Blake Canterbury is a social entrepreneur dedicated to good and the founder of Purposity. Purposity is building the future of generosity. Blake founded his first company based on social media in 2009: Beremedy. Beremedy was named one of the “3 best Twitter usages worldwide” by CNN (3/20/11). It was also one of the leading organizations in bringing aid to Haiti after the earthquake.
Blake’s work over the last 10+ years has been dedicated to building innovative ways to leverage technology for good. It’s spanned across building mobile apps to tv ads, and he is sought out to speak about a variety of topics. His work has been featured internationally and most recently in Forbes, People Magazine, Today Show and CNN.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Blake’s journey to founding Purposity and WHY he founded this organization
- Why generosity is crucial in the workplace
- Why should businesses and business execs prioritize generosity in the workplace
- Tangible ways businesses and business execs in Atlanta can give back this holiday season
- The 2022 Purposity holiday mission to meet 5,000 needs in ATL
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio, brought to you by on pay. Atlanta’s new standard in payroll. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: Lee Kantor here another episode of Atlanta Business Radio, and this is going to be a good one. But before we get started, it’s important to recognize our sponsor on pay. Without them, we couldn’t be sharing these important stories. Today on the Atlanta Business Radio, we have Blake Canterbury with Purposity. Welcome, Blake.
Blake Canterbury: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Lee Kantor: I’m so excited to learn what you got going on. Tell us about Purposity. How are you serving folks?
Blake Canterbury: Yeah. So, look, capacity is building the future of generosity. So most people want to do good in the world. They just don’t know where to start. And so we believe that maybe millions of people would live more generously if it was simply easier, more fun and more transparent. So essentially, you can download our app, you can see real time needs of individuals around you. Everything’s vetted by local schools and local nonprofits. As you scroll through, maybe you see a single mom needs formula for a newborn baby, or maybe a first grader needs a new pair of shoes. And our belief is there are thousands of people that would buy that kid a pair of shoes if they only knew they needed it. So you can hit one button on our app, purchased a pair of shoes. It’s on their doorstep in 24 to 48 hours and you get notified in real time when it’s delivered on their doorstep. Being bringing transparency to both sides of the equation.
Lee Kantor: Now, what was the genesis of this idea? When did you realize this is a problem that you could be the one to solve?
Blake Canterbury: Yes, I was actually working at a creative agency at the time, so we were building mobile apps, TV ads for major brands, and a homeless liaison at a school district sent an email and her email literally said, Blake, kids are walking into classrooms with holes in their shoes and they’re going home. Hungry can help solve this problem. And so I called some buddies. We built a basic version of this. We gave it to this one school district and just walked away. And three months later they called back and said, Look, you fundamentally solve this issue for us. Every school district in the country is facing this. Almost every nonprofit is facing this. And we knew we didn’t fully solve the problem, but we knew we found a felt need in the world. And it was convicting enough to to where three months before I got married, I quit my job and went full steam into developing this.
Lee Kantor: Now is what makes this powerful, the individual component where you’re seeing an actual human being and you see their challenge and that you know that, Oh, I can solve that problem as an individual. It doesn’t require like a bunch of bureaucracy or a bunch of infrastructure. It’s just a human helping a human.
Blake Canterbury: That’s exactly right. Look, it’s you know, most most people generally have a sense to do good in the world. Most of us just don’t know where to start. And I think purposely allows you to rally around the common belief that if you knew your neighbor didn’t have food to eat or if you knew that there was a kid that literally just needed a $50 pair of shoes, most people would go help. There’s just no way to know that they need it. And so this gives you a simple way to directly put shoes on people’s feet, clothes on somebody’s back, and then be notified that what you purchased actually got delivered. You get tax receipts, you can track your impact, but that’s it. It’s directly helping one person.
Lee Kantor: Now, when did you I know you did this test with that school, but when did you realize, hey, this is something that really could get some traction and can really be scaled Like what were was there an individual story that was that aha moment for you? Or was it just the fact that that school was so gung ho about it?
Blake Canterbury: Yeah. So there were a couple of things. One, once we got the notification from the school district that, Hey, this really works for them, we just started conducting massive user research and everybody we interviewed, it didn’t matter age, religion, gender said, Hey, at some level I’d like to get to do good in the world. And most ways that they said that they had to do good in the world was some form of writing a check and walking away. Maybe I volunteer somewhere. And then when we looked at the data, it said that $500 Billion a year is given to charity in America by individuals. And so when you look from a business perspective and say, well, there’s a market size that’s incredibly large, but the people are kind of like every every industry in the world has been disrupted by tech except for this one. So when you see a market size that big, you see a business opportunity. You say, okay, we can actually do good in the world, we can drive business. And then kind of the last piece of the equation, like you said, we scaled from one school district to the first ten school districts in every need that was being submitted was being met within 48 hours. And so that we thought we had product market fit. And so when we looked at that test case of ten different school districts needs getting that fast a problem in the world, we said, okay, that’s something we can really get behind. And we should invest everything we have into solving that problem in the world.
