Connect for a Cause Launches Nationally, Signs up Big Names in Entrepreneurship

connect for a causeFueled by a shift from traditional entrepreneurship to a more social startup world, Louisiana native Jason Nicosia is on track to change the lives of many with his social fundraising platform, Connect for a Cause.

The site launches nationally today, providing the opportunity for users throughout the country to create a profile, bid on the meetings they want with various entrepreneurs, executives, and VIPs, and have proceeds go to the charity or nonprofit chosen by the campaign creator. Connect for a Cause is a mutually beneficial set up where users get the business meetings they want while donating anywhere between $1 to a current maximum of $5,000, a number which will increase as meetings with more high-profile people are auctioned off.

There are many competitors in the charity fundraising space, but none who facilitate face to face meetings. When asked where the idea for Connect for a Cause came from, Nicosia said he saw a similar transaction a few years ago. “I was at a charity gala a while back and saw a nonprofit raise a small fortune by running a silent auction for lunch meetings with their board members,” said Nicosia. “I won all the auctions (using my company card) and closed a huge amount of biz for my company. My company got a nice write off, the charity raised a small fortune, and I got the meetings I wanted. Win, Win, Win. Take that concept, put it online, and scale it across every nonprofit in the country, and BOOM! Connect for a Cause is born.”

Originally launched back in April, there is no doubt the company has seen progress since its December 2011 founding. Connect for a Cause was a Launch Pad Ignition company in 2012 and is currently part of Idea Village’s IDEAxcelerator class, which will get a chance to pitch during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week in March.

Nicosia admits the business model has changed slightly. Originally, nonprofits were meant to be the main drivers of the site. However, over time, he realized the quickness of individual supporters would truly help keep things moving, including creating profiles or more regularly bidding.

With a full site remodel completed, so-called hustler Nicosia and his tech Cofounder Matt Culpepper have their eyes on company growth. They plan to open the next round of funding within the next 2 months and are try to raise $800,000 to scale nationally and continue growing. The company declined to comment additionally on any current funding.

Within the next six months, Nicosia says the goal is to add features to the site such as video conferences, in addition to new features for the nonprofit profiles. Beyond this next stretch, he already has bright plans for the future. According to Nicosia, the five year plan is to, “build a business and a brand that nonprofits can use to raise both money and awareness about their mission. It’d be awesome to have an active community in which people are making connections that can really help their career, all while raising millions for charities everywhere. In 5 years I’d also like to have partnerships with some major nonprofits as well as an integration into a company like LinkedIn.”

Connect for a CauseAdditional team members will eventually be brought on. Nicosia foresees the team expanding with help from another developer and a community manager to help with company growth.

As word spreads, Connect for a Cause is reeling in bigger and bigger names in the startup and entrepreneurship world. Notable Connect for a Cause users include Brad Feld, investor and Managing Director at Foundry Group, Jonah Lupton from Lupton Media Group, and Dave McClure, a founding member of 500 Startups. Lupton and McClure currently have live auctions benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Kiva, respectively.

Nicosia has plans to use his own platform to gain access to connections not otherwise available. In the coming year, he hopes to travel more to help the Connect for a Cause mission and meet new people. He will be content if the platform raises $2,000,000 for charity in 2013.

With the help of Launch Pad, Idea Village, and many more, Connect for a Cause has received invaluable mentorship in its first year. Nicosia says he would like to build his network of mentors, possibility getting Blake Mycoskie and Keith Ferrazzi on board. He says both of their books were part of the inspiration behind Connect for a Cause.

As far as a “dream” auction, Nicosia thinks having Donald Trump on the site would be a great lunch meeting to auction off. He says he would surely be the first bidder.

Until then, create a profile and bid on a meeting or auction time by visiting Find the company on Twitter, Facebook, and AngeList.