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Investors eye crowdfunding app for millennials

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This app is growing rapidly at colleges

Mobile, social and crowdfunding. Those are three common terms in the start-up world. But at one firm, those qualities are being combined into one app, and it's being targeted to another buzzword: millennials.

"It is like a bite-size, simpler version of crowdfunding," said Tilt CEO James Beshara, describing his company.

Tilt is comparable to Kickstarter, whose users have received about $2.1 billion for a variety of projects, or GoFundMe, which helped raise more than $1 billion in the past year, according to figures from both companies.

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But Beshara said his app targets a slightly more specific user base, one with more modest financial goals.

"Instead of something like Kickstarter, where it's a $50,000 documentary that you might want to fund, on Tilt it might be a $1,500 community cause, a $500 tailgate for the big game on Saturday, $1,000 for a group gift," Beshara said in an interview with CNBC.

University of California, Berkeley sophomore Sophie Haas uses Tilt at her sorority for fundraisers.
Jeniece Pettitt | CNBC

To work the app, however, users are required to invite their friends to join. But that doesn't seem to be much of an inconvenience, Beshara said.

On average, users invite 24 friends, and of those, 18 will start using the app, the Tilt CEO said, adding that users are growing 40 percent month over month in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

Tilt says it has received $65 million from investors including Y Combinator, angel investor Ron Conway of SV Angel, venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and others.

That compares with the $15 million in funding received by Kickstarter, which is is owned mostly by its founders, the company said in an email.

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And with about 80 employees, 50 of them in San Francisco and the others in its offices in Toronto, London and Austin, Texas, Tilt expects to continue on a growth trajectory with a Virginia office in the works, Beshara said.

Worldwide, crowdfunding has helped campaigners raise $16.2 billion in 2014, a 167 percent increase from 2013, according to research firm Massolution. The firm expects that figure to double in 2015 to $34.4 billion.

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