An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Shawn Wehan (co-founder, president, and CEO) of Givsum, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Givsum – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
At first, I wasn’t setting out to start a business. My original thought was simply a question: We have social websites, we have business websites, but why isn’t there a website that makes it easier for me to find and connect with causes that I want to support? Likewise, where do nonprofits turn when they are looking to expand their supporter base? To cut through all the noise, there needs to be a destination website for philanthropy, a place that provides the operational tools for nonprofits to effectively and efficiently conduct community outreach and that makes giving easier for individuals. Givsum is that place.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
Building a tech company requires considerable capital to get beyond each stage of development. One can only go as fast as one’s funding allows. However, after surviving our bootstrapping phase, we learned how to find investors and how to pitch to them. Having the right investors backing your efforts makes all the difference in the world.
What does the future hold for Givsum?
Just like everyone else, a global pandemic was not part of our business plan. However, we quickly adapted to our “new normal” and decided to institute an aggressively proactive campaign to help deliver solutions to our customers. The result is that we’ve started to see growth with our customer base, even in the midst of this pandemic. We were there for them when they needed our help and they are rewarding us with their loyalty and their referrals. So, we fully expect that Givsum’s future will be marked by exponential growth.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Costa Mesa?
Costa Mesa has been evolving for years and we just love the fact that we get to be a part of it all. The tech startup scene is very young and the community is very tight knit. We welcome anyone that wants to be part of it to reach out to us.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
One of our investors, Carey Ransom from Operate, always says “building a business is a team sport” and that couldn’t be more true. If you’re a solo entrepreneur, do yourself a favor and find at least one other co-founder. If you’ve got a founding team, immediately get yourselves some advisors to guide you. If you’re lucky enough to have investors, keep them advised and listen to them. Finally, get out to the market as quick as you can and have your customers help co-create your product or service. By surrounding yourself with good people and working as a team, you exponentially improve your chances of success.