampusStarter’s launch, they reached out to Coke about a potential partnership that would extend their reach to North America. The conversation led to absorbing in exchange for equity.

“We’re going to be their North American office,” Coke said.

The deal with makes sense because the company’s platform uses technology that is “probably the best technology that I’ve seen in this particular sector of crowdfunding” and has a “ton of knowledge” built up about crowdfunding, according to Coke.

“A lot of the things that we were planning to build, they already have built, and so that’s an advantage for us,” he said. “The merger between the two will basically take the strengths of both of our companies and turn it into one better company.”

CampusStarter began as a rewards-based crowdfunding platform where students could post their ideas. The portal allowed prospective investors to browse the website for potential investment opportunities.

The connection with occurred as CampusStarter pivoted and, through pilot efforts, began to transition its model to focus more on working with university development offices nationwide and how they raise money, Coke said. Connecting with, which sells its platform to university development offices, accelerated that transition for CampusStarter, he said.

“We kind of had to start at ground zero again, which is the reason why this acquisition absolutely made sense. That’s the market they’ve been in the whole time, so it gave us an opportunity to begin selling a product that already exists for that purpose,” Coke said. “It was the perfect partnership.” 

Read 2778 times Last modified on Wednesday, 17 May 2017 16:08

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