tv Studio 1.0 Bloomberg February 13, 2016 4:30am-5:01am EST
alexandre mars knows what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. alexandre: three letters. try. try. fail, try again. there is no other way to do something. narrator: the french businessmen has founded and run five technology companies on both sides of the atlantic. selling them has made him a millionaire many times over. huy: he is very, very driven, which is one of the reasons why he has been so successful in startups. so he definitely knows what he wants and he definitely would move mountains to get what he wants. narrator: he is just 40 years old, and now, after traveling to some of the poorest, most remote areas of the world, he is ready to achieve his lifelong goal. t.g.: what alex is trying to achieve is he is trying to change children's lives all over the world -- it's that simple. narrator: because all he has ever wanted to do with his money is give it away. alexandre: we are nonprofit, we
have no business model, we are not looking to have any in the future. the goal is only to change kid'' lives, not to make money. ♪ alexandre: i am alexandre mars. i live in new york, u.s.a., grew up between europe and the u.s. i am an entrepreneur, a serial entrepreneur. now, i have just launched my new start up. my 6th start up. i do believe nothing can be done if you are not a hard worker. that is what i am trying to explain and to teach my kids. if you want to do, you need to work hard. that is the principle of being a do-er. and after, it's luck. i started my first venture when i was 17 years old. i was in the music industry. that was the first. i was promoting concerts.
my second venture was one of the first web agencies in europe, and it was so hard. and i learned so much, because it was hard to do anything. i was 22, ponytail, beard. third, i started my venture firm. at the time, i was 24. mostly here in the u.s., between europe and the u.s. during the bubble. when the bubble burst, i moved back to europe, and when i was in europe, i decided to start my fourth venture. and i did my market research, i tried to understand what could be the next big wave after the internet, and i realized that mobile would become pretty big one day. so we were building apps, mobile sites, whatever you have now on your phone. at some point, we decided to sell the business to a bigger group called publicis group. i started my fifth startup, a
social media platform for big media and corporations to help them to really manage correctly their social media strategy. it ended up being very successful, and we sold the startup to a bigger group called blackberry in 2013. ♪ the last 15 years, you had three different waves of technology -- the internet, mobile, social media. and i was there and said, "oh, i will try to do something." and i tried to adapt myself. we made mistakes, it was so hard. but we ended up being successful. i am good at watching the waves, the big wave coming, and being able to just go and ride the waves. ♪
arnaud: my name is arnaud de puyfontaine, and i am the ceo of the vivendi company. we met, alexandre and i, something like 15 years ago? at the time, we were living in paris. we had dinner together -- and you know how it is in france, at dinner, you share a lot of things. and we spent part of the night discussing and our friendship started then. he is a great entrepreneur. he is very often anticipating what is going to be the next wave. he "works like hell," should i say? never stops. always doing different things at the same time. if you have a strong combination between the creative side of the french, and you combine it with the kind of the can-do culture of the english-speaking world, it is very powerful. so i guess that both characteristics are really part of who alex is. ♪
huy: i am huy nguyen trieu, and i am a merchandiser for an international bank in london. i used to be ceo of a tech startup before. that is where i met alex. with alex, we immediately clicked. we spent quite a lot of all nighters together. i still remember it, 15 or 20 years ago. all of those nights. we were sharing about our dreams and our visions. and our dreams were very similar. our dreams were to change the world and to have an impact on society. for us, the best way to do that was to have enough financial success so that we could give back. the startups we were working on were a means to an end, that was really the objective. alexandre: when i was in my
early 20's, i said, "how can i have this impact? how can we change things?" and i realized pretty early that if you really want to have an impact, it is better to have leverage. how can we get -- how can we have leverage? you can have leverage if you have money. but the goal here was really to say at some point in my life, i will be able to change and to switch to something different. the something different will be just nonprofit. huy: he could have kept going on and become a very good serial entrepreneur in technology. but he then he just decided to stop and dedicate his time to philanthropy. so i think that is quite impressive. [speaking french] alexandre: because of those different successes i mentioned,
♪ narrator: alexandre mars is an entrepreneur with the golden touch, founding and selling a string of successful tech startups, and riding the waves of social media and technology. but he is no ordinary businessmen. french-born and u.s.-based, he has had a life lived in different places and amongst different cultures. ♪ alexandre: where is home? i think home is not only in paris or new york, it is everywhere. so i've had the chance to travel to so many places. i grew up in paris. my parents moved from paris to the u.s. in their early 20's. and after, they moved back to europe. so that is the story of my family. so it is very hard to answer, if new york feels like home or paris, i think just both places are very close to my heart. it's where i spent five years of
my life, also with my wife -- we went to college together. not too far from here. some place called hec, a great french college school. and after, we went here. the very last floor of this beautiful place. that is really paris. that is the beauty of paris here. we do not have plans for the next 15 years. we know that we will certainly keep moving. where exactly, it could be mumbai or paris or tokyo, i do not know yet. we are so happy and that is what we love doing, we love spending time and living in the present. so it was at the end of the 1990's, i was here in new york. just running a venture firm. my wife was working in india. she was working for an orphanage for mother teresa. and i was working here, dealing generally with millions of dollars, and then i traveled to visit her, and she was helping those kids in this orphanage. and i, again, realized how life is.
