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CEO of tech startup GIVVN shares best advice he got from Y Combinator

Margie Manning



Matt Spaulding, CEO, GIVVN, presenting at 1 Million Cups St. Petersburg

GIVVN, a one-year-old startup with artificial intelligence to help nonprofit organizations collect donations, has hit a key benchmark.

The company last week opened its platform to all nonprofits.

“As of today, we are officially in our public beta,” co-founder and CEO Matt Spaulding said at 1 Million Cups St. Petersburg on Sept. 18. “Until this point, we’ve been in a private beta where we hand-selected nonprofits to join by invitation only. With our public beta, we’re opening up our platform to any nonprofit that wants to join.”

Nonprofits lack the time and staff to manage online donation collection and donor engagement, Spaulding said. GIVVN solves that problem through its customer relationship management tool, its chatbot and its website, he said.

• The CRM helps nonprofits engage with donors. “GIVVN integrates with your Facebook page and turns the entire Facebook audience into potential donors. With these new contacts, you can blast out messages using Facebook Messenger.”

• The chatbot helps automate the support. “When someone comes to Facebook or Messenger and messages you, they get an instant response and it can help solve common scenarios without the use of humans.”

• The website. “Every nonprofit gets their own donation page that helps get bigger and better donations.”

GIVVN provides the CRM and the website for free. It collects a 5 percent fee on donations to smaller nonprofits and charges a flat $199 a month to larger organizations.

Danica Hoppe

“Online donations are growing 12 percent year over year and by the year 2022 this will be a $50 billion market. If we apply a 5 percent charge to this $50 billion market, it gives GIVVN a market opportunity of $2.5 billion,” Spaulding said.

Spaulding, a full-stack developer, co-founded GIVVN with Danica Hoppe, who is chief marketing officer. The company launched in July 2018 and soon after won first place at Techstars Startup Weekend Tampa Bay 2018. In November 2018, the co-founders graduated from Y Combinator Startup School.

At Y Combinator, GIVVN was in a small group with 10 other companies, led by Chris Coleman, a director at Carvana (NYSE: CVNA), a technology company with an ecommerce platform for buying and selling used cars.

“Probably the best advice he had was, whatever you are doing today is probably not what you are going to be doing five years from now. Keep that in mind. Follow what customers want, rather than what you think they want,” Spaulding said.

GIVVN has been bootstrapped so far, but Spaulding expects to look for outside funding soon. He said he would put most of that funding into marketing efforts and to onboard additional nonprofits.


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