Pizzas. Calendars. Magazines. Wreaths. Candy Bars. Cookies. Gift Wrap. Raffles. Popcorn.
YOU CAN FEEL THE PAIN THROUGH THE WORDS.
If you have kids, or know kids, who are in youth activities, you’ve likely bought one to dozens of similar items to support them and their organizations.
Mark Teckenburg ’98 (mass communications) is on a mission to shake up the youth fundraising market because, “I have four little ones and we’ve done every fundraising you could imagine under the sun. I know how big of a pain fundraising can be but also how critical it is,” he said.
Schools, sports organizations and youth groups need the extra revenue fundraising provides to supplement programs or to reduce the cost of youth participation.
Given today’s smart technology, he thought the way kids fundraise—sell product, collect cash, deliver product—was archaic and riddled with liability issues.
“I love technology and have a passion for marketing and youth, so I figured there had to be an easier, healthier and cleaner way to fundraise.”
The solution came to Teckenburg when consulting with a Denver-based company about a crowdfunding concept.
“That opened my eyes to the fundraising possibility. I knew it as a consumer, as a seller, as a board member of an organization,” Teckenburg said. “I understood it that way, but wasn’t looking at it from the angle I am now,” Teckenburg said.
Teckenburg brings ideas to life. With more than 20 years as a marketing strategist and entrepreneur, he knows how to successfully bring concepts to market.
He envisioned a customized mobile coupon book that organizations could use to raise funds. One day he pitched the idea to colleagues he’d been consulting with, but they didn’t really like it. The fledgling concept percolated in his mind as he passionately believed he stumbled onto a life-changing idea. On a return flight to Fargo that afternoon, he wrote the framework for a business plan.
PushSave: A Smarter Way to Fundraise
“This is a space and a concept I’m truly passionate about, and to me, that is the difference maker,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of success and a lot of failure, but this gives me a greater sense of pride because it truly spawned from my idea, as opposed to a product I market or another person’s idea.”
PushSave is a customizable mobile coupon book. Supporters have the opportunity to purchase coupons from 10 of more than 60+ merchants. Deals range from free appetizers, beer and wine, to tire rotations, discounts on game tickets, to nose waxing.
▸ Consumers select only the coupons they want
▸ Merchants offer a variety of coupons/specials
▸ Accessible coupons 24/7 on PushSave app; no more forgetting the coupon book at home or in the car
▸ A one-stop shopping experience that deposits half of the $20 book’s purchase price directly into the youth’s sponsoring organization
▸ Organizations enjoy enhanced security with the financial transaction taking place on PushSave’s secure site
▸ It’s easy to support multiple organizations
▸ It's a constant reminder and engagement between the consumer and the organization
▸ Easy for kids (and parents) to sell via email and social media – no taking orders, collecting cash or delivering product
Teckenburg says the value of an average coupon book is $400-450 and includes 60-70 coupons.
This aggressive effort to grow his company is fueled by an unmet need and a burning passion. And the speed at which the company is growing is calculated and intentional.
He calls 2014 the proof of concept and beta phase where he analyzed the market, developed the product, secured investors, incorporated the business, conducted focus groups, rolled out the app, recruited merchants, identified nonprofit organizations to sell the book, and proved the concept worked.
“The first time we actually sold a book and made a dollar was surreal! It really worked!”
Fall 2015 was the first fundraising season they were fully in the market.
“About 80 active organizations in the Fargo-Moorhead area are using it as a fundraiser, and we will roll out regionally in 2016,” Teckenburg said. (At press time, PushSave was operating in Fargo-Moorhead, Bismarck-Mandan, Grand Forks, Jamestown, Wahpeton-Breckenridge and Detroit Lakes, while expanding into Sioux Falls and Minneapolis.)
They have filed a provisional patent on the technology of creating a customizable mobile coupon book.
“The concept of mobile coupons is not unique, but how we are packaging it and using as a customizable mobile coupon book to fundraise is unique,” Teckenburg said.
Teckenburg will take this product to a national level, just as he’s done with other endeavors. He calls this the year of ‘controlled expansion’—to ensure that all processes are in place to grow effectively. “You can fail by growing too fast or too slow, so you really have to think about what that looks like. We’re going to pour gas on the fire in 2017 and expand across the country.”
He says there are 88,000 elementary schools in the U.S., 55 million enrolled students in secondary and elementary school, and 14,000 high school football teams. “Every one of them has to do fundraising,” Teckenburg said. “The whole youth fundraising market space is about 15 billion dollars.”
Teckenburg credits MSUM for grounding him in marketing, communications and accounting. He also worked at The Advocate and in the athletic department, where he learned how to work on a team (as a team) to accomplish common goals.
“My mass communications degree taught me how to be creative, resourceful and to think outside the box for solutions,” he said. “As a student-athlete on the football team I enhanced my team building skills and gained valuable intangibles such as dedication, commitment and perseverance to achieve success,” he said.
There is no doubt Teckenburg is on fire to make a difference in the youth fundraising market.
“In five years I would love to wake up and realize we’ve just disrupted an entire industry,” he said. “This is why I’m an entrepreneur.”
This story was first published in Moorhead Magazine, Spring 2016.
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