It was a normal day for Cole Morgan. The former collegiate quarterback was making the rounds, visiting different high schools as a salesman for cookie dough fundraiser programs.
But his day — and life — changed after one particular visit to University High School in Spokane, Wash. The head football coach there, Rob Bartlett, said something that would end up igniting a flame inside Morgan and thrusting him on a tremendous startup ride.
“We like you, Cole,” Bartlett said. “But we don’t like why you’re here.”
It was a punch in the gut for Morgan. He took on the challenge, to rethink how high school bands, choirs, and sports teams could fundraise for their respective programs beyond gimmicky sales offers that required extra work on behalf of coaches and organizers.
That’s when Snap! Raise started. Fast forward five years later and 400-person company is one of fastest-growing startups in Seattle — and you probably haven’t heard of them.
“We’ve been heads down the last four years working like crazy,” Morgan told GeekWire last week, just before bobbing for apples and tossing bean bags at the company’s carnival day for employees and their families.
Snap! Raise develops data-driven software that makes it easy for extracurricular high school groups to fundraise securely online. The idea is to help free up time of busy teachers and coaches while making it easier to raise money, without the need for cash or manual data entry.
The company has facilitated fundraisers for more than 60,000 educational and extracurricular programs in all 50 states. It has served more than one million kids and expects to have 54 million users next year.
Instead of magazine drives or cookie dough buckets, Snap! Raise simply lets students make direct asks with the help of technology and video. Here are what the requests look like to potential donors:
The four-year-old startup has added business lines such as Snap! Shop, an e-commerce arm that produces apparel for schools, and Snap! Advance, a product geared toward higher education. Columbia University used Snap! Advance this year for Giving Day and set a new single-day record for dollars raised.
Morgan, who co-founded the startup with Edward Behringer, said more than $400 million has been raised collectively by groups using the company’s platform. The star quarterback who led his Ballard High School football team to a storybook season in 2003 called it a “big, growing business.”
Snap! Raise made Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 list this year as the 46th fastest-growing company in North America. The report noted a 2,993 percent revenue increase for Snap! Raise from 2014 to 2017. The company also just made it into the top 20 of the GeekWire 200, our list of the region’s top startups.
“We actually don’t put together sales figures,” Morgan said. “We put together figures of how many students we’ve helped this month. That’s really our goal.”
The company bootstrapped its way to success until late last year, when it raised an undisclosed “growth round.” Morgan, who won an EY Entrepreneur of the Year award in June, said he fielded “tons and tons” of outside calls from investors.
There are other online fundraising tools, but Morgan said Snap! Raise sets itself apart with its proprietary process, security features, and fundraising experts who are assigned to every campaign.
Snap! Raise has 130 employees in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, just down the street from Amazon’s headquarters and a large Google office. There are more than 250 sales representatives in the field. Morgan said he expects headcount to grow; the company went from 200 to 400 employees this year.
“We seem big,” he said. “But we are just getting started.”