Ben Brabyn, 33, and Matt Cooper, 32, first came up with the idea for Bmycharity on holiday together in the autumn of 2000. "Both of us had good jobs elsewhere", explains Brabyn, "but neither of us felt particularly challenged."
A sentiment that many people might share except that for this pair, "challenge" has special meaning: both are ex-Royal Marine Commando officers. That might explain why their "holiday" was spent parachuting out of aircraft over the Californian desert. "We chatted every day driving to and from the drop zone," explains Cooper, "and by the end of the week we had five ideas of which Bmycharity came out on top."
Like many good business models, Bmycharity solves a common problem with a cost-effective solution. While charities often benefit from individuals who undertake a sponsored challenge, many miss out on reclamation of the potential "Gift Aid" tax component from sponsors. Bmycharity enables a charity to offer its supporters a free personal online sponsorship page. The service collects donations from supporter's sponsors securely by credit card and handles the Gift Aid tax reclamation. Revenue for Bmycharity comes via a simple commission.
The business launched in 2001. "We estimated that charities in the UK lose out on up to £200m every year and expected them to beat a path to our door." Their key challenge has been to get charities to understand that Bmycharity provides a platform for the charity brand. "After all", says Matt, "brand is a charity's key asset."
"I'll get stick from my old mates for saying this", says Ben, "but having a difficult question thrown at you is a lot less stressful than a petrol bomb." An attitude that will, no doubt, serve them well with potential investors: they are about to raise finance for their second venture.
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