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Making A Difference

Helping Startups Give Back

Janie Goldstein (MBA 1991)

“If you really want your company to be associated with giving back and having a social mission,” says Janie Goldstein (MBA 1991), “it needs to be baked in from the start.” But while most startups want to be philanthropic, Goldstein, the cofounder and former executive director of the Upside Foundation of Canada, notes, “They rarely have the cash or the time.”

Four years ago, Goldstein helped launch the Upside Foundation to provide a platform for early-stage and high-growth companies to pledge a percentage of profits from future liquidity events to registered Canadian charities. “Organizations such as Tmura in Israel and Salesforce 1/1/1 in the US were already finding success with similar models,” says Goldstein, who grew up in Montreal and now lives in Toronto. “With the increasingly vibrant startup scene in Canada, we decided it was time to help Canadian entrepreneurs give back to Canadians.”

Formerly a business strategy consultant at Monitor Group and marketing VP at Canadian Medical Discoveries Fund, since 2011 Goldstein has been working as an independent consultant while parenting her three young children. Adding her responsibilities at Upside to the mix has been both demanding and exhilarating. “Everything was pro bono,” she shares. “I was point person for our legal team on charitable application documents, in charge of event planning, marketing, onboarding companies that pledged, and working with web developers. We had no money—my then-12-year-old daughter donated $50 so we could renew our domain name!”

Now operating with a full-time, paid executive director and modest support from grants, Upside marked a major milestone earlier this year, when it reached the goal of growing its membership to 150 companies in honor of Canada’s 150th anniversary. Goldstein expects the momentum to continue as Upside starts to manage more company exits and to scale up in Montreal, Vancouver, and on Canada’s Atlantic coast. “It’s exciting to play a part in expanding the philanthropic pool in our country,” Goldstein notes. “Entrepreneurs are beginning to see this as the de facto way for startups to give back.”

(Published February 2018)

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