Knowing why someone does something is important to May Piamenta, co-founder and CEO of Vee. Understanding a person’s goal can change the image you have of them. She shares that everyone has their own cause and their own reasons they want to support, and Vee aims to help connect people with opportunities to help. As a network of goodness, it allows people to participate and sign up for volunteer opportunities. Piamenta explains that they plan to expand on fundraising and offer ways for people to help those in need directly rather than going through an organization. As a platform for social missions, Vee targets hearts rather than minds, she says. In the process, they learn insights about voluntary behavior. For example, people are more likely to volunteer with a friend who invites them even if they are not enthusiastic about the cause.
Thank you for letting me participate in Vee as a junior investor. Tell me who you are and how you ended up creating Vee.
I am 22 years old. I am originally from Dimona. I have two brothers and I grew up in a family of great parents, not connected to technology in any way. When I was eight, I lost my best friend to cancer. Her name was Efrat. After her death, I wanted to repay her. When I was 13, I saw an article from Zichron Menachem, the Israeli non-profit organization that supports children with cancer. She asked the girls to cut their hair, help them prepare wigs, and donate roots for cancerous hair loss research.
I saw this article, and I knew it had to be me. I want to cut my hair completely. So I came up to my mom saying, “Mom, I cut my hair. I shave everything.” She told me, “You’d never do that.” The next day, I had no hair.
I can only imagine going to school the next day when I was thirteen without hair.
It was terrible. I looked like a boy. It was very strange, especially at that age. I was so ashamed to go around without hair that I bought a wig. My grandfather took the wig and put it in the trash. “You can’t give this hair too much space in your confidence,” he said. Not having hair and seventh grade was a huge challenge. I moved and transferred to the other school in Dimona.
Fortunately for me, I arrived the day they were recruiting for the school’s robotics team. I subscribed to two majors: one was fashion and the other was robotics. On my fashion side, I opened a swimwear website and ran it for a year. But then I was accepted into the robotics team, and I participated in the first robotics competitions for five years. That was the best experience of my life. They gave me back my confidence. They gave me my English. They gave me my entrepreneurial skills. They exposed me to many things.
Tell me about the confidence he instilled in you and how this has shaped your outlook now.
When I shaved my hair, I did something for a good cause. When you get such a terrible response from people, it doesn’t make sense. I was like, “I don’t want to be here. I want to be with people who understand the purpose of what I did.” When I go through this experience today, I know that as a founder, CEO, boyfriend, girlfriend, or colleague, I always want to know why a person does something, whether it’s good or bad. Understanding the cause, purpose and where a person comes from can completely change the picture. That’s what I embraced from this experience as a person.
Tell me about Vee formation.
Vee is the “Network of Goodness” as we call it. We are building a network of goodness that will bring together and connect people from all over the world around social missions whether they are mission builders or people helping missions. Now, only by volunteering, but soon you will be in more channels of assistance, such as donations. Ultimately, we aim for our technology and platform to eventually connect the people who need help directly with the people they are helping. We turn this beautiful thing into money by helping larger institutions, such as companies, ministries, municipalities, schools, universities, etc., to do a good job at scale.
Let’s say a company like Sisense wants to volunteer with 600 employees all year long, so they use Vee to connect their employees to tasks around them, bring them together, report their hours and refund taxes, etc. . So everything goes to the B2B side. But we’re looking at Vee and how we can do this at scale. We are attacking this super scale from the bottom up, taking city after city all over the world. It’s difficult, but definitely possible.
The solution came from my experience managing volunteers for FIRST competitions. They chose one student from each country to join the CSR team, and I was from Israel. This is where I was exposed to the challenges and potential of the CSR world. That was very early, 2016. Now every company knows it’s a must. The transformation was crazy. We will be the technology that brings it all together.
What is part of consumer behavior? Do you need to do a lot of market education? How do people come to terms with this new way in which they are going to spend some of their time within their organization?
We ask all the time how to become a consumer brand, even more so than a business owner brand. If they want to do this, the problem is solved for the company. First of all, we invest heavily in brand and local brand. For example, we are now on a mission to make Vee the number one podium in New York. So we started doing several local branding initiatives. subway. Billboards. We need the actual users and people to know us, and trust that we will know where to send them.
Although Vee is a product that employees benefit from today, most of our users do not use Vee at work. They take their children. They go with people outside of work. This actually leads us to understand that we solve a bigger problem for people: that they don’t necessarily want to volunteer only with their colleagues. They want to go with their children, wives or friends. This is where Vee comes in because our opportunities are so diverse. We now have more than 1,000 direct missions on the platform. We had a hundred at the beginning of this year. Having so many opportunities empowers and gives us the opportunity to explore more new use cases. For example, we have a building owner who gives Vee to residents. We’ll never think about that when starting out.
When a building owner gives a Vee to their tenants, they can then go and choose one of the thousands of tasks that talk about why. right? If only we could align this reason with a need that someone else had, we could find a big win-win situation. Vee uses inspiring SaaS companies to monetize this and do it at scale, right?
Without linking cause to need, it is very difficult to extend it from there. Network building for us is just finding those causes, finding those needs, and matching them locally. I want to volunteer for something within a 10-minute walk of my house, which is to get to know the local community. We are like a startup that doesn’t play with minds; We play with hearts. We know the things that will change the needle in the hearts of people in New York. Eventually, we will be able to find out who will donate to these causes. We will have data for fundraising platforms.
But the other thing is that it’s not just the cause. People prefer to volunteer with the people they invite, even if this is not their first reason. I want to do this with you instead of going alone to something I care about. In the product we always try to get people to invite each other because the conversion after that is more than 90% of yes.
Michael Mathias, Forbes 30 Under 30, author of Age is Only Int: Lessons I Learning as a Young Entrepreneurs. He studies artificial intelligence at Stanford University, is an enterprising partner at J-Ventures and was an engineer at Hippo Insurance. Matthias previously worked as an officer in Unit 8200. 20MinuteLeaders is a technology entrepreneurship interview series featuring one-on-one interviews with amazing founders, innovators, and thought leaders who share their journeys and experiences.
Contributing Editors: Michael Mathias, Megan Ryan