Interview: Chicago Startup Toodalu Has It All Figured Out, Reward With Cash, Donate To Charity

Great things happen in Chicago, despite what anybody else says. Toodalu is one of those great things. Founded by three friends that met in (dare I say) Chicago’s thriving tech scene, Todd O’Hara, Ravi Singh and Chris Lubinski, they set out to provide another mobile startup that caters to the reward/engagement/loyalty space but they’ve hit something on the head with greatness, and that is CASH IS KING.

With the new Toodalu app when you shop at a participating merchant you get 5% cash back on your credit card and another 5% donated to charity. Which charity? Whichever one you want. We know that Target lets you donate to a ton of charities but with Toodalu you don’t need to have your charity on a list, it just needs to be a real charity.

“The user can choose ANY non-profit to give to! That’s the key element that excites our users and merchants. In addition, a user can select up to one hundred different charitable organizations to support and select how, exactly, they wish to distribute the giving by allocating percentages.” O’Hara told us in an interview.

Not only is Toodalu of epic greatness because they’ve already figured out the reward and the charity but it’s simple. We got a chance to catch up with O’Hara, who by the way Trevor was up at 10pm answering questions for us, way past the 5pm Pando curfew. The first thing we wanted to know is how did you stumble upon such a great idea:

Toodalu is a new breed of loyalty rewards. Just link any credit or debit card to your Toodalu account and when you use that card any partner location, 5% of every purchase is donated to the charity of your choice. We are proud to help charities raise boat loads of money while attaching purpose to the purchases of our users. The idea was born from the question,”how can we increase participation rates for charitable giving?”

More after the break

Toodalu isn’t the only startup of epic greatness in the house music capital of the world. (all the startups we write about are great) however they have been chosen to participate in the beta launch of the brand new, State endorsed 1871 tech center, so I asked O’Hara what it was like to get chosen in the pre-1st class for 1871?

Being selected to join the 1871 community was a huge honor. And, to be selected to take part in the 4 week beta testing of the space was an even greater honor. We’re really excited to see how the community leverages the connections and feeds off of the positive energy to cultivate great businesses.

O’Hara tells us that, while Toodalu is his first startup it’s been two years in the making and it’s taken a pivot (great things do take time)

“I started Toodalu as a completely different company two and a half years ago. We made a great pivot and kept all of our investors on board and I couldn’t be happier about what we have built.”

Now if you’ve been reading Nibletz for a while you know we ask everyone about the challenges of starting up “outside the valley” this question is especially important for those in Chicago:

“A startup is challenging no matter where you are. Startups outside the valley may have a more difficult time finding talented developers, but Toodalu has been fortunate in that our idea struck a chord with two amazing hackers who are fully committed to our project. I love Chicago as a city and for the close-knit startup community that has grown here.”

And what’s next on your plate?

“The ideas never stop flowing, we have a slew of great features we’ll be adding this summer. I am most excited about a new feature where our user will be able to fund raise for an individual cause. An an example of this may be someone who uses Toodalu to fund raise for the Chicago Marathon. Traditionally this person might ask friends or co-workers for a donation via a check. We are trying to give fundraisers an easier option where they can raise money by asking friends or co-works to join Toodalu and simply grab a meal at one of our partner locations. We think it could be a powerful tool.”

Here’s your linkage:

To find out more about Toodalu click here

To find out more about 1871 click here

For more Nibletz Chicago coverage click here

And here’s whats in our Everywhere Else category

And please consider helping us with the bus


You Might Also Like


  1. 1

Comments are closed.