Brazilian socialtech startup Ribon has built a platform that offers a gamified experience of charitable giving, enabling individuals to donate to a charity without taking money out of their pocket, while increasing institutional donations by up to 60%. Ribon’s business model is unprecedented – which is why the startup was the only one in Latin America recognized as one of the 10 most creative and innovative digital solutions for every day giving in the world by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation –and was born aiming to change how Brazilians practice philanthropy.
Ribon has just closed a $3.5 million (about BRL 20 million) post-Seed round led by Valor Capital Group and followed by venture capital firms Bitkraft, Kenetic, Flori Ventures and 2TM, Mercado Bitcoin’s parent company, as well as angel investors such as Gabby Dizon (CEO of YGG) and Fernando Martinelli (CEO at Balancer).
Ribon will use the newly raised capital to boost its growth and go international, migrating the business to the crypto universe by launching the Ribon protocol on blockchain. This measure will enable integrations to be made easier through an open-source platform, as well as reward donors and platforms that contribute to the protocol’s functioning via tokens. The startup also plans to launch its governance token to kick off RibonDAO, a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) that will manage the protocol on blockchain.
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“We migrated our entire business model to a decentralized model, on a blockchain. We already had that in mind when we started raising this round. The donation experience remains essentially the same on the platform. What it does improve is that the Ribon protocol is now open, and with that companies can make integrations easier. In addition, the people who use the Ribon’s platform will get tokens, which is a kind of a part of the protocol”, explains Rafael Rodeiro, CEO and co-founder of the startup with Carlos Menezes and João Moraes.
How it works
Founded in 2016, Ribon claims to increase by up to 60% the volume of institutional donations that philanthropic foundations and companies make, while stimulating the culture of individual giving through gamification.
Imagine that a foundation or company has $100,000 to donate. Through a partnership with Ribon, the startup transforms this amount into vouchers that are distributed to individual donors on Ribon’s own platform or on websites, apps, and even WhatsApp chatbots of partner companies. This integration model, which allows the solution to be “replicated” in other interfaces besides Ribon’s platform (for example, in the evaluation stage of a chatbot service, the user receives a voucher to make a donation), has added almost 60,000 users/individual donors per month.
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“We went from zero to almost 60,000 users by month. This was fundamental for us to understand how to scale the model and scale fast, because the more integrations we have, the more people receive donation vouchers and get into Ribon’s gamification flow,” says Rodeiro.
With these vouchers, individual donors can make a free donation to an institution or cause. Ribon hopes that by creating a positive donation experience, people will also make actually paid donations – and that’s where the 60% more generated by the socialtech on the volume donated by partners comes from.
“After having that experience, many people become interested and start donating effectively, out of their own money. The easiest way to show that giving to charity is a good thing and that it is effective, is to create this positive experience,” says Rodeiro.
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In this scenario, everybody wins: foundations and companies raise more money, more social projects, and communities receive help and more people become connected by a sense of social responsibility that, more than ever, requires a sustained commitment.
Naturally, a socialtech that promotes donation culture bets on solidarity and individual engagement. But so far, it has worked out well: more than 250,000 people have donated through Ribon, reaching more than BRL 1 million in donations. The money collected through the platform has already helped 29 charities or projects, such as PACE, Pão é Vida, and Living Goods.
“Ribon has a unique business model that doesn’t exist in other countries. And it is one of the first DAO protocols, decentralized, in Brazil to receive funding, because the investors are not familiar with the proposal. It is a very important recognition for the company,” says Rodeiro.