PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF (ANY CO-FOUNDERS) AND YOUR STARTUP?
Matt is the Founder and Managing Director of Vollie, a platform that connects skilled Australians with non-profit organisations and is unlocking a new style of skills-based remote volunteering.
Vollie exists to encourage more people to use their talents to support NFP’s and the life-changing work they do.
Vollie is allowing people to volunteer in a way that fits around their busy schedule and makes it easy for anyone to volunteer.
Matthew has 10+ years marketing experience which spans across start-ups, ad agencies and corporate land. Matt decided to quit his job at the end of 2015 and get to work on Vollie. Vollie was inspired by Matthew’s extensive volunteering experience and love of working with NFP’s.
In the past few years alone Matt’s volunteering activity has included supporting children’s charities, mental health NFP’s, animal welfare groups and environmental causes. He has also been responsible for running projects that have raised over $1 million for a large number of NFP organisations.
Tanya is Co-Founder and Head of Operations of Vollie. Tanya has studied a double (bachelors) degree of Commerce and Chinese, and has 5+ years marketing and events experience, working within start-ups, event companies and in the corporate space. Tanya quit her job at the beginning of 2016 when her love of Vollie was too great to not have her full attention, and joined founder Matthew Boyd to help make his idea a reality.
Tanya is no stranger to volunteering having regularly visited the Royal Children’s Hospital with her dogs (pet therapy), worked closely with animal sanctuaries and supported mental health charities. She is the kind of person that doesn’t just walk past a homeless person on the street, but instead stops to have a conversation and ask if she can buy them anything they need.
HOW DID YOU GO FROM IDEA, TO MVP AND LAUNCH?
Volunteering has had a really positive impact on the lives of Vollie’s founders, but through years of volunteering we have always found the process of getting involved challenging, and we’re not alone.
As someone who volunteers regularly, I am the first person to tell you that when you’re shovelling chicken poo for the fourth weekend in a row, you start wondering, “is there more than I can be doing here?”
A lot of people out there don’t know where to start when it comes to volunteering their time, they can be overwhelmed by the fact that there are 300,000 plus NFPs in this country and also struggle to find the time to support the causes they care about.
At the start of 2016 we started to develop Vollie because the rate of volunteering among young Australians (aged 25-35) is much lower than other age groups, and we wanted to change that.
Vollie unlocks a new style of skills-based remote volunteering. Our projects are exclusively online, meaning that volunteers can donate their skills and experience from anywhere in the world, at any time. Users are 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.
WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE DURING THIS PERIOD AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
Launching Vollie was our greatest challenge to date. The platform is completely custom-built, so the Vollie founders needed to align with a digital strategist/CX specialist and a strong digital agency to bring our idea to life.
At the same time we needed to be making pre-launch sales, put the legals together, roll-out early marketing…it was a frantic time but taking your time to find the right people makes it all a lot easier.
DURING THIS JOURNEY TO BUILD AND LAUNCH YOUR STARTUP WHAT IS ONE THING YOU LOOK BACK ON WITH A SENSE OF ACHIEVEMENT?
The first time we successfully saw a complete customer journey from a non-profit; we celebrated. It was proof of concept and made all the hard work worth while. This journey consisted of a charity signing up, posting a project, successfully connecting with a skilled volunteer, and that volunteer successfully completing that project.
Since then, in the opening year, we have seen 250 projects go through the platform, 4500 skilled volunteering hours contributed and $250,000 of value generated to the non-profit sector.
OFFER US ONE INSIGHT, TIP, MARKETING STRATEGY OR GROWTH HACK THAT HAS WORKED REALLY WELL FOR YOU AND YOUR STARTUP?
You have to start with a strong idea and then proceed to further research the market extensively (essentially trying to prove your idea wrong). You have to be your business’s biggest critic, because by highlighting any potential flaws or risks you will make your operation significantly stronger. You also have to be passionate about what you’re doing; that’s what will get you through the long weeks and challenges.
As your business grows learn to trust your judgement, don’t rush decisions (especially the big ones!) and know when to take breaks to maintain your mental health.
HOW IS YOUR STARTUP GOING AND WHAT DO YOU AIM TO ACHIEVE IN THE NEXT 3, 6, 12 MONTHS?
We want to ensure Vollie is a major success in Australia over the next 1-2 years and then take it to new markets and connect with new charities and social enterprises.
Vollie as a platform has the scalability to connect any cause to any passionate individual anywhere in the world for the purpose of online skilled volunteering, and that’s what we’re striving for. We are closing in on the $100k value mark for our charity partners and will push this into the millions as soon as we can.
Vollie will also continue to roll out our business offering and work with some of Australia’s biggest organisations on the work they do in the community as we continue to offer an alternative to traditional corporate volunteering.