Founding Year: 2021
Office Locations: Chicago, New York City, Frankfurt
Prior to the COVID lockdowns of 2020, Co-founder Dorian Dickinson was working on several economic and rural development programs in developing countries and conflict zones. When COVID hit, his business went from 100 to 0 in 48 hours. The lockdown period gave Dickinson the opportunity to look at how he could use his business development skills closer to home.
When he looked at the overriding causes of economic inequality, poverty, and lack of hope in disadvantaged areas of the US, the signs kept pointing to a lack of access to capital to spark entrepreneurial innovation, grow small businesses, and improve the quality of life in struggling communities. FundingHope was born and remains the only investment crowdfunding platform focused entirely on connecting investors with entrepreneurs contributing to sustainability in distressed, at-risk, and rural communities across America.
Excerpts from The Chief’s Digest interview with Dorian
In this modern business world, what exactly does a “Smart Company” mean to you?
In 2023, being a smart company means having a strategic approach that leverages advanced technologies, data, and analytics to improve operational efficiency, enhance customer experiences, drive innovation, and create a sustainable, customer-centric, and innovative business model.
How successful was your first project roll on? Do you think there has been a change in your priorities since then?
Entrepreneurs and small business owners in disadvantaged communities have received the FundingHope investment crowdfunding platform favorably. These innovators are some of the brightest minds in America, and until now have been historically left behind by traditional banks and Wall Street. Our priorities have remained the same from day one; help entrepreneurs and small business owners in challenged communities get the capital they need and bridge the gap between access to capital and achieving a sustainable future everywhere.
What challenges did you face in your initial years? What was the number one motivating factor that kept you moving forward?
The initial challenges all investment crowdfunding platforms face, including FundingHope, are creating awareness of the platform, and building trust among investors on the platform, creating awareness. We have been overcoming these challenges by leveraging the extensive business development experience our founders bring to the business. We have strategically looked at every aspect of our business, completed detailed competitive analyses of our competition, and built a better crowdfunding model than had been in the market.
The number one motivating factor that has kept us moving forward is knowing that we are developing a cutting-edge, out-of-the-box alternative investment marketplace that will put capital in the hands of small business owners who will make a positive and sustainable difference in the communities.
How would you describe the work culture within your organization? How do you differentiate between smart work and hard work?
Our team is a passionate, dedicated, and driven team of experienced professionals. We communicate constantly, share ideas, and bring an entrepreneurial mindset to the business. We are all entrepreneurs who are focused on understanding what entrepreneurs in challenging environments are looking for to grow their businesses. We are always aiming to work smart instead of hard. That means finding the most effective and efficient way to achieve our customers’ goals. We focus on using our time, resources, and skills in the most efficient way possible to achieve our customers’ desired outcomes.
As a question on adaptability, how do you stay relevant to consumer interests and needs in this highly volatile market?
FundingHope stays relevant by remaining current with the latest trends and changes in the alternative investment, community development, and rural development sectors. We adapt and evolve our brand positioning and messaging to stay ahead of the curve.
What are the factors that make your brand one of the SMARTEST and why?
FundingHope has developed a clear and compelling value proposition, strong brand messaging, and a deep understanding of our target audience. FundingHope can connect with its audience in a meaningful and authentic way, while also differentiating itself from its competitors in the investment crowdfunding space.
We remain authentic and genuine in our interactions with issuers in need of funding and potential investors in those businesses. We always communicate in a transparent, honest, and trustworthy way. Overall, we have a deep understanding of our target audiences and communicate our value proposition in a way that resonates with them. We build trust and loyalty with our issuing companies and investors, while also staying relevant and innovative in a rapidly changing marketplace.
What’s your take on the involvement of companies in social welfare/ CSR activities? Does it make a positive contribution to the business?
CSR plays a crucial role in FundingHope’s brand perception; attractiveness to investors and issuer companies in need of capital; opportunities for global growth; and overall success of our business.
What have you enjoyed the most while sailing through the ups and downs of your business?
The most enjoyable part of developing and growing FundingHope has been the engagement I have been able to have with entrepreneurs in disadvantaged communities. Learning from them, understanding their needs, and demonstrating how FundingHope can assist them in growing their businesses, and hopefully creating generational wealth for their families are experiences that I am proud to have as professional memories.
Where do you see your company a few years from now?
FundingHope is positioned for strong growth in the United States and in several international markets. We envision FundingHope as a global leader in the investment crowdfunding sector, and a disruptive force in alternative investment markets. We are driven to outpace competitors, secure additional partnerships with strategically aligned stakeholders, and build a strong brand reputation with global awareness.
Dorian Dickinson, Co-Founder, and Managing Director
Dorian began his career in law enforcement before establishing himself as a leader in the development of innovative business strategies in various consumer product sectors. For the past 15 years, he has dedicated his career to creating and building economic development activity, sustainability programs, and improved health and sanitation initiatives in rural and economically challenged communities in the US, Mexico, South America, the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
Dickinson is a commissioned Kentucky Colonel, the highest title of honor bestowed by the Governor of Kentucky, as recognition of his noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to the community, state, nation, and planet. He was twice named Illinois Agribusiness Leader of the Year, was a charter board member of the Council of the Great Lakes Region, and has been recognized by Canada’s Governor General, the Right Honourable David Johnston, as a cross-border economic development leader.
“FundingHope exists to empower entrepreneurs and small business owners contributing to sustainability in distressed, at-risk, and rural communities to take charge of their finances and set themselves up for success to grow their businesses and communities.”