It’s rare to hear about a technology company that doesn’t care about profits. While in recent years we’ve seen a rise in the visibility of the “Hybrid-Ideal” perpetuated by such companies as Toms Shoes, the 100% percent model has been few and far between. Enter Hank Fortener. His LA based non-profit AdoptTogether is a crowd funding platform for families who are looking to adopt. Fortener explains that the adoption process can cost families in excess of thirty thousand dollars, a barrier that even some of the hardest-working, financially secure Americans cannot overcome.
AdoptTogether uses a Kickstarter like model to help families raise the funds necessary to take the adoption leap. Families are carefully vetted and funds are allocated only after the expenses have been verified. Fortener began the experiment with one family last January. To date, he has helped 160 families raise over $550,000 dollars. Inspired by his own parents, who have fostered 36 children and adopted eight from five different countries, Fortener envisions a world where there are no more orphans. We caught up with Hank to discuss the stuggles of a bootstrapping entrepreneur, why the 100% model is so important, and how breast implants played a key role in the founding of AdoptTogether. Need we say more? Check out the story below.
Name: Hank Fortener
Company/Position: Founder, AdoptTogether.org
Hometown/Current City: Waynesville, OH/Los Angeles, CA
Entrepreneurial Icon: Norman Lear
Words To Live By: Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle - Plato
Tell us a little about yourself and your career before AdoptTogether.
I grew up in a HUGE family.
36 foster siblings in and out of our home for 7 years.
8 adopted siblings from 5 different countries.
That shaped me.
Made me want to do something that made a difference in the world.
I became a fireman, a medic, a pastor, and a coach.
Anything I could do to help the world.
On my way out of grad school, I called my Dad and pitched him on AdoptTogether.
He was on board right away.
And away we went…
What was the genesis of the idea to start AdoptTogether?
He did a segment called, “Difference Makers”.
They help women raise money for breast augmentations.
I called my Dad right away; “THIS IS IT!”
He thought I was nuts.
I told him this was our way of helping families!
Adoption is out-of-this-world expensive.
$30,000 on average.
But, if we could crowd fund, and give people a way to be a part of an adoption financially and have a tax benefit to boot, we’d have something special.
How has your organization grown since it started last year?
We started on my birthday last year.
1 family, and $8,000 raised.
On my birthday this year we finished out the year with 160 families and $550,000 raised!
It’s been an amazing a ride.
What drives you/motivates you as a startup founder?
My brothers and sisters.
They are precious and I can’t imagine my life without them.
I can’t imagine their life without us.
There are 19,000,000 orphans in the world.
Kids who need families.
There are more than enough families in the world to make space for every single kid.
I want to help every family who wants to adopt, so there is a family for every child.
I imagine a world with no more orphans.
It’s rare to find non-profit technology companies, why is it important that AdoptTogether stay a non-profit organization?
We are here to remove barriers to adoption.
Finances are a HUGE barrier.
So, we create an environment for families to raise funds.
Our non-profit status helps encourage donations.
All designated donations are tax deductible.
Especially for our large donors, it’s critical that we are a trustworthy non-profit.
What’s next for AdoptTogether? What’s your vision for the organization?
We have been bootstrapping all year.
We’re ready for a larger donor to join us.
All our progress has been done with micro-donations and out of pocket expenses from myself and my Dad.
We have proven the concept. With barely any money we are killing it.
We are looking for a big financial partner to help us take this to the next level.
A family for every child.
A world with no more orphans.