The Techstars Foundation is pleased to announce the receipt of an equity gift from Rover.com valued at more than $630,000. This gift comes as a result of Rover.com’s recent initial public offering and an equity grant given to Startup Weekend when Rover.com was founded, and ultimately to the Techstars Foundation. With this generous support from Rover, the Techstars Foundation will be able to provide additional grants to nonprofit organizations who train and elevate underestimated entrepreneurs.
The Techstars Foundation is a social impact program focused on advancing equity through entrepreneurship, sponsored by Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Since 2015, the Techstars Foundation has worked to make innovation and entrepreneurship more accessible and inclusive by investing in and accelerating nonprofits that deliver scalable impact for underestimated entrepreneurs.
The idea for Rover was pitched at a Startup Weekend in 2011 by Greg Gottesman, then Managing Director of Madrona Venture Group. “I had a bad experience with our family dog at a local kennel after we couldn’t find anyone to watch her,” Gottesman said. “I thought someone in our local neighborhood would have done a much better job for less money than the kennel, so I pitched the idea of matching local dog sitters with pet parents who were going out of town and needed someone to take care of their beloved pet.”
At the time of the founding of Rover, Gottesman, now co-founder and Managing Director of Pioneer Square Labs, served on the board of UP Global, the nonprofit organization that managed and organized Startup Weekend, Startup Week, Startup Next, and Startup Digest. After conversations with Brad Feld, a fellow UP Global board member, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and early leader in the Pledge 1% movement, Gottesman wanted to recognize the important role Startup Weekend played in the Rover story by pledging 1% of Rover’s founding equity to UP Global.
“The truth is, if it wasn’t for Startup Weekend, the world’s largest pet services company would not exist,” said Gottesman, who served initially as the company’s CEO. “So when we were founding Rover, we made a 1% grant to Startup Weekend not just in recognition of what it had done for Rover’s founding but also the startup community more broadly.”
Phillip Kimmey participated in the winning Startup Weekend project and, after the weekend, joined Gottesman as Rover’s second co-founder. After a few months and some early traction on the site, Gottesman hired Aaron Easterly as CEO and the third co-founder. Easterly grew the company and today continues to serve as the CEO of the public company.
In 2015, Techstars acquired UP Global with the goal of growing the worldwide entrepreneurial ecosystem in partnership with a truly global network of community leaders. Because Techstars is a for-profit company, the equity pledge was contributed to the Techstars Foundation, which had recently been established by Techstars co-founders, David Cohen, Brad Feld, and David Brown, to encourage diversity and inclusion in tech. In 2015, the Pledge 1% movement was considered cutting-edge philanthropy and there was no way of knowing when or if the equity pledge would develop into real financial support.
In February 2021, Rover.com merged with Nebula Caravel Acquisition Corp, a publicly-traded SPAC sponsored by True Wind Capital. A decade after Rover was founded, 1% of the founding shares, which at the time was just an idea that came out of a Startup Weekend, resulted in $630,000 to create more access and opportunity for new entrepreneurs from all backgrounds to pursue their own ideas. “We are incredibly grateful to the Rover co-founders and everyone involved in fulfilling this pledge,” said Angela Madura, the director of the Techstars Foundation. “We are excited to see the impact this donation will create for underrepresented entrepreneurs as they build wealth for their families and their communities.”
If your company would like to join leading companies like Rover and pledge 1% of your founding equity to the Techstars Foundation, please contact us. If another cause calls to you, Pledge 1% is ready to support you in making a pledge.
Angela serves as the Director of the Techstars Foundation, a social impact program of Techstars, making entrepreneurship more accessible by investing nonprofits serving underestimated entrepreneurs and ecosystems.