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Meet Michael Hoffman of Gather Voices

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Hoffman.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Michael. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was a nonprofit fundraiser in the 90’s and then joined a venture capital group, spending 6 years starting internet companies. In 2005, I founded See3 Communications, a marketing agency that works only with nonprofits and social causes.

See3 builds websites, produces videos and creates effective digital strategies for charities. Through this work and with the rise of mobile phones and social networks, we saw the need of organizations to collect, manage and publish user-generated video content. And so, we built Gather Voices and, just this year, spun it out of See3. For me, this is just a continuation of my goal of connecting what I’ve seen first hand is the power of technology to help the causes I care about to make the world a better place.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As a technology start-up, Gather Voices needs to juggle a lot of simultaneous challenges, with a limited team. But it’s much easier than when I started in technology years ago.

Today, start-ups can piggy-back their services on shared infrastructure like Amazon Web Services, which didn’t exist a decade ago. The biggest challenge we have is being able to spend enough time with our customers — nonprofits who are most often under-staffed — in designing the playbook for how they can turn powerful user-generated video into more donations and constituent engagement.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Gather Voices – what should we know?
Gather Voices released the GV-One platform in January to make it easy for organizations to collect, manage and publish user-generated video content.

Today, marketing messages are less important than peer influence and social proof.

Having a donor say why they donate on Facebook is more powerful — and more authentic — than any advertising marketers can make up. And every donor who cares is carrying around an iPhone in their pocket. What Gather Voices GV-One does is allow the organization to push out a question to someone’s phone, and then walk them through making the video the organization needs. From holding their phone the right way, to delivering the video through the cloud with all the rights managed, GV-One activates this powerful video camera on behalf of the organization.

Once the organization gets the video — which is seconds after the person makes it — they can publish it to Facebook, YouTube or their website with a single click.

I am most proud of seeing this new product being used by organizations to benefit their mission.

When I see Make-A-Wish and Boys and Girls Clubs of America using our technology I’m super proud of putting technology to work for social good.

Right now, we’re the only ones in the market focused on helping social good organizations and campaigns lift up the voices of their advocates, activists and donors.

What we see is a revolution in how people will connect to causes, through each other.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
See3 has been in business for almost 15 years and Gather Voices is the result of listening to our clients and their needs. There’s a humility in that, in being able to really see what they need, what will drive their success rather than what’s good for us. See3 makes professional videos — really good ones. And Gather Voices helps organizations get the videos without the professionals. We needed to be OK with that because our goal is to have impact, not to sell things.

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