New startup from former CarLotz, Need Supply CEOs scores $4M capital raise

Endowment Project cofounders Michael Bor (left) and Chris Bossola.

The new venture from Michael Bor and Chris Bossola, the former heads of their respective once-fast-growing Richmond companies CarLotz and Need Supply, is off and running with its first sizable cash haul.

Their startup, The Endowment Project, last week completed a raise of $4.5 million from investors, Bor said Wednesday.

The funds will help spring-load the fledgling Scott’s Addition-based company to begin to test out of its business model: to be an alumni development company for public high schools with a goal of helping form and manage nonprofit endowments for as many of those schools in the country as possible.

The company estimates that 200 million people in the United States went to public high schools and that the country has 25,000 such high schools. But beyond PTAs and booster clubs, Bor sees major limits to their ability to raise money from all those graduates.

Bor said the capital raise allows the company to hire its first chief development officer. A chief technology officer will be next. From there they’ll look to finish building the technology side of the business and choose 10 schools from around Virginia to participate in a pilot program. The pilot is aimed at helping the company learn how to build an initial group of trustees for each school to form an endowment, then track down alumni, get them to donate money and figure out how the individual schools can benefit from the funds.

Bor said the hope is to have that pilot effort well underway in two years. He said this initial batch of capital is expected to last a few years.

The pilot program will seek to have schools from different parts of the state that represent of a mix of the population.

“Within our pilot we’re going to have schools that have a strong group of wealthy alumni and some that are under-resourced. Their needs are likely to be very different,” Bor said.

The Endowment Project is based in a small office in the HandCraft building in Scott’s Addition, where CarLotz and Need Supply have both kept offices. (BizSense file photo)

He said the investor group is made up a mix of local residents and out-of-towners, and includes several early investors from CarLotz, the used-car consignment company that Bor co-founded in 2010. He led CarLotz through several capital raises, culminating in a 9-figure SPAC IPO deal in 2021, before the stock fizzled and Bor was replaced in 2022. CarLotz has since been acquired and its brand retired.

Bossola led his longtime clothing retailer Need Supply through multiple capital raises over its two decades, netting millions of dollars. The company was at a peak in 2019 before abruptly going out of business in the early days of the pandemic.

Bor said he and Bossola personally invested in this first capital round for The Endowment Project.

Bor said the investors include those with experience in the world of philanthropy, nonprofit development and the public schools arena.

“Most went to public high school and see the need for additional resources for the public school system,” Bor said, adding that the co-founders didn’t use an adviser or broker-dealer in the capital raise.

Bor, focused on the road ahead with the new project, said he’s enjoyed being back in startup capital-raising mode.

“It’s kind of a new day and it’s exciting to be back in the arena with a business plan and a mission that’s exciting and can create real impact,” he said.

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Michael Morgan-Dodson
Michael Morgan-Dodson
20 days ago

At a loss as MOST schools systems have foundations (Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield). Even rural and small Surry County VA has a foundation. And many Virginia school districts only have 1-2 high schools. The foundations are almost all 501C3s and fund/sponsor projects at specific schools as well as district wide. So why would each school in the district need its own endowment??

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
20 days ago

CarLotz got sold off at fire sale prices, right?
And Need Supply was one location that went under due to covid?