Most entrepreneurs are passionately motivated to share their success by giving back. If you're like most people, you may support several charitable causes in your community. Chances are entrepreneurship is not on your list—which is surprising, if you think about it.
You don't need a fortune to give back in meaningful ways. Today, emerging philanthropists are discovering the power they have to improve people's lives by giving back to entrepreneurship-from mentoring, teaching, promoting innovation, and serving on boards to contributing financially through their companies. As one entrepreneur-philanthropist put it, "The joy of giving back is unbelievable. It's like watching your children grow and be successful."
Ewing Marion Kauffman believed that giving back was the highest form of citizenship. Kauffman said that his work in philanthropy was the most fun he had. He applied his time, energy, and resources to the things that gave his life meaning. The first lesson of Kauffman's life is that one person can make a difference.
Helping other entrepreneurs get started is one of the most rewarding activities you can undertake. Meet three entrepreneurs who have discovered the joys of giving back. Maybe their paths will start you thinking about what you can do.
Putting Ideas in Motion
At the relatively young age of 31, Vicky Wu is a good role model, even though she was in the same shoes as her mentees just a few years ago. In 2000, she founded Froghop, Inc., a middleware and software company that provides a wireless infrastructure for the video game industry, enabling users to participate in games with whatever electronic device is at hand. Wu serves as a mentor in MIT's Venture Mentoring Service program and works with both students and alumni. As one of approximately eighty-five mentors in the program, Wu attends monthly meetings where mentors discuss ventures they're currently helping and volunteer opportunities in which they'd like to get involved. Mentors commit to working with a venture anywhere from one to dozens of times. Wu currently is mentoring three companies, helping "put their ideas in motion."
Willing to Share
Don Grimm, former president and chairman of Hybritech®, Inc., set about giving back in several arenas-from nonprofit and for-profit boards to tech transfer and angel investing. Grimm has served on the boards of several startup companies including Aegis®, Angstrom®, CellzDirect, and Invitrogen®. His reputation for wisdom and a willingness to share it yields frequent requests for other kinds of help, such as making presentations to classes and mentors. "Mentoring," says Grimm, "is something I do all the time. I did it this morning."
Give More than You Get
Michael Gallegos's mother taught him two secrets to success: always give more than expected and always give back more than you receive. Gallegos has done both, but as co-founder and president of American Property Management Corporation, giving back to entrepreneurship was not a significant element on Gallegos's radar screen until recently. That's when the give-back bug bit him. He now judges business plan competitions, has developed an internship program at his business, delivers guest lectures at local universities, and is creating a foundation that will provide scholarships for up-and-coming entrepreneurs. He admits that activities like judging are "a sacrifice of time, but it's all part of giving back." Gallegos adds, "This is just the beginning. I'm not a finished product as far as my initiatives for entrepreneurs, so check with me in five years."
© 2007 Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. All rights reserved.
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