Connections through Technology: The Givve Collection
I am one of the faculty members who teaches Global Connections through Technology, a core IT class for every MBA student at Babson College. As part of the course, student teams are connected with startups, non-profits, or small businesses to take on a seven-week consulting project. The result of the student project is the creation of a technology plan for the client with recommendations on how they can best meet their business goals using technology: social media tools, cloud computing, business analytics, operational systems, or other solutions. My series of blogs “Connections through Technology” highlights these projects and the innovative businesses with which our students have had the opportunity to collaborate.
Client: The Givve Collection
Entrepreneur: Ashley Howell, Founder & CEO
In January, 2014 I was connected with Ashley through one of our MBA students. It was an exciting time for Givve, as they were in the throes of launching their website. It was also an ideal time for one of our MBA teams to really help drive immediate value. Over the seven-week course, Ashley challenged the team to help her meet both short- and long-term business goals that included increasing awareness and revenue for Givve, their network of vendors, and the charities that they support. Additional goals for Givve were to optimize back-office vendor operations, and drive social platform engagement. No small order, but with the launch date pending, the team stepped up to the task!
What is the Givve Collection and how is it socially “responsible”?
The Givve Collection is an online marketplace that exclusively features charitable fashion products for consumers to search, share and shop. Givve features over 50 designer brands (and counting) of clothing, accessories, shoes, cosmetics, and home goods for women, men and children. Givve brands can be found in major department stores and on high fashion online retailers; therefore the products come from established, up-and-coming, and trending designers. One of Givve’s partners is Boston’s own, the Fashion Project. Givve and the Fashion Project recently teamed up to support a charity fashion show in Silicon Valley. All products featured on Givve must also donate to a charity, making it very easy for consumers to shop for a cause.
ShopStyle, a leading global fashion site powered by PopSugar, also recently partnered with The Givve Collection to offer their 14 Million unique users per month a new, charitable twist to how they shop for products. For Mother’s Day, 2014, ShopStyle featured a pop-up shop curated by Ashley with ShopStyle pieces that all Givve back to charity.The CEO and Founder of Givve, Ashley Howell, is a social entrepreneur with a passion for fashion and volunteerism. Her desire to make her mark on the world took her to the University of Southern California, to Capitol Hill, to a Fortune 50 technology leader, to an MBA from Santa Clara University and ultimately to founding The Givve Collection. Her experience spans business development, cause marketing, social enterprise business consulting and leadership. Her favorite causes are Arts & Music, Children, Lung Cancer, Education, Emergency Aid, Same Love – LGBT Rights, Peace Creation, Violence Prevention, Ovarian Cancer, AIDS, Job Creation, and Inspiring Youth.
How did the Babson MBA team help Givve?
As part of this project, the Babson MBA team responded to the challenge with:
• Recommendations for deploying business analytics tools to better understand user behavior, identify areas for improvement, and provide the means to define and measure success
• Research on a number of e-commerce platforms and provided insight on which could best support Givve’s revenue management needs
• Longer term, they identified the need for content management tools based on the dynamic nature of the products that Givve offers and for launching product campaigns through a variety of social outlets.
What did the students get out of the experience?
From the student learning perspective, here’s what MBA team member, Brendon John Kelly, took away from the project: “Working with Givve truly mirrored and reinforced the Babson MBA experience. There was enough ambiguity to create an environment that fostered creativity and innovation. Halfway through the project we hit a wall regarding how to solve Givve’s primary pain point, but once we were able to lock ourselves in a room during the Babson face-to-face session, we were able to brainstorm and build on one another’s ideas to discover several potential solutions. Out of that session the team found a path that would lead to our final recommendation. It was fast-paced and exciting, much like the world of startups, and instead of ‘givving up’ (ha!) we continued to pivot until we found a way.”
What did the client get out of it?
From the client’s perspective, here’s what entrepreneur Ashley Howell had to say: “As a MBA grad myself, working on projects with real world impact always created more of an impression on my learning experience, therefore I was thrilled to participate in the Babson course. I was very impressed with the skills, professionalism and thoroughness the students put into working on Givve. The Babson MBA team really made an effort to provide me with value-added advice I could actually implement to help my business.”