Get Meetings with In-Demand Mentors on Connect for a Cause

Would you pay $1,150 for a meeting with 500 Startups’s Dave McClure?

Someone did. And they did it on Connect for a Cause, a site that lets anyone auction off meetings for charity. CEO and cofounder Jason Nicosia is counting on how desperately people want connections – and how hard they are to get.

“There’s two things that you really need to get ahead in life. One is just really hard work – and there’s nothing I can do to help my friends with that – and the other thing is knowing the right people,” says Nicosia. “There’s nothing worse than making a cold call.”

The New Orleans startup launched in public beta in late January, after raising almost $30,000 for charity during a private test. Entrepreneurs and mentors, as well as celebrities and artists, are auctioning off their time and choosing from a couple hundred thousand charities to donate to. Here, Nicosia is counting on busy people’s altruism to encourage them to schedule meetings they wouldn’t otherwise take.

Nicosia was inspired by a silent auction he attended, where lunch meetings with VIPs were being bid on. As it turns out, the startup Clarity came to a similar conclusion: mentors can get paid for phone meetings or donate the money to charity. The difference is that Connect for a Cause directly engages the charities, allowing them to manage a profile and get lists of supporters. In that way, Connect for a Cause is more akin to Raise5.

Connect for a Cause takes a 5 to 20 percent fee on the amount raised (the higher the amount, the lower the percentage). While they currently focus on face-to-face meetings – the holy grail of networking – Nicosia says they may roll out video calls in the next few months.

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Written by:
Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact
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