Diana Akelman usually goes at things at 110 percent. But recently she’s found something appealing about 1 percent. Pledge 1% Boston, that is. Akelman was part of a wave of new members to the movement during Pledge 1% Boston’s ambitious “60 x 60” campaign at the end of 2017: to double its membership from 30 to 60 in 60 days.
Pledge 1% Boston is the regional arm of the global Pledge 1% movement, which rallies founders and companies—especially, but not exclusively, new or young ones—to pledge early in their organization’s life to give 1% of equity and other resources for social change.
For Akelman, founder and CEO of software startup PetPocketbook, Pledge 1% is a concrete way to make a tangible commitment toward the company’s social mission: reducing the number of pets surrendered because pet parents lack access to the help they need in caring for them.
PetPocketbook offers pet care companies—typically pen and paper operations—a mobile and web platform for running their dog walking, sitting or training business in a 21st century way. Ultimately, Akelman sees PetPocketbook having a nonprofit arm to create efficiencies for and foster collaboration across the animal rescue community.
Globally, Pledge 1% has signed on thousands of members like Akelman; Pledge 1% Boston, which launched in 2016, now has 66 members (and growing) thanks to the resounding success of “60 x 60.” Thirty new business leaders pledged 1% in that short span, with more joining since.
That includes Phil Strazzulla and Yash Ambardekar, co-founders of NextWave Hire. The two became friends at Harvard Innovation Labs, and eventually united their skills to launch a B2B company that powers customers’ career websites and recruiting operations. “We help customers tell their story as to why they’re an interesting place to work,” they say. Having learned about Pledge 1% Boston from member Pranam Lipinski of Door of Clubs, they were all in. “We like that Pledge 1% is a network of likeminded entrepreneurs who want to give back to community in a meaningful way,” says Ambardekar. “The give-before-you-get mentality resonated with me the most.”
They have each pledged 1% of founder equity. Both enjoy thinking about how that pledge can take shape. Feeling they’ve been fortunate in the opportunities afforded them, they want to give back by providing opportunities to others. For his part, Ambardekar gravitates to “entrepreneurship as a vehicle to help people start dreaming big—especially in lower socioeconomic communities.” Strazzulla adds, “I think it takes some work from people who have advantages to try to figure out how to level the playing field for everyone. I would love to chip away at what’s hindering social mobility.” Pledge 1% encourages these entrepreneurs to dream, and network their dreams. That’s a win for everyone.