5 Startups That Are Giving Back to the Community This Thanksgiving

November 28, 2013

9:00 am

For many, there’s this perception that people working for a startup, or people developing a startup, lead very busy lives. After all, these people are doing anything and everything in their power to create a successful business that will hopefully survive another day – let alone another month or year. A consensus of opinion from people in the startup community would suggest that this perception is wholly realized: this #startuplife ain’t easy.

Aside from cultivating this culture of non-stop work, the startup ecosystem is also one that encourages its members to express themselves fully as human beings. From the non-existent rules on “work clothes” to the numerous  DDRs and 80s arcade games, startup culture celebrates human individuality and preferences on a daily basis.

Although I have no scientific research to back this, I think that this startup culture is conducive to molding and supporting people who are more amenable to compassion and empathy – you know…human stuff. While startups are certainly preoccupied with business survival, there’s also this inherent desire to help others.

While many nowadays think of Thanksgiving as a time primarily for food, family, football, and Friday, the following startups are taking the opportunity to give back to the community through various charitable involvements.


Egnyte is a startup out of Mountain View, CA, that deals in the enterprise file-sharing space (think Dropbox for enterprises).

The company has recently been engaged in a Thanksgiving competition among their employees. Separating the company into three large teams, employees competed to give the most to their corresponding bin. While the winning team wins some kind of “special prize” (cookies, mayhaps?) there actually isn’t any real, huge prize for winning; rather the company is motivated to give back just because. All of the donations will go to the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Some of the Egnyte bins being used to collect donations.

Allure Apps

Allure Apps is a Los Angeles-based mobile application development startup. The company works with clients to design, develop, and deploy custom tablet and phone apps.

For Thanksgiving, Arya Mokhtari, president of Allure Apps, has gathered people from the startup alongside some of their clients to volunteer with either 1) The Midnight Mission, an organization that helps men, women, and children get back on a path to self-sufficiency through counseling, job training, education, and other services, or 2) One Voice, an NGO aimed at helping impoverished families in the LA community.

On top of this, the company recently organized a partnership of clients (businesses) to help them raise goods for the Philippines after the tragic events of Typhoon Haiyan, all of which will be shipped for free through the generosity of LBC Shipping.


San Francisco-based Groopt is a startup aimed to help individuals connect privately with the groups in one’s life. From fraternities and sports teams to study groups and close friends, Groopt offers users a private space to schedule, share, organize, vote, communicate, email, text, and smoke signal with each group in their lives.

In honor of Thanksgiving, the Groopt team recently volunteered at San Francisco’s Glide Memorial Church, where they helped serve 676 meals to the hungry.

Members of the Groopt team serving meals at Glide Memorial Church.


San Francisco-based ParkNow has created a commuter app that allows users in and around the city to find a convenient, affordable parking spot near their intended destination. Through the ParkNow app, users are able to reserve spots in advance and pay directly from their smartphones.

During this Thanksgiving/holiday season, the company will be offering $5 off users’ parking garage fees when they donate a can of food. Donations will be collected until January 4, 2014, and all proceeds will go to the San Francisco & Marin Food Banks.

“No one should be hungry during the holidays and that is why ParkNow chose to participate in a charitable event for the holiday season.  Especially now, since the [San Francisco & Marin] Food Bank is having a food shortage, and it is important for everyone in the San Francisco community to come together and donate, so that we can help those in need to be fed during the holiday season,” says Jennifer Payne, Director of Business Development at ParkNow.


Offerpop helps marketers launch social marketing campaigns to reach, engage, and connect with their consumers.

The startup is participating in “Holiday Mail for Heroes,” a program from the American Red Cross that collects Christmas cards every year to send to military installations, veterans hospitals, and others. All throughout this month, the company plans on writing various notes thanking veterans for their service.

Offerpop team members working on holiday cards for veterans.

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Ronald Barba was the previous managing editor of Tech.Co. His primary story interests include industry trends, consumer-facing apps/products, the startup lifestyle, business ethics, diversity in tech, and what-is-this-bullsh*t things. Aside from writing about startups and entrepreneurship, Ronald is interested in 'Doctor Who', Murakami, 'The Mindy Project', and fried chicken. He is currently based in New York because he mistakenly studied philosophy in college and is now a "writer". Tweet @RonaldPBarba.

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