2015 Advent

Crowdfunding Site Founder to Speak on Entrepreneurship

Catherine Merritt with her two sonsThe Babson Center for Global Commerce welcomes Catherine Merritt, co-founder of the crowdfunding site MUMZY.com, as the Advent 2015 Humphreys Entrepreneur in Residence. She will deliver a lecture, titled "Bringing Ideas to Life: Story-Telling at the Heart of Entrepreneurship,” at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, October 27 in Gailor Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

Merritt graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in English and creative writing, and wholeheartedly endorses the liberal arts as the best preparation for entrepreneurship. In addition to role as Mumzy founder, she serves as a vice president at the Chicago office of Olson Engage, a public relations and social media agency. After the birth of her first child, Merritt had an idea for a new product for parents but was uncertain about how to finance production. This predicament inspired her to launch Mumzy, a crowdfunding site for mothers.

Crowdfunding is the practice of soliciting relatively small amounts of money from many people, generally via the Internet. Some crowdfunding platforms focus on raising funds for entrepreneurial ventures or to produce products, while other platforms ask contributors to support good causes. Perhaps the most well-known of the crowdfunding platforms is Kickstarter, which has raised money for everything from video game projects to relief efforts for Syrian refugees.

MUMZY hopes to capture a share of the rapidly growing business. According to one 2015 study, the crowdfunding industry worldwide raised about $16.2 billion in 2014, a 167 percent increase over 2013.

MUMZY specifically targets mothers both to create projects seeking funding and as a source of contributions for those projects. “Moms are really innovative and they have all these ideas,” Merritt told The Chicago Tribune earlier this year. “They have unique needs and pains given what they’re faced with in their life at this point.”

Like other crowdfunding platforms, MUMZY charges a percentage of the funds raised in order to finance operations. In addition to serving as a venue for raising funds, MUMZY offers its clients mentoring. The site also seeks partnerships with companies seeking to reach mothers as a niche market.

During her visit, Merritt will also meet with students and teach classes. The Humphreys Entrepreneurs in Residence program is sponsored by the Babson Center for Global Commerce and is endowed by David and Debra Humphreys of Joplin, Mo.