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The Piglt approach to university crowdfunding


Last month I covered the growing number of sites that are aiming to help students to fund their university education.  Foremost amongst such platforms is Upstart.  It takes the approach that investors back a candidate, and are then repaid once the individual graduates and starts earning money.

PIGLT however take a slightly different approach.  Rather than indenture students to their benefactors, they would rather students make use of their unique skills.  The site works by connecting ‘dreamers’ (ie students) up with ‘believers’ (ie backers).  A number of believers can support the endeavours of an individual dreamer, with any money raised going direct to the institution the student went to.

In return for the investment, students offer backers access to the skills or products their training provides them.  For instance, a graphic designer might offer backers logo design or website work.  The contract between each party is a strictly honour based one, there is no legal obligation for the student to provide services to their backers.

The aim is that in addition to providing graduates with financial support, it’s also providing them with a way to showcase their talents, thus helping them make the first step into the job market at a time when youth unemployment in the western world is sky high.

The site provides discussion forums for users to interact with one another.  Therefore any communication between parties has to happen in the public domain.  The site makes money by collecting between 5-8% of each successful funding.

PIGLT has been in beta mode for the last few months, but should open to the public this week.  As with most crowdfunding sites, the challenge will be in attracting people willing to part with their hard earned cash.

I spoke with CEO Casey Wallace last week and was immediately struck by the passion he has for this field.  With student debt escalating and mounting fears that Generation Y are going to get the raw end of the generational stick due to mounting education costs, sky high house prices and the costs of paying for the retiring boomer generation, sites such as PIGLT seem to be increasingly important.

Will they grow to be more than a marginal player in the student funding process?  Only time will tell, but as with their civic crowdfunding brethren, this is one model that is very much worth keeping an eye on.

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