Chris Hughes, the Facebook co-founder, and the engine behind the MyBarackObama community organization site, is back in the start-up business.
His new enterprise is called Jumo, (jumo.com) which soft launches today. Jumo--a Youruba word meaning “together in concert”--is a non-profit that aims to help people find ways to help the world. “We’ll be matching people based on their skills and interests with organizations around the world that need their input,” Hughes told me. “It’s a discovery process that first matches, then helps people build relationships, then let’s people share their resources.”
Hughes was inspired after a post-campaign year of thinking, and a bit of work- as an entrepreneur in residence at the venture firm General Catalyst Partners, and at his old alma mater, Facebook. But it was seeing the current state of the world that helped him decide his next move. “I travelled almost too much,” he told me, visiting some of the poorest and most politically divided areas of Latin America, India and Africa. Moved not only by the need he saw, but by the good works of people, often working on small projects and niche issues. “There’s a nurse somewhere in Indiana who would love to know about the nurse in Africa I met working on obstetric fistula,” a devastating condition caused by unrelieved, obstructed labor, a common occurrence in poor regions. He envisions a scenario where people with real skills can share their resources in truly meaningful ways. “This is not just a click on a banner ad and give $10 to a needy child,” he says. “I believe people really want to engage.”
The site goes fully live this fall. The team consists of Hughes, Kirsten Titus, a non-profit expert and the Obama campaign’s former designer Scott Thomas – which explains its elegant interface.
Visitors to Jumo will currently be walked through an intriguing list of questions designed to better match them with interesting opportunities later on. And true to form, eventually expect member profiles and ways for Jumo members to interact with each other. And Jumo is hiring. “We need web developers,” laughed Hughes.
Hughes has some high powered advisors at his side, Jeffrey David Sachs the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.
Jacqueline Novogratz CEO of the Acumen Fund, a non-profit investment fund that specializes in “base of the pyramid” investments, http://www.acumenfund.org/about-us/board-of-directors.html
Linda Rottenberg is CEO and Co-founder of Endeavor (non-profit), a non-profit that identifies and supports “high-impact” entrepreneurs in emerging markets. http://www.endeavor.org/
Jumo has raised about $2.5 million dollars in hefty chunks from a few individual donors, says Hughes, and eventually will be asking visitors to donate as well. (The business model as well as the website sounds like a work in progress.) Although he struggled with the notion of developing the business as a non-profit, “more than one person told me that there were too many limits to scaling a business with that structure,” he ultimately decided that it was the right one. “We’re not in this to make money, we’re in this to make sure that no individual can ever say ‘I want to help but I don’t know how.’”