Wij Inholland award 2019: GetKarma

“Your Capacity Has Value.” That is GetKarma’s slogan. A platform for volunteering work made by Inholland student Merel Schöffel and her partner Wouter Roggeveen. Merel: “With GetKarma we want to overcome any hurdles people might feel when they want to start doing volunteer work. We use a smart app with Karma points for this. This way volunteers get something in return!”

At the moment it can be difficult and feel complicated to find volunteer work that you can commit to. The GetKarma app should make this easier. With a personal profile you can find services that match your personal interests and qualities. Merel: “The app makes volunteer work more interesting and easier to try out! As the name already suggests, with GetKarma you also get something in return for your volunteer work: Karma points.”

What are Karma points?
“When you’ve completed a service, both you and the organization leave a review. Do you both leave a positive review? Then you receive a Karma point. You can spend your points in different ways. You can buy a coffee in a coffee bar or you can get a discount on a fitness subscription for example, but it can also give you a visit to the hairdresser.”

Why do you choose volunteer work for your app?
“We found out that there are quite a few problems with volunteering. About 40 percent of organizations that employ volunteers fall short of volunteers, even though they have large recruitment budgets. In addition, the image has been damaged. An example is Oxfam Novib who had bad publicity because of controversial parties. Also, companies often don’t have any policy for sponsoring or donations. I believe that value is created when people actually help other people. Those people helping others deserve something in return. That’s what GetKarma gives.”

How does the app work?
“When you use the app for the first time, it asks you a number of questions. This is how we find out your ‘social fingerprint’. What are your interests, what motivates you and what skills would you like to learn? For example, you would like to learn how you to give a confident presentation. Or you would like to learn how to write a communication plan. You fill in those skills and the app brings up services that suit you. You learn the skills you would like to improve and you offer an organization your time and effort at the same time. A win-win.”

What drives you to make GetKarma a success?
“We believe that volunteering should be done differently. Now and in the future. For example, there should be more visibility and respect for volunteers because they do such a great job. There are people who spend days in a nursing home or people who give up their time helping others with their administration. They don’t expect anything in return or a huge amount of money. But it is nice if you just get a little pat on the back sometimes.”

You are a participant in the start-up program of Start Up Campus Haarlem (SUCH). What influence has this program had on your idea?
“SUCH was the first step towards a concrete plan. In the beginning I was pretty uncertain. I thought people didn’t like my idea or didn’t understand it. It was great to get some guidance in the further development of my idea. It helped me to shape my ideas further step by step.”

You work together with Wouter Roggeveen. He’s not a student of Inholland, but a friend of yours. How do you compliment each other?
“I am the ‘Get’ and Wouter is often the ‘Karma’. I’m very entrepreneurial. If I go for something, I go for it. I can inform people well and get them to understand our idea. Wouter is ‘the social man’ who you empathize with and like.”

What else defines you?
“I sometimes find it difficult to say no. I see many opportunities, so I always have to reflect well. It’s difficult to make decisions without knowing what the best choice is. Sometimes you get so much advice all pointing in different directions. You have to make your own decisions then. That’s difficult, but part of the process.”

What does the future look like for you now? What is the most important step?
“We are building the app bit by bit and will soon be developing a first version. We test it thoroughly and make sure we have room for improvements. Many people have an idea and go for it 100 percent without testing. I think you should test your product more than once and keep improving little things. Furthermore, your team is very important. You need the right people and knowledge in your team and you have to work together.”

Merel, you are an example for other students. What tip would you like to give your fellow Inholland students?
“The best tip I’ve received is to ask people specific questions. There’s lots of people out there who would like to help you, asking for specific helps makes this easier. I have not yet been told no. Just ask! Or join the Start-up Campus if you need more guidance. Talk to someone about your ideas. That way people can actually help you.”

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