it is not good or bad here, we are just saying, "that is life." sometimes it could be three blocks from where we are talking here. you can help people. so like any good entrepreneur, i said, "i should do my market research. i should go and talk to people. i should better understand before launching anything." that was five years ago. so i took my resume with me, my bio, and i started knocking on doors, and i took people just from my industry. so i went to see the gates foundation, the google.org, people from the tech industries, and said, "guys, if you have time for me, i will really appreciate it. because i know i want to do something in that space. but before doing anything, i need to understand." well, my wife said, "let's do this thing, and let's travel the world.
let's do this market research. but not only in the u.s., not only in western europe, but let's go everywhere else." so we took the kids out of school, we homeschooled them, and we traveled the world. going from peru to mongolia, from sydney to moscow. the goal was to sit down with people -- local people, philanthropists, policymakers, ngo's -- and ask them questions. how does it work in your country? how can we have an impact? what should be different in the near-future? and for me, it was very important to understand this global aspect before launching anything. ♪ the reason why you are not giving more -- really, it is not one reason, it is three reasons.
the first one is you do not trust social organizations most of the time. two, you do not have time. the third is your knowledge. so at the end of the year when you have your checkbook with you, and even if you have money, you will say, "you know what? i will give to organizations i really trust." so schools. your kids' schools. your school. i have met so many people, so many people told me, "i want to give more, really, but i do not know where to start. so every year, i will postpone this to next year." i think it is important to use or to adapt the tools that people are using. the traditional philanthropy is more to say, "trust me. and trust my organization. i will give you some information once a year, brochures, some e-mails, and after, i will invite you to a gala." that is more how traditional philanthropy works now. but we have realized that over the years, that is no longer
what people want. people want more. people want, really, to have access to the tools they use every single day. so i will say the problem with philanthropy is more what kinds of issues you have as a donor. so that is more where i see what i can bring to this industry. that is what i have been working on for all of those years. ♪ alexandre: for us, it is all about youth and kids, zero to 24 years old. it is education, it is protection, it is health. and we do this in six regions around the world -- the u.s., brazil, western europe, east
africa, southeast asia, and india. that is what we cover. and in those different regions, we want to find the most amazing social organizations, and we want to bring them to the knowledge of potential donors. now, you can track everything you want, everything. your bank account, your stock portfolio, the grades of your kids, if you have kids, whatever can be tracked. why not social? ♪ huy: if you think of disruption, in general, disruption is really putting an intense focus on an existing industry. trying to see what works. trying to see what could be better. trying to see what could be reinvented.
