Philanthropy Friday: Get a SmilingStart on Your Computer

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. You can view past posts from the series here.

SmilingStart logoSmilingStart is a internet browser start page with a bit of a twist. You can actually get beautiful images (sometimes with inspirational quotes) while also raising funds for charity each time you surf the web.

The company is based out of India and has social good built into its business model. Rather than write a traditional post, I decided to share their answers to my emailed interview questions. Enjoy!

Is there a personal story behind why SmilingStart was created?

In his previous role as Marketing Head at a social venture, Tejas Sangoi (founder of SmilingStart) was researching on ways to use technology to integrate charitable giving in common day-to-day activities. With fast paced lives, people are extremely busy and find it difficult to devote time and resources for a social cause. A tool which could allow people to contribute to social causes without much effort would be very useful.

SmilingStart was born in response to these thoughts. It is a simple service which generates funds for causes through beautiful advertisements on browser start-pages. For individuals it offers a new way to give that costs nothing.

I see that SmilingStart is a venture of Thalia Technologies Private Limited which has a mission of “making a meaningful difference to the society and be sustainable at the same time.” Can you expand on that and tell me any other ways you are fulfilling this mission?

We are a profit driven organization with an intense social objective. The social motive brings satisfaction of contributing towards society, and the profit motive encourages efficiency and innovation. We strive to maximize every cent of investment and minimize expenses incurred in creating and delivering value. We can generate value in the long term only if we remain sustainable ourselves.

We are doing so by harnessing the goodwill of everyone who is interested in giving back to the society and combining it with an organic business plan. The premise is simple- use the internet browser start page to help a social cause.

Users have to simply set as their browser startpage / homepage by installing the SmilingStart extension. Each time they open a new tab they receive a new full screen image consisting of inspiring quotes, beautiful photographs and sponsored wallpapers. Brands pay a certain amount as advertising fee for placing their wallpapers at startpage. 75% of this fee is donated directly to the cause supported by the user.

An example of an inspiring SmiliingStart page.

An example of an inspiring SmiliingStart page.

For charities this will generate significant new funds, create awareness about social causes and activate new supporters. Individuals will have something new to look forward to everyday and can contribute towards charitable causes in a way that costs them nothing. Brands get a powerful platform for display advertising and standout in the cluttered environment.

What does giving back mean to you and your team at SmilingStart?

For us giving back means investing time, money or resources to help someone in need. There are so many people who are less fortunate and face challenges which are hard to overcome. We at SmilingStart want to play our small part in empowering such people in overcoming some of the problems and provide a hope for a better life.

What kind of impact has SmilingStart made with nonprofits and/or with its users?

Since the launch in April, been able to raise funds Rs. 12,592 for the partnered charities and 1,312 mid day meals for school children, 631 days of education for underprivileged girls and 1,059 days of shelter for street kids have been facilitated. (Check the current Charity Impact)

What else should my readers know about SmilingStart?

There are 2 simple steps to get SmilingStart start page:

  1. Click on the ‘Get SmilingStart Extension’ button on to install the extension
  2. Select a charity to support from the list provided

You can also follow SmilingStart on Facebook and Twitter.

(Note: Currently, SmilingStart only serves local advertisers in India and those advertisers are only willing to pay for wallpapers displayed to an Indian audience. International users of SmilingStart won’t be able to raise funds until they partner with brands that are interested in ads outside India. The team at SmilesStart, however, encourages international users to adopt SmilingStart because the higher the signups, the easier it gets to attract advertisers!)

What is on your internet start page?

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  1. What a great idea. My charities would make a ton off of me considering how much I’m on the internet!
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  2. What a wonderful idea! Definitely going to take a look!! I hope Smiling Start takes off outside of India!
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  3. I think I agree with previous posters – I think this would do well here. Especially with my internet habits!
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  4. What a cool concept. I really hope the program grows internationally. I’d LOVE to be able to use it for charities to get money. Awesome!! –Lisa
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  5. This is so very cool! I love the concept, but the cynic in me, the one who used to work with computer security, is scared to death that it is some kind of a massive trojan horse or something!! I’ll look into it more, but it looks like a wonderful way to bring some zen into my world daily AND to give back!

    • Well, that’s something I hadn’t thought about. I was obviously focusing on the social enterprise model vs. the actual structure behind the product. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on it, Alexa. I know they are backed by angel investors and support one of the charities two Social Good Moms recently visited in India. The technology behind HOW it works is not something I focused on.
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  6. by the way, love the new “cent up” program!

  7. Wow that is so cool!! I also think it would be such a fantastic hit here in the states with so many people on the internet for their businesses and blogs…
    Another amazing cause/organization/business you shared, Jennifer!!!! I don’t know how you find all of these incredible people- but you somehow manage to always impress me with it all!!!

    Keep up the great work, my friend!!! You do so so much GOOD. For that, you should be so very proud. :)


  8. This is such a great idea! There are so many different ways to support causes that the more innovative we get the better those who need help can get it. Fingers crossed it goes international soon!
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