Birmingham, AL-based fundraising platform Planet Fundraiser closed on a $1 million round led by Bill Smith of Instacart-rival company Shipt and backed by additional Birmingham-based investors including Matt Spotswood and Mainsail Asset Management. The startup, currently enrolled in Alabama’s first seed accelerator Velocity at Innovation Depot, expanded into the Atlanta market last month.
Planet Fundraiser offers a performance-based app that makes it easy for merchants to quantify and measure giving to 501(c)3 organizations and their customers’ charities of choice through everyday customer purchases. Users can shop at supporting merchants, snap a picture of their receipt, and a percentage of each purchase will be given to the their charity of choice. Planet Fundraiser’s merchant community includes brands like Chick-Fil-A, Piggly Wiggly, Milos, New Balance, and Shipt.
Planet Fundraiser co-founder and COO Drew Honeycutt says the round will support expansion into Memphis, Nashville, Auburn, Tuscaloosa, and other smaller southeastern markets. This expansion will take place within the next 30-45 days.
To help advise the expansion, Honeycutt and the team have woo’d Ryan McKillen, formerly of Uber, as an advisor, and on boarded two new full-time staff members. McKillen was Uber’s second software engineer — their third employee ever — and helped to build out the now-ubiquitous app. Now, McKillen is helping Planet Fundraiser position themselves to scale quickly into new markets.
“We have over 100 merchants in Alabama and 35+ in Atlanta (after one month of launch) using our platform and 80 percent of participating schools/charities have raised funding and received a check using our platform,” says co-founder Kasey Birdsong.
Kathleen Hamrick is an Alabama native serving as Innovation Depot’s Director of Marketing & Education, where she has played an integral role in the implementation of for-credit experiential programs for students with interest in entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology. In her spare time, Hamrick is a Books Running sponsored ultramarathoner, occasionally flies single-engine prop planes at the Birmingham Flight Center, and frequently dreams of building a kit plane: Cessna 162.