GOOD & IBM present
Welcome to Figures of Progress

Big Data is empowering and driving 21st Century leaders, whether in business, city government, or even sports. This year, we’re expanding Figures of Progress and inviting you to take part in learning and doing. Join us as we continue the dialogue and explore how big data is being harnessed to change our world.

GOOD & IBM present

Gagan Dhillon

Founder, Cause.It

Gagan Dhillon founded Cause.It at the age of 19 along with co-Founder Andrew Blejde. Dhillon was a Finance major at the University of Indiana Bloomington’s Kelley School of Business before going full time with Cause.It at the beginning of 2012. The app lets users gain points by volunteering at nonprofit organizations, and then redeem these points at businesses in their communities.

As an industry leader, what most influenced you on the road to your current position?

I do believe it was always an internal desire to do more than graduate from college and find a job to make a living. There was a lot of change to be made in the world and technology was at the forefront of this change. I think the Cause.It guys and I really wanted to come up with a solution that would alleviate problems for individuals and make their lives easier.

With Cause.It, we can directly see the impact we have on organizations and an industry and at the end of the day there’s no better feeling than knowing your life’s work is making someone else’s life much easier.

However, becoming an entrepreneur is much easier said than done. I was very fortunate to grow up in the right environment and be at the right place at the right time to take advantage of the opportunities that were presented to me. It’s interesting to see how choices we may find minuscule at the moment end up making a huge difference in your life and its path later on.

What type of data and technology is the most valuable to your company and what are you able to do with these types of data?

Cause.It is all about driving social change and creating an impact in communities through technology and the data it generates. We rely heavily on consumer’s interests in smartphones and the mobile apps that spur from them to derive the actionable data we need. It’s pretty safe to say that without the invention of the iPhone there would be no Cause.It, or many of the other popular apps we use on a daily basis.

By learning what type of causes and initiatives really motivate citizens in communities we are able to create grassroots movements to facilitate change. The data gathered from Cause.It can help fill up a Blood Bank when it's running low or help staff the local homeless shelter when there aren’t enough volunteers. Those are life-changing actions that are taking place, and they’re happening thanks to the data we capture through our platform.

How has data changed and informed the way you can interact with customers and improve your customer service?

Data creates feedback that can show where customers are having issues and what steps can be taken to resolve those issues quickly. The greatest benefit for data relating to customer service is that it allows for efficiency. This efficiency allows businesses to keep their costs low and also provide their customers with quality care at all times.

What are the qualities and/or skill sets that you believe future successful leaders will need to have?

Listening and adaptability. You have to listen more than you talk to be successful in today’s business environment. Being a leader or being in charge doesn't mean that you’re the only one who gets to voice an opinion. I believe leaders are put into their position so they can listen to and solve problems. Listening not only gains the respect of your peers but also opens you up to employees and creates transparency and trust. Every business culture needs trust to survive and it all begins with the leadership.

Adaptability is very important because there is only one thing common in life: change. You have to be quick to act and make decisions that benefit your organization and never question your judgment. Employees, sales figures, projections, bosses all change over time and it’s up to the person in charge to be able to keep a cool head and move things forward.

What is your greatest hope for how your work can influence positive change in our world?

If we can provide a tool to facilitate change in communities that allow individuals to have a sense of personal fulfillment, then our work here at Cause.It will be a success.

What’s one surprising fact that people should know about your company?
The original idea for Cause.It come together at a Purdue University dorm room in a few hours where my co-founder Andrew Blejde and I put together a game plan for an app to connect cause and commerce.

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Cause.It is all about driving social change and creating an impact in communities through technology and the data it generates. What kind of app would you create to better serve your community?

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