Tell us about yourself
Dominique: My name is Dominique Fraser. I am the Founder and CEO of TeamFund.
Crystal: I’m Crystal Milne, partner and COO for TeamFund.
D: TeamFund is an e-commerce platform that helps groups raise funds with food. Our customers are minor sports teams and schools that are needing to raise funds for their cause. When they come to TeamFund, they can create a fundraiser and sell products from local vendors and earn a portion of the sales towards their goal. To date we’ve helped raise over $750,000 in Calgary.
How many people does your team consists of?
D: We have about four employees right now; three full-time and one part-time, along with more freelancers.
When did you start?
D: TeamFund was incorporated in 2013, then we launched in 2014. For three years, it was a one-woman operation and two years ago we started to commercialize and took on more people.
What you did prior to this venture
D: I’m originally from Montreal; I left after high school and spent about eight years traveling, where I lived out my passion for outdoor adventures, snowboarding, surfing, and scuba diving. Years later, I returned to Canada to settle down and have two kids. I supported my husband’s venture while working at Canada Post and then when the time was right, I made the leap to entrepreneurship and launched TeamFund.
C: When I moved to Calgary, I worked in IT doing business processes, project management, and getting change management processes for a lot of oil and gas clients and CP rail. Then I had children, so I took 10 years off to support my husband and his career while I looked after the kids.
What problem does your business solve?
D: We make it easy for groups to reach their goal by offering great products that are easy to sell and earn them a competitive commission towards their goal. We handle all the accounting and reporting, leaving no room for error. Additionally, the logistics ensures that groups can stay organized.
How do you solve this problem?
D: We make it easy for groups to get started fundraising. We manage all the sales transactions, reporting, and logistics.
When did you notice a gap in the market?
D: I noticed the gap when I was initially fundraising for my daughter’s soccer team about five or six years ago. I love selling and I could sell to anyone, but walking around with a paper order form in my hand trying to sell to co-workers, friends, and family was difficult and not efficient. I could always get the sale verbally, but collecting money off of them was absolutely painful. We never knew when products were coming in and I didn't have any answers to their questions: “is it gluten free?”, “does it have sugar?”, “what are the nutritionals?”. I thought that I would love to do this online where I could invite people to the web page and they can get all the info they need, understand formats, and know arrival dates so they can determine how much they need to buy.
C: Even getting that money from funders is actually a huge pain point. For instance, you’ll do a chocolate fundraiser and you won’t actually get the money for a month or two after. Even though you fundraised, you still have to use your own money until those fundraiser dollars are back; but, we’re able to give it to them within a week of the deliveries.
D: We shorten the cycle- that’s one of the biggest value propositions that we show in the cycle. Usually, fundraisers will typically take six to eight weeks, even 10 weeks. Now vendors can see the order volume that’s coming in and plan and prepare. This is an immense change because sometimes they need additional staff as well for these large volume orders. The vendor loves it cause they get paid and they are not chasing anyone for money.
What is your company culture?
C: The biggest thing is that we support women and we support women that require flexibility. So for me, I have a child who has extra needs, and I am able to do a great job parenting while holding an interesting job. I am also able to take my kids to appointments and it’s just a supportive culture. We work hard and have a lot of wins and a lot of successes, but importantly we also allow for people to continue to have a family life.
D: We all work well and we all work remotely. One of the ladies that works with us, she’s in Ontario. There is a two hour time difference between us and her, but we still communicate really well.
What draws people to you?
D: We have a proven track record and organizations come to us time and time again to repeat their successes. We are trusted by our peers and are industry experts, so we know what it takes to reach a goal.
Three words to describe the company with?
D: Trusted, proven, and local.
C: Yeah, I agree. Local means a lot to many of these families. It’s local meat and healthy. We’re giving them something that they would want to buy, at a price point that they would pay regularly. That’s important, especially in this economy.
Why did you choose The Accelerator?
D: This accelerator allowed us to still run our business and gave us access to some key people that would really help. We are in the middle of a pivot right now, so we still need to run our operations- we’re full on running and busy. For us it was important to have a time balance. Also, it was a bonding experience and gave us access to tools that we never had access to in the past. We’re on a mission and we’re having fun, but we’re also leveraging this to the nook and cranny.
How did you find out about it
D: It was through the ecosystem. We were invited here when it first got launched and it just seemed to make sense at the time. There’s a lot of noise out there, but this accelerator made sense and it was the right time.
What has your experience with the The Accelerator been like?
C: It’s been great to learn from experienced mentors and advisors, while allowing us to stay focused on our journey and goal. We are able to learn and add to our skills so that we can be better prepared for the next stage of the company.
D: We totally love the ecosystem here, it’s very supportive. It’s about giving back as much as it is about seeking help. It’s great to stay connected and learning from other companies as well. We are on a mission, so anything to get us closer is what we were searching for. We were able to find that here.
What has been your biggest lesson you learned while in the program?
D: To keep pushing forward and keep doing better. Ask yourself why you are doing this and don’t be afraid to have lofty goals.
What has been a major accomplishment for you this year?
D: Tons! We solidified the partnership which took a while to happen. We raised some money last year through grants. We also released our technology, which was a barrier for us. We’re super proud of our developer, we did a bang up job.
C: Our biggest accomplishment really is that we made our foundation so strong that tomorrow we could be in Toronto. We have a national partner now, we can handle the volume, and we can get into any market at any time. It was a big year!
What is next for you?
D: Before taking over the world? [laughs] We definitely want to be a household name for fundraising and be the go to platform for amateur sports teams and fundraisers. We’re going to be the food fundraising platform; which is a scalable, repeatable and systemized system. So rolling it out nation wide and heading into the US is what we need to do.