March 20, 2014

Changemaker of the Week: Gavyn Ooi '14

by Gavyn Ooi

Gavyn Ooi '14 has had huge impact on Brown's campus over the last four years through his involvement in Strait TalkBrown Student Radio, and the co-founding of Kozbox, a fundraising social venture.

Q: What is your social venture, and how did it start?
A: I co-founded the venture Kozbox. Our mission is to fix the fundraising problem for nonprofits. My co-founder and I strongly believe in the power of technology to grow the market for charitable giving, and we want to provide a web platform that makes it more engaging, efficient, and transparent for individual donors. We started Kozbox because we wanted to close the technology gap between small to medium sized nonprofits and the nonprofit giants/for-profit industry. Kozbox aims to make everyone in the giving economy - from suppliers to donors to nonprofits - better off.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you've faced since starting your venture?
A: Put simply, it's hard to scale. Brown is a bit of a bubble - there's an absolutely wonderful support network here, and I'm ever so grateful for it in my own development. But when you're thinking about expanding social change outside of Brown to impact hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people, there's a bevy of things to consider. Where am I going to get capital? What's my supply chain? How am I going to distribute my service? These are tough questions.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to any college student thinking of becoming a "changemaker"?
A: Change happens in funny and unpredictable ways. The best ideas sprout when you surround yourself with a diverse and talented crew. Immerse yourself in a variety of subjects, but really focus in on one or two fields of study. You'll be able to see connections and brainstorm solutions that would have been otherwise impossible. Last thing: it sounds hokey, but don't be afraid of failure. Failure gives you grit.

Q: What is your personal mission statement?
A: Explore and integrate. I'm passionate about providing value to people's lives by exploring the connections between science, technology, and entrepreneurship.

Q: What's one surprising fact people might not know about you?
A: I enjoy dubstep and I'm a fan of K-pop. I feel like I've now invalidated everything I've just said.

If you know a Brown student or alum who is making a difference on campus, in Providence, or around the world, nominate them here to see them featured as Changemaker of the Week.