Local high-tech company aims to inspire

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Windsor Star/Grace Macaluso

Windsor has been chosen as the Canadian headquarters of InspireHUB, a fledgling high-technology company, which specializes in developing high-tech tools for the non-profit sector. Led by Windsor-native Karolyn Hart, Inspire Hub is on a “mission” to help everything from charities – large and small – to churches, non-governmental organizations and educational institutions – connect with volunteers and potential donors.

“The whole reason we exist is to provide engagement, training and tools to help grow worthy causes,” Hart said. “The non-profit sector is massive and underserviced. It has product and service needs just like the for-profit sector.”

There are about 86,000 registered Canadian charities, according to the Canada Revenue Agency.

They have an app for that cause

InspireHUB offers “affordable solutions,” such as mobile and tablet technologies, fundraising management, best practices training and consulting for non-profits and charities. “We have an entire curriculum; we help train them to build their own customized web app and take what they have mastered to connect with their members through mobile and tablets via InspireHub’s IHUBApp,” Hart said.

“The technology is simple and intuitive,” she said. “We’ve designed our entire technology for the boomer market; the non-techy people. You can build a web app in under an hour; it’s easy, your grandma can do it.”

Affordability is key for the non-profit sector, Hart said. “To develop a native app can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $40,000. And any time there’s a new release from Google or Apple, you have to pay again for an update.”

InspireHUB charges a $675 one-time licensing fee and a monthly subscription (to host the client’s custom app) that varies with the size of the organization. The app that can be downloaded via your smart phone or tablet allows clients to “create meaningful, long-term relationships with supporters, donors and volunteers,” Hart said.

“Our company uses technology to make an inspired world of difference.”

Why Windsor?

Hart was given the option of moving to the Dallas, Texas, area, where InspireHUB was founded in 2013. However, she convinced the company’s board of directors that the necessary talent pool to establish a Canadian headquarters was right here in Windsor. “I said to the board ‘for what you want to accomplish, the talent I need is in Windsor,’” Hart recalled. “When you think of technology, you think of Silicon Valley or big cities, like Toronto. But the automotive industry is one of the most sophisticated, technology-driven industries, and it always baffled me why people don’t think of Windsor as technology-based.”

If all goes according to plan, the new office will be up and running by the end of January, she said.

In hiring mode

Currently operating out of the Downtown Accelerator offices, Hart is finalizing the search for a permanent location. So far, InspireHUB’s Windsor staff consists of seven employees, although the company is currently seeking software developers and a national sales representative. Hart also recently reached an agreement with Ziad Kobti, associate professor of computer science at University of Windsor, to develop an internship program, likely to launch next spring.

The students, she said, would earn a salary and be groomed for long-term employment. “We don’t believe in free labour,” Hart said. “I know there are companies that have a revolving door with interns. That is not InspireHUB. It may sound cheesy, but we want to create an inspiring environment and when people walk through our doors, we value them and want them to stay.”

With a number of major projects on the horizon, Hart said she expects the workforce will continue to grow.

Global reach

The Windsor office will serve as InspireHUB’s global network operating centre, Hart said. “That includes tech and support teams, not just for our Canadian operations, but for the U.S., Australia and the work we’re doing in South Africa.”

Launched in Richardson, Texas, InspireHUB was founded by American entrepreneur Donald Clark, who has spent more than 30 years working with enterprises in the non-profit sector. Clark has helped charities raise more than $1 billion.

InspireHUB has been retained by the Nelson Mandela family’s Mandela Kids project, a $300-million fundraising campaign aimed at addressing the current pediatric health-care crisis in South Africa.

Each year in South Africa, more than 1,600 mothers die in childbirth or from complications in pregnancy; 20,000 babies are stillborn and 22,000 die before they reach one month of age.

“It’s exciting to talk about the technology and all that,” Hart said. “But what we’re doing is trying to save lives.”