Matt Zwiebel
Executive Director, Pledge 1% Colorado

__Which Galvanize campus are you based out of? __

Denver - Golden Triangle

__What does Pledge 1% do? __

Pledge 1% Colorado is a network of Colorado entrepreneurs who share a common commitment to giving back to their communities. Members pledge 1% of equity, annual profits, employee time, or company product towards non-profits of their choosing.

What does a day in your shoes look like?

Much of my day is spent collaborating with and meeting companies who are interested in making the Pledge on how and why it's important to give back. The other part of my day includes working on storytelling, member engagement, building strategic partnerships, outreach at events in the community, and on the really amazing days, signing paperwork for a member company going through an exit event.

What was your "breakthrough" moment when you realized the opportunity in front of you?

Towards the end of a pitch to the executive team of a rather large startup here in Denver, the CEO stood up to share his thoughts on taking the Pledge. Halfway through his talk, he brought up some takeaways he had gathered from a lunch meeting with another CEO of a company who had Pledged a few years prior.

Similar to, the CEO he spoke with had setup a .org which spawned a new business arm of the company focused solely on working with non-profits. Those non-profits gave new life to the business and allowed their entire company to view their product in a new lens: instead of being a B2B tool focused on optimization, their products were now being used within life-changing organizations who help underserved or endangered communities gain access to important resources.

He continued on about the QA engineers that tested just a bit harder knowing their new clients might be using their product in a life or death situation, or the sales team who could now humanize what their product was being used for outside of the business world, or the intertwining of otherwise siloed teams who were brought together during one of the many volunteer days the company setup.

In my 5 or so years of working in the startup world, I had never seen anything like the empathy that CEO shared for the communities his employees and their families were living in. I was 3 weeks into the job, that moment hooked me.

What inspired you to lead the charge for Pledge 1% Colorado?

I moved to Colorado about two and a half years ago, after leaving a failed startup in Chicago. In that time, I've gained more than I ever expected from this beautiful state I now call home. When presented with the opportunity to take over Pledge 1% Colorado and give back to this community that has given me so much, I had to jump at it.

What book are you currently reading?

A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger

What music are you currently listening to?

OK Computer - Radiohead

What is your favorite lunch spot in Denver?

Parsley in Denver since there’s something for everyone there.

Morning drink of choice?

An iced americano if I’m at a coffee shop, but black coffee does the trick every other morning.

Evening drink of choice?

I’ve been enjoying some afternoons over at Ratio Beerworks this summer, but just found out about Craft Alley on South Pearl Street in Denver - check them out before your next backpacking trip.

Parting words for future entrepreneurs, leaders, or creators?

It's never too late to give back to your community, especially at the early stages of a startup. Just consider Facebook: If Mark Zuckerberg had Pledged 1% of equity early on at Facebook, that 1% would have been worth $850 Million upon IPO. You could say that's a bit more impactful than an expensive plate at a charity gala or an extra paddle raise at an auction.

Connect with Matt

Executive Director, Pledge 1% Colorado

Email: matt(at)pledge1colorado(dot)org
Twitter: @mbzwiebel

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