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Anyone With an Internet Following Can Raise Money in Real Time Using This Site

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You know how artists has leverage their internet following in the fast to harvest support for a cause that they are passionate in? Well, that process has just gotten easier.

Today, Laffster announced that it is rebranding to Cogo. Laffster was initially a crowdfunding platform where comedians could raise funds for a cause or project they support via a live streaming show. The rebrand to Cogo will extend the platform to all artists including actors, comedians, actors, and musicians.

We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Daniel Altmann, co-founder and CEO of Cogo over email. Here, he talks more about the rebrand and how artists online can leverage his platform to raise money.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business background

While I was in school at USC I founded YPO @ University, which connects student entrepreneurs with executives in their communities for educational and philanthropic initiatives. The program was eventually brought under the worldwide organization of YPO and spread to over 40 schools worldwide.

After finishing school I worked at IAC in a division called IAC Advertising Solutions, studying advertising engagement and activity across various properties and fell in love with comedy and humor online while working there. Myself and my co-founder Eric Posen eventually came up with the idea behind Laffster and soon after entered into MuckerLab where we eventually launched Laffster out of in December of 2012.

Why did you guys choose to rebrand from Laffster to Cogo?

Given the Laffster name was very much comedy-focused, we wanted a new name for the company that would be more representative of our platform now encompassing a broader community rather than one genre. The word Cogo in Latin means “to bring together” and to congregate. We felt this new name truly defines who we are as a company and our ultimate goal.

Tell us a little bit about what Cogo does and what it hopes to achieve

Cogo is where live streaming meets crowdfunding to enable artists (actors, comedians, actors, musicians, etc.) to quickly raise money for causes and projects they are passionate about by doing what they do best, showcasing and sharing their talent. Right now there’s no effective way to rally audiences around a cause and effect immediate change.  Our platform is the next generation, evolution of the telethon; a new model focused on quick fundraising campaigns that challenge traditional crowdfunding models, which average nine weeks to meet a goal – our campaigns consistently reach their goals in less than a day.

Lately, we’ve seen such a huge trend in the creation of crowdfunding platforms. Why do you think that is?

From the perspective of a fundraiser, crowdfunding is a way to cut the red tape and not spend months or even years raising money from traditional sources to accomplish what they want (whether that is funding a documentary or raising money for an after school program). Because of the success stories more and more people are crowdfunding and naturally more and more companies are getting into the market to serve those crowdfunders. We feel as if we have positioned ourselves as a unique and immediate way for artists to leverage the power of their superfans to help fund the various causes and projects they feel most passionate about.

Give us a few ideas of how those with an online following can take advantage of your product to raise funds or further monetize their content.

Artists pick a date and time they want to do a show and what cause or project they’ll be supporting as part of the show. The cause can be anything from funding new podcast studio to raising money to help support disaster relief. The artist also choses some incentives that are listed similar to a crowdfunding campaign next to the video live stream. These may include signed merchandise, Skype calls, etc. The incentives can change fluidly during the show based on a story being told, a viewer seeing an item in the background etc. An example of a fluid change of incentive was Zach Galifianakis offering signed Ke$ha t-shirts after telling a story about an encounter he had with her.

Superfans at home engage with the artist by using a unique hashtag to enter the conversation and they additionally have the option to purchase the unique incentives before any of the other superfans do (they tend to quickly sell out!). By focusing our platform on a entirely unique live streamed experience, content unfolds in real-time right before the eyes of our artists’ superfans. This effectively creates a moment that quickly drives donations, condensing the amount of time it takes to raise funds for the given cause.

Here are a few examples of recent success we’ve seen on the platform:

  • Jimmy Pardo, alongside Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm and Patton Oswalt helped raise over $140,000 for Smile Train in just 12 hours.

  • Walking The Room hosts Greg Behrendt and Dave Anthony raised over $3,300 in only an hour for their podcast in the back of a comic book store in Hollywood (Meltdown).

  • Timothy DeLaGhetto, one of YouTube’s top personalities and Wild n’ Out star helped raise over $8,500 in 90 minutes for the Philippines and World Food Programme.

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Tell us the most important you’ve learn as an entrepreneur

To always adapt. We learned early on that you have to always be studying what’s working and what’s not and alter what you’re working on accordingly. There’s no room for complacency or being stubborn as an entrepreneur.

Lastly, what are the exciting things coming to us from Cogo?

We are really excited to expand our platform beyond comedy to other artists. One show we are really excited about is with cast members from the hit FOX show Glee who are doing a live stream for a great charity called Young Storytellers Foundation on February 22nd. The cast members act out and sing scripts submitted by kids that partake in a special creative writing after school program. The stream on Cogo.tv will include both the show itself as well as the green room and the VIP after party and the cast members will be throwing everything from the scripts they are reading from to the guitars they are playing up on the platform for viewers to grab.

Next month we also will live stream One-on-On, to support, 826NYC’s free writing and literacy programs. The event will feature live conversations between Ken Burns and Kurt Andersen, John Oliver and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Fred Armisen and the Audience, with Masha Gessen, music by Robyn Hitchcock and more guests to be announced.

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