It’s often difficult for nonprofits to collect and analyze valuable data due to limited resources and a largely volunteer-driven structure. While some large organizations can afford software like Salesforce, many cannot.
For over a decade, Nate Branscomb has volunteered at various nonprofits and witnessed this gap firsthand.
His deep understanding of these organizations led him to launch Cary-based startup BCombs, a customer relationship management (CRM) software company for youth-mentoring nonprofits. With this SaaS platform, nonprofits serving disadvantaged families and youth can simplify their operations and better fulfill their mission. Features include aggregating data, automating processes, providing actionable metrics, and more on an annual or monthly subscription basis.
“The better I make the system,” Branscomb said, “the more impact nonprofits can have on the people they serve, the better their lives are.”
Currently, Branscomb is the president of the 100 Black Men of Triangle East chapter and is a board member of Communities in Schools of Wake County, also known as CIS Wake.
This past fall BCombs was one of 15 startups to receive NC IDEA‘s $10,000 MICRO grant. Among the other recipients were local startups Committees, Dojo Fresh, Givefinity, Tromml, and TSV Analytics. [The links are to earlier GrepBeat stories about those startups.]
Branscomb said this funding will go toward customer development and revamping the startup’s platform. They are currently in their minimum viable product (MVP) phase and aim to utilize everything they’ve learned from their current customers to take the platform to the next level. To date, the company has over 30 customers, including small and national nonprofits.
Not only does the NC IDEA grant enable him to network with more people in the Triangle ecosystem, it gives his startup validation, especially as a minority entrepreneur.
“It’s especially advantageous because even with some corporate success, even with some level of network, we don’t attract capital and attention the same way that the larger population may,” Branscomb said. “That validation in some ways goes even further… as a minority founder.”
BCombs also partnered with Durham Public Schools (DPS) in 2019 through Innovate Durham, a 16-week program that enables participants to work with the City or County of Durham to test ideas, products or services. With the platform, Branscomb helped aggregate activities and events for DPS. ProcessMaker was another local startup in the cohort.
Despite launching the company in 2015, the idea came to Branscomb a few years before while working full-time as a finance and operations professional at a tech company.
BCombs began as a platform designed to expose youth and economically disadvantaged families to scholarship opportunities, discounts or free events in the Triangle. But, through customer development, it evolved into its current form
Early on, Branscomb said he spent money on developers that weren’t a good fit. However, he has finally got to a point where he is building software that truly helps nonprofits fulfill their missions.
“How do you collect the information that you need to have this to become easier for them?” he asked. “How do we do better engagement with not only internally, but the families and the community that we serve? How do we use metrics and information to ensure that we have the best programming?”
Branscomb said he always wanted to work for a startup as a CFO or financial controller. His startup not only scratches the entrepreneurial bug, but it is a societal good.
“I call it feeding the spirit,” Branscomb said. “It gives me a chance to realize that I indirectly impact youth, because I’m impacting the organization that helps them.”
His life in Cary, and raising his children there, is vastly different from his childhood growing up on the South Side of Chicago, he said. No matter where they began, parents want to provide a better life for their children. Not only does he want this for his son and daughter, but also for children he does not know.
“One of the biggest things that I’ve realized in being a parent—versus how I was raised—is that I’m in a position where I’m able to allow them to chase their dreams,” Branscomb said. “Not to survive, but to figure out ‘what’s my purpose?'”
BCombs right now is a team of three full-time employees alongside a few contractors.
Also, If anyone is interested in becoming involved with 100 Black Men of Triangle East, Branscomb said, their applications to become a mentor or mentee are open.