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Businessweek Lists Alums Among Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs

On July 11, Bloomberg Businessweek listed Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department alums Scot Chisholm ’04 and Pat Walsh ’03 on its exclusive list of America's Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs 2011. The two alumni co-founded StayClassy, a social fundraising company, in 2006. “StayClassy is a cloud-based platform for nonprofits to fundraise and manage their business online,” CMO Walsh has said about the company, which was voted one of the top three startup companies last year at the 12th annual MIT Venture Capital Company conference. “Today more than 2,000 nonprofits across the country have registered StayClassy accounts, and we’re getting 60-70 new registrations each week.”

As the article noted, “Businesses that aim to tackle social ills and turn a profit are getting attention from mainstream investors. Our third annual roundup profiles 25 ventures.” StayClassy now has 12 employees and projects a 2011 revenue of $1.5 million to $2 million.

“The idea of social fundraising is about dialogue,” said CEO Chisholm, who was named as one of San Diego's Top 40 Leaders Under 40 by San Diego Metropolitan Magazine. “Our product is actually about making donations as a part of a running Internet conversation.”

Here’s the Businessweek profile:

In 2005, Scot Chisholm wanted to raise money for cancer research after his mother was diagnosed with the disease. So he and his business partner, Pat Walsh, started a charity pub crawl that raised about $1,000. Friends and colleagues began asking them to organize more charity events, and the pair started consulting with small nonprofits but were dissatisfied with the software they were using. The pair launched StayClassy to make online software that helps nonprofits with less than $5 million in revenue raise money and organize supporters. More than 2,000 nonprofits have raised a total of $5 million on the site, including a group called Invisible Children that raised $1.7 million in two months. The company takes a cut of 4 percent plus 99¢ per donation, which includes the cost of credit-card processing. Now seeking a first round of venture capital funding after raising $1.3 million from angel investors, Chisholm says he expects major growth in 2011 and 2012. "We took our time to figure out the customer and did it slower than many other companies might. Now it’s starting to get some visibility." (July 2011)