Startup MemoryFox raises $400,000 to rent and expand the platform
West New York startup MemoryFox recently raised $400,000 from investors to hire more staff and give the nonprofit storytelling platform to as many organizations as possible.
The MemoryFox platform helps non-profit organizations collect the stories of their communities – their fundraisers, volunteers, donors and beneficiaries. The videos are then collected in one secure location so that non-profit organizations can use them for fundraising campaigns and promotions.
Investors in MemoryFox’s latest round of fundraising include the University at Buffalo’s Innovation Seed Fund, Launch NY and local business angels. Since its inception, the company has raised $780,000.
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MemoryFox reached the milestone of 200 non-profit customers this year, CEO and founder Chris Miano said. These clients have run 2,000 fundraising campaigns, collecting 30,000 stories.
“This raise is a huge win for our customers and demonstrates the strength and growth of Buffalo’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Miano.
When Miano left the army in 2014, he thought a lot about his late grandfather, a World War II veteran. Miano recalled that he wished he could talk to his grandfather about his military experiences.
While earning his MBA at UB, Miano came up with the idea for the first iteration of MemoryFox as a platform people could use to record the life histories of their elderly loved ones before dementia.
After using the early MemoryFox platform to collect veteran stories for a local nonprofit fundraising campaign, Miano realized he had created a tool that all nonprofits could use. Turns out there aren’t many technologies and software made specifically for nonprofits, Miano said.
“It’s not uncommon for non-profit organizations to use software made for profit,” said Miano. “And you think it wouldn’t be any different, but there’s actually an incredible amount of nuance when it comes to the difference between the two industries.”
MemoryFox currently works with 200 non-profit organizations in the United States and Canada. Locally, her clients include the John R. Oishei Foundation and Say Yes Buffalo. Miano said that during the pandemic, MemoryFox worked with United Way of Buffalo and Erie County to collect video evidence from recipients of Covid grants from United Way.
Creating a “fairer space” for non-profit groups
Miano’s goal for the coming year is to get its platform into the hands of as many non-profit organizations as possible.
To that end, the company will use a portion of the $400,000 raised to expand its capacity-building program to include strategic partnerships with foundations across the country to enable equitable access to the platform.
Non-profit organizations pay to use the MemoryFox platform based on the size of their organization. But some small nonprofits that could benefit from MemoryFox don’t have the budget for it, Miano said.
Through a capacity-building program, community foundations will be able to buy a platform for non-profits so they don’t have to pay the bills themselves.
“If we’re going to lift the industry, we need to work to create a level playing field between smaller nonprofits and well-funded nonprofits,” Miano said. “If we can use technology to lift the smaller ones, we’ll create a better space for everyone, a fairer space.”
With $400,000, Miano wants to expand his 10-man team. Next year, it plans to hire four additional employees for community and technology engagement.
Recently, MemoryFox also announced integration with Canva, a graphic design platform that allows users to directly add MemoryFox content to a Canva design.
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THE LATEST IN CONTEXT
What: Startup accelerator Launch NY has received a $100,000 investment from JPMorgan Chase to develop its Founders Go Big program.
Tell me more: Founders Go Big is a Launch NY program designed to increase access to mentoring and funding for underrepresented entrepreneurs. The program was established in 2020 thanks to a $300,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase.
Founders Go Big companies receive enhanced mentoring, client discovery, and other programs from Launch NY employees and mentors.
Of the 66 participating companies, Launch NY invested $745,000 in eight of them. In total, Founders Go Big companies have 83 employees and nearly $5.7 million in revenue.
Why it matters: This investment will enable Launch NY to capitalize on the experiences and opportunities identified in the first two years of the Founders Go Big program.
“We knew from the start that there are still historic challenges to diversity in the startup ecosystem, especially accessing and leveraging mentoring and equity,” said Founders Go Big program manager Crystal Wallace.
“But over the past two years, we’ve made a number of discoveries that have challenged our initial intentions and expectations,” Wallace said. “To be effective, we need to meet founders where they are, not expect them to be where we want them to be. We need to allow extra time to build trust and support. We must show, not tell. And we need to show them others they can identify with.”
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