A few years ago, Buffalo Rising interviewed Dan Gigante of You and Who as he was just starting out on his journey as a social entrepreneur (see here). In the wake of You and Who’s growth and success, another local start-up company with a charitable focus, Date on Purpose, has recently launched here in Buffalo.
Date on Purpose was founded by Frank Gullo, a local volunteer firefighter and IT project management pro who was inspired not only by Dan Gigante’s work, but by the growth of the social entrepreneurship movement going on globally.
“I read a book called ‘How to Change the World,” which is about the social entrepreneurship movement and how more and more for-profit companies are looking to give back and make an impact,” Gullo said. “A couple years ago, I became a volunteer firefighter and felt fulfilled by giving back to my community. While being a firefighter and EMT is great, I wanted to bring my business and technology skills to that effort.”
So last year Gullo started a plan for a new start-up called Date on Purpose – a website that brings dating auctions online, while giving half of the proceeds from bids to charity. Each online bachelor/bachelorette auction culminates in a live fundraising event where the public is invited to join in the charitable giving effort. Half of the proceeds from ticket sales for these events also go toward a charitable partner.
Currently, there are six eligible bachelorettes and five bachelors who are participating in the online auction at www.dateonpurpose.com. Those interested in bidding on a date can do so from now until Oct. 13 at noon when the online bidding closes out. In addition, the Date on Purpose event will include a live auction of one additional bachelor and bachelorette.
“We think these 13 people represent the diversity of Buffalo,” Gullo said. “We have singles of different ages, backgrounds and interests.”
The inaugural Date on Purpose event will be held on October 18 at 7 p.m. at the Hotel Lafayette, tying the start-up and its cause directly to the city where it was first conceived. “This is an Internet startup that began in Buffalo and we hope to keep in Buffalo,” Gullo said. “We wanted it to be tied to the rebirth of the city and we think the Hotel Lafayette represents that revitalization.”
In the earlier portion of the event, the bachelors and bachelorettes will meet with the dates that “won” them in the online auction. “They’ll have a one hour date from 6 to 7 p.m. where they can get to know each other and meet in that comfortable, public location,” Gullo said. “Then the event will open to the public at 7 p.m. It will include remarks from our start-up team, musical entertainment, the live auction component where two of Buffalo’s most eligible singles will be auctioned off.”
Gullo added that the public is encouraged to attend this semi-formal event and spend a fun night out supporting a new local start-up. Proceeds from their ticket sales will also go to support the event’s charitable partner – Women & Children’s Hospital.
“From my time as an EMT, I want to help kids, especially those who have medical issues or traumatic injuries,” he said. “Women & Children’s Hospital was very receptive to our idea and they’re positioned for events with their foundation. I think they could be a great partner going forward for future events as well.”
Presale tickets are available for $45 on the Date on Purpose website. Tickets will also be available at the door for $60. The price includes three hours of open bar and hors d’oeuvres.
Those who can’t make it out to the Hotel Lafayette next week can still donate to the Date on Purpose cause. “We did set up an Indiegogo page to help the startup, or people can donate to the hospital,” Gullo said. “We could really use everyone’s help in spreading word via social media –twitter, FB, and Youtube. We are a new business so we are hoping to grow our name.”
After planting the first seed here in Buffalo, Gullo and his team plan to host online auctions and events in other cities. “This was conceived as an online platform to fulfill investment options in other cities and with other interest groups,” Gullo said. “We could do an event or strictly an online option. Other bachelor/bachelorette auctions do exist, but mainly as live events – we wanted to offer the online option as well.”
From the beginning, Gullo’s plan was to make this a true Buffalo start-up company, regardless of where it may lead. “I planned to work with only Buffalo vendors for everything—building the website, doing the design. So this is about them, too. It is a challenge that you can rise to in Buffalo. You can do it by bootstrapping it here because it is so affordable and there’s also immense talent here, especially with the young people. This is about keeping them here, getting them excited about living here.”