Alexandre Mars. Photo credit: Epic Foundation
In tech, it’s rare for someone who’s been successful starting and selling companies to quit that work around the age of 40. It’s rarer still for that person to dedicate him/herself to funding charitable organizations worldwide, and start and fund a foundation dedicated to that cause.
That is exactly what Alexandre Mars has done. Instead of powering up and making more money via starting more enterprises, he founded the Epic Foundation, which is dedicated to making “giving the norm” for businesses and individuals worldwide.
Dubbed the “French Bill Gates,” Mars achieved early success by anticipating what an online market would need, especially in mobile, and delivering it. He sold his mobile marketing agency Phonevalley to Publicis, and his social media management company Scroon to BlackBerry. By 2013, he was done with founding and selling internet and mobile companies, and decided it was time to give back.
Mars still invests through his VC firm blisce/ in companies including Spotify, Pinterest, Casper and Harry’s, but most of his time is dedicated to the Epic Foundation, and he runs it like a VC firm. Charities are fully vetted, numbers crunched, and then finalists are visited to select who they will support.
Progress is fully reported for donors, who can take comfort in the fact that Epic has done all the hard work finding and selecting reputable orgs. Epic also gives 100 percent of all donations to supporting these causes, with Mars picking up the tab of his foundation’s operating costs.
Mars says that full transparency is essential for getting more people comfortable giving, and it should add joy to their lives. Most people and companies cite three reasons why giving is problematic for them: They don’t know where to give, they don’t have time to research charities, and they don’t trust their money is being spent well.
We talked with Mars about his new book Giving: Purpose is the New Currency, and why the future of any company should include a strong philanthropy program.
Why the book now?
This book was there for some time now, maybe since I started Epic four years ago. It makes more sense to release the book now that we have a track record. It’s not just something on paper, it’s the difference between a theory and what we’ve been able to achieve.
In the last 20 years, whatever I’ve been building, it’s always been, “Let’s wait first to …read more