Tom Serres faced a choice. The 30-year-old CEO of Rally.org–a three-year-old fundraising website for nonprofits, political campaigns and other causes–had just raised $3.5 million in Series A financing from some serious Silicon Valley investors: LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman from Greylock Partners, Mike Maples of Floodgate and Lean Startup author Eric Ries. But he needed more dough.
With such endorsement Serres could’ve raised money in a drawn-out road show that would distract him from Rally for months. Or the crowdfunding evangelist could do something completely unprecedented: “Eat his own dog food” and raise cash–for a multimillion-dollar venture round–from the Internet in one manic flash. By opening the round to investors around the world, Serres theorized, he could capitalize on the attraction of his brand-name investors, set a definite time line and condense the fundraising process into a matter of days.
Dog food it was. On May 15 he broadcast Rally’s venture round over AngelList, a social network for startups and investors, and watched as the offers poured in … and kept coming. Over 12 days the single father embarked on a voyage that would have felled a lesser man: fielding nearly 3,000 e-mails; traveling to Texas, Louisiana and Washington, D.C.; and pitching to 70-plus investors, often with his 4-year-old daughter, Madison, in tow.…..