What exactly makes an entrepreneur? According to serial do-gooder Ethan Austin, founder of DealGooder and GiveForward (and this week’s live chat host — RSVP here), people don’t choose entrepreneurship — entrepreneurship chooses them.
“Accidental entrepreneurs are often people who were making a dent in the universe in all sorts of professions before they were ever entrepreneurs…but then one day they encountered a problem that punched them square in the face,” Ethan explains on his blog, Startups and Burritos.
“And this problem kept punching them in the face day in and day out, consuming their every thought, until they had no choice but to put everything else aside and start punching back. At this moment in time, whether it was their intention or not, they became an entrepreneur.”
For Ethan — one of CNN’s top ten generation next entrepreneurs, avid burrito fan and social innovator — one of those problems was helping people pay for medical expenses.
That was the impetus behind co-founding GiveForward, a game-changing crowdfunding platform that helps people raise money online for their friends’ medical expenses (from cancer treatments to organ transplants). Since 2008, GiveForward has raised $2.5 million in venture funding — but more importantly, the platform has helped thousands of families raise more than $25 million to help their loved ones get healthy again. (Check out this incredible video about how hundreds of virtual hugs were translated into real funds for 17-year-old Justin, who was battling stage 4 cancer.)
The company’s innovative approach has won them an Edison Gold award (for best new social innovation in the U.S.) as well as a spot on Inc.’s 30 Under 30 this past year.
Ethan is also the brain behind 2009′s DealGooder, a socially minded e-commerce site acquired in 2012.
One thing is pretty clear to us: Ethan’s insatiable desire to find the world’s best burrito gives him the nutritional sustenance he needs to save the world, little by little. How does he do it?
This Thursday, February 21st at 3 PM EST is your chance to pick Ethan’s brain (and get his best Mexican food recommendations) on all things related to doing good, starting up, turning crowdfunding inside out and getting acquired (or not — see this post) during our hour-long #StartupLab live chat presented by Citi. Bring your best questions, and be prepared to have fun!