Category: Meet the Team

Meet Lauren Brown

Describe your journey to Groundswell in two sentences. 

I spent my early career as a digital producer exciting and delighting customers through big brand promises. I’ve since made the switch working with companies that leverage technology to find solutions for some of humanity’s macro problems. 

What is a cause you are most motivated by and where can we learn more?

As a lover of the outdoors, I’ve become passionate about the effort to restore our California landscape with native plants. Native plants attract local birds, pollinators and other wildlife by providing diverse habitats and food sources. Stewardship and enhancing the resilience of local ecosystems is something I can appreciate first hand when I hike, camp or just take a walk through my neighborhood. Some of my favorite organizations include Theodore Payne Foundation and California Native Plant Society.

What makes you excited to show up to work on Monday morning?

I love to learn and am energized by the journey to gain empathy with both colleagues and customers. My natural curiosity piques when digging into a problem, seeking to understand the “why” and ultimately being able to connect the dots through to solutions.

Share something fun that most people don’t know about you.

I really like to read and am usually consuming books two at a time (audio book + kindle). My literary interests span a wide array of topics; memoirs, business, science fiction, historical fiction, YA and fantasy – to name a few. I particularly have enjoyed post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels these past few years despite living in what feels like a dystopian thriller.

Hiring, Strategy, and Leadership Tips from Groundswell Chief Product Officer Tammy Hahn

Across the world and across industries, the pandemic has disrupted everything. This includes hiring, managing, and strategizing. The so-called “Great Resignation” is underway, and companies are having to adapt on the fly.

How is Groundswell dealing with this new reality? Through people-centric solutions that benefit both management and employees. If you want to dive into the details of what that means and get some leadership tips, recently, our CPO Tammy Hahn appeared as a guest on The Product Management Leaders podcast. Here are some highlights, where Tammy discussed how evidence, conviction, and tenacity can help organizations thrive.

The Power of Generalists

Legacy hiring and recruiting strategies are not working. Even as employers increase salaries at the quickest rate in nearly 40 years, positions remain vacant. What does this tell us? Monetary compensation is not everything. Recruiters must understand what motivates modern employees to create appealing job postings and offers. The best move of all is to hire people who share your company’s values. This is the approach we take at Groundswell:

I’m looking for people that can flex: people that are generalists who aren’t afraid to go high-level as well as get into the nitty gritty. At Groundswell, there is no product yet, so you don’t have any metrics to fall back on to have a hypothesis in terms of what will optimize a certain flow— the flow doesn’t even exist. You need to navigate the unproven and ambiguous to earn the right to optimize.”

Here at Groundswell, we are still in the early stages of determining our core flow and the value we bring to our users and clients. This requires a very specialized approach to hiring, where we bring in people who are comfortable being creative and adaptive, and working from a blank slate. 

Leading Products Vs. Leading People

Every business owner and executive has a unique set of experiences and ideas on the approach and characteristics of effective leadership. In the podcast, Tammy shared one of her leadership tips: not every situation demands the same type of leadership approach. Excellent leaders adapt to their environments and empower their teams. During the course of the podcast, she had some great insights into the differences between leading products and leading people:

“Not everyone is meant to be a great people-leader. As you move up the career path of a people leader, especially in a larger organization, the further away you move from actual product management… In fact, if you want to go up that people leader path, it’s more about coaching, communication, and project management than it is about designing and building the product. Leading people is different from leading product definition and execution.”

Being an excellent leader demands constant commitment, management, and the development of a team that is competent and results-oriented. There can be no true leadership without team management. On the people management side, Tammy explored how important it is for managers to approach failure in the right way:

“I don’t like to call failure “failure.” I like to call it a misstep. What matters is what you learn from that misstep, not so much the failure itself. It’s a learning process. I only consider it a failure if you fail to learn, and you repeat that mistake over and over again. Great product leaders build a culture of curiosity and calculated risk-taking without the fear of repercussions if hypotheses prove false.”

This jives perfectly with the Groundswell approach, where we frequently hold pre-mortem sessions to grasp all the things that can go wrong ahead of time. Becoming a successful leader necessitates ongoing personal and professional growth, regular and open team feedback, and response on feedback received.

