SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Esmeralda Swartz, Kevin Jackson

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In Pan-Mass Challenge App, Star Tech CEOs and PMC Alumni Develop Pocket Fundraising and Intelligent Tracking for 100+ mile Ride

Industry leading mobile commerce entrepreneurs Paul English and Ben Fischman have partnered with the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) to develop a mobile app that enables rider tracking all day long and fundraising year-round. The new app, already being used to fundraise by thousands of participants, will debut Intelligent Tracking features on Aug. 2 and 3 when more than 5,800 PMC cyclists from 34 states and nine countries will ride in the 35th annual PMC with the goal of raising $40 million for adult and pediatric patient care and cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Jimmy Fund. To download the app on your iPhone, text “PMC” to 37937.

The app helps riders in the annual bike-a-thon manage their personal fundraising campaign on their iOS device (an Android version will be out by year-end). They can email their contacts directly from their iPhones to seek contributions and utilize the application to track response rates and send follow-up messages accordingly. They can also easily thank those who donated to support their ride.

Just as important, the new app enables riders to track each other and their own progress over the course of the two-day, 190-mile event. Teams and friends that ride together inevitably separate along the route and the app will help them reunite. In addition, riders’ friends and supporters can download the app to stay updated on their progress. The location data transmitted by the app will support the “Call for Help” feature riders can use to seek immediate aid. The PMC will use the data to more quickly come to riders’ assistance in the event of an accident, mechanical problem, or even a rider who mistakenly strayed from the route.

“Thorough its “breadcrumb” technology, the app keeps tabs on riders periodically and then shuts itself off in between pings. This allows riders to be tracked for an entire day without draining their phones’ batteries,” says PMC Vice President of Operations, David Hellman, who worked closely with Fischman and English to develop the app. “No other app makes it possible for a rider to be tracked for a century ride without a battery refill,” he says.

Paul English, the founder and former CEO of Kayak.com and now CEO of Blade, Boston’s hottest consumer tech foundry, and Ben Fischman, founder and former CEO of Rue La La and founder of Launch, a platform to create new innovative ecommerce businesses, came together this past spring to develop the app. Fischman, a three-year PMC rider, approached the PMC with his desire to help the organization after his first ride. He brought English, a seven-year PMC rider into the project and together they committed their funding and expertise to develop the PMC app. English leads the design and development and Fischman provides human interface and marketing expertise.

“The PMC is such an innovative fundraiser, we were excited to create technology that can make fundraising simpler and more effective for all involved,” Fischman says. “This app is our first step with much more innovation to come. It’s been incredible working directly with the folks at the PMC to bring this first version of the app live.”

“The technology is more intelligent than that of other tracking apps because it knows how to most efficiently keep track of a rider,” says English. “Other athletic fundraising events are interested in this technology, but we created it for the PMC out of our love for the event.”

According to PMC Founder and Executive Director, Billy Starr, many of the PMC’s innovations over the past 35 years have come from passionate PMC riders who desire to lend their professional expertise to the event. “Accepting riders’ contributions of intellectual property, as well as funding, is one of the ways the PMC is able to raise more money than any other athletic fundraising event in the U.S. and one of the reasons it is able to give 100 percent of every rider raised dollar directly to cancer research and patient care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute,” Starr says.

About the Pan-Mass Challenge

The Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) is an annual bike-a-thon that today raises more money for charity than any other single athletic fundraising event in the world. The PMC was founded in 1980 by Billy Starr, who remains the event’s executive director, an annual cyclist, and a fundraiser. The PMC has since raised $414 million for adult and pediatric patient care and cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Jimmy Fund. The event donates 100 percent of every rider-raised dollar directly to the cause. In 2013, the PMC generated more than 50 percent of the Jimmy Fund’s annual revenue and was Dana-Farber’s single largest contributor. In 2014, PMC cyclists will ride with the goal of raising $40 million. The PMC has successfully melded support from committed cyclists, volunteers, corporate sponsors and individual contributors. All are essential to the PMC's goal and model: to attain maximum fundraising efficiency while increasing its annual gift. The PMC’s hope and aspiration is to provide Dana-Farber's doctors and researchers with the necessary resources to discover cures for all cancers. For more information on the Pan-Mass Challenge, log onto www.pmc.org.

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