This is a guest post by Founder and Chief Facilitator of Give A Mile, Kevin Crowe.
What is your organization about, how did the idea come to fruition?
What if you could use a small amount of your travel loyalty points to give an amazing gift of compassion to someone, not an organization but to a specific person who needed to see their loved one who was terminally or critically ill? Would you do that?
Give A Mile allows you to “microgive” small amounts of your travel loyalty points via a web application to a specific person in need of seeing a terminally or critically ill loved one.
For example, I would give 100 points, you would give 100 points, our friends would give 100 points to Joe who needs to fly to see his terminally ill father. This is an amazing gift of compassion.
How the idea came about is that I lost a very close friend to brain cancer a few years ago. I spent a lot of time visiting him in a home and then in the hospice in the last year of his life. This was a very powerful and meaningful experience. Now I volunteer at a hospice once a week to talk with and comfort those that are near the end of their lives. I realized that sometimes friends and family cannot afford to see their loved ones one last time.
I was also a big supporter of Kiva where people can microloan to entrepreneurs in the third world. When I heard that travel loyalty points were going to start having an expiry date I connected all these threads together and started thinking about Give A Mile.
I went to Startup Weekend Calgary with just the intent to swing by and network with some people, but when the facilitator of the evening said,
“If you have an idea in your head, it will always only be an idea unless you share it. Startup Weekend is the best place you will ever have to share your idea.”
I felt the need to put Give A Mile on the table. The team of people who got behind the idea were amazing and here we are today.
What is your latest “big win” for Give A Mile?
We have made our second flight happen! It was via a manual process and we can’t wait until our application is built to make it easier. The fact that we have made two flights happen already is pretty exciting. I can’t explain in words the amazing gratitude and love Give A Mile has felt from our “free miles” recipients when they heard about the flights. Each story has touched our hearts. We want to make more flights happen.
What is your next step? Vision for the future?
Right now we are on Indiegogo raising funds to build the application and our campaign ends October 10th. Please visit, donate and share with your friends!
Our vision for the future is to achieve our Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) — to provide 1 billion points of travel loyalty programs to people needing to fly to support terminally/critically ill loved ones.
What has proved to be the most valuable takeaways from Startup Weekend in your journey?
Wow hard question because there was just so much information and insight there. The most valuable thing, for me personally, was that Give A Mile was legitimate and genuine. It was amazing to see the team come together and have the whole Startup Weekend crowd support us and cheer us on. This gave us that next leve of belieg that we needed to make Give A Mile happen.
What has been the biggest challenge(s) so far for yourself? Your startup?
The biggest challenge for the organization is getting the loyalty point programs to see our vision and why Give A Mile changes lives.
The new giving model is micro donations that are tied to a specific tangible outcome. The donator needs to see and feel the results of where their miles are going. We are in talks with several loyalty point programs but it’s slow going and it’s hard to illustrate the power if people could have tangible outcomes from donating points i.e. see and know the story of the specific person they helped get that flight vs. just buying gas with their points.
The biggest challenge for me is patience. You want to do so much every day and you want to be so much farther ahead then you are, but you have to remind yourself Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes time, looking back on how far you have come and reminding yourself of the milestones accomplished is something that I need to focus on.
How do you balance your startup life?
Balance is a very tough when things are moving fast and going so well. I make sure to set aside time for my family and that at least one night a week is about sharpening the sword and recharging. No work is to be done that night, but like all startup’s, I sacrifice sleep and weekends to progress the vision.
Do you think you’ll always be an “entrepreneur”?
Social entrepreneurship is extremely exciting right now and amazing things are happening everywhere. It’s hard to imagine this not being a part of my life forever, but if Give A Mile cant reach our goals, at some point I will owe it to myself to focus on mentoring and growing the next generation of entrepreneurs.