Anti-Bullying App Gets Microloan Boost

The current edition of BizVoice® magazine includes a story about the Madison County Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA), an after-school program for students in grades six to 12 that helps students learn how to brainstorm ideas for companies, present those companies to an investor panel and secure funding for their ideas.

As part of the YEA program, Pendleton Heights High School junior Brandon Boynton created an anti-bullying app called The Bully Box, which is marketed to schools and allows students to report acts of bullying anonymously, while allowing the school district to collect bullying data to help comply with anti-bullying laws and protect students.

Boynton’s app won the local contest held through the Madison County YEA program, as well as the regional contest in Boca Raton, Florida. He placed in the top six of a national competition at America’s Small Business Summit in Washington D.C. in June.

According to a press release from the Flagship Microloan Program, the app has also caught the attention of the microloan organization, which provides small loans of between $1,000 and $5,000 to businesses in a 10-county region of East Central Indiana. The program announced it will make a working capital loan to Most Beastly Studios, which produces The Bully Box app. The Flagship Enterprise Center, a technology incubator in Anderson, is a sponsor of the Madison County YEA program and is a partnership between the City of Anderson and Anderson University.

To raise additional capital for the app, Boynton is running a campaign via crowdfunding site IndieGoGo. His goal is to raise $25,000 by Sept. 24.

Also in Boynton’s toolbox is The Curfew Buddy – keeping parents and children connected quickly about where children are and when they’ll return home.

Kudos to this young Hoosier entrepreneur and the Madison County YEA program for giving Boynton and other enterprising students the experience and opportunity to change the world through their innovative products, services and ideas.

Crowd-funding a Hot Topic for Government, Businesses

Legislation is going through the United States Congress to make it easier for small businesses in America to benefit from crowd-funding. The Wall Street Journal blog relays:

The U.S. House advanced legislation this week that would make it easier for smaller companies to raise money from investors.

House lawmakers, in overwhelming bipartisan votes, completed work Thursday on four bills as the measures drew interest in the Senate. President Barack Obama also signaled support for at least one of the bills.

Among other things, the House by a vote of 413-11 approved a bill to make it easier for companies to advertise private offerings with wealthy investors and voted 407-17 to allow startup companies to raise up to $10,000 from individuals over the Internet.

Supporters hope the bills, if signed into law, will help small firms grow in size and hire new workers.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.), who is weighing introducing capital formation legislation in the Senate, said there is widespread need for Congress to act. “Everywhere I spend time across the state I talk to small business owners and entrepreneurs that need access to capital to grow and create jobs,” Ms. Gillibrand said.

The advertising provision would end a Securities and Exchange Commission ban on “general solicitation” that effectively limits the ability of companies to reach out to potential new investors. “Under the current ban, if you have a good idea but you don’t have a prior relationship, it cuts off a whole section of investors,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) said in an interview.

The Internet bill would allow startups to use “crowd-funding” methods to tap thousands of investors for very small amounts of shares without the firm having to register first with the SEC. Introduced by Rep. Patrick McHenry (R., N.C.), the bill would allow startups to raise up to $2 million through Internet solicitations and social networking and online sites designed for capital raising.