The Mentor Capital Network interviewed Jason Rosado, the CEO of Givkwik, on April 18, 2016. Givkwik participated in the Sustainable Business Plan Collaboration Program in 2013. Givkwik helps companies give away money by providing web-based tools and services to empower a company to share acts of philanthropy with an audience of friends, customers and/or employees. They work closely with companies to design individualized giving campaigns to suit their needs and provide a customized platform to allow individuals to vote for their preferred causes.
Below Jason shares his personal motivation to start Givkwik. He also tells us about some recent accomplishments they’ve achieved as well as the challenges they’ve overcome.
What makes GivKwik unique in the field of corporate giving? How does it stand out?
Givkwik is different from other providers because there are very few who work towards the democratization of grant making and decision making, providing a platform for companies to leverage that and invite employees and customers to engage in the process. Most companies are working now in matching grants, which is the basic approach. What we want is to expand that and take corporate philanthropy to the ‘front of the house,’ for example marketing initiatives such as company loyalty and rewards programs. We are increasingly seeing that marketing professionals are now paying attention to giving campaigns and we just want to make sure it goes beyond traditional corporate responsibility.
How did you become interested in this approach?
Well, I have 15 years of experience in banking and finance services, especially in using technology to make companies accelerate receivables, automate payables and make working capital more efficient. Basically, 15 years of doing that in Fortune 500 companies made me question what my purpose was in life and I realized that I could use my skills to do more good and solve the various issues in philanthropy today.
How many organizations have you been able to serve?
We helped one major corporate client donate around $5 million to over 250 organizations. Overall 300 organizations benefitted from our services.
How would you characterize your growth in the past three years?
I would say it’s steady with occasional dips and peaks. We are still a boot strapped organization and have only had one seed investment when we came out of an accelerator program in 2012. Givkwik has been able to grow with partnerships and by supporting major corporate clients.
I should also mention that as a B2B company our circumstances are different; deals with corporations are complicated to finalize. We could get a deal and be very excited about it but then it takes almost three months to be finalized because the client wants to negotiate so many things with us. These are the inevitable problems with corporate procurement.
If we take Facebook for example, when someone wants to create a page there for a campaign they won’t consider negotiating any of the terms and conditions with Facebook, which is really the caliber we want to bring Givkwik to, where what we offer is so clear and standardized that people just buy it.
You were featured by Forbes Magazine for helping raise 16,000 for Local NGOs in NYC. Can you tell me more about that and other successes you would like to share with us?
Our feature in Forbes Magazine came as a result of our #GivingTuesday in NYC last December. It was the 4th anniversary of the movement, which really just aims to promote giving. Giving Tuesday usually happens online so we said maybe having it in person would be a good change. It was held at the Impact Hub and about 200 people came. We opened it up to people to nominate organizations that we can help fund and it came down to about 40 nonprofits who submitted their stories, videos and impact statements. Hundreds of people voted on our website and we were able help give away $15,000 in funding. The event was a huge success and was sponsored by Vodafone.
We are finalizing a deal with a company now on a point-of-sale checkout system where the company introduces to the consumers the chance to donate to the causes it supports with every purchase they make.
What were the hardest parts of launching and scaling GivKwik?
Well there are so many hard parts of being an entrepreneur you have to be very patient, persistent and include a pinch of insanity and audacity in your work.
The storytelling piece was the hardest part, figuring out how to most effectively tell our story. Evolving how we told it where we can show that this is something that is valid and needed. There are a lot of solutions out there waiting for a problem, especially when it comes to consumer giving. I think we have been able to successfully identify the pain points for corporations when it comes to philanthropy and have presented specific solutions for companies.
There have been lots of times when I had to explain GivKwik and people didn’t really get it and it was very frustrating, but we have found our voice. If someone asks me to explain GivKwik now I can simply say,
‘we help companies give away money.’
What challenges are you currently trying to overcome?
Capital or lack there off is definitely a challenge. We are growing client by client whereas we prefer to grow by a more strategic approach. When we were approaching investors earlier on we were faced with the challenge to ‘prove what you are saying’ and that’s what we focused on and we succeeded. The model does work, so what we need now is capital so we can employ more people full time and expand. Like I mentioned earlier, with B2B it’s different. Our pitch to investors now would be is that we have the car, and it’s running, we just need the gas.
What do you hope to accomplish for Givkwik in the future?
We want to have at least ten to fifty large corporations using our platform and 250 midsize companies. Increasing our impact is also a constant priority. I would add that I want us to be a reference for corporate giving; we want corporations to take our advice on where to give their money.
You have accomplished a lot since 2013, how do you think the feedback you got via MCN’s program has helped shape and support your company?
The feedback offered very good advice that helped develop our strategy and understand our options better as a B2B company.
Learn more about Givkwik on their website.