rowdfunding Stronger Communities
What do they do?
Patronicity is a community and civic-based crowdfunding platform. They bring together sponsors as well as community-based donors to support community improvement projects. Some of these projects include the Midtown Green Alley at 2nd and Selden, Alger Theatre renovations, and the REACH Community Art center.
Who’s in charge?
Chris Blauvelt, CEO and Founder, and Ebrahim Varachia, President and Co-founder.
When, how, and why did Patronicity start?
Chris managed a Kickstarter campaign for a film project in 2010. After receiving the required funds, he thought, “what if we took the idea of Kickstarter [crowdfunding] and applied it to community development?” Ebrahim adds that Patronicity began in part due to the many challenges faced in Detroit, such as bankruptcy and blight. “People see potential,” Varachia says, “People [residents] want to change the negative view of Detroit and improve neighborhoods.” And thus, Patronicity was born, launching in April 2013.
What are Patronicity’s goals?
Patronicity is working to expand nationally by replicating their innovative approach to crowdfunding called crowdgranting, which matches individual donations with funds from sponsoring partners. (The first sponsoring partner they worked with was the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, to much success.) However, as a community-based improvement program, they would like to continue connecting to patrons and helping them better their neighborhoods.
How did Ebrahim’s education impact his career choice?
“College prepares you to think and how to work,” Varachia says, but the courses he took didn’t directly correlate with his career. Unsure of his career path, Ebrahim changed majors multiple times in college. After graduating, he started working at a startup. This initial job would lead to his future at Patronicity.
What I’ve learned:
1. The definition of crowdgranting.
2. Ideas stem from everywhere, no matter what direction one’s looking in.
3. Although your goals or future plans may be broad (i.e you want to help people, you’re interested in working with communities, you’re a synergist), that’s OK, because letting your dreams figure you out every once and awhile isn’t such a bad thing.
Green Garage business-in-residence spotlights are written by Nehe-Miah Scarborough, a student at Detroit Cristo Rey High School who’s working with the Green Garage during the 2015-16 school year.