Founder Friday Feature: Amy Dugan, Co-Founder of Makua

What inspired you to start your company?

Makua is a giving app for millennials and gen z. When people give, they feel higher and I believe if we can make giving a core part of everyone’s life, we can raise humanity. I was inspired to start Makua after experiencing frustration on my own giving journey. The nonprofit sector felt dated, disjointed, had no sense of community, and it felt like I was throwing money into a void when all I wanted to do was give and align with causes I cared about. Makua is our solution!

Who are your cofounders, and what makes you a great team?

My co-founder Forrest Skerman-Stevenson and I are life and business partners, and we are committed to our vision for Makua. Neither of us is a first-time founder, I have built an e-learning business, and Forrest has built a tech startup back in London. With my strength in sales and Forrest’s strength in product, we work really well together. We’re both passionate about social impact, and we know firsthand the frustrations that young donors experience when trying to get involved. To build a great product, I believe the founders need to be the target customer, and that we are!

How is Makua making a difference?

When people give, they feel higher, connected, and inspired. By making giving a core part of everyone’s life, we can raise humanity (especially younger generations). We are providing millennials and gen z with an all-in-one micro-philanthropy app making giving easy, engaging, and social.

What are some of the challenges you have faced?

One of the biggest challenges I have faced at this early stage is having to divide my focus across so many areas of the business when I know I need to free up time to focus on the key levers. We have hired some incredible talent so far, but I still have more hiring to do, and finding great talent takes time.

What is your biggest win? 

There have been a lot of exciting wins, but I’d say the biggest was being backed by the Founder of Evernote, Phil Libin.

Who is your role model?

Sara Blakely, the Founder of SPANX, is one of my biggest role models in entrepreneurship. I love her infectious enthusiasm, her relentless sales doing what no one else is willing to do, and her unconditional joy. Another big role model of mine is Michael A. Singer, a yogi who has built multiple successful companies from a place of inner well-being over everything.

What do you wish you had known before starting your company?

I wish I had known about all of the resources available to female-founders and immersed myself in more programs like Graham & Walker’s Catalyst earlier on. Being surrounded by the right people and great mentorship is priceless.

What is your CEO superpower?

I’d say genuine sales is my superpower. I can sell anything, to anyone, because I care more than anyone else.

G&W Team


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