Shreveport-based Pandabit started as a buyback business for used electronic devices such as cell phones and mp3 players. Following a One Million Cups presentation where someone suggested turning the platform into a fundraiser, the startup began to shift.
About a year ago (mid 2014), Pandabit began to deploy donation boxes at local schools, churches,nonprofits, and businesses. The new idea was going well, but the team realized that there was a larger opportunity if they could transform this type of fundraiser into a crowdfunding platform, while remaining tied to the original buy back service. Pandabit accepts donations and also offers cash for those willing to sell electronics.
“Tons of people buy and sell electronics online… I realized nobody was doing fundraisers online,” said Pandabit founder John-Scott Thompson. “I felt that we could integrate social media with the fundraising… and educate people about what they can do with their electronics.
Thompson takes everything from a fundraiser and puts it up for sale, even if broken and working, because people need devices and recycling and repurposing these devices is better than a common method of throwing them away.
“People have [electronic devices] sitting in drawers somewhere. They either get thrown in the landfill — which is illegal, and very harmful to the environment — or sit somewhere for years. They don’t realize there’s a lot of money in those,” Thompson said. “If you’re really passionate about a cause or your kid’s school, if you give it to them they’re going to make more money than you probably would have by writing a check.”
Thompson said their next milestone is to partner with a large scale national cause and do a fundraiser for them. “I need contacts to people inside larger causes who see the value in doing our fund raiser and the donors to make it a success.”
Pandabit also recently participated in the 11-month startup development program Breaking Lean, which is designed to support businesses in the Shreveport-Bossier area and to help them develop roots in Northern Louisiana. The program was launched by the innovative shared workspace in the area, CoHab.