August 22, 2011
How would you like to spend a day on the set of Modern Family? Or hang out with scientists at the MIT Robotics Lab? Or win a chance to meet with X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis?
You can enter a sweepstakes to do all of the above thanks to a brand-spanking new (literally, it’s like 2 days old) charity-focused company called Omaze that just launched at Startup Weekend LA this past weekend (and they got 3rd prize – sweet!). Their first sweepstake is the meeting with Peter, which is currently live on their site.
So here’s how Omaze works: They offer the opportunity to engage in once-in-a-lifetime experiences with everyone from celebrities to professional athletes to the world’s greatest thinkers. A portion of the proceeds from each sweepstakes is donated to support a social mission of the celebrity or luminary’s choice.
The experiences will be documented through an ongoing digital video series hosted on the site that both promotes the “prizes” and empowers the visitors to contribute to and grow from the content. [Full disclosure: one of our writers here at Tech Cocktail, Adam Zuckerman, is involved in this startup.]
Omaze’s story is pretty interesting. It was founded by Ryan Cummings and Matt Pohlson, best friends from Stanford who spent the last 10 years producing tv and film in Hollywood. They are united by a passion for creating content that is both entertaining and impactful, but after years of endlessly chasing funds to support various projects, off they went off to business school to learn how to create a more sustainable model.
A few months ago, while still in school, they attended a benefit dinner hosted by Magic Johnson for the Boys and Girls Club of America. Magic auctioned off the chance to hang out with him over a dinner and Lakers game in his personal seats. The auction quickly rose to $16,000, which was way out of their reach.
On the way home, they started brainstorming how to bring that experience to everyone. And that is where idea was born: An online sweepstakes for experiences that cannot be bought.
At 3pm yesterday, Omaze went live with their first sweepstakes (the Peter Diamandis one). Within a ten minutes they were cash-flow positive. Now that is a business model!
Check out their site today, where you can sign up to receive information on upcoming sweepstakes.
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