Fall 2017 AFRL Commercialization Academy Series: GivDapps

Adam MacDonald is the founder of GivDapps, a non-profit organization that bridges the gap between non-profits and donors. The organization leverages crowdfunding technology and the power of community relationships to promote transparent charitable giving within local communities. Crowdfunding opportunities are provided to families in need and specific community projects that have been vetted by other charitable organizations, while engendering trust within the non-profit sector.

Molly Bauer is the COO of GivDapps. She has a background in finance and management, and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.

Tell us about your experience in the startup world/tech industry.

Adam: I’ve always been intrigued by technology and the early startup industry, and have followed both for many years. Then I started thinking about different concepts in the non-profit world. When I created GivDapps, I taught myself the basics of coding and learned different programming languages while I was in college, which included taking classes in Unity. That helped a lot in getting things off the ground from the standpoint of building a technology product.

Molly: I personally don’t have any experience in the startup world. I worked as an intern at a few startups during college.

Why did you create GivDapps?

Adam: I was mentoring with Big Brothers/Big Sisters in the Capital Region of New York, and I wanted to donate sneakers and clothing, but I found out that I couldn’t donate directly to an individual. There was no program set up to donate to people in the community, or right next door, in times of need. The only solution was GoFundMe. That was the first reason. The second reason was I discovered that people weren’t donating by phone, even though mobile growth and usage is increasing through the roof and web usage is declining. I found that interesting, so I put “two-and-two” together and started GivDapps.

How did you hear about the AFRL Commercialization Academy?

Adam: After the Blackstone Launchpad program at SUNY Albany, we got into IgniteU NY in Troy, NY. Through IgniteU NY, we got acquainted with Wasabi Ventures. Then we heard about the AFRL Commercialization Academy through Wasabi Ventures Managing Partner, TK Kuegler, and Wasabi Ventures Academy Associate Dean Michele Pesula-Kuegler.

What motivated you to participate in the AFRL Commercialization Academy?

Adam: A close friend of mine that I grew up with in high school, named Kyle Henchey, runs a company called QwikSupply. He was also in the IgniteU NY accelerator program with us, and was accepted to the Fall 2016 cohort of the Commercialization Academy. One day I was having a discussion with him regarding the various resources and programs available to startups. He had a lot of good things to say about the academy, so I decided to pursue it.

Molly: We’re also very confident that this is an app and donation platform that people will be interested in using. We’re hoping that by working with the AFRL Commercialization Academy and Wasabi Ventures, receiving funds through the program by reaching milestones, and winning one of the cash prizes at Demo Day, we’ll be able to take this app to the next level, and eventually put it out there in the marketplace as a source of funding for mass use.

Besides the possibility of winning a cash award to build your startup, what else are you looking forward to on November 30, 2017 at the Fall 2017 AFRL Commercialization Academy Demo Day?

Adam: I’d like to meet the other teams and all the people involved. I really like the feedback loop, too. When I think back on the valuable insight that I’ve gained about different products, product-market fit, and various aspects of the startup world, all those things come to a head on demo days. We’ve done a few demo days, and that’s when we get the best feedback. We learn an incredible amount, and there’s an incredible amount of resources available to ask other people how to find the best routes to build a startup.

GivDapps’ Adam MacDonald and Luke Beemer present at Startup Tech Valley on September 7, 2016

What demo days have you been involved in?

Adam: Besides pitching at Blackstone Launchpad’s demo day, we also pitched our startup at IgniteU NY’s Final Startup Showcase on August 2, 2017. We presented at Startup Tech Valley’s meetup at Brown’s Brewery in Troy, NY on September 7, 2016. We got really good feedback afterwards.

What kinds of companies would you like to collaborate with?

Adam: Someone who has been in the non-profit sector for many years in New York City and Albany, NY. Between those two spaces, we’re trying to form a lot of good connections. Non-profits are loving what we have, but the sales cycle and getting them on board is much longer. If we could collaborate with someone who has these connections already, I think it would be easier to move quicker.

Molly: We’re also interested in working with large companies that have a focus on community service and making sure that their employees are active in their communities. Large companies that have a passion for promoting community service among their employees would be a great user base to partner with, because eventually the employee users from the companies will think this is a great app to use to donate to various causes. We could work with those companies to create campaigns with chosen non-profits.

We’re also collaborating with companies that create workout, running, or step-counting apps to get fitness involved, as well as setting up donation programs for events in which a certain dollar amount is donated every mile participants run, and so on.

The GivDapps team has a lot of information to share with you on crowdfunding strategies for donations to your favorite charities. Meet them at the Fall 2017 AFRL Commercialization Academy Demo Day on November 30, 2017. Watch them pitch to compete for the chance to win either the Judges’ Vote of $15,000 or the live Audience Vote of $5,000 at Griffiss Institute, 725 Daedalian Drive, Rome, New York!

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