Welcome to Startup of the Week, a column highlighting BC’s most innovative and exciting tech startups. Today, we’re featuring Vancouver’s MeaningfulWork.
It can be difficult for socially responsible companies to find purposeful and impactful volunteer opportunities that their employees feel passionate about. MeaningfulWork created a platform to help companies and nonprofits navigate their relationships to find the perfect match for them.
This week, we spoke to Raaj Chatterjee, Founder and CEO of MeaningfulWork about why they started the company, their source of motivation and what puts his team in a good mood.
Q: How would a 12 year old describe what your company does?
A: MeaningfulWork is where you can find a volunteer opportunity you love. We help you give back to nonprofits that are doing good in the world by doing what you excel at and enjoy. We also help companies give back to the community by engaging their incredible employees.
Q: What was the impetus to start your company?
A: We realized that not-for-profit organizations (e.g. nonprofits and charities) in our community were not supported to the level they needed to be, to sustain themselves and grow. And the double whammy of reduced funding and a greater demand for social services, meant the majority of nonprofits today require even greater support.
On the flipside, professionals are looking for ways to give back, and one way to give back with the most impact is to donate time in an area of your expertise. Giving back with your colleagues is even better, and leads to better engagement at work, greater alignment with your career and a deeper sense of purpose.
After multiple conversations with HR and sustainability professionals who manage employee volunteer programs, we saw how hard it was for them to source and match their employees to suitable opportunities. MeaningfulWork solves the costly task of mobilizing your employees for good through the power of an intelligent community platform, helping companies make a meaningful impact on nonprofits and driving forward transformative change.
Q: Congratulations on being selected as one of the top 15 startups around the world and placing third in the prestigious Queen’s Entrepreneurship Competition (QEC). Do you have any insights to share from that experience?
A: QEC was a blast, and a huge milestone for our team. There’s so much value in pitching your idea and having the stories and research to support it. One of the coolest experiences was speaking to the judges and getting connected to thought leaders in social enterprise like David Katz of The Plastic Bank.
Q: What would you tell yourself if you were starting out today?
A: So much!
- Take time to build your team and set clear responsibilities and accountability.
- Don’t be afraid and put yourself out there to set the vision you want to see.
- Most aspects of the business, from tech development to sales, will take three times longer than you expected.
- Never stop validating your product or new features.
- Don’t be afraid to pivot strategically—one of the ways we addressed a slower-than-expected company onboarding process was by onboarding professional networks with thousands of potential volunteers in their memberships.
Q: What don’t people know about MeaningfulWork that they should?
A: Almost anyone with even a bit of work experience can get started with skill-based volunteering on MeaningfulWork today. Although we sometimes need a little push to volunteer, the journey, connections and impact you make are absolutely worth it. And MeaningfulWork is more than a platform, it’s a community and we are building that infrastructure to support community conversations around building nonprofit capacity, plugging in to global movements, and achieving sustainability together.
Q: What puts your team in a good mood?
A: Talking to our customers and partners! It’s really inspiring to speak to nonprofits who are creating really positive change in our communities. We have sales calls where we share the laughter and tears with our clients. It’s an incredible experience speaking to social purpose leaders at companies who are implementing innovative approaches to sustainability and corporate impact.
Q: What’s your source of motivation?
A: My source of motivation are the stories of impact we create through our platform. Hearing from a nonprofit that connecting to a volunteer helped transform their marketing efforts, or saved them hours of time moving databases so they could focus on their primary impact is heartwarming. It’s powerful to see how volunteers can transform, find purpose and learn from their experiences facilitated through MeaningfulWork. Finally, I’m a big believer that organizations (for-profit, and non-profit) can come together to solve some of the deepest social and environmental issues facing our world today. The fact that MeaningfulWork can play a key role in facilitating these purposeful connections is really exciting for me.
Learn more about MeaningfulWork and how to get involved on their website. Sign up to MeaningfulWork’s newsletter at the bottom of their homepage to keep up-to-date on news, updates and upcoming events.
Want to be featured as a Startup of the Week? If you are a BC-based tech startup that we should know about, or would like to suggest one, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.