MBA Alumni Create Crowdfunding Platform to Aid Disaster Victims and Families
Adrian Baker-Kang (MBA’22), Michael Pollinger (MBA’22), and Russell Tuchman (MBA’22) founded Rebuildee in January 2022, a platform that crowdfunds furnishings and appliances for people who have lost their homes and communities to disasters.
“Rebuilee is a crowdfunding platform to meet the wish list needs for disaster victims and socially vulnerable populations,” Tuchman, CEO, said. “Rebuildee can be thought of as a cross between GoFundMe and a wedding or gift registry providing specific items for those in need.”
The premise for Rebuildee was born from a shared experience with wildlife disaster between the founders. Baker-Kang and his family lost their home in the Tubbs Fire in Northern California in 2017.
“With nothing but the clothes on our backs, we started a journey of rebuilding and recovery,” Baker-Kang said. “The road ahead was long and challenging, but the community came together to help in ways we never could have imagined.”
Tuchman experienced damage to his family home at a young age in California during the Northridge earthquake in 1994. During his family’s time in California, they evacuated their home numerous times due to wildfires and natural disasters in the region.
“I grew up in the San Fernando Valley, always surrounded by brush that could ignite,” Tuchman said. “We’ve been lucky that we haven’t lost our home to wildfires, but I have a lot of friends who have – so this is personal to me.”
While Pollinger grew up across the country from Baker-Kang and Tuchman, the Northeast brought its own share of natural disasters for families and communities to face.
“We don’t have wildfires up here, but we do have nor’easters and floods and every other disaster you can think of,” Pollinger said. “I’ve seen homes flooded and house fires, and those disasters displaced families and challenged communities.”
Baker-Kang, Pollinger, and Tuchman met while earning their MBA Degrees from Georgetown McDonough, and they quickly formed a bond. Each with their own backgrounds and experiences, they came together around one shared idea: helping disaster victims.
They first started working together on projects and pitches at Georgetown McDonough to get to know each other and learn more about working together. The trio presented their business ideas at Georgetown Entrepreneurship’s Rocket Pitch and Bark Tank pitch competitions as students.
“The environment Georgetown provided in terms of entrepreneurship and startups was absolutely essential in getting us to where we are today,” Baker-Kang said.
Baker-Kang, Pollinger, and Tuchman won second place at Rocket Pitch in the spring of 2022 for Rebuildee. The experiences outside and inside the classroom guided them as they sought to develop and formulate their business plan.
“One of the main reasons I decided to attend Georgetown McDonough was to really round out my education as a business professional,” Tuchman said. “And the education, as well as the network, we got from Georgetown has been very helpful as we’ve looked to take Rebuildee to the next level.”
Since then, they have grown Rebuildee into a platform available to communities around the country to help disaster victims. The platform connects people who need assistance, people who want to offer support, and local businesses who want to become involved.
“The goal of the platform is to simultaneously support the recovery of families while also providing an infusion of fresh capital back into local communities to help support long-term economic recovery,” Baker-Kang said. “We want to provide a more sustainable path to getting communities back on their feet.”
Baker-Kang, Pollinger, and Tuchman have aligned Rebuilee at the nexus of disaster relief by connecting the needs of communities with those who have the means to provide support. Individuals and families around the country can provide aid to communities thousands of miles away by donating funds to a family’s registry. Rebuildee also offers businesses the opportunity to provide efficient and reliable items to individuals and communities.
As Rebuildee continues to grow, the founders are driven by their shared experiences with natural disasters and their passion for helping others.
“The end goal for me is to make Rebuildee a household name alongside GoFundMe and the Red Cross,” Pollinger said. “We want to grow in a way where we can help the most amount of people as possible affected by disasters.”