Alexandre Mars inhabits two different worlds: not just France and America…but the worlds of high profits and non-profits.
His journey to this intersection began in his hometown of Paris when he was just 17. At an age when most teenagers are still trying to figure out who they are, Alexandre was clear-eyed and confident. He wanted to be an entrepreneur.
At 14 he was already taking charge, elected by his classmates to represent them at community board meetings and advocate for student rights.
“The first philanthropic endeavor I ever participated in was also the first time I felt a sense of community.”
Three years later, Alexandre started his own business as a concert promoter, the first in a string of successful, technology-based startups which he created and sold, turning him into a self-made multimillionaire.
“I’m good at watching the big wave coming and being able to ride the wave,” says Alexandre. But vision, he believes, has to be coupled with hard work.
“If you truly want to be successful, you need to be a doer.”
But achieving financial success was not the end goal of Alexandre's hard work and vision. All of his startups were designed to give him the resources to achieve his real goal.
“I’ve always been passionate about inequalities. I was involved in some mission-driven activities as a teenager and my mother was my source of inspiration. She was a do-gooder with a big heart and always motivated me to get more involved with socially-conscious work. I needed to think about how I could leverage my own abilities for social good.”
He had the desire and now he had the resources to do humanitarian work on a global scale.
“I was able to earn enough money to do only things I want to do.”
And what he really wanted to do was change the world. He would find a way with his sixth startup.
“Epic Foundation is everything I wanted to build since I was a young adult.”
By the late 1990s, Alexandre was living in New York City, running a venture fund dealing with millions of dollars. His wife was working at an orphanage run by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Delhi, India, where his visits made a deep impression.
“I saw firsthand the effects of poverty and inequality on children. I wanted to build an organization that would help children grow up healthy and protected from harm, so they can reach their full potential. But first I needed to understand the philanthropic ecosystem.”
So Alexandre and his wife set off on a fact-finding adventure with their children in tow, traveling to 13 countries in six month, from Peru to Mongolia, Sydney to Moscow, sitting down with local people, philanthropists, policy makers and NGOs, asking “how does it work in your country, how do you think we can have an impact, what can be different in the near future? It was important for me to understand this global aspect before launching anything.”
In 2014, he was ready and Epic Foundation was born.
Epic Foundation is designed to connect a new generation of individual and corporate donors with organizations that support children and youth around the world.
Alexandre sees it as a new kind of philanthropic foundation combining business and networking skills with what he had seen in his travels.
Alexandre believes that many people want to give to charitable organizations but, with so many out there, they don’t know which are effective, which ones will make the best use of their money. That’s where Epic Foundation steps in.
“We do the work, we find the organizations and we present them to potential donors. The costs of implementing our toolkit and services are 100% covered by me, so 100% of donations go directly to the organizations in our portfolio. We then work with these organizations to ensure social objectives are achieved, that they have the resources they need and that they are using them effectively.”
Epic is developing new tools focused on enhancing how donors select, monitor and experience their impact. His vision is to disrupt the philanthropic industry by combining passion and expertise with game-changing technology and partnerships.
“You will be able to access information about the organizations you are funding directly from your mobile phone or on your tablet. The goal is for donors to see how their money is really helping the world.”
Epic Foundation focuses on organizations that help children from birth to 24 years old -- an age range which comprises 42% of the world’s population -- working to improve their lives in the areas of health, education and protection. Currently Epic operates in six regions of the world: East Africa, Southeast Asia, Western Europe, the United States, Brazil and India.
“We want to find most amazing social organizations and bring them to attention of potential donors. The goal is to change the mindset, to change society, and to do so using the tools of 2016.”
“The challenges we, as parents and citizens, are all so worried about will be faced and fought in full by our children. To solve these big global challenges we have to invest in empowering the next generation of global leadership: our children.”
In 2015, Alexandre was named one of New York City’s top 20 philanthropists under 40 by the New York Observer.
He is a sought after, international speaker in the fields of mobile/digital and philanthropic vision, as well as an active member of the Global Philanthropists Circle at Synergos, Young Presidents’ Organization and Nexus.
He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and three children.