We admit: it has been a little while since we've done a founder's interview here on the Verge Pipe Media blog - but we couldn't resist featuring GetCharitable! Aside from being a fun, socially-minded company that is doing great things to help reduce world hunger, the guys at GetCharitable are friends of Verge Pipe Media and fellow residents of Auburn. We're proud to have helped Michael and Kyle get Version 1.0 into the Android marketplace; now, we're thrilled to cheer GetCharitable's early success and we wish them the very best.
What is the :30 pitch on GetCharitable?
GetCharitable is a startup that aims to help people make a difference in the world around them, every day. GetCharitable gives users a free Android app, that when downloaded, will feed a child every day around the world. We give our users a new wallpaper every day, which brings in advertisement revenue to help us feed children through our non-profit partner, Hunger Relief International.
How did you decide to take your philanthropic goals mobile?
Kyle and I had been talking about various ideas for social companies and how to make a difference in more than just the business world before we decided to create a mobile app. I was always interested in tech startups and how their scalability can reach so many people around the world and therefore maybe make a big difference.
At the same time, I had been thinking that while different mobile games were very successful, that it was extremely difficult to set one apart. I thought that maybe if there was a mobile game that could help feed children just by playing, that it would be something that people would chose to play over the multitude of other games out there. I then realized that it would only help the children when people played though. While switching my wallpaper later that same night, I thought that if we could put a sponsored wallpaper there instead, it could generate the revenue to help feed hungry children every day, instead of just when people played a game. I told Kyle about the idea a couple days later, after researching if there was already an app like GetCharitable and if it was technologically feasible. Kyle and I had known that we wanted to startup a company for quite a while, so after we talked about it, we decided we should pursue the idea!
What are some of the biggest perks of being a start-up?
There are many great things about running a startup. The first is the feeling you get when you see people actually using a product or app that you dreamed up and worked for. It's extremely exciting to see both users and advertisers get excited about an idea that you have been working on for so long. Next, it's fun to be involved in so many aspects of business. At some jobs, you can be working on one project all day, but with a startup you'll be working on marketing, preparing for investor presentations, selling advertising space and working with developers all in a days work.
When you are growing a business, you get to meet a lot of really smart and helpful people. Almost everyone we've talked to is excited to help a startup learn and succeed, because they remember when they were at the same point just a few years ago. It's a very strong community when you get startup founders and advisers together.
Finally, the best thing about a startup for the long run in your life is the learning experience itself. At the end of the day, even if things don't go the way you had planned with the business, you've learned more than you ever can in a classroom. I feel like we've been lucky to get experience in a ton of different areas in the time we've been working on GetCharitable.
What has the accelerator program in Oklahoma City entailed? How was the experience?
During our time at the Blueprint for Business accelerator, we learned new things every day and were able to make more happen for GetCharitable in the three months in Oklahoma City than all of our time before that combined. Blueprint for Business, or BP4B as we call it, not only gave us, and all of the startups an initial $25,000 seed investment, but they helped us with many more important aspects.
First of all, they made sure everyone set up their companies as legal entities, which for a first time startup can sound like an intimidating task, but with the help of BP4B lawyers takes about two days in all. We were then set up with a huge network of mentors and fellow entrepreneurs from the Oklahoma City area who were able to give us feedback and advice on our product, marketing, non-profit partnerships, advertisers and more. All of the startups work in the same space, so we are able to learn a lot from each other and discuss all of the things we are currently going through. Once a week, all of the startups get together to go over what we've done in the past week as well as our future plans, so we can keep each other accountable and make sure we're all trying to one up each other to impress everyone at the weekly meeting.
The whole program culminates in a demo day after 13 weeks, so we all practiced our eight minute pitches once a week and up to three times a week by the end. We got great feedback on our pitches from mentors and fellow startups so that by demo day all of the startups pitches were flawless. Part of the great aspects of demo day, is that investors come to BP4B to hear the pitches and talk with us afterwards. We were able to meet some really amazing investors on demo day and have been in talks with them since. Meanwhile, during this whole time, everyone at Verge Pipe Media has been helping us bring GetCharitable to market so we had a growing user base by demo day, to show that everyone's hard work was starting to pay off. Having the app on Google Play was huge for us and something I think that everyone should be extremely proud of. Overall, going through Blueprint for Business was a blast and more importantly taught us lessons that will not only help us for GetCharitable, but for the rest of our careers and entrepreneurial lives.
Next, we'll be continuing to grow our user base to make the biggest impact on the world that we can. As well as building a user base, we will be getting advertisers on board and importantly, a team of investors. As Verge Pipe Media has us up on our feet and our work with each other is nearing completion, we'll be looking for a full time developer that can live up to Matt and the rest of the team at Verge Pipe Media's extremely high standards, which is going to be pretty hard to find! Kyle and I will be taking exciting steps, like getting a full time office and growing our day to day operations to support a whole team as we grow in the future. Like everyone says, after the 13 week program at Blueprint for Business, we haven't reached the end, we are really just beginning!
Verge Pipe Media assists public institutions, enterprises and the non-profit sector with Imaginative Inbound Marketing strategies + campaigns. We also have a development team chock full of Marvelous Mobile Migrators, poised to help transition our clients into a mobile + social world with custom software, iOS and Android mobile apps.