What happens after the big win? The winners of the We Media PitchIt challenge don’t give up equity for their checks. Instead, they gain access to a network of advisors and agree to “pay it forward” by sharing their experiences – and by seeking more input from the global We Media network. Do you have ideas or advice to help them go further? Add your comments or contact them directly. – AN

In April, I won $25,000 from the We Media PitchIt competition. The following photo
shows how I felt:

The experience with We Media was my inflection point. Since then, we’ve made
some beautiful progress. Fundraising is a lot harder than anticipated (where are the
billionaire philanthropists who write checks for $250,000 over coffee??), but we’re
getting there.

Following the win…

  • I met with Merrill Brown, one of my new We Media mentors. (A veteran
    journalist, media executive, consultant, and mocha-drinker.) He offered to
    make introductions to various foundations and venture capitalists around
    NYC.
  • I leveraged the We Media win to convince a Palo Alto VC fund to commit an
    additional $50,000. (They rarely give money to nonprofits, but they are
    making an exception because, obviously, Pando is awesome.)
  • I met with Stowe Boyd, a web anthropologist, We Media mentor, and urban
    lumberjack. He was incredibly generous and invited me to The Guardian
    Activate Summit, where I met incredible people including Andrew Rasiej,
    who runs the Personal Democracy Forum.
  • I met with Steve Rosenbaum, the author of “Curation Nation” and another We Media mentor. Steve has trendy hipster glasses and an amazing business mind. He strongly suggested that I think of ways to open a for-profit arm of Pando.
  • I met with Esther Dyson, a We Media mentor and mysterious female VC. It
    was hard to gauge her feelings about Pando, but she did offer to help me
    speak at the New York Tech Meet-Up, whenever I’m ready.
  • I met with Charlie O’Donnell, a We Media mentor and Principal at First Round
    Capital. He was incredibly cool and recommended that I spend the summer researching Pando’s competition and carefully planning out our online platform.

For the next three months, I have three goals:

  • Plan out and design the official Pando website, which should be capable of scaling to support thousands of projects.
  • Recruit two team members: a CTO to build the site and a COO to help me execute our vision.
  • Raise $250,000 in seed funding, which will be used to fund the official website and hire two paid staff members to develop the materials that people need to execute their projects.

I’m incredibly grateful for all these introductions, and for the legitimacy that We Media have given Pando. I’ll continue to post a blog every month, to let you know about our progress. Thanks for reading! If you’d like to learn more about Pando, you can reach me at milena@pandoprojects.org.

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Milena Arciszewski

Milena Arciszewski is the founder of Pando Projects, a platform that supports local volunteer projects.

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