Each week, Female CoFounder features a female founder in the community. Follow along each week and learn from different founders and their journeys.
For this week's founder spotlight, we'd like to introduce you to Hanna Zaidi! She's the Co-Founder of CommuniHelp
FcF: Tell us about yourself.
Hanna: My career journey has been a bit of a random one. I‰Ûªve worked as an Economist, Banker, Consultant, and I've also worked with startups and most recently with a scaleup. I was able to pick up various skills and random knowledge that helped with being a venture co-founder but I also learned that nothing fully prepares you for building a company from the ground up.
FcF: What is CommuniHelp?
Hanna: CommuniHelp matches professionals to skill-based volunteer opportunities with social good organizations.
FcF: How did you come up with CommuniHelp?
Hanna: My co-founder, Morva Rohani and I came up with the idea while looking for pro-bono opportunities. Morva wanted to do pro-bono consulting because she was switching industries and needed experience. I was seeking board opportunities in the nonprofit space.
We found existing resources had a poor user experience, volunteer postings were not clear with regards to expectations and commitment and the overall process lengthy and time-consuming (in terms of the search and making the connection). So we thought that this space would greatly benefit from some of the innovations and technologies that are being utilized in other spaces such as job searching and dating sites.
FcF: How did you meet your CoFounder? What do you look for in finding your CoFounders?
Hanna: I met my cofounder, Morva Rohani in grad school. We were both pursuing a Masters in Public Policy at the University of Toronto.
What I look for in a cofounder is sound judgement and shared values. A business partner/cofounder relationship is like a marriage in that you're making some very important decisions together about the direction and future of the company.
FcF: What were the first few steps you took after you knew you wanted to pursue this idea?
Hanna: We did some market research and competitor analysis and came up with the idea of applying a matching algorithm and developing a technology platform to improve this experience, with the hypothesis that if this process is improved, more people would be willing to volunteer their time for a good cause, and if the nonprofit sector had more access to the skills they need they could maximize their impact.
FcF: What advice do you have for other women who have a start-up idea or side project idea?
Hanna: Be clear with the problem you're trying to solve and then validate it. Find a way to test it whether it's a manual pilot and the tech isn't there or get a potential customer to sign an agreement that they will actually pay for it. Figure out what validation means for you and spend the majority of your time doing that until you're sure. Keep testing and iterating. Everyone loves social impact ideas but not everyone is willing to pay for them so like any business make sure you're solving a real problem and validate it as early on as possible.
FcF: Is there anything you would like the Female CoFounder community to help you with?
Hanna: Spread the word about CommuniHelp and sign up as a volunteer or social good organization.