Business Honors freshman Lucious McDaniel was at dinner watching his longtime mentor write a check for $10,000 to a charity when the idea came to him. He made a sarcastic comment about how not everyone could just write a huge check and donate it. In his mind, an idea was forming.
Now, McDaniel is preparing to launch his new app, Phly: philanthropy on the fly, which will allow people to easily and affordably donate to their favorite charities. After a quick setup, users can donate a certain amount with every swipe.
“We want to make the donation process more accessible and more centralized,” McDaniel said.
He said the app will have three donating options: roundup, perpetual and one-time. Roundup takes the spare change from card payments and donates them, perpetual donates a predetermined amount with every swipe and one-time lets the user donate at any time.
“So many people want to do good, but when you have all those barriers to entry and it gets more difficult, that’s when you lose a lot of people,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel said Phly will keep track of every donation so when the user is ready to file their taxes, they can just export the document and print it. In addition, Phly will provide a survey to match users with local charities that they might be interested in.
“When people think of philanthropy or charity, they might think of the few big charities out there,” McDaniel said. “However there’s lots of local charitable organizations that people could have such a profound impact on with just a few dollars here and there.”
At the beginning of his journey, McDaniel spent months perfecting his idea under the mentorship of longtime friend Bill Peebles.
“(McDaniel) said he wanted an idea that would help his community but still be profitable,” Peebles said. “He wanted to do good by giving back to the community but still get a profit.”
McDaniel said he entered in a pitch competition for DECA, an organization that educates students in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. After making it past every round with his idea, McDaniel won first place in the world competition.
“I can’t say I was surprised, but I was stunned.” Peebles said. “I wasn’t surprised because of his ability and his tenacity, but I was stunned because I know what an undertaking that is for anybody.”
When McDaniel joined GENESIS at UT, an entrepreneurship program, he met Katherine Allen, mechanical engineering and Plan II senior. Allen said she was a mentee her freshman year and wanted to return the favor as a senior. She said McDaniel is very passionate about giving back to his community.
McDaniel is currently the owner and CEO of Phly, and he is testing out demos and talking to potential charities. He said he hopes Phly will be up and running by spring 2019.
“(Donating) should be as easy as calling an Uber or getting on a Lime bike, where it takes you literally opening an app and hitting a button, or setting something up and then just living with it in the background,” McDaniel said. “I’m of the philosophy that if we make it easier for people to donate, more people will.”