Product Strategy: Knowing When To Keep, Pivot, or Kill

A product strategy is a company’s strategic goal for its product lines, outlining where the products are heading, how they will get there, and why they will thrive. Instead of striving to include everyone and every feature, a product marketing strategy concentrates on a specified customer base and functionalities. As a CPO, Tammy discussed, one of the challenges here is prioritization:

“Prioritization is always hard. Every stakeholder is always demanding something from a product manager. It’s really, really hard. It’s all about starting out with the right objectives upfront. The way that I operate as a leader is to align on your objective, collaborate on the strategy and then execute the tactics. Beautiful things happen when everyone on the team is aligned on the objectives and has a voice on the strategy.”

Goals are essential for focusing on and working towards. To make them viable and get the most out of the goal-setting process, we believe it’s a good idea to track your progress and evaluate your progress on a daily basis. Another important leadership tip is to have clear company goals:

  • Is it to expand or to keep our current customers?
  • Is it simply to boost our brands? If so, what is the plan of action?
  • If we want to expand, will we enter a new market, enter a new vertical, or broaden our product offering?

Once you know the goals, you can move into strategy. And in the early stages, Tammy said, that it is a good idea to start with metrics:

“The product growth graph peaks at a certain point then declines. That’s when you know you need to deprecate said product. I would really try to understand the metrics, what does growth look like from a usage adoption perspective, as well as from a business sales perspective.”

CPOs can use product data and analytics to forecast consumer behavior, improve decision-making, discover market trends, and calculate the ROI of marketing campaigns. The clearer your vision of your clients, the easier it will be to approach them:

“Product is a leading indicator; sales and revenue are lagging indicators. What are some predictions that you’re heading towards your peak? It’s not growth, from a business metric standpoint; it’s growth or adoption and usage of your product. As a leader, you may need to make the hard choice of investing less in plateau-ed products that are still generating revenue.”

Advice for CPOs

Tammy offered many leadership tips on the podcast; one of the most important takeaways was that leaders and managers have the most influence over the people they lead and supervise. They are in charge of ensuring the success of their department, and they are crucial in shaping company culture. Tammy is a big part of our leadership-management team. She ended the podcast with some leadership tips and advice for aspiring CPOs:

“Know your objectives, stand your ground and have the data to back you up on why you’re choosing to make your decisions. I think the worst thing that you can do is to be too agreeable for the sake of being agreeable and getting people to like your decisions.”

Tammy also said that it is okay to have a different opinion: 

“You have to be okay with the fact that not everybody’s going to like your decision. You need to have the conviction and data to back up why you’re making those hard choices so that your team is able to focus. Get your evidence, have conviction on what you want to focus on, and stick to your guns. A great product leader provides focus on what the teams are working on, and more importantly, making it clear across the organization what the teams will not be working on.” 

Thanks to the The Product Management Leaders podcast for hosting our CPO! We love spreading the word. 

To see the Groundswell product first-hand at our beta launch, sign up for our email list here.

Reviewing a Big 2021 at Groundswell

As we move into the heart of the holidays – and as 2022 looms on the horizon – it feels like a moment to take stock, and reflect on what has been a big, big year here at Groundswell. It’s only been just a few short months, but we’re fired up and extremely fortunate to have hit some incredible milestones already. 

Throughout 2021, we’ve been working as hard as we can to revolutionize philanthropy. This year, we assembled an incredible team; we were featured in major news outlets; we launched our web presence; and we received significant seed funding to help us achieve our goals.

Why? Because we think that sophisticated philanthropy should not be limited to the 1%. Because we want more people to have more impact, and back more great causes.

Thanks to everyone who has followed along on our journey this year. Here are a few highlights.

Assembling a World-Class Team

A company is only as good as its people. Especially when your goals are as bold as ours. And this year, we have assembled a fantastic core team.

