Crowdfunding: An Unconventional Career Choice

Crowdfunding: An Unconventional Career Choice

Thomas Alvord’s (BA ’08, MPA ’11, JD ’11) career path has been fulfilling, successful and . . . highly unpredictable. After completing an undergraduate degree in Family Studies, where he was one of the only men in his class, Alvord was accepted into BYU’s joint MPA/JD program. While completing the programs Alvord felt divided between the two courses of study. “I was in a weird spot. . . . I did an internship with the Utah County Attorney’s Office, but I wasn’t really pursuing [law] . . . At the same time I wasn’t going into public service like all my MPA colleagues.” In short, Alvord didn’t know what to do with his career.

Strapped for money, Alvord finally secured a job familiar to many college students: summer sales. “We [were] poor. . . . I did summer sales even though I had a law degree and was a member of the Utah Bar. . . . It was a totally different path.”

As Alvord pondered potential career paths, he ultimately decided against a traditional JD or MPA career altogether. Following the example of his siblings and father, Alvord became an entrepreneur.

Alvord’s company, Funded Today, which he cofounded with Zach Smith, works to help raise money for clients’ projects on websites Kickstarter and Indiegogo. These sites let start-up companies and individuals fund their innovative ideas through monetary pledges from website users. Each project on the Kickstarter and Indiegogo has a fundraising goal for their product, and Funded Today helps companies garner user attention and pledges to meet and exceed projects’ fundraising goals.

Funded Today developed unexpectedly, but has grown rapidly and seen enormous success—to date raising over $100 million for clients. “We weren’t even planning on starting this venture,” Alvord says. “We helped some people because they asked for help and we were so successful. It kind of grew on its own.”

Alvord’s business setup is rather unique since it operates entirely online without any physical meeting space for employees. “Sometimes [people] don’t see what we’re doing or understand what we’re doing because we all work remotely.” Alvord says.

The budding business has had other challenges as well. “The real growing pains are when we have a rep who leaves or a client who doesn’t pay. . . . Sometimes they owe us $50,000 or more,” Alvord says. “And we’re still a smaller startup, so that money makes a difference.”  

Despite the struggles of beginning and operating a business, Alvord enjoys his work, and he gets to help other BYU grads fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams through Funded Today. Jon Richards (BS ’07, MBA ’12) and Jacob Durham (BS ’13, MAcc ’13) used Funded Today to raise money for their Nomatic travel bag. Funded Today also helped Tony Pearce (BS ’80) finance his innovative pillow, Purple, while Cameron Gibbs (BA ’05) used the service to fund his Bluetooth-operated padlocks, Noke.  

Beyond his strong education, Alvord attributes his success largely to hard work and dedication. “The effort that I put into [Funded Today] influences or even dictates what the output is, so [I] kind of have control over [my] destiny in a sense.” Despite—or perhaps because of—his unconventional career start, the future of crowdfunding looks promising for Alvord and his team. 

 

-Madeline Buhman ('18)

Full Name: 
Thomas Alvord
Grad Year: 
2008
College: 
Family, Home, and Social Sciences
Major: 
Family Life
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