The story of Geenees starts with a baby shower that took place in 2017.
“Hosting this event, I ended up getting the same gift four times,” Libi Berenson, the founder and CEO of the company, tells ventureLAB. “It caused a light bulb to go off… I thought, ‘what if I could create a platform that allows people to make wishlists of items they actually need, wishes that others could grant in minutes?”
Having years of experience in the tech and non-profit space, working for organizations like Amazon and the Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology, Libi dove headfirst into the challenge, launching Geenees in 2017. Today, the platform is a first-of-its-kind, in-kind giving marketplace for consumers and nonprofits.
“From the donor lens, [the platform] allows someone to grant wishes for those in need in their community or across North America with a click of a button and from the comfort of their own home,” notes Libi.
Each product or service (including things like groceries or even online education courses) gets delivered to approved and vetted families in need, allowing donors to feel the immediate and tangible impact of their generosity.
For nonprofit organizations, Geenees was designed to help them digitally upscale and transform their giving process, especially as [we] move toward the modern world, which is driven by digital capabilities,” she adds.
The platform was specifically developed to align with the unique giving expectations of a younger generation, from the ability to donate tangible products and services to ensuring donors feel a connection to beneficiaries. Nonprofits also benefit from a special dashboard that helps them organize and track a wide array of back-end information tied to donations.
As a part of ventureLAB’s Tech Undivided 2023 cohort, Libi says she’s been lucky to have the organization's advisors, mentors and experts to help answer questions around growth as she, naturally, wants to ensure the startup is headed in the right direction. ventureLAB has also connected her to people who can help her expand the business.
“Tech Undivided is a community of experts that find unique entrepreneurs and [enable] them to take their companies to the next level,” she says. “ventureLAB) is a place where we as CEO are heard, challenged and able to regain our confidence and get perspective. I love being part of it.”
Beyond connecting with an organization like ventureLAB, Libi says anyone looking to start their own business should build their confidence and hone in on their goals. She notes that no matter how difficult it may be to build something yourself (especially in the post-COVID world), entrepreneurs can’t be afraid to take the first step, seek advice, take risks or let their passions shine. Community is key.
“Always keep an open eye toward opportunities to grow and perhaps try something new,” she says. “You never know what the result could be.”
ventureLAB’s Tech Undivided initiative is creating an inclusive tech ecosystem that increases representation by removing barriers and reducing unconscious bias to give women founders an equitable opportunity to raise capital and generate revenue. Funded in part by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, as part of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, Tech Undivided leverages a merit-based, gender-balanced Strategic Mentor Network of entrepreneurs and business experts and a growing network of industry partners, enabling women founders to grow and scale locally, and compete globally.
ventureLAB is a leading global founder community for hardware technology and enterprise software companies in Canada. Located at the heart of Ontario’s innovation corridor in York Region, ventureLAB is part of one of the biggest and most diverse tech communities in Canada. Our initiatives focused on raising capital, talent retention, commercializing technology and IP, and customer acquisition have enabled thousands of companies to create over 4,000 jobs and raise more than $200 million in investment capital. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada, for global markets.