Hiraa Khan is a young, driven entrepreneur. She has made a life working with non-profits since high school and has gone on to volunteer with local Bay-area organizations and organizations in Pakistan (Acumen Fund) and India (UNICEF).
Over the years, she felt that there was something more that she could do to help young people better understand the needs of worthy charitable organizations and raise awareness about a number of causes.
She realized that charitable giving via mobile is still surprisingly difficult, with very few apps being specifically designed with the donor's giving needs in mind. She also realized that millennials are a huge untapped market for the non-profit sector. So, she worked towards solving that problem, and that is how GiveMob started.
This app will help many charities across the U.S. as Millennials are one of the largest population segments in the U.S., coming in at about 77 million. According to Neilson, these young consumers are also the largest segment of smartphone owners. In the second-quarter of 2014, 85 percent of Millennials aged 18-24 owned devices and 86 percent aged 25-34 owned them, an increase from 77 percent and 80 percent, respectively, in second-quarter 2013.
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Hiraa started architecting GiveMob with the idea that mobile giving can, and should be, as seamless and accessible as possible. It’s a charitable-giving app that allows users to donate a small sum of money, around $5-$10, to featured charities through SMS text messaging.
Instead of dealing with the hassle of inputting credit card details, the app takes advantage of text-to-donate fundraising campaigns already being run by hundreds of non-profits across the country. That means when you text, the donation is added to your cell phone bill and passed along to the charity rather than needing a more involved credit card transaction.
The really smart thing is that it showcases the charitable organizations and builds an emotional connection before any giving happens. And then, when the user is ready to give, it’s a simple one-click action.
I managed to sit down with Hiraa and talk about how she developed this app from idea-to-reality.
Nik Badminton: "How did you first get the idea for GiveMob, and what is the pain point that it is solving?"
Hiraa Khan: “There is very little awareness in the non-profit industry about the use of mobile technology to engage donors and supporters. On the other hand, in the US, charitable giving is rising but falling among millennials (from 8 percent to 3 percent in the last decade).
At GiveMob, we believe this is because non-profits are not reaching millennials where they live—on mobile devices. Over 50 percent of millennials are mobile-only or mobile-first. You can use your smartphone to do just about anything these days, including hailing a cab, ordering your dinner, and even finding a date.
However, charitable giving on mobile is still inaccessible. Most of the current apps make the user enter credit card and billing information, which is inconvenient for someone on the go.
I set out to create a mobile app that made charitable giving as easy as possible. Our hope is to not only raise funds for non-profits that are changing the world but also to help make giving, even a small amount, a part of everyone’s life.”
Image via Freelancer.com
Badminton: "How is GiveMob different in v2.0?"
Khan: “The first version of GiveMob was very basic. It allowed you to view campaigns, donate and track your giving over time. The new version of the app includes all the same features but also includes social sharing.
The social-sharing feature allows you to connect with your Facebook friends to see what charities they’re giving to. We also allow you to track and share your donations in a more interactive way.
Since we did not see much traction on Android, the new version of GiveMob is only available for iPhone for the time being.”
After chatting, Hiraa outlined three critical areas that were key for getting her business off of the ground, which are valuable lessons for any entrepreneur trying to innovate in the charitable arena:
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1. Framing the Challenge
One of the biggest challenges Hiraa faced was getting non-profits to shift limited resources towards mobile. Since mobile giving is so new, a lot of non-profits claimed not to have the time or energy to focus on it. Hiraa found that highlighting research on the proliferation of mobile, and showing examples, has been helpful when convincing non-profits to get onboard with the idea as they need to see proof points before investing time.
2. Testing the User Experience
The first version of GiveMob allowed for testing of the idea to see if there was interest. For v2.0, Hiraa and her freelance team focused a lot more on the interface and experience to draw in the user and keep them coming back. It was important to appeal to a wider audience, not just those who were already engaged in the non-profit sector, and they had to make sure that it was aesthetically competitive with other giving apps that people commonly use.
3. Building on a Shoestring Budget
Since GiveMob is relatively new, it’s still operating on a shoestring budget. Spending tens of thousands of dollars to hire a designer and a development team is out of the question for them.
Freelance resources, managed online, have been invaluable. For v1.0, Hiraa found her technical team on Freelancer.com, was awarded $500 for being featured in promotional literature, and then used that money to build v2.0. She was able to build a competitive product for a fraction of what it costs to hire a team in-house and full-time.
GiveMob is a truly modern company. One person with a great idea is making a real difference in the world, and it shows others what can be achieved by taking advantage of the freelance economy.