Would you meditate, go on a bike ride or drink eight glasses of water if it meant your boss would send a donation to a charity you care about?
Givhero, a Gaithersburg-based startup, is based on the idea that giving to a cause is strong motivation for employees to complete wellness goals. Through a mobile application, GivHero allows employees to record wellness tasks that they complete, with their employers giving donations to charity when they do so.
The company’s founder, Vishal Chintawar, decided to launch the start-up after a 15-year career in the nonprofit sector. Working in nonprofits, he saw that people had “special connections” with the social causes they care most about, something he felt could be leveraged to encourage people to take better care of their mental and physical health.
After all, people often do runs to raise money for charity — what if that philosophy could be extended to everyday wellness activities? With Givhero, Cintawar sought to make that a possibility.
“Every day you stay healthy and active, you are helping yourself, but you are also helping others,” said Chintawar, who has lived in Maryland for about 20 years since moving to the state from India to attend the University of Maryland.
It turns out, he was right; the Givhero platform has proven an effective tool for encouraging people to drink water, take walks and practice other mental and physical well-being activities. After initially starting as a pilot program with American University, the company now serves over 50 clients of varying sizes, ranging from businesses with 50 employees to ones with 7,000. Using the platform, most of the company’s clients have managed to raise their staff’s participation in wellness programs by 50%, as compared with previous programs.
Individual users also report that the app motivates them.
“After every program, we send out surveys to the participants and more than 90% agree that seeing their daily habits affect someone else’s life keeps them moving,” Chintawar said. And 85% say they want their employer to keep using the platform, according to Givhero’s website.
Givhero has proven especially beneficial during the pandemic, as companies struggled to keep their workers connected, Cintawar said. The digital platform allowed workers to continue participating in wellness programs even when working from home. Additionally, following nationwide protests against police brutality and racism during the summer of 2020, individuals and corporations were more interested than ever in donating to important causes.
The startup recently closed its seed funding round, which included investments from Conscious Venture Fund II, Swerve Limited, the Maryland Technology Development Corporation, the University System of Maryland Momentum Fund and other angel investors. The company did not disclose the amount raised.
Claire Braido Johnson, managing director of the Momentum Fund, said she was enthusiastic about investing in a company that supports nonprofits.
“Maryland Momentum Fund is excited about investing in Givhero, founded by College Park grad Vishal Chintawar. The tool engages employees in a way that supports nonprofits, and we’re excited about the growth Givhero is seeing in the market,” she said in an email.
Jean-Luc Park, senior director of TEDCO’s Social Impact Funds, said he was interested in the company for its strong business model, innovative technologies and impressive growth.
“We look forward to their success,” he said.