Rev1 Ventures Launches Entrepreneur Giving Fund to Cultivate Culture of Giving Back

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Leading seed-stage venture development fund highlights top tips to help startups integrate philanthropy in 2017.

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There is an abundance of great philanthropic ideas in Central Ohio and across the country, and we want to be part of helping more of those ideas take root and grow.

Americans donated more than $373 billion to charity last year, according to the National Philanthropic Trust. During a time of year when giving back is at the top of people’s minds, Rev1 Ventures, the seed-stage venture fund that combines investment capital and strategic services, announced the launch of its new entrepreneur giving fund, START. START is a unique charitable fund with an entrepreneur-led advisory board aimed at supporting initiatives and people in central Ohio that are "starting up" something special in the community.

“There is an abundance of great philanthropic ideas in Central Ohio and across the country, and we want to be part of helping more of those ideas take root and grow,” said Tom Walker, president and CEO of Rev1 Ventures. “No idea is too small to have a big impact, which is why we are launching this giving fund. With a powerful combination of capital from Rev1, our region’s startup community, and an advisory board of top CEOs from our network, we are hopeful that more people can put their charitable ideas into action.”

Rev1 is seeding the non-profit fund with an initial gift and a preliminary goal of raising an additional 50 percent in funds from the startup community by early 2017. Rev1 will match those contributions with another donation. The Columbus Foundation will manage distributions from the fund.

START is guided by an entrepreneur-focused advisory board, made up of top founders in Rev1’s network, including: Mike Morgan, CEO of Updox; Anthony Reynolds, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Refill; Pamela Springer, president and CEO of ORIS Intelligence; Steve White, CEO and founder of Clarivoy.; Shaun Young, CEO and founder of A rdina/Millenefits; and Phil George, CEO & founder of MentorcliQ.

“We are thrilled to be part of an effort like this that really inspires entrepreneurs to give back, while fueling initiatives that will have a lasting impact on the community,” said Phil George, CEO and co-founder of MentorcliQ. “While money is not necessarily in huge supply for many young companies, founders can lead by example by carving out some time to get involved with the right causes. It’s easy to become hyper-focused on all of the other aspects of starting a company, but pausing to re-energize yourself and your team by doing something for others is invaluable to your startup and staff.”

Every startup can integrate a culture of giving within the fabric of their company – here are a few tips to consider from Rev1 Ventures and the START Advisory Board:

1. Be Creative: Entrepreneurs are used to looking at challenges and finding solutions, so encourage that out-of-the box thinking when it comes to philanthropy efforts at your company. Think about proving your software at a steep discount to select non-profits; have a contest for the most unique idea amongst your team, etc.

2. Make It a Group Effort: Seek input from your team and get them involved from day one. Even though startups might lack a large staff base or unlimited charitable funds, they can find activities that are meaningful to staff as a group and provide outlets for them as individuals. Ask your team what they are already doing in their communities to determine if there is an opportunity to build upon where they are already involved.

3. Use What You Know: You can look around your office area, or within your field or customer base for ideas that will resonate with your purpose. As an IT company, can you provide coding lessons or tutoring for kids? As a restaurant, is there a food pantry nearby to support? Could you provide resume writing, job training, or job coaching to someone coming off public assistance?

4. Put in the Time: At its core, philanthropy is the "desire to promote the welfare of others,” and that's something startups can do by spending time with other companies who are struggling to make the difference they envision in the world. Give staff paid time (even if it’s just a couple days a year) to volunteer for a charity or cause of their own choosing. Allow them to choose how to use those days—mentoring students to organizing events or supporting a community group. If they’re into the idea, it will make for happier volunteers and a happier team of employees.

5. Pool Your Resources: Give staff opportunities to join their resources and select a charity to support together. Think about doing a special contest or tournament with a buy-in for entry and allow the winner to select the charity that will receive the donations. It doesn’t cost money, and it’s a great way to support team building. Think about doing food drives, coat drives, or collecting school supplies for kids in need. Those are all great charitable outreach initiatives that cost very little, but instill a sense of community.

“As a millennial, I’m inspired by this movement to help fund more efforts that will help the community,” said Eileen Guan, co-founder of the Billion and Venture for America fellow at MentorcliQ. “Today’s young people want purpose-driven work, and they want to believe in the company and its culture, so integrating this type of thinking in the DNA of a startup is really vital for companies today.”

To learn more about START or how to donate to the fund, visit: https://www.rev1ventures.com/blog/start/.

About Rev1 Ventures
Rev1 is a seed-stage venture fund that combines investment capital and strategic services to help entrepreneurs build products people want and companies that succeed. Our seasoned, data-driven team delivers early market validation for startups, helping them lay the foundation for scalable growth with the skills to evolve their product, sell to customers, and build the right team. Rev1 manages a continuum of investment support from corporate, community, and innovation partners, as well as the Ohio Third Frontier. For more information, visit http://www.rev1ventures.com.

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