Here's an interesting idea that Northern Virginia startup BizGravity is tackling: Enabling busy executives to auction off meeting times with people who want to meet for business development, and then donate the proceeds to charity.
Think EBay meets LinkedIn, says co-founder John Aggrey.
"If you're going to play a round of golf, why not auction off the time," said Aggrey, who's also chairman and CEO of the Unicorn Group, a biz-dev and management consulting group . "Because two or threee people might be willing to pay for that time."
The site has already attracted some top execs in the Washington area, including John Huffman, president and CEO of Pepco Energy Services, the major utility in the region.
Huffman is auctioning a "Power Players" (haha...get it? Power, electricity, Pepco) for $700, which includes a dinner for four in Arlington. Proceeds will go to the "Amanda Tiede, 2012 Candidate for Woman of the Year with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society." (Amanda Tiede is campaigning to raise $100,000 for the charity.)
But executives have another option with BizGravity: they can keep the money they raise for their own pockets. Aggrey said he can see retired executives choosing to make a little extra money for themselves through the site, almost akin to consulting.
I asked him if he thought that most companies might have a policy of allowing their executives to bill out their lunch meetings, and pocket the money, and he agreed that might be problematic for some. He also suspects there'll be a lot of social pressure on working executives to donate their time to charity, rather than pocket the money for themselves.
"We're going to watch you carefully and as long as you're taking meetings and raising money for a cause, that's great. But the minute you start to take the money for yourself, you better be retired," Aggrey said.
Aggrey recently struck a partnership with CityBizList, a business daily email newsletter that operates in Baltimore and several other markets around the country. He hopes to attract executives who read CityBizList to BizGravity, and get them donating their lunch meeting time to charity.
BizGravity adds on a 15 percent surcharge to the final auction price. For more on how it works, here's the FAQ.
So far, Aggrey and his partners have bootstrapped BizGravity, but they are considering seeking a round of financing over the next six months to further develop the site, including mobile apps.