Beta Testing Resumes...

Phase 2 of beta testing for the Advomate app began about a week ago, this time with a total of 21 users on both iOS and Android versions.  Users are located in the Tampa Bay area, as this is where we'll launch the app initially before expanding into new markets.

The primary goal for testing this time around is DESIGN.  We want to make sure we're creating an app that's not just easy on the eyes, but easy to use - all the way from initial signup down to searching for volunteer initiatives.  With that in mind, we've instructed our users to nitpick the crap out of us and tell us about ANY element of the app that could be more appealing, and/or more user-friendly.

We actually hit a big milestone last Saturday...the first ACTUAL initiative was participated in by a user!  We partnered with the Great American Cleanup to post their event in Pinellas Park on the app, and a user selected it, participated, and got credit for it.  The first of MANY to come!

Most of the initiatives posted during this phase will be just for test purposes, but that said we do have a few other actual ones posted right now.  Very exciting times for sure.

After Phase 2 testing is over (in 2-3 weeks), it'll be back to the grind as we incorporate users' suggested changes into the app's next version.  This process should take a few weeks as we want to make sure it's ready for Phase 3.  This third and final phase will be very important, as the app will host nothing but actual Initiatives.  We'll be working with MANY more nonprofits and other charitable organizations, so we have to make sure it's fully on point.

Why "Random" Acts of Kindness?

Random Acts of Kindness Day was last Saturday, on February 17th.  A great thing no doubt as there are countless stories around social media and the internet about people spreading peace and positivity to groups and individuals through these simple acts.  It really does not take much to brighten up someone's day, which often has a continuous positive effect on others.  Take these great examples:

High school students post positive messages on 5,000+ lockers

Senior citizens bake cookies for college students

Chicago police officers hand out coffee & pastries to early morning commuters

It's obviously an incredible thing that we have an entire day devoted to acts like this, but it brings up an interesting question: why can't random acts of kindness just be a natural thing?  Why do we have to "force" people to do them?

The fact is that in the crazy rat race that is 2018, sometimes we need a reminder.  We, personally, don't think there's anything wrong with this - or anything wrong with publicizing kindness, charity, or philanthropy in general.  In a perfect world, these things would happen naturally and there would be no need to make them public - but that's just not where we are as a society right now.

So our view is go ahead and keep making your good deeds public - and keep having things like Random Acts of Kindness Day.  Before you hesitate and worry that others might think you're bragging, stop for a second and realize that making your act "known" might have a positive effect on others.  Even if just one person sees it and is encouraged to perform a similar act, you've more than done your job.

And who knows...maybe one day these acts of kindness won't be so "random".

A Peek Inside Advomate

Peer-to-peer (P2P) apps are taking over the tech world.  The Ubers and Airbnbs of the world have become insanely successful in a short amount of time because they've gone all-in on this P2P approach - and because it WORKS.  Directly connecting people who need a service with people who can provide it - while navigating around unnecessary middlemen that have been in place for so long - is truly changing the way industries are operated.  Plus, it makes things much more convenient for us as consumers.

The P2P idea is also central to Advomate.  It provides users with a broad selection of volunteer/helpful initiatives in their area, and allows them to instantly participate in them.

Part of the app's beauty is how it includes smaller, more personalized initiatives in this as well - not just volunteer opportunities from large organizations.  This is where the P2P aspect best shines through.  Even your elderly neighbor who needs help changing a tire can be instantly connected with someone who can do it.  All told, there are 4 different types of Initiative that will be featured on Advomate:

  1. “Volunteer” - Includes long-term, short-term, and one-time volunteer opportunities of all kinds.  Generally reserved for larger, more established nonprofit organizations with clearly defined needs.  Examples include a weekly driving position with Meals on Wheels or a local soup kitchen that needs extra help for just one night.
  2. “Community” - Includes more localized, smaller-scale initiatives that are in place for the benefit of a given community and its people.  Generally reserved for smaller local organizations, less organized groups, and even proactive individuals.  Examples include serving on the planning staff for an elementary school Field Day event or a group of teenagers getting together to clean up a neighborhood park.
  3. “Neighbor” - Includes more personal “people helping people” acts that any user can post when needing immediate assistance.  Ideal for zooming in on maps and walking or riding a bike around a neighborhood.  Examples include acts of kindness that can be accomplished quickly, including pay-it-forward initiatives (a restaurant’s push to have people buy meals for veterans for a day), an elderly man needing help moving a couch, or a teenager needing help changing a tire.
  4. “Other” - All initiatives not falling under the other three categories will go here.  This includes donation opportunities and drives (cash, blood, toys, etc.), charity events that the public can attend, raising awareness on environmental issues, requests for disaster relief assistance, pro bono assistance, and more.

Users will get to view these Initiatives in 2 different ways.  The first is List View, which will display them in a simple list.  From there, Initiatives will be searchable based on a number of different metrics, including type, location, date, etc.  The second is Map View, which is better for a more broad approach.  Initiatives will appear on a map of your local area in the form of colored pins - with each color representing a different type of Initiative.  Tapping on a given pin will then display a pop-up box that shows Initiative details.  Map View is also a great idea for traveling volunteers who are in an unknown city.