Led by our founders Jake Wood, a former marine and founder of Team Rubicon; Adam Miller, founder of Cornerstone OnDemand; and Joe Marchese, executive chairman of Human Ventures Co., we have built a powerful leadership unit. In 2021, we’ve added: 

  • Tammy Hahn, Former VP of Product of Cornerstone, as Chief Product Officer (CPO). 
  • Karan Keswani, Former Chief Architect of Bluebeam, as Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
  • Candice Schmitt, Former Chief People Officer of Team Rubicon, as Chief Administrative Officer (CAO).
  • M.G. Siegler, General Partner at GV (previously Google Ventures), on our board of directors.
  • Heather Hartnett, CEO of Human Ventures, on our board of directors. 

Our Series Seed Funding

We have a big mission: Take a model of philanthropy typically only accessible to the 1%, and make it available to everyone else. With such a large project ahead of us, the more backing we can get, the better. And in November we received a total of $15 million in startup capital

$10 million Series Seed investment was led by GV (previously Google Ventures) after our first $5 million received in September earlier this year. GV was joined by Human Ventures, Moonshots Capital, Felicis Ventures, and Core Innovation Capital.

This funding will provide us capital to develop the world’s most revolutionary philanthropy platform, propelling us closer to our ambition of building a world in which every solution is financed and every problem is solved.

Entering The Mainstream

In the past few months, Groundswell has attracted more and more attention from major media outlets. In September, Jake was featured in a Forbes article, where he discussed Groundswell’s objective to democratize philanthropy for the public, and inspire a new generation of philanthropists.

It was a fantastic chat, where Jake mapped out our bold goals: 

“Ten years from now, we hope to have helped unlock a trillion dollars of philanthropy globally. That won’t solve all the world’s problems, but it will be a good start.”

This Forbes appearance was followed by a great feature in LA TechWatch featuring an interview with our Chief Product Officer Tammy Hahn.  In the feature, Tammy shared a little about our journey to raising capital, how we’re providing a value-add to society, and what’s ahead for us at Groundswell.

Our team is made up of talented, high-performing individuals that were tired of building products that didn’t add value to society.  We saw an opportunity to create an entirely new category and bring philanthropy into the 21st Century, which is exactly what we intend to do.

Over the next six months, we’re going to execute against our product roadmap and get out into the market.  We have a long list of companies standing by to implement Groundswell’s beta product.

We’re eager to establish ourselves as the creator and leader of the Philanthropy-as-a-Service category, but, more importantly, are eager to make the world a better place by making charitable giving a new table-stakes component of total compensation.”

2022 – We’re Coming For You

Despite everything we’ve achieved this year, we’re just getting started.

In 2022, our product is launching, and Groundswell will be loose in the wild. If you haven’t signed up yet, request early access to be a beta tester. We will be growing the team (check out our open roles!) and having more conversations out in the world.

Thanks again to everyone who has followed along on our journey this year. See you in 2022!

Meet Rebecca Holliday

Describe your journey to Groundswell in two sentences. 

For the past 15 years I have worked in social impact across the non-profit, corporate and public sectors, and seen the immense power of technology to catalyze greater impact at scale. The opportunity to join Groundswell allows me to leverage my experience to help shape a product that is revolutionizing philanthropy in really exciting ways.

What is a cause you are most motivated by and where can we learn more?

It’s hard to pick a single cause, because there are so many important, interrelated issues that are critical in supporting and empowering vulnerable communities and the planet we live on. Right now I am really motivated by food security and food justice – ensuring people have food that is nutritious, affordable, and accessible. There is so much food waste, and yet people are going hungry – nearly 50 million Americans are considered food insecure. Organizations like Food Cycle LA and Food Forward are really important in the local food security ecosystem, helping to support local producers, eliminate waste, and get food to those most in need.

What makes you excited to show up to work on Monday morning?

I am most excited to show up to work on Monday morning because of the ambition of Groundswell’s vision, and the amazing team all working shoulder-to-shoulder towards that vision. 

Share a hobby or interest that fulfills you.

I love gardening – and am fortunate enough to have a yard to grow and tend to flowers, herbs and vegetables. It’s a wonderful way to be outside in the LA weather, and also allows my young kids to learn about how plants grow and fruit ripens. 