one of the ways that epic foundation is disrupting philanthropy is that it is putting much more transparency in that world. it makes it much easier to understand the impact of what you are doing in philanthropy. so instead of just giving money, people have almost a kind of return of investment on their money. arnaud: to get the feedback and to get the information about the impact that you, as an individual, are having and being able to give to other people will create a much better environment for people to be able to give back. ♪ alexandre: there is no downside. we do the work, we find the organizations, and we present those organizations to you as a
potential donor. and we are not asking any money for this. no cut, nothing. and the goal is to bring you something, because we know you don't have the time. we know you don't have, maybe, the knowledge. but if we do the work for you and if you trust the methodology, you will give more. arnaud: i guess it was eleanor roosevelt who said, "life belongs to those who believe in the reality of their dreams." yes, i think that he truly believes that he will be able to get an impact in changing the world. i wish there will be more and more people like alex to be able to make that right. ♪
his latest startup, epic foundation, aims to bring new technology to the world of philanthropy. alexandre: we are kind of a conduit between two different worlds. we're not really talking to each other. people with money, power, wealth, they want to do more, really. but it is so hard, you know, to find those organizations. so, for us is how can we bring tools to this industry? three sets of tools. the first one is about selection. the second one is about tracking. the third one is about the experience. that's what we do at epic foundation. the first tool is the selection. we have decided to have the same approach as venture capitalists. we have started, really, recruiting applications from around the world. this year, we have received 1400 applications from 85 countries.
and we have spent six months to vet only 20 of them. the second tool, and that's also very important for this generation, is a tracking tool. it is how you, as a donor, can see what is happening with your money. so you will be able to have on your mobile phone, on your tablet, information about the organizations you are funding. it could be just the number of shots in africa in a given today, or the number of kids who are missing in the organization in vietnam. the goal is for you to understand and to really see at the end of every day, every week, every month, depending on what you want to get. information about your money and the fact that your money is really helping the world. the third tool is about the experience. and some people do not want to do this, they don't have time. sometimes, people can be scared to visit organizations. what we are saying is "it's fine. we will send journalists." so what we are doing is bringing
journalists and sending journalists all over the planet to film this. ♪ t.g.: i'm t.g. herrington, a director, producer, and a writer. and most recently helped alex do his world tour with epic, documenting the process. the logistics are insane. you know, honest to god, i cannot even remember how many countries we went to. alexandre: it is great to have skype calls, it is great to have e-mail exchanges, but nothing will replace the fact that i am coming and i will visit you and i will just talk to you and i will ask you to bring me to the places you are working in. that is what we have done. we have vetted 50 organizations during 10 weeks. at the end of it, we narrowed this number down to 20. ♪ alexandre: there are three main
factors. how we can define that your organization has a real impact in the life of these kids. the second one is the organization. how the organization does, in terms of the relationship with the community. the third is the leadership. how the leadership is, if there is any gaps in their chain of command, everything? that's what we went through. that is why at the very end of it, we have finalized the selection with 20 amazing social organizations that tackle those issues. t.g.: it is a smart play. you know -- give us the money, let us select and go through all of this year-long process of vetting out and selecting these 20 of the best organizations in the world. and then we will put your money to good use.
and along the way, you're going to learn something about giving. you're going to learn what it means to give. you're going to get to intimately know and monitor organizations that you are giving to. ♪ alexandre: the reason why it is really at no cost for the donors is because we are taking all of the cost. as a good entrepreneur, i should be able to find a way. so we already had people coming over, saying, "you know what? we want to help you, we want to help you, even just funding the structure." and we said, "that is not the point here. if you want to fund anything, fund the projects. and fund those organizations." at some point, maybe, we will decide something different. we will do an endowment fund. i will put more and other people will put more. but for now, i was lucky enough to have and to get just enough successes to be able to fund this for many, many years.
♪ t.g.: they are not only empowering and helping the beneficiaries, the kids out there in the world that need help, but they are actually helping the donors as well. arnaud: alex's approach is currently shaking the environment, and it is providing a new rule of the game, which should trigger a better momentum in what people with influence and with power and with money can do in creating a better world. so, time will tell, but the most important thing is to get the catalyst of change, and alex is among those who are making that happen. so, hats off. alexandre: i am an entrepreneur. as an entrepreneur, i know how
to adapt myself. so maybe in two years or three years, it will be slightly different. but we'll add some. because technology will evolve. people will change, culture can be changing also. but yes, for now, and for the next coming years, that is what we think is -- will be very useful to change the way people give, to change the way people think, to change the way people just act. ♪