The idea behind Welzoo is so simple that you wish you had thought of it first. Everyone wants to help out their favorite nonprofit organization, right? But most of us are too busy to volunteer or don’t have enough extra cash to make a donation.
That’s where Welzoo comes in. The website makes a donation for you every day when you go online. Founder Artur Fruman says it “costs you zero money and takes zero time.”
“It’s a completely effortless and completely free way to donate money to your favorite cause,” says the 25-year-old Fruman.
The idea was a natural one for Fruman, who was always volunteering for charitable organizations back when he was in middle school. He remembers the fulfillment he felt working with the Friendship Circle, a group for special needs children that started in his native Michigan.
But by the time he got to college, his money and time were extremely limited. How, he wondered, could he continue to make a difference?
The idea stayed with him for years, when he helped to found Welzoo. The concept is simple: you pick an organization you want to support—a nonprofit group, religious charity, or a student organization—and then you make Welzoo your computer’s homepage. Every day you log in, the company makes a donation for you.
“The reason we chose the concept of the homepage is because nobody really uses it anymore,” says Fruman. “We figured that we could take that space and use it to do something amazing.”
What you see when you open your browser is a mix of cool content tailored toward your interests, as well as sponsored content. That’s how Welzoo makes money.
Fruman says the company’s initial focus was on nonprofit organizations, but that changed when the head of a student group at the University of Michigan asked Fruman if she could raise money through his company.
“The next day, 50 people had signed up,” says Fruman. “We knew we were onto something big.”
Today, 450 colleges have at least one student organization that’s raising money through Welzoo.
Take the University of Delaware, for instance. Its annual UDance event, which raises money for children’s cancer charities, used Welzoo to help spread the word and reached a whopping $1,200.
“Welzoo isn’t going to raise millions of dollars for an organization,” Fruman says, “but a few thousand dollars can make a big difference.”
Fruman says he comes from an entrepreneurial family, so starting his own company was a no-brainer. In fact, he launched his first business when he was back in college. He and several friends created a card aimed at students that gave discounts to local shops and restaurants.
Pitching his idea to local businesses taught him to be tenacious.
“We got rejected 10 times before we made our first deal,” Fruman says. “It was a great learning experience.”
Welzoo has been at New York’s WeWork NoMad space since before it launched in the beginning of 2015.
“We’re quite the veterans now,” He jokes.
Being a part of WeWork has paid off in ways he didn’t expect. Many of his business connections have also been members, and he learned how to pitch to investors at a WeWork-sponsored Demo Day.
“That was my first-ever pitch in front of an audience,” Fruman says. “I guess I killed it, because we won.”
Photos: Katelyn Perry