In honor of #NationalAppDay, we spoke with Viveka Hulyalkar, the founder of a social impact app, Beam, and a member of our Action Board! Beam is an easy-to-use app that allows its users to make an impact on social issues by donating part of their everyday purchases at various partner retailers. One of GOSO’s employer partners, Dos Toros, has teamed up with Beam, so its customers can donate directly to GOSO when they purchase their meal!
Viveka had a lot to say about the tech industry and how apps like Beam are having a positive effect on consumer culture:
As someone who didn’t initially start a career in tech, how accessible do you see the field for newcomers?
I think one of the best ways to enter tech is with the goal of building a solution to a problem you’ve experienced personally in another area. As a consultant at McKinsey, I worked with retail clients who were struggling to get high-value, long-term Gen Y and Z customers in the door just by offering them vanilla discounts. I saw this problem again and again and realized there was a real need for a tool that enhanced storytelling and built community around brand values that young customers identified with. Since I had worked with clients who experienced this problem firsthand, I had a strong sense of the product we needed to build. It also made a massive difference that I teamed up with an amazing Co-founder, Alex, who was an early engineer at Tinder and leads the technical side of the company, while I lead the business side. Together, we launched Beam!
For a GOSO participant eager to work in tech, do you have any suggestions about avenues by which one can explore the field and start learning the ropes?
My Co-founder and CTO, Alex, recommends checking out free online coding resources and classes like Codecademy to help GOSO participants get their feet wet, if they like coding. If they do enjoy it, they can start posting projects they build through the courses to GitHub, a site where you can publicly display your work and that acts as a resumé when applying for engineering internships. I’ve also heard good things about bootcamps like Lambda School and Pursuit (previously called C4Q) that provide a free intensive coding education for beginners in exchange for a percentage of salary for 2-3 years after you land a job as a software engineer.
One invaluable function of Beam is that it empowers people to express their values through purchase decisions.
Definitely! Beam partners with brands that are leading the way in social responsibility, through supply chains designed around sustainability, labor models that create new opportunity, and conservation models that make sure excess food goes to people who need it. By helping customers discover brands that uniquely prioritize the causes they believe in, Beam makes it easier for people to vote with their dollars. This gives young people a way to stay engaged and make a difference within their routine, and these customers visit our partner brands more often and are more likely to recommend friends. At scale, we’re building a grassroots movement that drives all brands to follow the lead of our partners, since investing in the things that young customers care about is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also the best way to resonate with them.
We just wrapped #GivingTuesday! Beam and Dos Toros generously amped the impact of purchase-based donations to GOSO and other nonprofits on that day (thank you!). With your second #GivingTuesday under your belt, what have you learned about how people approach philanthropy?
We’ve seen that one of the ways that #GivingTuesday is effective is it brings giving to the forefront of our collective consciousness. The fact that Giving Tuesday breaks records in individual online giving nationally shows that when people are actively thinking about giving and have situational urgency to do so, they follow through. This is a pattern we want to replicate year-round–if people had the opportunity to engage with the causes close to them with every purchase, social consciousness would rise and we believe investment in important causes by both brands and individuals would follow suit.
How do you embody Beams mantra of “making every day meaningful” offline?
Outside of supporting causes I believe in by using Beam and scaling our mission, I really enjoy mentoring people with an interest in tech/entrepreneurship and helping our former interns navigate their job and internship application process. I’m also proud to be on the Action Board of GOSO and also get a lot of joy from spending time with my friends and family, and playing soccer when I can.
It’s been so fulfilling to be able to support GOSO’s incredible mission and team by being on the Action Board! I’ve also loved my experience spending time with GOSO participants and would love to mentor those with an interest in tech.
Download the Beam app today, and start making every day meaningful!