Givdo: Giving through Games!

Givdo  is a gaming app that allows people to play games to win donation money for the charities of their choice through sponsored trivia games. The founder & CEO, Lydia Montagnese  was a technical science editor in cancer research. After moving to the Bay Area over 3 years ago, she got the entrepreneur bug and decided to learn to code so that she could build a product that would help funnel money to nonprofits.


How did you develop the idea for the company? How did you make the decision to take the plunge and start your own company?

The idea struck me as I was trying to donate to charity one day. I had some technical difficulties on a charity’s website, and I wanted to figure out a way to make it easier for people to give. When my co-founder Meghan Freebeck, the Deputy Director of San Francisco Suicide Prevention and President of Simply the Basics, joined Givdo, she gave me a lot of insight into the needs of nonprofits and donors. So, together we decided to make it easy, FREE, and fun to give to charity with this gaming app by repurposing advertising money and funneling it straight to the nonprofits based on where our gamers want that money to go.


What is the scrappiest, most startup-y thing you’ve had to do to date?

I consider most everything we do startup-y. We have a team of developers who work on our app on a volunteer basis, which is so amazing! We are immensely grateful for our team’s dedication to helping us build this dream.


How did you fund the business? What do you spend most of your funds on?

Initially, we raised money from friends and family. Now, we are making money on pre-launch advertising packages. We mainly spend our funds on development when absolutely necessary.


What is one thing you wish you had known and would have approached differently when starting your company?

I would have tried harder to get volunteer developers in the beginning to save money. Building as much of the product as possible for a little as possible right out of the gate is ideal, and I’ve learned that from building this app.


What has been your greatest WFIO (we’re f*****, it’s over) moment so far?

A few months ago, we couldn’t get over a hump with our development, and we were worried that without more funds for development, we wouldn’t be able to finish it. So, we decided to ask for help from some developer, and learned that there are generous, talented, amazing people out there willing to help us get the app to beta. Whew!


What are you most excited about in the next year (either within the company or industry/technology wide)?

So many scary things are happening in this country. The political rhetoric has been extremely disheartening, but one encouraging thing we’ve noticed at Givdo is that people are emboldened now more than ever to give back to causes that need the most attention. That is really the spirit of Givdo, to find a way to give back to amazing nonprofits that have remarkable, even life-saving programs (most of which are underfunded).


If you could give an aspiring entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be?

Ask for help, ask for help, ask for help. Even if some people tell you “no,” it’s worth it to ask for help as much and as often as possible because there are kind, generosity, and talented people out there ready to help you solve your problem.