Crowdfunding app firm finds Blacksburg a good fit

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Print this page by Joan Tupponce
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Tilt co-founder Khaled Hussein is a Virginia Tech alumnus.
Photo courtesy Tilt

The California-based technology firm Tilt had many reasons for opening an East Coast office in Blacksburg last September.

One was the proximity of Virginia Tech and other colleges. Students are the target market for Tilt’s crowdfunding app.

Another reason was more personal. Eight of the company’s 71 employees are Virginia Tech alums, including Khaled Hussein, Tilt’s co-founder and chief technology officer.

“We have huge connections to this area,” says Brian Hartsock, another Hokie who is Tilt’s director of engineering.

The company was founded in Austin, Texas, in 2012, but its headquarters now are in San Francisco. The Blacksburg office is located downtown at the Tech Pad co-working space.

The Tilt mobile app is used for crowdfunding.

Since the company’s founding, more than 500,000 groups have used Tilt’s free crowdfunding app. “The app is the easiest way to collect money as a group,” Hartsock says.

Students, for example, use the app to collect money for a tailgate party or a homecoming celebration. While aimed at college students, the app can be used by anyone who needs to round up payments for a variety of purposes.

Hartsock, who graduated from Virginia Tech 12 years ago, used it to collect money for a vacation house that several families had rented. “One person paid for the house and other people contributed,” he says. “It makes it easy to do.”

In addition to its sites in San Francisco and Blacksburg, Tilt has offices in Austin, Toronto, London and Sydney. Outside the U.S., its app is available in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Australia.

A good deal of Tilt’s marketing is based on its “ambassador program.”

“College students are our brand ambassadors,” Hartsock says. “We try to get people … in different universities to use our product and tell their friends about it. We have people who serve as country managers that manage our ambassadors.”

Tilt makes money through its Sell Something campaigns where “companies leverage our user base and sell products to students,” says Hartsock.

The company doesn’t have plans for more apps at the moment.  “We are really focusing on our current app and collecting money as a group,” says Hartsock. “We want to expand into new markets and new schools and grow the model we have.”

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