A Shifting Perception of "Winning."

A Shifting Perception of "Winning."

By Ryan Cummins & Matt Pohlson

Ryan & Matt are the co-founders of Omaze, a cause marketplace that raises money and awareness for charity by offering the chance to win once-in-a-lifetime experiences.


Just over two years ago we launched Omaze, which raises money and awareness for charity by offering the chance to win once-in-a-lifetime experiences. If you’d asked us during those kickoff days what “winning” meant, we would have detailed our business objectives to advance the social impact space by partnering with the world’s biggest celebrities to offer everyone a shot at amazing experiences benefitting causes. That was our primary goal for Omaze, which offered more than enough motivation for our very small but hungry team to get things off the ground. And while it took many critical learning lessons to get our model right, we soon appreciated that Omaze was becoming an exciting business when three of our experience campaigns raised over $1 Million in donations for their causes. 


Ride in a Tank and Crush a Car with Arnold Schwarzenegger: $1.12M
Go on a Date with George Clooney: $1.23M
Ride with Aaron Paul in a Winnebago to the Finale of Breaking Bad: $1.7M 





Looking back, it’s apparent now that those early breakthrough moments also sparked a deeper appreciation for our perception of “winning” and what that really means. As our business scaled, we had to scale our team. And as we did that, it became increasingly clear that Omaze’s business objectives – the external markers we initially believed would constitute success – were 100% predicated on our ability to foster greatness within the organization, at every level, within every individual. This may seem obvious, but as first-time cofounders it’s something we feel fortunate to have learned in what we still consider to be the early days of our company. Because this simple realization – that “winning” begins at a more fundamental level of individuals and the culture they create – has provided a key to opening up the true potential of Omaze. To begin, it’s positioned us to connect our core team around a foundation of collectively shared values. And that foundation has subsequently enabled the rapid growth of our team in a manner that continually reinforces that foundation. Better yet, we’re seeing how that virtuous cycle fosters an environment where every member of our team is recognized as a valuable contributor to the company and our mission, in turn empowering everyone to build upon and advance our initial business objectives. But perhaps best of all, it’s cultivated an environment where we all take our work seriously, but not ourselves, so our days become a healthy balance of constructive debate and tear-inducing laughter.


When Chelsea generously invited us to participate in this edition of Shape Shift we felt honored to contribute to the dialogue and humbled given its theme of “winning”. Two years in, we are our proud of the things Omaze has accomplished in the social impact space. At the same time we know we’ve only just scratched the surface of our vision and what’s possible in this space. So if we can share anything of value relating to this theme, its this lesson we’ve learned for ourselves, that the opportunity for accomplishing something truly great in the world relies on embracing that process of cultivating greatness in every single member of the team. That is “winning”. Well, that and the chance to Live the Best Night of Your Life with Robert Downey Jr. at the Premiere of Avengers, or Have John Legend Sing at Your Wedding, or Play Tennis with Serena Williams or…//