Technology for Good: Female Tech Founder Helps Causes with New Mobile App

An interview with Patricia Dao, CEO of Daily Karma.

W2: Why did you create dailyKARMA?

PD: I created dailyKARMA to enable people to donate and fundraise from the palm of their hand, thanks to the power of content. For the past ten years, I’ve marketed large brands and small startups. Out of all the campaigns I’ve run, one thing remained constant. Content is the single best way to drive someone to take an action, whether you’re trying to convert someone to buy something or donate to a charity. Content is, and will always be, king.

Last year I was watching a St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital commercial. I felt overwhelmed with emotion and the desire to donate to the organization. I wished that I could tap on my TV or phone so I could send money to St. Jude’s easily and instantly. I believe we all want to give back. The reality is that we live in a very hectic and fast-paced society where we lose interest after a few swipes. Having to take the time to pull out a credit card, find the charity’s website, and input all the information is just too much.

I asked myself if there was a way to make giving as easy as checking your inbox. Because this method of donating did not exist, we developed dailyKARMA. Our mission is to make giving part of everyday life by utilizing the three things many of our lives revolve around - content, social media and apps.

We’ve created an app that allows you to easily donate as you scroll through photos of charities and advocates doing good in their communities. When inspired, you can tap on a photo or video and give as much as you want to as little as fifty cents. We’re turning content into direct donation requests. We’ve built in other ways to give back through the app, like fundraising by posting photos, or sending Karma points to a friend which they can donate to a charity of their choice.

W2: How has your past experience gotten you to where you are now?

PD: I have worked in tech for 10 years, from social networks, to business software solutions, to mobile apps and with some of the largest brands from RedBull to Universal. Outside of my business work, I have volunteered for four years for a nonprofit focused on encouraging women and young girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, running their LA division. I have also been a speaker and writer about technology for good. My experiences in tech and my passion for social good solutions have culminated in the mission of dailyKARMA. I have learned that I want to use technology to change the way people give back on a daily basis.

W2: Walk us through your day. What do you and your teammates focus on?

Well, it feels like we are running 1,000 miles per hour! We are focused on how to optimize our app in order to facilitate the act of giving. Within this last month we rolled out huge campaigns with TedXLA, which aimed to help Los Angeles residents contribute in a meaningful way that coincides with daily living. Although we are focused on everyday giving, we are also campaigning around Giving Tuesday and the holidays, since it is the most popular time to donate. We also work very closely with charity partners in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

W2: What's one thing that surprised you during the process of building the product and company?

Although we knew there was a marketplace for people wanting to give back, it was just our theory that people would want to use an app to view inspiring content and donate based on that content. I was happily surprised to see that people repeatedly came back to the app to view and give to inspiring content posted by their community. With so much negativity flowing through our Facebook feeds these days, it seems that more people than ever want a dose of inspirational good in their day.

In terms of building the company, I never thought I’d work with such an international team. Thanks to technology, we have the capacity to take our workforce outside traditional office walls. We are based in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Singapore, Ireland and Russia.

W2: What resources have helped you as you've built your company?

We are funded by successful tech entrepreneurs that have a huge heart for philanthropy and also run one of the largest volunteer organizations in Chennai, India. They have been instrumental in being an amazing sounding board and thoughtful strategic advisors throughout this journey.

We use Slack, Hubspot, Outlook, Mixpanel, and Mailchimp to help us manage our organization and workflow. We use Trello for to-do’s. It’s a great formula for accountability and executing at a high pace. Product-wise, we are all about testing, learning, pivoting and executing quickly. Beyond that, what it really comes down to is our team and our networks. We are so grateful for the advice, feedback, suggestions, posts, and more that we’ve received through our peer groups and the dailyKARMA community.  

W2: What’s next for you and your company and where do you need help or support?

We are excited about 2017. The last 6 months was dedicated to finding product market fit, and now that we are close, we are ready to turn on all our acquisition and retention efforts. Finding a community for an app is hard considering there are 2 million apps in the store, so we have to pay close attention to every user that comes through and donates, and treat them like royalty. These users are our eyes and ears to help guide us to a successful product.

In terms of what we need, the number one thing is community support. Teaming up with the city of LA would be a dream because we are starting our growth in LA and there’s 35,000 non profits we know could use our app! We have a generous matching incentive for charities that are the right fit, so we encourage you to sign up at dailykarma.com/charitymatch, or to send that link to someone you know who may be interested.

We also would love support around our TEDxLA City Experiment. It’s been an honor to be part of TEDxLA’s Imagine Week and our mission to help imagine a city where giving back can be part of everyday life. We will be presenting at results with fellow city experiments at WeWork in Los Angeles on Wed, Nov 30th. We would love help promoting the event. Feel free to invite anyone to come and learn more about how we are inspiring others to give back through our app.

Patricia Dao is an exit-tested technology entrepreneur with an emphasis on product management, operations and marketing. She has an extensive background within the technology start-up industry, specifically within social and mobile product management, CRM and SAAS systems. Patricia has held pivotal business, operational and product development roles at 3 successful start-ups, including TagWorld.com/Flux.com (acquired by Viacom), Mozes Mobile (acquired by HelloWorld), and co-founded VoxBloc.com (acquired by Dominion Enterprises in 2012). She has also implemented social and mobile marketing strategies within major brands such as Red Bull North America, Nike, Ford, Universal, Warner, Sony and more. She currently serves as CEO of the iOS and Andriod application, dailyKARMA. @GetDailyKarma @PattyDao