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Teen auctions off future income to fund startup

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 A 19-year-old Seattle programmer funded a project that helps seniors find assisted living residences by auctioning off a portion of her income for the next 10 years. (Photo: seniorlivingmap.org screenshot)

Like any startup founder, Sarah Hanson is willing to admit that's there's a chance her new business could fail.

What the ambitious 19-year-old student is certain of, however, is that she herself will not -- and the novel approach she's taken to raise capital for her next project has investors convinced of the same.

Using the free silent action platform 32auctions, Hanson recently secured $125,000 worth of funding by agreeing to give investors 10 per cent of her future income for the next decade.

 Sarah Hanson, 19, raised enough capital to focus on her digital startup full time by auctioning off a portion of her future income. (Photo: 32auctions.com) "I'm realistic enough to know that as a 19-year-old female, with no proven track record, I have about a 0% chance of finding someone to invest in Senior Living Map," wrote Hanson in her pitch. "So to up the stakes, I'm offering a piece of me."

Hanson, who has been coding since the age of 12, recently dropped out of college in Seattle to focus on seniorlivingmap.org, a passion project she hopes will soon bloom into a successful service helping older adults find assisted living residences online.

While she admits that getting a university degree is a great option for some, the financial burden and lack of employment options she foresaw upon graduating made her rethink the investment.

"I go to a good school, with good teachers, and have made some good friends but to be $1,000s in debt to be taught things I already know or things that have no application to the real world... it's not worth it, not for me," she wrote.

Hanson intends to "learn and grow independent of a formal institution" by building up her business instead, and at least one anonymous investor from San Francisco believes that the young entrepreneur, as a person, is worth investing in.

'I can't guarantee Senior Living Map will be a success but I can guarantee that I will be'

-- Sarah Hanson

In an interview with Mainstreet.com this week, Hanson explained that to promote her "10% for 10 years" auction, she had blindly emailed 1,000 members of investor database angel.co.

By April 10, she had landed $125,000 worth of support.

The winner of her auction, one of only three bidders, will be paid out 10 per cent of everything she makes for the next decade in monthly, quarterly or yearly increments depending on his or her preference.

Hanson is confident that the total of that sum will amount to much more than the original $125,000 grant.

"I can't guarantee Senior Living Map will be a success," she writes. "But I can guarantee that I will be."

If you've invested or are thinking about investing in a business, would you consider backing the company's owner instead? Why or why not?

Tags: POV

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