Gabe Cooper: Virtuous
In this episode, we talk with Gabe Cooper, the CEO of Virtuous which is a responsive nonprofit fundraising platform and CRM. During our conversation, Gabe shares his motivation for starting Virtuous, what he believes makes a successful nonprofit, and their greatest challenge in running the organization.
Gabe Cooper is the CEO of Virtuous, a responsive nonprofit fundraising platform and CRM. Virtuous gives nonprofits the ability to activate new supporters, deepen existing partnerships, assist with marketing, and serves as a CRM all-in-one. Their company currently has a little over 30 employees and is continuing to grow.
Gabe began his career in software development during the dot-com boom and later transitioned into working at a nonprofit leading their technical team. Since then, he has started three businesses: an agency, a golfing application, and now, Virtuous.
His motivation for starting Virtuous and continuing work in the nonprofit sector:
“Giving your time, talent, money away is one of the most personal things you’ll ever do. Super close to your heart. If you have a family member that gets cancer, you’ll give to cancer research. If you adopt a pet, that pet becomes part of your family. The entire rest of the world - Amazon, Netflix, Strava, they are all hyper-personalized to me. They are giving me super personal experiences. My experiences when I give to a nonprofit are hyper-impersonal. That should not be the case in 2020.”
What successful nonprofits are made of:
- They break down silos. Marketing teams talk to sales teams. They talk about what is going on between each area of the organization.
- Listen more than they talk. Great nonprofits will listen to their donors and prioritize building relationships.
- They ruthlessly innovate. They are taking notes from startups and incorporating some of those innovative processes.
Why they spent so much time developing their software before releasing it:
“If we’re going to sell an enterprise solution as a system of record to nonprofits who depend on our software day in and day out, it can’t be half-baked.”
“I like the fail fast mentality: ‘Fail fast and iterate.’ What I like even better is not failing quite as much.”
His advice to anyone starting a business:
“If you don't know the vertical or the domain, don’t start something there. Start something around what you know and care about deeply. It’s going to give you so much traction. I know you may think it’s boring or less sexy...Start with what you know, because it’s going to be so much more successful.”
Their greatest challenge:
“Our biggest challenge is attracting and retaining great talent and making sure our culture pushes through the whole organization in a meaningful way.”
Learn more about Virtuous: https://www.virtuous.org/
Follow along with Gabe: https://twitter.com/virtuousgabe
Gabe mentions the book and methodology called The Lean Startup, you can check it out here: http://theleanstartup.com/
Another book mentioned is called What You Do Is Who You Are by Ben Horowitz about creating company culture. You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/What-You-Do-Who-Are-ebook/dp/B07NVN4QCM