The seamless art of giving
Sometimes a new company launches a product so deceptively obvious it can mask the scale of disruption it embodies.
Pushpay is one of those companies. Founded in 2011 by New Zealanders Eliot Crowther and Chris Heaslip, their idea was software that would make it easy and fast for people to make donations to faith-based organisations.
Crowther and Heaslip were aware that while everyone carried around a smartphone, they didn’t often carry cash. Their idea was to create a mobile payment app, making it as simple to donate as buying a song on iTunes.
Twelve years on the aim remains the same, but the company now has its headquarters in the United States and has expanded its innovative software products to the non-profit and education sectors. It employs about 500 staff, has several offices across the United States and maintains a 100-strong team in New Zealand largely focused on research and development.
Today Pushpay’s customer base totals more than 15,000 and the company processes about US$7.6 billion annually from almost 3 million unique donors.
Its CEO is Seattle-based Molly Matthews, who says simplicity is at the core of Pushpay’s ethos.
“We know that people using our software want it to be simple. You should be able to give, participate or gather content at the touch of your mobile device. The end-user experience is what we’re thinking of constantly when we design our products.”
Matthews says Callaghan Innovation was crucial to Pushpay.
“We were a gritty startup in the very beginning and then as the team really kind of matured and developed, they engaged with Callaghan Innovation and it’s been absolutely instrumental to our growth.”
Callaghan Innovation provided business mentoring, assistance with intellectual property, and grants that enabled app development and the ability to scale.
We were a gritty startup in the very beginning and then as the team really matured and developed, they engaged with Callaghan Innovation and it's been absolutely instrumental to our growth."
From the outside looking in, Matthews admires how Aotearoa supports its technology community.
“We don’t have those programmes here in the United States and it’s one of those things that really stands out for me about New Zealand. It’s something we’ve been so happy to be able to participate in; it’s really fuelled our growth and given us the ability to go even faster.”
Pushpay’s products now include a church management system and a live-streaming and video content platform that has been fundamental to its ability to expand into the not-for-profit and education sectors.
“Our next ring of growth is going to come from serving Catholic churches. For the past 18 months we have been in the process of curating a product for them. It’s called Parishstaq and uses all our base technology but really gives us the ability to win a new market.”
She is also keen to continue the partnership with Callaghan Innovation to help Pushpay think about its next growth opportunity.
Matthews is a firm believer that if you’re wanting to be disruptive in any space, it’s important to deeply understand your prospective customer base.
“You have to get close to your customers, to understand their needs and what drives their buying decision. Often people miss that; they don’t think about the person who’s going to buy their product and the different pressures they’re facing.
“When you can really tie those two things together – the innovative fantastic product, idea or service and the need of the person to purchase your thing – that’s where the magic happens.”
At a glance
- Founded in 2011
- Founded by Eliot Crowther and Chris Heaslip. CEO is Molly Matthews
- Based in Redmond, Washington, and Auckland
- Online payment software that centralises donations and manages payment operations for churches, not-for-profits and education providers
- Customer base of 15,000, processing about US$7.6 billion annually from almost 3 million unique donors
- Visit website
Callaghan Innovation impact
- Business mentoring, assistance with intellectual property
- Grants that enabled app development and the ability to scale