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Posted November 28, 2012

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Entrepreneurship

The Upside Foundation Provides Canadian Start Ups with Opportunity to Give Back

Toronto - The Upside Foundation of Canada announced its official launch and foray into the Canadian start-up community to facilitate and support charitable activity across Canada.

The Upside Foundation offers a new model of corporate philanthropy that empowers start-ups to ‘share the upside’ with Canadian charities. The Foundation draws on the success of its affiliate, Tmura in Israel, and a similar foundation in California, both of which have distributed millions of dollars to charities in need.

The business model is very progressive and allows early-stage high-growth companies to support local charitable efforts by donating stock options, not cash.

The model is simple and powerful - early-stage companies donate stock options to the Upside Foundation, convertible at exit into a small portion of their equity. When a liquidity event occurs, the Upside Foundation sells its options and donates the proceeds to charities in Canada.

The Upside Foundation reflects the notion that winning companies not only provide strong returns to shareholders, but also extend their successes to their communities and employees.

“The Upside Foundation has already been very well received by all sectors of Canada’s startup community,” said Mark Skapinker, an experienced entrepreneur, venture capitalist and one of three Co-Founders of the Upside Foundation of Canada. “Canadian entrepreneurs genuinely want to ‘share the upside’ with their communities, and we are really excited to provide them an opportunity to do just that.”

The Upside Foundation doesn’t just benefit recipient charities. There is a strong rationale for startup participation, since contributors can:

• Herald an authentic message of corporate social responsibility (CSR)

• Access the Upside Foundation network

• Attract and engage prospective employees who are increasingly interested in working for ‘caring’ companies

“Canadian startups have a healthy legacy of success and individually, entrepreneurs have been very well represented in philanthropic circles,” said Rob Antoniades, Co-Founder of the Upside Foundation. “We are providing an opportunity for entrepreneurs, startups and the entire infrastructure to band together and dramatically enhance their philanthropic impact, in an essentially risk-free manner.”

The Upside Foundation also announced its first Board of Directors. Members include Rob Antoniades (ON), Mark Skapinker (ON), Mark Macleod (PQ), Gerry Pond (NB) and Ben Zifkin (ON) with the Western Canada representative still pending. The Board is a broad representation of the Canadian start-up community. Ben Zifkin, an experienced entrepreneur and currently CEO of Hubba, was the first donor to the Upside Foundation, while the remaining Board members are established leaders in the venture capital community.

Nearly ten startup companies have already signed up, and the Foundation has received tremendous support from various established firms who believe in the power of the innovative philanthropy model. The supporters so far have included Bennett Jones LLP, KPMG LLP, MarketingWise and Trajectory. The Upside Foundation has registered as a Canadian charity with Canada Revenue Agency and its approval is pending.


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