RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – In these days of reckless greed and President Obama telling bankers the only thing between them and the “pitchforks” of the enraged masses is his administration, along comes some young entrepreneurs as a breath of fresh air who want to give, not just take.
For example, last weekend, a group of entrepreneurs known as “The Summit Series” raised more than $220,000 in a day of social media collaboration to help benefit a number of efforts.
Ryan Allis, co-founder and chief executive officer of fast-growing e-mail marketing firm iContact, is one of those seeking to use business to drive social change and benefit as part of the
He’s not one who wakes up each day and goes to sleep at night thinking nothing but bucks. Rather, he’s making philanthropy almost as much a part of his life as building a profitable company.
We’ve written several times about Allis’ efforts to give back to the world, from helping lead “Nourish International” to donating proceeds from a book he wrote about entrepreneurship. He hosts monthly meetings at his home to offer advice and networking opportunities to fellow entrepreneurs looking to make a difference.
There is nothing wrong with making a profit. For companies to survive, or to escape the tentacles of government boardroom control that comes with federal bailout cash, the bottom line needs to be black. But at least in the case of Allis and Chairman Aaron Houghton, who co-founded with Ryan, the two are striving to strike a balance.
A tour of the iContact headquarters, which now supports 170 people and soon will be expanded to host a growing workforce, reveals cubicles and offices free of ostentatious decorations and $20,000 desks. iContact is successful, but arrogance isn’t plastered on the walls in the form of rare art. Busts of the co-founders aren’t in the lobby.
In fact, there isn’t a lobby. And the decorations on the walls leading to the second floor offices are lined with banners from iContact booths at tradeshows.
Last weekend, Allis attended the “Aspen ‘09” event for 115 other like-minded entrepreneurs, and part of the program included the fundraising to support three programs:
a campaign to fight malaria
"The Aspen ’09 retreat for the Summit Series community was unlike any experience I’ve had," said Allis, who along with Houghton has won several entrepreneurial awards. "The intellectual capital and commitment to the future within this powerful group of leaders is tremendous. The generosity represented here demonstrates the power of giving back."
Let’s hope that the upcoming wave of entrepreneurs and business leaders as captured by those who are socially active not only prove to be successful but also win many more people to their cause.
Greed, after all, can be good – if the profits help others, not just the ones who make them.