Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hey Buddy, Got an Extra Million?

As I mentioned in my last post, I think I will explore possible funding options in the next few posts, starting with an individual donor.  While scanning headlines this morning, I see that Forbes released its 10 Richest Americans List today.  Many of the usual suspects show up; Gates, Buffet, Bloomberg, and a whole slew of Waltons.    I dug a little deeper, and expanded the list to the top 100.  Again, familiar names, but even more familiar companies with which they have made their fortunes.  Names like Google, Dell, Nike, Mars, Fidelity, Facebook, Apple, Enterprise, Ebay, Estee Lauder, and Intel to name a few. 
So you ask, how much money are we talking about?  Topping the list is Bill Gates at an estimated net worth of 54 Billion.  Yes, with a “B”.  Rounding out the top 100 is Ron Burkle at a paltry 3.2 Billion. Ron Burkle?  That’s right, Ron Burkle.  Who?  Ron Burkle made his fortune in supermarkets and investments.  His education is listed as a high school diploma.  He is a part owner of the Pittsburg Penguins, and was the largest shareholder of Wild Oats, prior to their purchase by Whole Foods.  On the celebrity front, he was one of many investors scammed by Rafaello Follieri, Anne Hathaway’s ex boyfriend.  He is most recently in the news for his interest in one of three Board of Director seats with Barnes and Noble Booksellers. 
What does my family have in common with Bill Gates, Ron Burkle, or anyone else on this list?  Zilch. Other than using their products or services, like everyone else, we have no personal connections to these individuals.  And I wonder if these are really the types of individuals that would be interested in this endeavor.  Most likely, they have already personally answered the questions we look to explore.  I also wonder if this group of individuals is so removed from the reality of the average American working family that our day to day activities would bore them to tears.
I think a more likely chance would come from someone in the celebrity world, an Oprah or an Ellen? After all, giving your sponsors money away is a lot more palatable than giving away your own.  Not to mention the story that could come out of it.  The business magnates don’t make their money on self interest stories coming on at four in the afternoon.
Maybe some reclusive millionaire will pick up our story from a media outlet?  A philanthropist who likes the social concept and sees the potential good that could come out of this story?  I could see partnering with someone willing to donate the money, and using our passion and energy to do something very special in the future.

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