FOUNDER, EPIC FOUNDATION
People want to give to charity more than they do, says entrepreneur and philanthropist Alexandre Mars, but three impediments stand in their way: lack of trust, lack of knowledge and lack of time. Mars launched New York–based Epic Foundation in 2014 to address those problems, using a tech-driven approach to charities that support young people. “Let’s bring a new mind-set—with the tools of today,” says Mars, who opened Epic’s newest office this fall in San Francisco. Additional outposts are in Bangkok, Paris and London.
With five successful businesses under his belt—including social media management system Scroon, which he sold to BlackBerry in 2013—Mars, who was born in Paris and now lives in Brooklyn, has made enough money over 20 years to self-fund his endeavor. Epic connects high net worth donors with fully vetted global organizations that focus on more than 4 million children and youth in 11 nations. The group expects to raise up to $10 million for these charities this year, then to increase that amount annually. Donors are coming on board because they can easily track the impact of their funds through Epic’s app. Each charity also has its own virtual reality video so that donors can “experience” how their dollars—100 percent of which go directly to the charity—are put to work. And the user interface makes donations easy. “The UI is neat,” says Mars. “It’s as beautiful as if you’re booking your next vacation on Kayak or Booking.com. Why should it not be, just because it’s for a nonprofit?”