Keep a chronicle of all your good deeds, using Gudville
When Facebook launched in 2004, the concept of social networking was still an alien concept. However, once the platform got adopted, it became one of the biggest successes of the last decade. Facebook also inspired many other businesses to use social connections as the base to start their businesses. Subhash Dhar, an ex-Infosys worldwide head of sales and marketing, is also modeling his venture Gudville around the concept of social networking, which will also do a lot of social work.
What is Gudville?
Gudville, is a social platform where individuals can come together and discuss social causes that they have an interest it. You can also start your own cause and invite friends to join you in your endeavour. The site will be a platform where you can discuss and share things related to your social behavior. So if you helped that little stray puppy find his mom, or helped a blind person cross the street, you can put it up on Gudville and share the good deeds you did with your friends.
Besides individuals, Gudville will also partner NGOs and charitable organizations to promote and discuss activities and initiatives that they undertake. They are currently is in the process of onboarding 300 NGOs from Mumbai. To do this they have partnered with an organization, which works with these 300 NGOs. Gudville will therefore become a digital platform of these NGOs to publicize their activities and attract individuals who are willing to help them in their efforts.
The third spoke in the wheel are the corporates — who can use Gudville to advertise and talk about their CSR initiatives, other social causes they support as well as do cause marketing. Gudville therefore wants to be the converging point for the corporate, NGO and the individual an connect them all through a social cause.
Working of Gudville
Gudville is a personal social responsibility platform, which will have a social responsibility profile of an individual that will be captured chronologically in the form of a journal. “There are no records maintained for the good things we do in our life. If you do something wrong there is a record, we have records for our income, expense — almost everything. With Gudville we want to help individuals keep a track of the good things they do. This can be influential for those around you and you can motivate them to join your cause or start their own cause,” explains Subhash. The act of recording and putting it in a single platform can therefore act as a motivation for others to chip in.
On the corporate side, what Gudville intends to do is again map activities done by an individual for a corporate and add that to your personal record. Subhash tells us about a marketing campaign done by ICICI Bank sometime back. The bank was telling customers to use their own ATM machines, so as to save on the inter bank cost they have to pay every time an ICICI customer used the banks card on some other ATM machine. To encourage customers, for each transaction done on an ICICI ATM, some money was donated to a charity that ICICI was associated with. “So if you are able to keep a track of such activities that you do and maintain a journal and at the end of the year also get a tax receipt for all the donation that you have indirectly made, it will be valuable. That is what Gudville is attempting to do,” explains Subhash.
To drive customer engagement, corporates have to just enlist their activities on Gudville, which will in turn help the customer make informed choices and do their bit in contributing to the charity. “So just like ICICI does it for every ATM transaction, if CCD said for every coffee you drank with us, we pay something to an NGO, or PVR Cinemas made a contribution from every movie ticket purchased, it can help customers make an informed choice,” explains Subhash.
The endeavour therefore is to make Gudville the convergence point for individuals, NGOs & corporates. The platform will remain free for individuals and NGOs, and companies will be charged for the campaigns they run or publicise using Gudville. “At this point I am talking to companies individually, but we are building a cloud based platform, where a corporate can design and execute their campaign on their own on Gudville,” says Subhash.
Subhash started developing the idea in 2011 and raised their seed round of fund from Accel Partners in March 2012. He says at this point they have the individual side of their product ready and are in the process of acquiring customers. “We want to reach 10,000-20,000 people and get few charities and companies on board. Then we will raise the next round of funding, which will help us scale and make the platform ready for companies to start using,” explains Subhash.
Since launch Gudville has managed to get over 1,000 users, most of whom have been sent invitations to join the Beta. Similarly some companies are also trying the cause marketing idea on Gudville on a pilot basis. Gudville has tied up with some universities as well to get more users to try the product and improve it before it comes out of Beta.
A user can log in to Gudville using their Facebook or LinkedIn profiles. The Gudville app has also been released on the Android store and Subhash says they have received good response to it. “We are still not actively marketing the app, but users who have used us have given us good feedback,” he says.
While the idea and concept is very promising, Subhash has faced his share of challenges as well – including that of funding and getting the right talent to join them. Currently a team of 9 people, most of them are based in Bangalore and they have one person in the US.
Subhash says there are also plans to do an ecommerce store on Gudville, which will again be in the realm of the core idea. “There are a lot of ways to contribute to social causes and be socially responsible. Things will have to be fleshed out as we move further. At this stage, all the CIOs and CXOs I have spoken to have liked the idea. Therefore once we manage to get enough individuals on board, we can then work with NGOs and corporate in a way that will be suitable for them to do their cause related marketing in an effective manner,” says Subhash.
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