Start Garden passes $1 million in investments and funds two mobile apps


Benefit is a mobile shopping app that lets consumers combine their everyday purchases with charitable giving. Courtesy Benefit

Start Garden has now officially used up $1 million of its original $15 million reservoir in Rick DeVos’s mission to invest in local entrepreneurs. The seed fund has backed more than 60 ideas since May.

And Start Garden selected two more mobile app ideas last week for $5,000 in initial funding.

The Start Garden team selected Benefit, a mobile app that “lets consumers combine their everyday shopping with charitable giving.” The app would allow users to donate a portion of their retail purchases to charities they select.

Benefit idea creator Derik Lolli said his app targets “offline, in-store shopping where most retail sales occur.”

“At launch, over 100 national retailers and merchants, including Best Buy, Gap and Target will participate; some retail donations exceeding 5 percent of the total transaction amount,” he wrote on his Start Garden page.

“Once we prove this tool is an effective fundraiser, schools and nonprofits will promote wide-spread adoption. For the public, the app will be available in the iTunes/Android store. We make a very small percentage off of each transaction, so the more transactions, the better our numbers.”

The public also selected a mobile app idea called Routebook, which “gives your alarm clock access to all the factors influencing your commutes.”

The app idea, created by Stephanie Sundheimer, takes into account details like traffic, parking, weather and even gas prices as it provides users with the information to get them on their way in a speedy, healthy, cheap and green manner.

“The best thing about Routebook is that there is really nothing like it. The closest alternative might be apps that offer real-time tracking for public transportation systems, but even these don’t exist in most cities,” Sundheimer wrote on her Start Garden page.

“The highly targeted advertising that Routebook affords will appeal to both local and corporate businesses interested in sponsoring stops that users can add to their existing routes.”

Start Garden’s next Update Night is Thursday, Dec. 20. Funded ideas present their progress to the Start Garden team for additional funding.

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