Why we co-led Givz’s seed round

by Vic Singh and Dan Jaeck

Image: Unsplash/Katt Yukawa

We are excited to announce that we’ve co-led $3 million in seed funding in Givz with our friends at Vinyl.

We’re particularly pleased to be partnering with founders Andrew Forman, Jay Henderson, Eric Carlstrom, and their team to build a company that helps consumers give back while also increasing merchants’ top lines.

Givz is enabling the substitution of discounting for charitable giving. Charitable giving at the point of checkout has been proven to increase conversion for merchants while also having the added benefit of improvement in brand equity.

As ecommerce and broader retail become increasingly competitive, brands are looking for new ways to differentiate themselves and increase order values and conversions. When we met Givz, it was apparent they were presenting an interesting and innovative solution to do just that, all while riding the tailwinds of consumers’ increased focus on corporate social missions.

When we were connected with the Givz founders by our friend TJ Mahony, it was apparent immediately that they displayed some of the core attributes we look for in a founding team: sector expertise (in this case philanthropic DNA), scrappiness, and technical acumen.

Andrew was the treasurer of a small NYC non-profit, where he saw firsthand how challenging both fundraising and accepting payments was for charities. Andrew partnered with James as they set out to build a solution in the charitable giving space.

Givz originally launched in 2017 as a DTC “Venmo for charities” platform, as Andrew experienced how difficult it was to accept donations in a seamless, modern way. However, they began to realize that unit economics were not favorable and that it would be too expensive to scale as a DTC product. Givz then landed on its current business model after running a few test campaigns and finding that offering donations over discounting created lift in conversion and engagement for merchants.

The team later brought on Eric as a founding CTO — he was previously the technical lead at Evertrue, a vertical SaaS solution for philanthropic giving. The marriage of philanthropic sector knowledge complemented by technical acumen is what made us believe this was the perfect founding team to execute on the company’s grand vision.

Our research uncovered that ~94% of consumers believe businesses should give back or be impact-oriented in some way and ~90% of consumers say that given similar price and quality, they’re likely to switch to a brand associated with a good cause. In addition, in our own primary diligence, numerous customers and industry experts noted a pressure to move away from discounting to other strategies such as utilizing the benefits of donations to drive customer behavior.

Givz allows for just that. Unlike other donation facilitators, Givz provides consumers the option of donating after checkout, while also providing flexibility as to which charity to donate to — allowing retailers to generate more impact/reach with their campaigns while also empowering the customer.

Companies are increasingly aware of the negative side effects of discounting, which lowers perceived brand value and incentives consumers to resist purchasing items at full price. Givz solves this problem with a solution that is more financially efficient and has the added value of positive brand equity and tax benefits.

Importantly, Givz is already demonstrating real value creation for its customers, with one business seeing a7x increase in customer engagement and another seeing a ~30% increase in both order volume and average order value. As donating post-checkout becomes more culturally ubiquitous, we expect these metrics to improve as Givz transforms the way our communities think about giving back.

We lead seed rounds in bold founders who use code to create transformational companies.