Geenees, a first-of-its-kind social gifting marketplace, has created a more modernized, meaningful, and impactful way to help families in need. Their innovative digital platform makes it simple for nonprofits to get listed, families to create wishlists, and donors to grant wishes (like a genie!).
The company, which was founded in 2017 by a local immigrant couple, has grown steadily over the last five years and in turn, created a significant impact across the non-profit sector. The Geenees marketplace is attracting new types of donors, eliminating unnecessary volunteer hours, and streamlining the delivery process to end families across Canada and the United States.
Their all-in-one solution has helped the Delta-based startup qualify for the Pitch for the Purse Finale, Campbell River Impact Investor Challenge, and most recently a Top 26 finish in the 2021 New Ventures BC Competition, presented by Innovate BC. Additionally, they’ve successfully attracted non-profits from across North America, including Pacific Immigrant Resource Society (BC), Quebec Board of Black Educators (Quebec), and the KC Women’s Ministry (Missouri).
We sat down with Geenees’ Founder and CEO, Libi Berenson, to discuss why she started her company and the significant impact Geenees is having in the nonprofit space.
Tell us about Geenees. Why did you start the company?
Libi: Geenees is the first product and service (in-kind) giving marketplace for families in need. We are leading a new age of giving with an innovative platform created for nonprofits to help engage a new generation of donors who are looking for a contactless, transparent, convenient, and direct way to give to those who need it most.
What inspired the idea behind Geenees was when I had my second child, I was given the same gift four times despite needing other baby items. This got us thinking - how can we use this concept of meaningful giving for people in need, while allowing them to stay anonymous?
By the end of 2019, it became clear that Geenees is highly impactful in the nonprofit space. Our platform could help facilitate gifts and donations, attract new types of donors to nonprofit organizations, eliminate unnecessary volunteer hours, and deliver to families directly and anonymously.
So how does it work? How are you using technology to make the world a better place?
Libi: Families in need can join our app by way of an invitation from a nonprofit and immediately begin putting together a wishlist. Their wishlist then becomes visible to donors across the country. Donors grant their wishes and gifts are delivered directly to the family.
The best part is that 100% of the donation is going to the family in need in the form of a product or a service. Geenees leverages affiliate partnerships with retailers and service providers to fulfill that need.
Geenees has received a hiring grant from Innovate BC. Can you tell us how the funding helped your company?
Libi: Funding has helped grow our team to where we are today. We were able to hire talented individuals that support our nonprofit partners and improve our product. Allowing us to launch new product features, expand our awareness, and create an impact across Canada.
Our nonprofits now have a customized and personal onboarding experience that allows them to get listed, create their wishlist, and share it easily and effectively. This helps generate quick donations and grant wishes for families at scale.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced while growing your company and how did you overcome them?
Libi: A unique challenge that we have faced was the lack of similar platforms in the market. While that can be a competitive advantage, it is also a challenge. Organizations and corporations are not aware of a product like ours, which makes them very excited and surprised when they find us! This of course means we need to work harder on awareness and referrals to be able to send the message forward.
In addition, our research showed that many nonprofit organizations currently engage a very specific generation of donors, with an average age of 55 in Canada and 64 in the US, which inherently does not provide an organization with longevity going forward. As the world changes, nonprofit organizations need to adapt and future-proof their funding - which means learning how to attract, engage and retain younger donors.
This is where Geenees comes in, as it creates trust and transparency that new generations of donors are now looking for. Creating a wishlist on Geenees allows nonprofits to show their value and impact to donors across the country and retain them as higher, engaged donors in the future.
What’s next for Geenees? Are there any updates on the horizon?
Libi: We are excited to share that after several successful tests with corporations, Geenees is now able to offer an innovative program for corporations to Empower Employees with giving remotely! We administer a credit system to be used by employees for donations directly on Geenees to any cause, organization, family, or item they want.
Reach out to us to find out more as a nonprofit, corporation, or an individual donor - we are always here for you!
If you’re a B.C.-based tech company that’s looking to secure funding to hire talent, check out our Hiring Grants.