As the co-founder of the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado, I’m a huge fan of what the Entrepreneurs Foundation is all about. Two weeks ago, when I was in San Francisco at Cloud Engines’ offices (makers of the Pogoplug and one of our investments) I noticed their Entrepreneurs Foundation plaque signifying their membership in the bay area chapter. I asked Dan Putterman – the CEO of Cloud Engines – if he’d write a guest post about why Cloud Engines joined the Entrepreneurs Foundation. It follows.
As a serial entrepreneur, it feels like there is always a reason to sacrifice; spending too much time at the office at the expense of one’s family, not getting enough exercise, eating poorly, and certainly not taking enough (or any) time to give back to the community, environment or people in need. The rationale is that at some point there will be the ever elusive "exit" and things will
change. The truth is that most of us perpetuate the circle by starting or getting involved in something new right afterwards (being an entrepreneur seems to be in one’s blood). Although guilt can be a great motivator of change, most entrepreneurs just lament amount their shortcomings and soldier forward (tenacity is also one of the traits that makes us successful).
I’ve been trying to break all of the rules at Pogoplug. Yes, we work hard and pretty much live on email morning and night, but I encourage people to take care of themselves and their family. And I do my best to personally demonstrate this life balance through example. This time around, we joined a wonderful organization called Entrepreneur’s Foundation, a well-run group of high-tech focused philanthropists that help you allocate a little time to give back to your community through events and individual time contribution and actually run a foundation on your behalf based on equity that your company donates to it.
Here’s what’s so cool about this model: the more successful a company is, the more the foundation grows in value. The team then gets to put the money to good use on a liquidation event. This way, if you selfishly work tons of hours one week, you can put the guilt aside knowing that the growing the value of your company is good for more than just you and your investors. During our last board meeting, I proposed that we put 1% of our company into the foundation. Everyone unanimously and enthusiastically approved the motion. With the "big picture" out of the way, we’ve also picked two awesome organizations in San Francisco, 826 Valencia and Homeless Prenatal Program. We’re going to do some group events and spend some personal time helping these organizations, including helping to purchase turkeys for hundreds of families who will prepare their first Thanks Giving meal. EF takes care of all of the details so all we have to do is show up and get involved.
Thanks to EF, we are giving back and feeling great about ourselves – and most importantly, we are breaking some outdated and dumb rules about entrepreneurship.