We had the good fortune of connecting with Jeff Porter and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jeff, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
That you have to be the first to market. In many industries, I think it is actually better not to be first. Some of the most innovative companies and products are rarely first to market. When you are later, you can see what the first movers have done and improve upon their product or their approach.
Just look at Apple Computers. They didn’t build the first MP3 player, they didn’t build and launch the first smartphone, and they didn’t launch the first smartwatch.
Handbid was not the first mobile bidding solution offered. However, we were able to see what the first movers did and we improved on the idea.
What should our readers know about your business?
Jeff got involved with charity fundraising after his daughter, Abby, was born in 2002 with a rare genetic disorder, Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). To help families impacted by PWS and advance research, Jeff helped establish and grow a few PWS focused charities. Jeff quickly found a lack of affordable and capable fundraising tools. Determined to advance the PWS cause, Jeff developed his own fundraising solutions. These tools allowed those charities to raise the funds needed to survive and thrive.
Beyond his own charity, Jeff was adamant that all charities deserved better and more affordable fundraising tools. After all, most charities did not have the expertise or resources to build their own solutions. Considering it an injustice of sorts, Jeff decided to take on the challenge of developing a fundraising platform that would delight end-users, be easy to use for charities, and be affordable.
Many tried to convince Jeff to avoid the non-profit sector, but he felt strongly he could deliver this much-needed innovation to charities. He wanted to disrupt an industry full of outdated, stagnant players. Based on frustrations from his own events, his first focus would be charity auctions. In 2011, Jeff launched Handbid. The first mobile app-based platform that allowed bidders to bid in charity auctions from anywhere. Nothing like it existed. Most existing solutions cost thousands of dollars and were complicated to use. Handbid was a fraction of the cost and garnered rave reviews from end-users and charities alike.
Starting Handbid was not without challenges: Jeff faced financing struggles, opposition from charity stakeholders, and a very tight timeline. Regardless, Jeff firmly believed the results would outweigh the risks. He secured funding and registered Handbid as a new business in February of 2011. That left 2.5 months to build and launch the solution which would consist of a cloud platform with native apps for the iPhone, iPad, and Android. Handbid was to launch at Jeff’s annual Derby fundraiser on May 7th. Despite repeated requests to abandon the project by family and board members, Jeff pressed on and wrapped up development late the night before the event. At the event, Handbid was a major success! Guests loved it, auction revenue doubled over the year before, and checkout was done in 20 minutes.
Despite the highly competitive market, Handbid is the leading innovator in auction software. Today, Handbid powers thousands of charities, sports teams, schools, and private events and remains a technology leader through Jeff’s perseverance, commitment to quality, and innovative thinking.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, I live in the suburbs – so perhaps my life is not all that exciting! Here is what I would do, assuming the weather was great:
1. Eat breakfast at Steubens.
2. Head to a Rockies game where we will eat a sausage from Biker Jims and grab a beer from the Sandlot and then stand at the Roof Top and take in the game with the amazing scenery.
3, After the game, we will head back down to the suburbs where we will enjoy the best Mexican food at Los Dos Patrillos in Centennial. Ordering the Molcajete and some skinny margs.
4. After Los Dos, we will grab a seat on the deck at the Sunset Bar and Grille (just a few doors down) and drink a Breckenridge brew while we watch the sun go down over the mountains.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We would like to give a shoutout to Donald Miller and the rest of the team at Business Made Simple. We love his practice and easy-to-digest advice on how to start, grow, and run your business. Donald and his team have been inspiring and incredibly helpful!