April 10, 2013
CentUp is a little button with a big goal.
When bloggers, musicians, or comedians put a CentUp button on their website, it encourages viewers to donate. But they aren’t the only ones who benefit – half of the proceeds go to charity.
“It’s hard for content creators to ask their fans for compensation. This makes is immensely easier because of the charitable component,” says founder and CEO Len Kendall. Donators can choose from among a few selected charities, but the list will grow in the future.
Below, Kendall gives a wide-ranging interview about entrepreneurship, his personal story, and CentUp.
Tech Cocktail: What’s the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn so far?
Len Kendall: Raising money for non-profits isn’t as easy as one would think.
Tech Cocktail: What common startup advice do you completely disagree with?
Kendall: That it’s not ok to work part-time. Consulting a few hours a week here or there while you bootstrap is a responsible way to keep your business’s runway longer.
Tech Cocktail: What’s the best entrepreneurship book you’ve read and why?
Kendall: Medici Effect: It’s not intentionally written for entrepreneurs, but it’s extremely relevant to them. It explores the art of connecting intersections between seemingly unrelated things to help invent new ideas and products.
Tech Cocktail: If you had an extra $1,000 to spend on marketing, what would you do?
Kendall: Give it away to our new customers.
Tech Cocktail: What trend are you excited about as a user or consumer?
Kendall: Consumers being more willing to pay for online content they enjoy. Louis CK, Andrew Sullivan, and the entire Kickstarter platform (to some degree) are evidence of this growing behavior.
Tech Cocktail: What’s your biggest personal weakness and how do you make up for it?
Kendall: Hey look at the squirrel!
I get distracted easily on the web. I make up for it by shutting down certain applications on my machine.
Tech Cocktail: What keeps you motivated on the hard days?
Kendall: Reminding myself that I have the freedom right now that very few people in this country have.
Tech Cocktail: What do you wish someone had told you about startup life?
Kendall: Save more money when you’re still making money.
Tech Cocktail: What personality trait has served you the best as an entrepreneur?
Kendall: To quote Jerry Seinfeld’s parents, “It’s hard not to like me.”
Tech Cocktail: How do you unwind on the weekend?
Kendall: I always make time to watch my favorite AMC shows like Walking Dead or Breaking Bad. It’s my Sunday night treat.
Tech Cocktail: What’s your crazy, long-term, huge vision?
Kendall: Change how artists are compensated for their skills. We’re not just a button, we’re going to be an institution that helps creators do more.
Tech Cocktail: Why should I use your product, in 140 characters or fewer?
Kendall: It will help turn your daily activity into something tangibly good for the world.
Tech Cocktail: If your startup were an animal, which one would it be and why?
Kendall: Hummingbird. The activities happening on CentUp will be tiny and frequent.
Tech Cocktail: If your startup were a cocktail, which one would it be and why?
Kendall: Moscow Mule – Slightly uncommon. Really simple. And something that refines an already popular thing.
Tech Cocktail: What’s one quirky fact about you, your team, or your office culture?
We thank one of our fans/customers every single day. Often through extremely weird videos.
CentUp was a showcased startup at our Tech Cocktail Chicago mixer in April.
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