Current Status:
Hacking on Philanthropy

šŸ‘‹ Hi! I'm Chad Kruse, a software developer with a background in product and strategy.

My experience spans Fortune 500s, startups, and my own ventures in the philanthropy space.

About Me

About Me

Before launching my own ventures and teaching myself to code, I was often brought on as the first "business hire" at startups of all shapes and sizes. I've built web applications, run development teams, owned product strategy, raised venture, seed, debt, and philanthropic capital, and closed business development deals with companies both large and small. I'm a generalist through and through.

My career started as a strategist and dealmaker for large tech companies.

My head is in SF, my heart is in Bend, Oregon, and my body is currently in Chicago.

Creator

Creator

Since its creation in 2016, Grantmakers.io has become one of the largest free sources of searchable philanthropic data on the Internet.

The site levels the playing field for nonprofits by providing access to grants information once locked behind expensive paywalls. Fully open source and forever free.

Visit site ā†’

Transparency by default

Transparency by default

This website is hosted on Github Pages, deployed via Github Actions, and built with Tailwind CSS and 11ty.

Github repo ā†’

Philanthropy Innovation

Philanthropy Innovation

What does it take to triple charitable giving in the US to $1 trillion?

The hypothesis: It has little to do with tax policy and everything to do with improving trust throughout the system.

Learn more ā†’

Social Giving

Social Giving

You shouldn't need to recreate the infrastructure of the Gates Foundation to be an effective philanthropist.

At The Kyn Project, we rethought modern philanthropy systems to bring simplicity, passion, and a personal connection to each and every charitable gift.

Lessons learned ā†’

Current Tech Stack

Current Tech Stack

JavaScript remains my primary language.

I'm best known as a Jamstack developer for my work on Grantmakers.io, which pushes the boundaries of Jekyll, a static site generator.

The site uses Vue.js and MongoDB Realm for its dynamic components and Google Cloud Platform and Node.js for the upstream data pipelines.

Chief Operating Officer & Product Lead

Chief Operating Officer & Product Lead

Forkfly (now CloudEngage) was an early entrant in the highly competitive location-based mobile space. As COO, I had the honor of building a world-class development team from the ground up, managed and launched three web apps and two mobile platforms, and prioritized a seemingly endless feature list. I brought the company to first revenues and helped lead overall strategy development.

Chief Operating Officer

Chief Operating Officer

I served as COO for innovative sensor startup GreenGoose during a critical time in the company's history, partnering with the solo founder after a successful seed round but still during the prototype phase.

My role changed on a daily (if not hourly) basis, but ranged from crafting the go-to-market strategy and product definition, to early business development and fundraising.

Corporate Development & Strategy

Corporate Development & Strategy

Served as one of four dealmakers for Intuit, the Fortune 500 consumer and SMB-focused technology company. Our group not only executed software M&A deals and explored new growth markets, but also served as internal sound board for business unit leaders while continuing to push for innovation across all levels of the company.

My Career

My Career

As a founder...
Iā€™m passionate, gritty, and capital efficient.

As a developer... Iā€™m curious, analytical, and creative.

As a consultant...
Iā€™m confident, collaborative, and effective.

As an advisor...
Iā€™m empathetic, genuine, and versatile.

Corporate VC

Corporate VC

Part of a three-member team responsible for all corporate VC and technology commercialization deals for Science Applications International Corporation, then a Fortune 500 company.

Open Source

Open Source

I'm an active open source contributor and huge proponent of FOSS.

My popular repos include:

Github profile ā†’

CTOs Office

CTOs Office

Hired by the founding CTO of this fast-growing enterprise SaaS company to help him assume the product management function and take the team from good to great.

MeteorJS

MeteorJS

Meteor is a JavaScript framework and the reason I fell in love with developing apps in the first place. It's single-stack approach made it crazy simple for self-taught folks like myself to quickly develop and launch web apps.

I particularly found it useful for those times I couldn't convince a SaaS startup with an API to create a feature. Just create it yourself :)

Technology & Philanthropy

Technology & Philanthropy

The first part of my career taught me how to connect the dots. I was primarily a financial engineer though not a software one. Now that I can build web applications and wrestle with large datasets, I've become fully enamored with the prospect of applying technology to make the world a better place.

Social E-Commerce

Social E-Commerce

One of the first startups involved in social commerce, I consulted with Bonanza (formerly Bonanzle) during its bootstrap phase. I served the role of "business guy" with duties generally focused on business partnerships and API evangelism, but also included product management, strategy, data mining, and managing the company's first ad campaign.

Great working relationship with the technical co-founder, offloading certain tasks to allow him to fully concentrate on the user experience. The company subsequently raised a $1M first round from a variety of Seattle-based VCs and super angels.

