KindLink helps companies increase their employee engagement and reputation through their CSR and sustainability activities. We also help charities become more transparent and efficient through a number of free online tools.
Who are you outside of being the co-founder of KindLink?
I’m 29 and originally from Italy and have been living in London for 7 years and I can say that I like it, after some time. I live with my girlfriend and outside of Kindlink, which is admittedly less time than it should be, I like to meet people, read books and play Bridge. Bridge is a card game, that you play in pairs. Some very successful people, such as a Bill Gates and Warren Buffet play Bridge. It’s very good because compared to other games like chess, it’s much more social – it’s not just maths or statistics. Many of the players are over 60 year olds. In fact, my Bridge partner, who happens to be my age almost found a job, in fact he got interview, through playing Bridge.
It’s actually a form of sociable networking.
Since we’re quite young, compare to the other players, there’s a lot of curiosity and interest in us and is a good place to pitch people our ideas.
Game Recommendation: Bridge
What is the story behind Kindlink? What is the personal connection between you and Kindlink?
We started it over beers, as many good ideas begin. With a friend, we were discussing charity donations and askin ourselves:
Why don’t people give enough to charities? Why don’t more people engage with them?
One barrier is perceived transparency. 70% of British people say that they would give to charity if they knew how donations were spent – that’s the main barrier. I was working within the charity sector, so I was aware of the fact that charities want to be transparent. Many times I would think:
If I could only tell more people what we’re doing.
Often they don’t have time, resources or manpower to showcase what they are doing to the public. Only a handful of charities can afford a TV advert or London Underground advertising. Initially, we thought about creating a platform that bring together some tools: reach out to donors and raise money then we came up with Kindlink as it is in it’s current form. We knew from the beginning that we would not make profit money from charities. So we asked ourselves:
How do we make Kindlink sustainable? How do we survive?
There is a huge potential in the relationship between charities and corporates. Around 80% of global corporations have an outlined corporate social responsibility. Neither party is well skilled at voicing this.
We provide a free cloud-based system to charities which many small charities currently don’t have and don’t have money to invest in, simultaneously we allow companies to showcase what they do in terms of corporate social responsibility.
For example, a small foodbank in south London only had an Excel spreadsheet to record their activities. Now with Kindlink, they can record any contributions they get, keep the details of users that access their services and share success stories all on one platform.
Our aim is to create a social network focused on sharing and showcasing the impact of giving.
“Kindlink is the network with purpose.” Why is purpose important, especially in corporate settings?
Many theories about the world and life. Universally we can say that one thing people generally need is a purpose which is bigger than themselves, a sense of belonging to a wider community.
TIP: We should stop for a second and realise more important things than the everyday-ness of our daily lives.
Look at the corporate world, thousands of people get good salaries, bonuses, financial incentives and yet companies struggle to retain their employees: employees are either looking for a higher salary or improved working conditions. Millennials that are now entering the job market care about conditions, work/life balance, and the social responsibility of the company combined rather than salary alone.
That’s why Kindlink is so important, we make the company’s corporate social responsibility impact visible, it is an incredible employee engagement tool.
What is one piece of advice or book you have read that has been instrumental in your journey?
Firstly, I think that Bridge is a great learning experience in general – you don’t have all the information and you try and maximise your chances of success based on the information that you have. First, you must check what you know, ask yourself:
Can I know a little more?
And then make your decision, which can be a great one or a failure, which you can use as a learning experience for the future: this is something I try to do with Kindlink and, in general, life.
Last year, we were part of the King’s20 accelerator – I couldn’t recommend it more, they provide you with mentors and the staff are all brilliant, we got a lot of great advice.
Business advice: if you think you have to pay for something, think again.
As a startup or charity you work on a limited budget, if you can find a way not to pay for something, find it. For example, we got to be featured in the BBC for free, first understand who you’re talking to and then think about what can you offer them as an exchange.
There are always people willing to help, so just ask. You need to be fine with being slightly annoying.
What has been the hardest obstacle you have had to overcome?
In general, the biggest obstacle when you start a company is actually starting . We are three co-founders and left our full-time jobs to start Kindlink.
The side project has to become the main project.
It takes a lot of faith and craziness to take that leap. It’s always a fine balance between understanding when to continue knowing you’ll pull through and knowing when it’s not going to work out, ultimately you have to make that decision. It’s never a given it it will be a success. 1 out of every 2 companies fail after the first year. We are doing something in a unique way but we are not doing something unique.
What has been the most rewarding moment?
Well, on the 11th November, we celebrated our 3rd birthday which is a great achievement. From a business perspective, it has to be the moment we secured our first client and received the payment in our account, as it confirms someone other than us thinks our product is good, valuable and worth paying for. We’ve recently hired more people to scale the sales and we still have people from the beginning, which is not always a given.
Generally, if I look at it from a detached perspective, we’re still here 3 years later and you can see the stable growth – it’s great, it wasn’t just good luck.
Do you have a ritual that helps you find balance when things aren’t going as planned?
Personally, I’m quite a calm person – I don’t often feel overwhelmed by things as I try to assess things objectively. I would be much more stressed out if I didn’t spend time with my girlfriend or friends.
I’m quite curious. Reading books on different subjects helps me redirect my thoughts. I take time out to not think about business-related things, it is helpful to switch off at times.
What’s next for you and Kindlink?
Currently we are working with 700 charities, so in the next few months we will focus on scaling up the commercial side of Kindlink. We recently welcomed a new Chief Commercial Officer to oversee sales and strategy.
We want to Kindlink to become the social network with purpose, the platform to go to if you want to find out more about charities and engage with them.
“Always think outside the box and embrace opportunities that appear, wherever they might be.” — Lakshmi Mittal