Lee Kantor: Now, how is a capacity different than some of those micro-lending platforms?
Blake Canterbury: Yeah, so micro-lending is just a version of giving somebody really a loan, if you will, and then they’re going to repay it. And purpose is just saying, look, there’s somebody that needs shoes or clothes or food and you’re directly just donating the money to purchase those items for them. And so this is just a way to directly impact your neighbor versus giving a loan and getting a return. And there’s a lot of beliefs on charity. But, you know, I’m a big fan of, hey, I want to do good, wanting nothing in return. And so this is an opportunity to do that. Maybe the other differentiator would be compared to, say, a go fund me or crowdfunding. Again, this isn’t you’re not biting off a piece of a pie. You’re you’re feeling really good that you actually bought this kid a pair of shoes. And the other side is that it’s fully vetted. So you don’t have to worry about fraud. In our system, everything is inside a verified 500 1c3 or a school district. And there are a lot of measures in the user agreements to make sure that fraud is almost impossible to happen inside this platform.
Lee Kantor: When you were coming up with the plan to roll it out, how high on the list of challenges was kind of solving the fraud problem?
Blake Canterbury: Well, it was really high because we believe that building this on trust, transparency and great technology were the fundamental pieces of this. And so the transfer, the transparency side of it, we believed if we could bring that to the equation, then we could build the trust. And so probably the biggest problem with a lot of the ways that people give is one that hasn’t really evolved other than writing a check, but not being transparent with where your money goes. And the transparency honestly raises more questions. Most nonprofits are doing amazing work. They’re doing they’re solving very complex problems. They’re trying to solve big challenges in the world. And so people are really skeptical of, hey, is my money going? How do I make direct impact? And so as we looked at all of these issues, we said, wait, we can actually bring transparency, build trust in a technology, but also drive more impact back to these local organizations. And so it really checked all three boxes that we were looking at and said, wow, if we can really bring trust and transparency to this, this is probably a place that people would lean into versus other options.
Lee Kantor: Now, is the the way that an individual gives or is generous, is it this one on one or is it can I. Is there a way to leverage it from the individual donor standpoint or is there a way for me to support 100 kids at a time rather than go on and click a 100 individually?
Blake Canterbury: Yeah. So we’ve just implemented a give Now button, which you’ll see. So if you go to a nonprofit or a school districts page, you’ll see a green button and it says give. Now you can give any amount of money that you want to in that give now and we’ll wipe out every need that that organization has. And if you surpass the amount of needs that they currently have, what we’ll do is as soon as they submit needs, it won’t even go live in the system. We’ll just immediately begin to wipe out the next ones, which really is a key factor in what we call urgent needs, which are the essentials of maybe a family becomes foster care parents in the middle of the night and they don’t really have time to submit a story and wait for the shipping to arrive. We can wipe those needs out as soon as they arrive locally. You know, family. Maybe a single mom needs formula for her newborn baby. You know, she can’t wait 48 hours to get her formula. So we will take other measures to wipe these needs out and then we’ll add cards. And we’ve got we’ve got a lot of things on the roadmap. And our vision, to your point, is that you would turn to Facebook for friends. Google for information and pomposity would become your home for good in the world. So as we we’ve used this word generosity, we believe that generosity is time, money, items. And so we’ll see a lot of things evolve in our roadmap to encompass everything under living a generous lifestyle.
Lee Kantor: Now, prior to purposely, how does the typical individual give? Do they normally just pick a cause and then they donate a certain percentage of money? Do they do it through their, you know, faith based entity that they’re part of? How does giving work right now?
Blake Canterbury: Yeah, it’s to your point, it’s. It’s all over the place, honestly, and it’s very fragmented. So some people that have a bent towards it, maybe for religious reasons or just personal conviction, they may have a plan to give and so they may have written down, we would like to give a percentage or a dollar amount, or maybe it’s just purely based on tax deductions. They may have a general plan. But what we found is most people don’t really have a plan. And you see very wealthy folks have entire foundations still developing a plan to be generous. The other problem is most people, the average person just wakes up and doesn’t. The priority list isn’t how do I do good today? And so what we wanted to do was offer a way to just intersect your life with a way that you could. And if you happen to wake up tomorrow and say, Well, I would like to do good, just take the city of Atlanta, for example, you may find a list of 500 organizations all worthy of your money. And then you have to decide, Well, what really breaks my heart? What cause do I actually want to give to? And then if you’ve been there it down to there, there may be 30 organizations trying to solve that problem.
