Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Matthew Boyd and Tanya Dontas, co-founders of online volunteering portal Vollie.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
Vollie has unlocked a new style of skills-based remote volunteering. Vollie projects are exclusively online, meaning that volunteers can donate their skills and experience from anywhere in the world and around their busy personal and professional schedule. Users will be able to find projects aligned with their skills and passions within a matter of seconds, and the application process is as simple as logging in via LinkedIn. Vollie can also offer businesses a CSR solution that takes it out of the "too hard basket" through our unique platform that can track the impact of a business's CSR and provide detailed reports that show staff's individual and collective volunteering efforts. It's a new way to view corporate volunteering, and one that can greatly amplify the causes businesses care about most.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
We have set in place multiple revenue streams and are always exploring new ways to provide value to our users and evolve Vollie. The organisation is self-funded to date and we control 100% of the business. This is important so our vision isn’t compromised and the team have complete freedom to take Vollie to its full potential without competing interests, and of course we can do this very quickly without the requirement for any internal approval process. We will seek investment in the future as we look to take Vollie to the next level, but are now focussing on continuing to generate revenue and scale.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?
Our biggest challenge to date has been developing and launching Vollie’s unique volunteering platform, that was tailored to the needs and demands of millennials and businesses, and what they want from a volunteering platform. With that now accomplished and very positive feedback of our user experience from individuals, scaling NFP projects and business participation is key to making Vollie a truly great platform. The whole team are working incredibly hard to provide an exceptional service to our existing customers while attracting new charities and businesses to utilise the platform. We are seeing a strong sign-up rate from skilled individuals looking for opportunities to support the causes they care about and this is down to effective marketing and comms.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
We have redesigned the way people can volunteer, and this is based on our team's personal experiences of traditional volunteering and both primary and secondary research in the NFP space with all user groups. Vollie is the only volunteering platform available that makes volunteering more flexible for the volunteer and more valuable for the non-profit organisation. Compared to traditional volunteering, Vollie’s projects on average create more value, are easier to complete, and engage more millennials.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without? My macbook air feels like an extension of my body these days. I almost always have it on me.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
“It’s better to live with failure than regret”. The truth is you’ll fail a bunch of times along the entrepreneurial journey but you’ll only ever completely fail if you give up. Of course it's important to have a good idea, and I believe we have that with Vollie, but as long as you work hard and persevere - you’ll succeed. For me one of the worst feelings in life would be getting to retirement and wishing you’d taken the leap and backed yourself enough to give your business idea a go.