CEO and founder
Location: Centennial, Colorado
Industry: Non-profit fundraising and commercial auctions
Jeff Porter founded his fundraising and auction software company Handbid in 2011, and as CEO, he remains its clear leader. But he has very intentionally and deliberately worked to ensure he is not the business.
“It’s not about me or my story; it’s about how our entire team impacts the world with our products and services,” he said. “Many companies are born out of a story about the founders and how they identified and solved a need. Catalyzed by the origin story, the company snowballs, and the founders often become larger-than-life. Eventually, a company in this situation finds itself stuck. The founder is too involved in too many business areas, and the company has no identity outside of the founder.
“Handbid had an origin story from my family’s experience running fundraisers. However, my prior startup experience taught me Handbid would not survive without its own identity. It could not be about me. It had to be about others.”
Handbid provides charities fundraising and auction software to maximize revenue and help reduce stress. Porter and his team at Handbid believe mobile is the future of fundraising. “While charities fundraise using traditional methods like direct mail, email, and websites, donors will increasingly demand to engage through smartphone apps,” the company said. “Smartphones have allowed people to work from anywhere, and users demand the convenience of conducting business and commerce from their phones. Fundraising should be no different.”
Historically, charities have been slow to adopt new technology, fearing that their target donor base would not embrace using smartphones to donate or bid. During the pandemic, virtual fundraisers became commonplace, which accelerated the change and adoption by even the most reluctant charities.
Handbid expects to have over 10 million downloads of its apps in five years, allowing thousands of charities instant access to their donors. Over that same period, Handbid projects an increase of its customer base from 1,000 to over 10,000 and increased revenue from $2.5 million to $20 million.
Porter is called a visionary by his staff. When he launched Handbid in 2011, only 17% of mobile users had smartphones. Porter, though, predicted that would change and that a smartphone app would increase charitable donor engagement. The results show he was right.
‘It would have been easier to abandon the vision early on and develop products that charities preferred,” Porter’s staff said. “However, that is counter to Jeff’s style. Jeff likes to deliver products that customers need, over what they think they want.”
That visionary thinking applies to how Porter operates the business, too.
“We emphasize the difference between managing people and developing them,” Porter said. “We talk about how Handbid can help team members with their personal and professional goals. We define success differently than society does. We try to reset perspectives and push for a healthy work-life balance.”
"We talk about how Handbid can help team members with their personal and professional goals. We define success differently than society does. We try to reset perspectives and push for a healthy work-life balance."