Here's a sampling of the items on TJ Schallot's bucket list:
• Dive a shipwreck.
• Take mom to Ireland.
• Roll around in a pile of money.
• Own my own business.
The list goes on, but that last item is the reason she's in Charleston. Schallot is the founder of bucquistador.com, a social networking website that helps people achieve all the things they want to do before they die. "A lot of times, the reason people don't complete their tasks is because they either lack a support network or financial resources," Schallot says. "So we've tried to create an environment where they can come and make sure that their goals are completed."
Bucquistador, which launched May 23 and so far has more than 400 members, allows users to create lists of bucket items, befriend "mates," search for people with common goals, set up events, and crowdfund their dreams. The crowdfunding is done through Balanced Payments, an online payment service, so Schallot never sees users' bank or credit card information. Joining is free, but Bucquistador takes a 4-percent cut from every crowdfunding effort.
The website also works for pooling resources. Say you and a few friends have always wanted to vacation in Greece. You find a house rental there for $2,000, you divide the cost equally, and then you all pay into a common account on Bucquistador. Rather than have one person pay all $2,000 up front and then depend on friends to pay him back, now everyone shares the load at once.
Schallot is the only employee so far, although she says she's been looking for a web developer in Charleston. A College of Charleston alumna who went on to earn an MBA at the University of Pittsburgh, Schallot spent seven years working in auditing and financial compliance in Pittsburgh. She moved back to Charleston to be a part of the Charleston Digital Corridor, an incubator organization that provides benefits including office space, press handling, and startup advice for tech companies looking to hire workers in Charleston. The Corridor's most visible success story to date has been PeopleMatter, a cloud-based talent management company that started in the Corridor's Flagship incubator space in 2009 and now employs over 260 workers at its Upper King Street headquarters.
Schallot says the other Corridor members provide valuable input as she navigates the startup phase. "It's kind of nice to have ideas to bounce off of fresh people instead of just friends and family, because friends and family are always like, 'Yeah, TJ, that's great,' when in fact it could be the dumbest thing I've ever done," she says.
This is not the first business Schallot has owned, but it is the first time she's quit her day job for one. While working in Pittsburgh for Education Management, Schallot says she owned a pizza joint and a party bus. "We actually bought [the bus] at an auction, and so many people wanted to rent it out that I turned it into my own business," Schallot says.
With Bucquistador, Schallot says she's found a niche. "There are other bucket list websites out there, but they're blog-based. So essentially you go out there and you type up your list, and then people can thumbs-up or thumbs-down, and maybe they can leave a comment. But there's no real interaction."
At the very least, she's crossing off a goal on her bucket list.
"The biggest bucket item was this company," she says.