Apple

Apple

I had a decision to make. The space I was excited about wouldn't hit the zeitgeist for many years - bad market timing already left a long line of startup casualties. Besides, I needed to learn Node.js and strengthen my coding skills. But I also needed health insurance and ramen money. šŸ¤”

So I rolled up my sleeves and did the exact opposite of what every other bootstrapper would do: I opted for a part-time gig at Apple so I could focus on the venture nearly full-time instead of the reverse. Incredible five years working with some of the most intelligent, dedicated workers ever.

Search APIs

Search APIs

Algolia remains my favorite API. It allows Grantmakers.io to provide the world-class search experience nonprofit professionals have long deserved. As a solo founder, it allows me to focus on the user experience instead of wrestling with search algorithms.

Visit Algolia ā†’

Bootstrapping with Meteor.js

Bootstrapping with Meteor.js

My most popular post on Medium, I explain how I used Meteor.js and lean startup principles to reach first revenues on a net out of pocket investment of just $90.

Read articles ā†’

DailyViva

DailyViva

DailyViva was my Meteor.js playground. Sure, I used it personally to create daily routines (no coffee!), but it was mostly a sandbox to try out intermediate to advanced Meteor features. Meteor.wrapAsync anyone?!?

Github repo ā†’

Saava.org

Saava.org

Saava.org was a sabbatical experiment I created, ultimately growing to 35 local, accredited investors. Members explored investment opportunities in mission-related organizations, from smart growth real estate funds to cleantech upstarts and non-profits developing earned-income streams (PRIs and MRIs).

Innovation Talks

Innovation Talks

In late 2013 I was invited to give a series of talks on innovation in and around Perth, Australia (also known as the most remote capital city in the world). The message: innovation can happen anywhere.

Hackers + Ideas = Effective Philanthropy

Hackers + Ideas = Effective Philanthropy

The Hypothesis: Hackers might focus on fixing more of society's greatest challenges if they simply knew where to start. Inception brought out ideas and pain points from practitioners in the charitable world and shares them with the developer community.

I built the site over a holiday weekend to scratch an itch and explore MeteorJS.

Github repo ā†’

Do Good | Do Well

Do Good | Do Well

Making money and making the world a better place shouldn't be mutually exclusive. I have been involved at the intersection of philanthropy and investing since 2003 (see also Saava.org).

Call it double or triple bottom line, impact investing, MRIs, PRIs, blended value...it simply makes sense.

Digital Storytelling Platform

Digital Storytelling Platform

Incredible team, incredible vision, domain expertise, and traction. I helped the company transition from their initial high-touch model to a scalable digital platform, including defining an MVP and mapping out the go-to-market strategy.

Founder

Founder

My first incubated startup, we picked apart the core assumptions behind current time, calendaring, and scheduling tools piece by piece and set out to rebuild them from the ground up.

Revisu

Revisu

Served as an advisor to Revisu, a seed-stage startup that went on to participate in the inaugural class of PIE, Wieden + Kennedy's incubator based in Portland.

Applying Technology to Offline Markets

Applying Technology to Offline Markets

This was a spin-out idea stemming from my work in conservation-based forestry. The beauty of working with offline businesses is uncovering countless opportunities to apply technology...this was one of those scenarios. With a focus on the small forestland landowner, we developed a system that intended to leverage LIDAR and satellite technologies to inventory ecosystem assets on ALL non-industrial, private forestlands in OR & WA (we're talking millions of acres here). If successful, the platform could disrupt the entire forest products supply chain in Western North America.

That's the good news. The bad news is the technology behind the data sets isn't quite there yet, at least not in a way that scales (but lots of smart people are cranking on it as we speak).

Representative Transactions

Representative Transactions

Venture Capital

  1. Nuance - Speech Recognition
  2. Vocal Data - Hosted IP Telephony
  3. Conita - Virtual Assistant
  4. CosmoCom - IP Contact Center Technology
  5. DigiLens - Switchable Hologram Technology
  6. Solect - IP Billing

M&A + Partnerships

  1. American Fundware - Nonprofit Accounting
  2. Eclipse - Wholesaler Accounting
  3. Apps.com - Marketplace Software
  4. Paypal - Payments
  5. Princeton eCom - Billpay

Private Equity

  1. O'Currance Teleservices - Inbound Call Center
  2. Laidlaw - Mfg of Industrial Products
  3. Pinnacle Exhibits - Custom Tradeshow Exhibits
Advisory Work

Advisory Work

Execution: I'm a firm believer that ideas are cheap, execution is everything. I enjoy partnering with growth-oriented organizations and other domain experts to help turn ideas into reality.

