With a 100,000-euro prize from a French ad agency, a Raleigh startup called GoodBookey just moved from passion project to full-time business pursuit. 

 
Alongside 89 other startup founders from around the world—the best of 3500 applicants from 141 countries—co-founder and CEO Tony Pease accepted his Publicis90 prize in Paris last Friday. Besides cash, his team will get a year of support in the areas of communications, marketing and technology from a senior digital manager at Publicis Groupe, the world’s fourth largest ad agency. 
 
What does it mean for GoodBookey? The hope is to help more of the 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S. raise funds, and in its unique, fun and mobile way. 
GoodBookey evolved from its founders combined experiences running a technology consulting business and a family-oriented nonprofit. Pease was vice president of business development at i-Cubed until it was sold to KPIT in 2014. He helped spin out a consulting group called iCiDIGITAL in September 2014 and continues on as a board member. 
 
Meanwhile, in 2014, he and his wife Anita Pease launched a philanthropic organization called Small Hands Big Hearts United helping families find and participate in community service opportunities. The idea for GoodBookey came by accident. 
 
As they met with nonprofits across the Triangle area to source volunteer opportunities, they saw how difficult it was for organizations operated by a single individual or small team to generate funds. 
 
“They have to make the time choice of, are they going to raise money or do the mission?,” Pease says. 
 
He wanted to find a way for passionate nonprofit leaders to passively generate funds without having to make that choice. An avid sports fan privy to the gambling industry around sports, he, Anita and a group of friends—operations manager Sarah Deasy, marketer Bryan Martin and developer Brandon Phillips of the Everest Agency, product manager Rob Downs of RD4 Consulting and software engineer Dan Shugan of i-Cubed—decided to create a way to divert the $1 or $5 bets from online gambling sites into the coffers of charities. 
 
“We’re not actually gambling,” he explains. “We’re betting on who will make a charitable donation.” 
 
And say those bets aggregate across a few hundred people? 
 
“That could create some real social impact,” Pease says. 
 
The app is simple to use. To create a challenge, pick a sporting event, a charity to support, a friend(s) on GoodBookey and a dollar amount to donate (no more than $25). You’ll find some basic information about Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas City or Transforming Hope Ministries in Durham or the NC Harm Reduction Coalition or any of 14 nonprofits already signed up on the site. 
 
Just like in gambling, there’s a spread. If your team wins, you and your friend(s) make the donation at the end of the game. Stripe handles the payment (waiving the processing fee for the first $15K) and directs it to a charity’s bank account.

In Groundwork Labs this summer, Pease’s focus is on publicity and media attention as well as outreach to stadiums across the U.S. in hopes of engaging fans during sporting events. That will be a differentiator, Pease believes. He’ll need it—there are nearly 400 charity-focused startups on AngelList trying to get in on the $400 billion or so in donations expected to be made in the U.S. this year. 

Publicis should help on both accounts. 

The contest was held in honor of the agency’s 90th anniversary and winning projects had to coincide with the company’s areas of expertise in PR, digital marketing and branding and e-commerce. Prizes ranged from 10,000 to 500,000 euros. And each business gets a year of business and health insurance in addition to the mentorship and branding help.

The funding helps sustain and propel the company—Pease bootstrapped until now.

The real benefits remain to be seen, though at a minimum, the award has offered Pease some validation that his side project just might have what it takes to be a real business.

Laura Baverman

Editor
Laura Baverman manages the day-to-day at ExitEvent, writing and editing stories, lining up contributors, overseeing events and representing us in the community. Laura has spent a decade in journalism, most of those years as a business reporter in her hometown Cincinnati. Her Ohio roots run deep, but she's learning to love the South. Especially sun, all months of the year.