Nicole Sdao

Volunteer tracker Altruize survived last year during the pandemic through organic growth, but now hopes to increase volunteerism as Wisconsin returns to normal.

Beloit-based Altruize is a for-profit organization that allows volunteer workers to track their lifetime volunteer activity on an app. It acts as a “Fitbit” for volunteer data, according to founder and CEO Nicole Sdao (pictured above).

During the latest virtual event in the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation’s “Entrepreneurons” series, Sdao shared why she started Altruize and how Madison-based startup accelerator gener8tor helped her.

“I’m a recovering volunteer addict, and was seeing a disconnect between volunteers and nonprofits, and the bigger piece of volunteer data,” Sdao said. “Volunteer data has become so important in our society, yet the volunteers don’t have access to their data and can’t keep track of it.”

In 2013 Sdao created the organization that would, after two name changes, become Altruize. Sdao credited gener8tor for her success starting the organization.

“I would be someone who was watching Shark Tank all the time, and then you become part of one of these programs and you go ‘oh [Shark Tank’s] like Sesame Street where it shows you how to pronounce the words but you have no idea what is actually going on,’” said Sdao. “So being a part of gener8tor, gAlpha and gBeta really helps put everything into context.”

gAlpha and gBeta are two free programs run by gener8tor. The programs help entrepreneurs with social impact startups raise funding without giving away equity in their companies, according to gener8tor Social Impact Director Joe Baz, who was also a guest of the WARF event.

The mission of the program is to connect at least one-third of social impact startups with investors. Currently, over half of the 486 companies who have taken part in the programs have met funding goals, Baz said.

Altruize was supposed to launch their app last year on March 22, just three days before Wisconsin was placed under a stay at home order by Gov. Tony Evers. Sdao joked that an app telling people to go out in their communities and volunteer couldn’t have had a worse launch date.

But the company was still able to grow organically through app downloads during the pandemic. Sdao did not advertise the app.

She concluded that she hopes her organization will inspire the next generation of volunteers to be more active in their communities this year and beyond.

“If we were all as concerned about the good we were putting into our communities as the steps we were taking in them, they would be better communities to walk in,” she said.

Listen to a “WisBusiness: The Podcast” episode with Sdao:

-By Grayson Sewell