Where can we connect with you?


Meet Daniel Covelli

Describe your journey to Groundswell in two sentences.

My time in college gave me a profound understanding of two often competing world views, technological innovation and a demand for better institutions. I chose to work at Groundswell because it sits at the intersection of these two interests by providing much needed funding to nonprofits via great software. 

What is a cause you are most motivated by and where can we learn more? 

One area that I am deeply interested in is clean energy research on college campuses. I think one of the only ways we can solve the impending ecological crisis is by creating cheaper, more efficient green alternatives to the existing energy and transportation solutions that currently exist. If you can, the best way to support this cause is by giving back to your alma mater’s science or engineering departments. Another way you can help is by giving to a stem education non-profit like Girls Who Code, Project Lead the Way, or First Robotics so that our young people have the tools needed to solve the global problems of tomorrow.

What makes you excited to show up to work on Monday morning?

I am excited to show up to work on Mondays because I get to learn new stuff almost everyday and work on problems that directly contribute to a better world.  

What’s the last thing you’ve read, listened to, or watched?

The last thing I read was Blitzscaling by Chris Yeh and Reid Hoffman. The authors argue that companies like Airbnb, LinkedIn, and Paypal are all marked by a period of exponential organizational and user growth known as blitzscaling and that this phase is critical for mature startups in consumer tech.

Where can we connect with you?


Tammy Hahn | My Next Chapter

“Do you want to help figure out how to ship bags of cat food faster or do you want to help write the story of a team and product that caused world-wide impact on the most pressing issues of our time?” Seems like an easy choice.

I’m incredibly excited to announce that I’m teaming up with co-founders Jake Wood, Adam Miller, and Joe Marchese to revolutionize the way individuals and corporations approach social impact. Our new company, Groundswell, sits at the intersection of Fintech and Philanthropy, bringing much needed digital renovation to how we invest to create impact.

It has long been my dream to leverage the professional skills attained in the corporate world to apply in furthering impact at a tech-forward foundation or company addressing the world’s biggest problems.

The events of the last 18 months have shown the world that the issues we face affect everyone; there are no innocent bystanders. COVID-19, George Floyd’s murder, #StopAsianHate, the takeover of Afghanistan, the alarming effects of climate change. To be silent now is to be complacent. If we stand for nothing, we will fall for anything.

To dismiss an opportunity to build with this amazing team, to work on this visionary yet fragile idea, seemed downright irresponsible.

do someting great

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

Groundswell is founded on the principle that everyone should be able to give like Gates, get taxed like Buffet, and get recognized like Rockefeller.  Our aim is to decentralize philanthropy for the masses, and we’ll do that by building a solution that gives everyone the power of a personal foundation in the palm of their hand.

We also recognize that the current models for corporate philanthropy and social responsibility no longer serve us well. Corporate philanthropy has long been a centralized function discussed around senior executive and boardroom tables. This landscape has been increasingly difficult to navigate given the volume of issues, the urgency in nature, and the demands of employees and consumers despite often differing point-of-views. What if companies acknowledged that diverse problems require diverse solutions and enabled their employees to invest in solutions they believe are best for the problems they believe are most critical? Like the 401K did for retirement, Groundswell will usher in a new era of employee empowerment.

Americans give nearly $500B/year to charity*, the most out of any nation in the world. We believe there is a smarter, more intentional way to give and be more impactful.

Others believe it, too. With a seed round of $5M in funding, our investors include leading venture capital firms Human Ventures, Lowercase Capital, Core Capital, and Quiet Capital, and individual investors that span multiple Fortune 500 CEOs, former military generals, media executives, and entrepreneurs who align with our values and support this imperative journey.

Thank you, Jake Wood, for asking me this very important question. No, I don’t want to ship cat food faster; I want to create impact. I want to be a part of Groundswell’s vision to see every solution funded, and every problem solved.

What about you? Are you ready to change the world? Click here to get involved. I’m hiring Product Managers and Designers! Click here to get involved. I’m hiring Product Managers and Designers!

*The Giving USA Report 2020