Blake Canterbury: And so you can go through nine nineties and you can go through all these documents and websites. And so our place was saying, wait, look, let’s, let’s break down the barriers to generosity and let’s say, look, come to one place that’s trusted, it’s validated, it’s transparent and it’s easy and it’s actually even fun. And so why don’t we allow this to be your starting place to do good in the world versus being fragmented anymore? And you can find any organization, any cause, and you may, after you’ve met a couple of needs in capacity, actually learn what breaks your heart is you go back and read these stories and realize, Wait, you know what? The last five needs I met were actually for foster care, or they were for women who had been sex trafficked and escaping that. Or maybe they’re for homeless. And so there’s really interesting insights when you just begin to help your neighbor and then you realize, wait, maybe these are things that actually break my heart and then you can develop a really easy plan from there.
Lee Kantor: Now, as part of the challenge, kind of getting purposely in the hands of these nonprofits and school systems.
Blake Canterbury: Yeah. So school systems typically see it and understand it really quickly. Profits will see it and understand it quickly, but they’re typically understaffed. And so we find the nonprofits that are really pushing innovation, ones that may even have a younger employee base can say, Oh, wait, I can pull out my cell phone and operate this force and attract a whole new donor base. So, yes, the nonprofits are a little slower coming around to it, but school systems adopt it really quickly and it’s all been organic word of mouth to this point. And so doing this interview is honestly hopeful that we could populate three different sides of the equation that maybe the nonprofits and school districts that might be listening, hopefully they would sign up. We hope individuals would sign up. And then we also have a pretty cool opportunity for businesses and employees to come together and do good under the ESG or CSR conversation we could get into if we want to. But we have ways for groups of people to come together and do collective impact, and so there’s a lot of ways to get involved.
Lee Kantor: So you’re looking I mean, this is in essence a marketplace and you’re you need to feel both sides of the marketplace.
Blake Canterbury: That’s exactly right. It’s a two sided marketplace. And so we study what Uber and Lyft and Airbnb have done really closely to understand how that we’re going to approach building this ecosystem.
Lee Kantor: So right now it’s the holiday season. You’re looking, I’m sure, to make an impact this holiday season and maybe alleviate some pain for some folks here in Atlanta. Can you talk about that?
Blake Canterbury: Yeah. So as you can imagine, this time of year, we get needs that just begin to pour, pour in. And so we’re launching a campaign to unleash over 5000 gifts of generosity over the next two and one half weeks. And part of this is to get ahead of the shipping deadlines and make sure people have what they need. And so part of these 5000 items are just Christmas wishes. You know, it’s maybe for the family that, you know, they’re kids asking for a toy. And it’s really hard for the parents to justify spending money on a toy this year. They’d rather spend it on a heating bill or maybe making sure that they have food on the table and Christmas. So some of the items are going to be for Christmas wish lists for kids. The other part are going to be essentials for these families that just need dinner on the table. It could be something as simple as toilet paper. It may be clothes. It may be just really basic things for around the house. And so we’re just simply hoping that people would jump in and maybe personally meet a couple. Needs. Maybe invite a friend and rally their their company or coworkers to get involved with this. It’s a really easy way to locally help people.
Lee Kantor: So now though, the things I mean, I don’t want to speak for you, but it’s my understanding the things you need more of, you need businesses. Maybe the ESG component of the business wants to share this with their employees so they can give more. You need school systems to give more, to get them to take the app and use it to benefit their students. And you need nonprofits to, you know, put it out there as as one of the ways that they serve their, you know, the people that are important to them. Is that.
Blake Canterbury: The that’s.
Lee Kantor: The biggest need.
Blake Canterbury: Exactly right. That’s exactly right. And from a company standpoint, we have ways that you can just offer matches for employees. You could just write a check to wipe out needs and put that in at ESG report. One report that a company has sent out, they had over 2 million brand impressions for good. They save schools and nonprofits. Over $500,000 in salaries helped over 10,000 students across 61 different school districts. And so that’s just one example of how we can partner with a company and help them really do good in the holidays or any time during the year.
Lee Kantor: And if somebody wants to learn more, it’s an app in the app stores or it’s a website. How does someone connect with purpose?
Blake Canterbury: Yeah, Purpose sitcom will have everything that you need. It’ll take you directly to needs. And if you hit about, you can find a link for companies, for individuals, for influencers, any way that you want to get involved. You can find it at Papa sitcom.
Lee Kantor: And that’s pure pos i.t dot com.
Blake Canterbury: That’s right.
Lee Kantor: And thank you so much Blake, for sharing your story, doing such important work and we appreciate you.
Blake Canterbury: Yeah. Lee, thanks so much for having us and telling our story.
Lee Kantor: All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you all next time on Atlanta Business Radio
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