Nicholas Lourie and Gavin Ooi

Kozbox is the new way to pass the hat. People have always pulled together to push a particular purpose or cause, whether that's donating to a local charity, raising money for a school project, or just pitching in for a friend in need, but as our communities start to move online, it's become harder to lend a helping hand.

The idea behind kozbox is to make it as easy as possible for people to pitch in a couple of bucks and help each other out. Whether they're separated by two or two thousand miles, we believe it shouldn't make a difference. For this reason, we've created a simple website which gives people the bare minimum they need to transfer money from many individuals to one, in a quick, easy, and effortless way.

Inspiration/Motivation

We first came up with the idea for kozbox when exploring some of our own social networking sites over winter break. While on the news aggregation site reddit, we read about the story of a woman who had been hit by a motorcycle and needed help paying for medical attention. What we saw was heartwarming, people--total strangers--were volunteering to help out, to pitch in a few dollars here and there; however, what happened next was less encouraging. The transaction, the money that the woman needed, was being delayed because they couldn't decide how to move the funds to her online. Potential solutions existed, but they weren't made for this kind of a use case. What people really needed was the internet-equivalent of the ability to just pass a hat around the room to pool everyone's efforts together, and so that's what we've set out to create, and that is how we came to start working on kozbox.

We are passionate about bringing effortless and accessible technology to those who need it, and are really excited about the positive responses we've received so far. Having won money in the Brown Entrepreneurship Elastic Pitch  Competition and been granted funds from the Brown Venture Launch Fund we are both very grateful and very lucky to be able to say we expect to have our full product launched in early June, and hope that our solution can do some good for those who need it.

Blog Post:

The current incarnation of kozbox fundamentally rests on the idea that there exist online communities that want to move money from many people to a single person that are underserved by current market options. This over-arching assumption breaks down into two parts. Firstly, that there are online communities with the pre-existing need to transfer funds, and secondly that they are underserved by available market options. Because of the public nature of many of these online communities, we have already been able to seek out typical use cases for our product and so have gathered some validation for our first hypothesis, and now with the seed money from the Brown Venture Launch Fund, we will be able to create a minimum viable product to offer the use cases we find in order to test our second hypothesis.

After confirming the validity of our problem, comes the question of how to bring our solution to those who need it. We've deduced that a grass roots marketing strategy would most efficiently spread our solution, because of the importance of branding and endorsement to the success of our venture, the viral nature of the use of our product, and the limitations of our resources. In order to pull such a campaign off, we need to confirm the hypothesis that people who come to the site as donors will return with increased confidence to create fundraising drives. Once our initial product is launched, we will divide and track our user base into separate groups in order to test the truth of this, what we will call our referral hypothesis.

To get down to the details, June will see the launch of a fully functioning kozbox.org. With the $500 from the Brown Venture Launch Fund Explore grant, we will be able to setup a payment processing account and become PCI compliant, at the cost of $250. With the remaining half of our grant, we will have enough for five months of day to day operations of the site on a small scale, covering hosting costs, and maintenance fees for our payment processing account. Using the money we've managed to raise from other sources, we will further be able to trademark our name and upgrade the SSL certificate.

Throughout the later two months of the summer, we will use the prototype of our site to test our hypothesis as outlined above, and by the end of three months time we will know whether or not kozbox is a viable venture in its current iteration, or whether we need to make a change to better serve people's needs.