Roadmaps & Strategy: I help organizations ensure they're building the right things for the right reasons. For existing businesses, my value-add is centered on exploring new markets - intrapreneurship can be incredibly powerful when done right.

Seed Stage Companies: My advisory work with seed-stage founders centers on creating business models and developing paths to that first customer (or investor, or partner).

Consulting Work

Consulting Work

I'm an analyst - an expert in connecting dots. Much of my current consulting work involves helping organizations justify investments (e.g. for every $1 spent, $XX in economic benefit will be generated). For government-related entities, these investments are often growth-related and in emerging fields like cybersecurity. Some call it econometrics; I simply call it using numbers to educate important decisions.

Periscope GIS

Periscope GIS

PeriscopeGIS was an online application that intended to make large GIS datasets useful to the 80% of GIS users with little to no formal GIS training.

We leveraged the ubiquity of Google Earth, the cost-effectiveness of AWS, and a little proprietary magic to drastically improve the user experience when accessing large, complicated GIS datasets.

iFvckedUp.org

iFvckedUp.org

Are you sick of all those books that tell you how a startup succeeded (our eyes are on you Founders at Work)? They are good reads, but we thought it was time to focus on the screwups. Much like the American Alpine Club publishes their annual journal chronicling mountaineering accidents, we created this site to show people what NOT to do. People have made the mistake already; let's honor them by not repeating it.

The site was launched in a weekend with a fellow local entrepreneur. It was shut down a week later after we realized how hard it was to film yourself talking about your screw-ups. Fail fast.

Conservation-Based Forestry

Conservation-Based Forestry

In partnership with one of the most passionate domain experts I have met to date, I played a leadership role with the creation and eventual market launch of WiLD Forests I, L.P., a conservation-based timberland investment management fund. I lead corporate development, finance, and fundraising.

The firm uses a unique approach to forest management, leveraging carbon offsets, conservation easements, and other "ecosystem services" to monetize lands while maintaining healthy forests.

Carbon Free Prosperity 2025

Carbon Free Prosperity 2025

Part of the core team of analysts behind this groundbreaking report covering the Pacific Northwest cleantech sector. I lead all econometrics-related work.

Refurbished Wind Turbines

Refurbished Wind Turbines

Worked with a dedicated entrepreneur to bring the idea of refurbished wind turbines to life.

Utility Scale Solar Using NMTCs

Utility Scale Solar Using NMTCs

I was hired to assist a solar company explore the feasibility of using New Market Tax Credits (NMTCs) on a utility scale solar project in Eastern Oregon.

Produced an intricate financial model which outlines risk sharing opportunities.

Economic Impact

Economic Impact

Assisted an Australian university justify a significant public grant request. The ground-breaking report made national news regarding the potential return on investment of cybersecurity initiatives. A neighboring state requested a similar analysis in the context of its own unique economic drivers. Conclusion: Invest now - the returns are clear.

Value Proposition

Value Proposition

I assisted a large engineering services firm assess their cleantech value proposition and develop market entry strategies.

CDFI Underwriting

CDFI Underwriting

I was hired to assist a local CDFI (community development financial institution) explore the investment merits behind a community wind development.

Private Equity & Leveraged Buyouts

Private Equity & Leveraged Buyouts

I was a senior associate for a Portland-based private equity firm. Incredible experience learning from three partners, all of whom have extensive, real-world operating experience. This is the place I learned the true value of a private equity firm...hint, the transaction is the easy part. It's what you do with the company post-close that matters.

Transaction Structuring & Modeling

Transaction Structuring & Modeling

The bulk of my "offline" consulting work focused on transaction structuring and creating financial models.

Most often, these involved renewable energy projects, forestry deals, and other deals requiring creative financing. Just before returning to the tech startup world, I helped a number of firms explore the use of New Market Tax Credits (NMTCs) as a potential financing tool.

Business Case Creation

Business Case Creation

Assisted a large international developer model and explore the business case for sustainable development.

Modeling Framework

Modeling Framework

Hired by the developers of the largest private landholding in Western Australia to develop a modeling/valuation framework for assessing potential cleantech-related deals. The development is positioning itself to be a model, ground-up sustainable community.

Where It All Started

Where It All Started

My first job out of undergrad. Also the place I got my de-facto MBA thanks to the active and engaged mentoring I received from the firm's partners. Amazing experience working with these nationally-recognized business valuation experts.

Value Uplift

Value Uplift

Worked with the staff of an Australian municipality to model and explore the potential for alternative funding mechanisms on certain transit-oriented developments.

Education

Education

I received my B.B.A from the University of Iowa with a major in Finance, graduating in 3 1/2 years.

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Looking for a traditional resume? Here you go ā†’