Many dot.com-ers around Silicon Valley seem to have stock options as their top priority. Not so for Richard Gill and Will Hoover, the cofounders of AndEarth.com, who had a slightly different business model in mind. They are raising money for environmental projects throughout the San Francisco Bay area, with a particular focus on the doings of grassroots groups.
Their business works by soliciting sponsors who want to have their advertising banners attached to an email newsletter that goes to a fast-growing list of subscribers. The emails describe the specific projects that AndEarth.com has selected to assist with fund raising. In addition, the email contains a stunning color photograph and a button labeled "Support." The more people who click that button, the more money the sponsors donate, knowing that their ad has reached a targeted audience. Gill estimates that 70 percent of their revenues go directly to the environmental projects.
In business for just four months, Gill reports that subscribers number more than 5,000. The money raised so far has gone to the San Bruno Mountain Watch, which is helping to preserve more than 20 threatened and endangered species that make their supporting the nonprofit Save Our Shores group which is putting together a year-long statewide coastal cleanup project. Funds from the dot.com will provide the trash bags and gloves used by the volunteers.
Gill says they hope to raise funds for six to twelve projects within the next year. The email newsletter is free and anyone can sign up at the www.andearth.com Web site.