Have you ever had a brilliant idea? Maybe a wine-induced moment of wisdom when you came up with a business that could make you millions or an invention that no one had ever attempted before? You scribble this epiphany on a coaster and swear that one day you’ll quit your job and pursue it. Then you wake up and throw the coaster out and head off to your nine to fiver. Well, don’t throw it out. The Awesome Foundation wants to make it happen.
Established in 2009 in Boston by Tim Hwang, The Awesome Foundation distributes micro grants of $1000 every month to support creative ideas, upstart business and anything that’s well, awesome. There’s no interview process, no ten-page application, no obligations. Think of it as a gift from a group of likeminded people who want to support new ideas.
The way it works is surprisingly simple. Each chapter has ten members and each month they put in $100 to pool a $1000 grant. People submit applications for the grant via the website and once a month the board members meet up and discuss the ideas. At the end of the night they choose a winner and give them $1000 cold hard cash. Too easy.
The foundation has chapters all over the world and here in Australia we have chapters in Sydney and Melbourne.
We met up with Erika Geraerts who has recently established the Melbourne’s second Awesome Foundation chapter, Awesome Squared, which is currently looking to recruit new board members.
Geraerts isn’t a rich tycoon looking to cash in on someone’s great idea; she’s a young, creative person who wants to support originality.
She understands that there are many roadblocks stopping people pursuing their ideas and that investing your own money in a project can be daunting. “I think for everybody money is the biggest roadblock,” she says. “Most of us on the board are entrepreneurs or work for ourselves and have been in the situation where we’ve had an idea and really could’ve used the money.”
The Awesome Foundation is there to provide that little bit of encouragement and that little bit of cash that people need. One thousand dollars might not seem like much, but it can really make a difference.
Better yet, anyone can apply. There’s no age limit, no market they want to target or rules for what you can pitch. The ideas range from outlandish inventions to serious businesses.
In Australia, past winners have included Melbourne Rooftop Honey –(link) the urban beekeepers dedicated to protecting our bee population and who install beehives on rooftops all over the city – and the Miniron (a mini cooper covered in 3000 macarons), the world’s smallest synthesiser and a Sydney shaper making sustainable surfboards.
Overseas projects have included The Random Swings Project, in which guerilla construction teams installed giant swings on bridges, buildings and trees all over LA, and The Cotton Candy Cannon in Cambridge – essentially a handheld gun that can coat a rotating human in a fairy floss cocoon in under three minutes. The list is endless. There are no limits.
“It doesn’t have to be about making money; it can be a completely random idea that makes people stop,” says Geraerts.
It sounds to good to be true, but Geraerts insists there’s no catch.
Why are we telling you about this? Because we think it’s awesome. And we’re sure there are lots of people out there who have great ideas and could use the money. Why not give it a shot?
If you have an awesome idea you can apply for the grant here.