Young entrepreneur revolutionizes system for nonprofits and local volunteers
We pay our bills, watch our favorite shows and even order food for delivery with a simple touch. These days, almost everything can be done with an app, and while there are certainly many benefits to ordering a late-night snack without ever leaving your house, POINT founder Madison Mikhail Bush knows that apps can do more than simply delight. With this in mind, she and her team created a platform that makes doing good in the community easier for volunteers and the nonprofits they are looking to serve.
“POINT is a nonprofit tech startup that helps connect volunteers,” said Mikhail Bush, founder and CEO. “We thought it was ridiculous that you could book a room in Spain from your phone using Airbnb or Grubhub food in bed at 11 o’clock, but if you want to do something good, like volunteer at a soup kitchen or a hospital, there’s a whole process. First, you have to find a nonprofit, then you have to call them and coordinate volunteer times just to sign up for an experience. We wanted to make nonprofit engagement and volunteering easy.”
So, Mikhail Bush and her team built “easy” into the user interface. The app groups volunteer opportunities by cause, partnering with local charities and chapters of national nonprofits like the Special Olympics and the National Kidney Foundation. To sign up, volunteers simply read the event description and press “go.” In addition to getting volunteers connected to causes, the POINT system integrates with the user’s calendar, sending reminders about scheduled opportunities. To help out from an organizational standpoint, the platform’s website acts as a dashboard for the nonprofits themselves, managing their volunteering activity.
“Nonprofits have old technology that hasn’t been updated,” said Mikhail Bush. “On average, these organizations use 2-3 systems to manage their volunteers, which is often convoluted and time-consuming. We made a dashboard that integrates with the app to record and track all of the volunteering information, so everything from signup to statistical reporting is seamless and there’s no manual data entry required.”
After shifting her focus from biology to tech, the ‘14 Capital University grad, who’s always been passionate about volunteering, taught herself product development basics on YouTube. She gathered a team and bootstrapped the beta version of the app. After rolling out updates and revamping the pricing structure, Mikhail Bush landed a $45,000 grant from the Columbus Foundation. After the launch, she also attended a learning lab at Rev1 Ventures, a partner of Ohio Third Frontier.
“I am a firm believer that it shouldn’t matter where you live and who you are, you should be able to rise and grow,” said Mikhail Bush. “Developing this app was a huge learning curve, but it taught me that startups don’t have to move to get access to technology or funding. The Ohio community really rallies around the initiatives that people launch and there’s an immense network here, everyone is always willing to give an introduction.”
Mikhail Bush and her team just released the latest version of the subscription-based dashboard for the nonprofits they support and are celebrating the changes they’ve already seen within their communities.
“Nonprofits do the best work in our communities and if they don’t have updated technology, how are we going to expect them to sustain that impact?” asked Bush. “We’re motivated to provide them with the tools they need so they can affect the most change. For us, it’s really empowering to help charities maximize their impact. During our beta testing, POINT volunteers served nearly 4,000 meals to the homeless in Columbus. I can’t wait to see what’s next.”