To this end, we're making it easier and more efficient than ever to help others.  People & organizations needing assistance have a better opportunity than ever to get it, and users have more instant access to opportunities than ever - which is the heart of the P2P concept.  We will also incorporate a peer review feature that allows both the helper and the help recipient to rate one another, much like Uber does with drivers & passengers.  This will go a long way towards maintaining user safety - which is extremely important for us.

Using P2P to help others...Advomate truly is #techforgood!

Why Advomate?

During our PAA journey we were truly taken aback by how many awesome nonprofit & charitable organizations there are around the US.  Everyone knows about the large nationwide ones - but for every Salvation Army, there are a dozen smaller, local ones that are laser-focused on their unique missions just like the big boys.  However, one stark difference between the two became clear as day to us: the smaller organizations simply don't have the resources they need to optimally succeed.

This fact provided us with all the inspiration we needed.  We thought, with all this technology in the world that making life easier for so many industries & daily processes, why not create a solution that did the same for the benefit of society?  The result (though it's still early) is the Advomate app.  The grand-scheme goal of the app is to make "people helping people" easier, more efficient, and more rewarding than ever.

In addition to the financial & manpower constraints that charitable organizations face, as users and hopeful volunteers, helping out isn't all that easy.  Finding initiatives that mean the most to us is inherently difficult; and once we do, it generally takes FOREVER to get connected with them and begin helping out.  This is a problem we ran into numerous times on our journey.

On top of this lack of exposure, many of us also lack motivation when it comes to volunteering.  Sure, most of us help out out of the goodness of our hearts - but sometimes, that little extra reward can go a long way.  Think of it like this: the unquestioned goal for a charitable organization is to execute their given mission - and for the sake of the individuals who need help, whatever needs to be done within an ethical & feasible framework to give that help should be explored.

Advomate attempts to solve all of these pain points on both the organization's and individual's side through a peer-to-peer network of charitable initiatives and volunteers.  Furthermore, the app will be set up to reward individuals for their participation through a points-based system - which they can in turn redeem for discounts & items from local merchants.  This way, NPOs get the exposure and resources they need, individuals get better access to initiatives AND a nice bonus for participating, and local small businesses also gain added exposure and association with great causes.

We've got a host of additional features in the works as well to make this entire process even more user-friendly, and achieve our ultimate mission.  We'll explore these in greater detail and show you some screenshots of our progress during our next blog post!

Taking Our Mission Digital

Over a half a year has passed since the PAA journey, and now, we're back with some exciting news.  Development is just about ready to begin on Advomate - our new mobile app that leverages technology to make helping others easier, more fun, and more rewarding than it ever has been.  More details will arise soon; but for now, if you'd like to stay updated on its progress and become an early beta user, join our email list here.

We're super excited about Advomate and the positive impact it will have on our mission!

The Journey's End

After an amazing 7 weeks, we're back home in FL.  It's been a crazy, wild ride and a true eye-opening experience.  On top of seeing many of America's treasures, we got to volunteer with and learn about some great causes.  The organizations we worked with are at the center of what our mission is, and will certainly continue to provide inspiration, ideas, and valuable lessons going forward.

For as awesome as the journey was, it's certainly great to be back home to our families and friends.  There's so much more work to do, but thank you so much for your support to this point.

We're in the process of loading up the rest of our pictures to Facebook, so make sure to check them out.  We'll also continue updating on some of the more interesting moments that we experienced on our trip.  In terms of our mission, well, encouraging "people helping people" is a non-stop endeavor.  We're so thankful for a safe and successful, it's time to keep moving towards our ultimate goal.  We invite you to stay updated on social media, and come along for the ride!

Full Circle

Crossed the Arkansas state line yesterday...meaning we're back in the state where we started. Great feeling to complete the circle, especially considering that we couldn't finish last summer. Waited a long time for this! Arkansas is pretty cool too...definitely got that feeling of being back in the "South" right when we crossed the line. A little sense of being back close to home again.

Got a park cleanup scheduled for tomorrow here in western AR before heading into the Ozark National Forest for a night of camping. Seen lots of pictures of it, and it looks awesome. More pics coming!

Currently parked in a Wal-Mart in Fort Smith, Arkansas. If anyone does Wally World right, it's this state (1st one was here, after all)! Wal-Mart gets a bad rap, and deservedly so sometimes...but when you're traveling the country they certainly come in handy and are very friendly towards overnight parking. And, their food is actually coming up in the world! It doesn't get better than this powerful duo of delicious Asian Nut Crunch and 37-cent gallons of water:

 Add in Mediterranean orzo and you've got a delicious 3-course dinner

Add in Mediterranean orzo and you've got a delicious 3-course dinner

Almost at the 6-week mark and still going strong! Thanks for your support, everyone!