A Leap Forward

Kristi Saucerman is bringing traditional pen and clipboard auctions to your phone

Kristi Saucerman has always liked helping people. Add to that her natural penchant for getting stuff done, and you get a sort of “super volunteer” — the kind of person who is always stepping up to help out.

“I’ve always been an event planner for different organizations throughout my life but found the most rewarding experience to be helping fundraising causes increase their revenue,” she says. “While my primary role was being mom to my two girls, I also volunteered for gala events for several organizations. They were great and often very well done, but because they were one-night-only events, the organizations were missing out on lots of potential fundraising.”

Kristi set out to solve the problem.

Scoti and Laura discussing a current project. The Auction Frogs office overlooks Silver Lake.
Scoti and Laura discussing a current project, their office overlooks Boise’s Silver Lake.

With no technical expertise of her own, she assembled a team to create Auction Frogs, an online auction platform that allowed bidders to participate before, during and even after the gala event occurred.

“Time is tight for a lot of people,” Kristi explains. “Conflicting calendars, trouble arranging childcare or any number of things keep people from attending fundraising events they would otherwise love to be a part of.”

Kristi’s solution solved this. Now, instead of having to attend a given event on a given night, attendees could bid on items from their home or office over a much longer time frame. Even better, they could be notified when they were outbid, giving them a chance to up the amount they were willing to donate.

For bidders, this meant more opportunities for engagement. And for event organizers, it meant  less paperwork, much larger audiences, greater revenues and often new supporters.

“My first online event was for my daughter’s charter school, and it was a major success, more than tripling the amount raised,” Kristi says. “Within days I had other schools calling me. Auction Frogs was off and running.”

That was 2007. Since then, Kristi and her team have grown Auction Frogs into a full-service event management platform complete with ticket and registration features, multiple bidding options, live and silent auction clerking, reporting tools and more.

The company’s latest breakthrough is a mobile bidding feature that allows auction attendees to use their mobile phones to make bids with a simple tap of a button.

“Early feedback on our mobile bidding tool has been phenomenal,” she says. “Bidders have more fun and organizations are seeing off-the-charts engagement and revenue growth.”

But getting here wasn’t easy.

The Auction Frogs "A" and "F" are scattered throughout the office.
The Auction Frogs “A” and “F” are scattered throughout the Boise office.

When Kristi founded Auction Frogs eight years ago, she had never worked in development or marketing. She knew what she wanted, but wasn’t sure how to get it done.

But her passion for helping others and her drive to get stuff done took over. She vetted software engineers. Read up on entrepreneurialism. And started selling.

“Like every new company, we made a lot of mistakes,” Kristi says.

“The important thing is that we didn’t give up. We kept fighting. We kept improving. Version after version, our web-based application got better. And so did the rest of the company.”

All this while staying actively involved with the lives of her two daughters. “I always considered myself a mom first,” she says. “My work schedule was often built around their schedules. They came first.”

Today, Auction Frogs still serves clients in the Boise area, but has expanded across North America, including a recent deal to help a realtor group raise money for community causes.

“We were able to offer them a one-stop solution to hosting impactful local events,” Kristi says. “Not only did they love our application, they also love our almost over-the-top friendly way of doing things. That’s just how we do things here in Boise.”

Never one to rest on her success, the Auction Frogs founder says she is handing the reins of the company to a long-time employee this month as she accepts a position as CEO of international company Plan Ahead Events.

“I’ll remain the primary shareholder and chairman of the board, but I really believe Auction Frogs will benefit by giving more freedom to grow to the talented team that already runs the day-to-day operations,” Kristi says. “It’s been a great ride, but I’m excited to use my skills to continue to help more people achieve their dreams … as I have done with Auction Frogs.”

Note: Start an auction for your event, learn more at Auctionfrogs.org.

Photography by Chris Ennis