Female Founder Feature: Laura Malcolm – Give InKind

Laura Malcolm is Founder and CEO of Give InKind, a marketplace that connects people to the products and services they want to give or receive during a time of need. Give InKind was launched in September 2016, allowing users to "lend a hand, from anywhere". Today, they are a 5 person team headquartered in Tacoma, WA.
The elevator pitch:
When someone has a new baby, fights cancer or loses a loved one, extra support is needed (and usually given) in the form of hot meals, help around the house, financial assistance and of course, gifts and flowers. Giving this kind of support is challenging when you aren’t sure how to help or when support circles are spread around the country. Give InKind is the first and only marketplace that leverages the existing on-demand service economy to facilitate giving support from anywhere, and expands existing markets (crowdfunding, meal delivery) beyond their current limits. Our custom care calendar not only allows users to fulfill the needs of others themselves, but provides access to geo-based service providers and products that can fulfill those needs directly to the recipient. By including donation-based crowdfunding and e-commerce in the experience, we provide a comprehensive platform that makes it possible to lend a hand, from anywhere.
The founding team:
Laura Malcolm, Founder/CEO: Laura is a 10 year startup veteran, having worked on teams large and small to bring both B2B and B2C products to market. Her deep experience with local business listings brings a specialized understanding of how customers search for, and interact with, geo-specific as well as multi-market businesses.
Andy Brennenstuhl, Chief Architect: Andy has spent the last 18 years in technology, as both a developer and technical project manager. He brings vast experience managing remote teams, allowing Give InKind to bootstrap with an offshore development team without many headaches.
Tara Shafer, Editor: Tara has been a contributor for the Washington Post, Huffington Post, New York Times and BabyCenter over the last 20 years. After launching a content and community site for parents that had lost a child, Reconceiving Loss, she came on to Give InKind in the first days to source and create an incredible collection of content.
+ A team of design, developers + social media make Give InKind happen every day!
The idea:
Give InKind was created out of a poor experience with existing platforms and the knowledge and desire to create something better. After experiencing a late-term pregnancy loss, Laura’s friends and family created a meal drop-off calendar using Meal Train. They then all began calling one another to find out who delivered meals in the area, or groceries, or house-cleaning, because no one lived nearby. Laura and her husband James knew there had to be a more efficient way for their loved ones to send the things they needed. Laura’s background in both local listings and affiliate e-commerce led her to sketching out a new, monetized version of a care platform that would incorporate local listings and affiliate revenue.
Your unfair advantage:
I don’t know if personal experience can truly be considered an unfair advantage, because plenty of great companies have been created without need. But I do know that we’ve created a marketplace that’s special and it required us using existing platforms, having them not meet our needs, and having the experience with local search to know how to fix them. I think there’s something to be said for holding all the pieces of the puzzle in your hand – now it’s just a matter of having them all fit nicely together.
Your biggest challenge:
Because transactions do not take place on Give InKind, getting a clear picture of some of our metrics can be a challenge. Right now we are focused on bigger picture numbers (pages created, users & transaction volume) but when it comes time to dial in on transactional value, we’ll have a bit of a black box to disassemble.
Your biggest win:
Using SEO and content marketing to bring our CAC way down in just a couple of months. This month we acquired the same number of organic users as we did the first month we ran CPC ads. SEO isn’t dead!
Your role models:
Sheryl Sandberg, but not for may be typical reasons. First, after her husband Dave passed away unexpectedly, Sheryl not only created a platform and community around grief support, but she implemented change around bereavement leave that other companies are taking a lead in following. But more importantly, I sat and listened to her talk about the areas in which she was wrong with Lean In, and when and why it’s important to lean out. It was such an impactful moment, above and beyond any traditional pivot we may all be a part of – she admitted she was wrong, and that she was privileged to have thought otherwise.
Your experience with FFA:
The Female Founders Alliance is my first real experience – after 10+ years in tech – seeing women in founding roles. Every company I’ve worked for, large and small, has been founded by men, with a C-suite full of men, a board full of men, and a disproportionate number of men on the teams. I got very used to accepting that that’s the way technology was, and unfortunately, still is. Being a part of the FFA is inspirational, beyond just being a tremendous resource.
Your website:
Connect with Give InKind on Social Media
Twitter: @giveinkind
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/giveinkind
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