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Apps that Give Back & The Female Entrepreneurs Behind Them


At this point, there’s a mobile app for everything from ordering pizza to sharing a car. Some apps, though, catch our attention and have a meaningful impact on our lives. The 5 apps ahead give back to the community, whether it’s through round-up donations or philanthropic gifting. Here, we chatted with the inspiring female founders behind each one to learn more about their apps, the power of philanthropy and their roles as female CEOs in the tech industry.

Millie

When Rachel Klausner was doing her taxes one year, she realized she wasn’t donating money in the way she hoped. “I wasn’t being thoughtful about the organizations that were impactful or the causes I was passionate about.” So Millie was born. The app matches you with high-profile non-profits each week, and all you have to do is swipe to donate any amount. Just like a dating app, the more you swipe, the more it’s able to personalize your matches.

Rachel’s thoughts on philanthropy: “Philanthropy has this crazy power to change the world with generosity. What I’m most inspired about right now is the potential to grow the giving pool, well beyond the Fortune 500 companies we expect it of. Giving is such a powerful way for these companies to do good and feel good.”

Rachel’s experience as a female CEO: “I’m an optimist and have also had some incredible women open up doors for Millie that I could never even have imagined. The tides are definitely changing and there’s an energy you can feel around where the industry is going. It’s awesome.”

Rachel’s advice to female entrepreneurs: “One of the hardest parts is taking that initial jump when you don’t necessarily self-identify as an entrepreneur. I had a bad experience with gender discrimination in the workplace that honestly was one of the biggest reasons why I decided to take the leap myself. It made me realize that if I wanted to make a change, there needed to be more women in leadership and I couldn’t just sit back and wait for that to magically happen.”

Coin Up

Leena Patidar believes millennials want to do everything through an app. So she applied this logic to create a donation app. The result: Coin Up, an easy way to donate every time you swipe your bank card. Simply link your card to your Coin Up account, select a cause that’s near and dear to your heart, and shop like usual. With each transaction, the app will round up your purchase and donate the change.

Leena’s thoughts on philanthropy: “For me, it is about supporting the vulnerable, those who are stuck in circumstances that are beyond their capability to help themselves. If there is one thing I hope Coin Up can do in a major way, it is to provide opportunities for those that are in vulnerable situations and raise them up to a level where they can then become self-sustaining.”

Leena’s experience as a female CEO: “In terms of the day-to-day, my gender doesn’t really come into play. Where it may be more prevalent is when we are negotiating various opportunities and speaking to potential investors. Statistically, only 3% of startups run by women receive VC funding. If I let that number dictate my business plan, I may not have persevered through to today.”

Leena’s advice to female entrepreneurs: “Do not let the world hold you back from being passionate about your mission. There are so many ways to achieve solutions and build towards success, especially by finding incredible advisors and using your networks to find the right team for your company. If there are roadblocks, find other paths to realize your vision.”

Beam

From the age of 15, Viveka Hulyalkar has been passionate about philanthropy. When she realized she could use that passion to help brands build relationships with customers, a lightbulb turned on. So along with co-founder Alex Salvatore, she created Beam, an app that lets you donate part of your purchase at your favorite restaurants and cafes — without charging you anything extra.

Viveka’s thoughts on philanthropy: “I’m so inspired by how corporate philanthropy can serve as a gateway for both brands and young people to start making their best impact. When young people have the ability to engage with the causes that matter to them every day, it’s so much easier to understand how we can start doing more.”

Viveka’s experience as a female CEO: “I feel really privileged to be a female CEO and founder in this particular cultural moment. We’ve been able to tap into incredible resources and communities specifically created by women looking to combat some of the structural challenges that female founders have faced, and that type of support network is so invaluable in helping any entrepreneur make the best decisions.”

Viveka’s advice to female entrepreneurs: “Don’t be afraid to cold email other founders for advice, and pay it forward when people do the same with you!”

OLIO

As the daughter of a farmer, Tessa Clarke hates to waste good food. It’s the entire reason she was inspired to develop OLIO with her co-founder Saasha Celestial-One. The app connects neighbors, both individuals and businesses, to share surplus food and other household items. The idea is to give away goods to those who need it instead of simply creating waste.

Tessa’s thoughts on philanthropy: “On alocal level, it definitely restores my faith in humanity! However, I think there’s quite a hypocritical side to philanthropy at scale, and that’s because most of the world’s biggest philanthropists have made their fortunes by destroying the planet and local communities. I’d rather have a just economic system which means that philanthropy isn’t required to clean up the mess that our current system generates.”

Tessa’s experience as a female CEO: “The only time I feel aware (painfully aware) of being a female CEO is when it comes to fundraising. Sadly, the stats are stark. However, the problem isn’t only the injustice of it — it’s the fact that as a society we’re missing out on the businesses (and returns) that could be solving some of the biggest problems facing humanity today, which is often what diverse founders are seeking to do.”

Tessa’s advice to female entrepreneurs: “When you’re starting a business, it’s critical to have a learning mindset — your key objective at this stage is to experiment as quickly as possible, not to have all the answers. Second, you can de-risk massively by starting small and building from there. Finally, although entrepreneurship can be fulfilling, it is also an incredibly long, tough journey, so make sure to carve out some time for yourself to preserve your health and sanity.”

InLieu

Kathy Tery wanted to answer the age-old question: “What do I buy for a birthday present?” Quite literally, in lieu of traditional physical gifts, she invented InLieu, an app that lets you donate to your friend’s favorite charity in their name. It even lets you send the customized gift via text or email, without revealing the dollar amount spent.

Kathy’s thoughts on philanthropy: “There are two things I love. One is the feeling I get when I have helped someone or made a donation to a cause that is truly making an impact. The second is having access to the people who are providing the services and running the programs that are trying to create change. These people are so passionate and driven.”

Kathy’s experience as a female CEO: “I don’t spend much time anymore worrying about what other people are doing or not doing in my industry. I actually made a mistake early on by comparing my business to similar businesses. There are a lot of egos in any industry, and I don’t have time for them. What I realized is we are all on our own journey with different goals and expectations and clearly different views of success.”

Kathy’s advice to female entrepreneurs: “Be bold, be innovative, be daring, be yourself! Build businesses with good intentions and don’t concentrate on the exit. I tell people: don’t ever create a product or a service that you wouldn’t consume yourself.”