A few years ago, Matt Pohlson and Ryan Cummins attended a charity event. Magic Johnson was auctioning off a chance to play basketball with him and, even though Pohlson and Cummins are big fans of his, they couldn’t participate in the raffle.”It was our dream experience, but it was only available to the really wealthy people in the room,” says Cummins. The basketball date with Johnson went for $15,000. “We thought, if we made the same event available to everyone, more money and awareness could be raised for the charity.”
That experience spawned a new Los Angeles startup, Omaze, which Cummins and Pohlson launched in public beta two weeks ago.
Omaze gives everyone a chance to win once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, like a trip to SpaceX’s Singularity University headquarters, or a hang-out session with the cast of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
You don’t have to be rich to apply. Just choose your dream experience on Omaze and donate $5 to enter in the raffle. You can enter multiple times and 80% of proceeds go to a very identifiable charity featured on Omaze.
Currently, Omaze proceeds are helping veterans receive training to be first responders in disaster relief situations.
“Omaze is a place where we can all help each other achieve our dreams,” the founders write. “We pledge to offer transformative experiences for remarkable causes with compelling content.”
Pohlson and Cummins have spent their careers working on swanky, charity-driven events in LA. Contacts they’ve made along the way are helping them curate amazing raffle prizes for Omaze now.
The pair were best friends at Stanford and shared a passion for creating cause-driven content. They’ve worked on events like Bill Clinton’s 65th birthday party; they came up with the idea for Omaze last June.
Now there are four employees at Omaze. The founders raised nearly $1 million from angel investors Paige Craig, Warby Parker’s Dave Gilboa, Adam Press, and event producer Kevin Wall. The Andre Agassi Foundation is also an investor.
Here’s how Omaze works. Expect more from the LA startup come September.
For more cool Silicon Beach startups, check out 23 Hot LA Startups You Need To Watch >