The Awesome Foundation Q&A

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Published:  September 26, 2012
Alison Copley
The Awesome Foundation Q&A

This is almost too good to be a real thing – $1000 for your idea. Granted, that it does have to be a pretty interesting idea, the rest is left up to the team at The Awesome Foundation.

The Foundation sprung together in USA in 2009, has spread around to over 50 cities worldwide (including Melbourne and Sydney) and has so far funded 297 projects with $297 000. The ideas don’t necessarily have to be life-changing either. Submissions funded by the Melbourne chapter include a project covering a Mini Cooper with macaroons, a documentary about grandparents, and a project using discarded pet waste as a renewable energy force.

We wanted to know more, so we caught up Erika Geraerts from The Awesome Foundation Melbourne Squared (Melbourne has two chapters).

The Awesome Foundation funded printing of Free Love issue 3. (image from Free Love's site)

We love this idea! Where/how did The Awesome Foundation begin?
We love this idea also. Free money – who wouldn’t?

The Awesome Foundation is still a baby, born in Boston in 2009 from the brain of Tim Hwang. Its premise is simple: find awesomeness and fund it. Tim found ten friends and got them together for a drink. They all threw $100 cash each in a brown paper bag – and put it towards another person’s idea. No catch.

Every day ideas are thrown away because someone didn’t support it or because someone couldn’t afford it. We believe in lending a helping hand to these people with great ideas.

$1000 may seem like a little, but we know it can go a long way.

How do nominations work? Are there any set criteria? Can we nominate projects?
Whatever your idea, we’d like to think it can happen. It doesn’t have to be a business plan; it doesn’t have to have documents to support it. It can be fun, crazy, and stupid. Because if it’s awesome – it deserves funding.

The best thing about the The Awesome Foundation is how easy it is to apply. There are no catches in the grant and it’s a big surprise that more people aren’t talking about it.

Applicants can nominate themselves or a friend. We only need to know a few simple things: your idea, how it will work, and what you need the money for.

The dean of each chapter will review the applicants and make a shortlist before they are presented to the board.

The Awesome Squared team. Photo: Shannon Boh

And where does the money come from – how is The Awesome Foundation funded?
10 over-enthusiastic bank accounts get together once a month. They drink too much wine, and eat too much food, upon which they review the best applicants and decide on a winner. They’ll call the winner that night – if it’s not too late or if they can comprehend the keypad on their phones – and let them know that the dollars are on their way.

When did The Awesome Foundation first hit Australia? Plans to expand?
The Awesome Foundation came to Melbourne in February 2011, thanks to the very clever Ross Hill. There are now over 50 chapters world wide funding awesomeness – and there’s always room for more.

Can you tell us about a few of the Australian projects which The Awesome Foundation has supported?
Between Melbourne’s two chapters, we’ve funded various projects – some which make sense, others that might not – including:

  • Macaroons. Covering a mini cooper in $1000 worth of Macaroons. Because we can.
  • 1000 years of living history: A documentary telling the tales of our greatest assets, our elders. Grandparents are the best. We funded the filming equipment.
  • TQ Dogs: Jumpers and coats for dogs needing adoption. Cause they get cold, yo. We funded the knitting materials.
  • Free love magazine: a wicked little zine roaming the streets of Melbourne, which featured work from one designer, one photographer, and one musician/band. We funded the printing of Issue 3.
  • Roll-up Bike Valet Day: What’s better than riding a bike? Having someone park it for you, for free. We funded the meter costs for the event.
  • Poo Power: Using discarded pet waste as a renewable energy force. Yep, enough said. We funded the campfire production.

The Macaroon car project

How can we get involved?
We’re looking for people to spread the word about The Awesome Foundation. The more applicants we have to choose from, the more ‘Awesome’ that can be spread – not just in the projects themselves but via the networks of people that communicate our goal: Making ideas happen.

If you’ve got an idea that you’d love funded, submit it here. If you’d like to open a chapter in your city, head to The Awesome Foundation’s website.

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