A Founder's Perspective: Joe Kleinschmidt of Obindo
Joe Kleinschmidt is the CEO and Co-Founder of Obindo. Previously he co-founded and served as Chief Technology Officer for Leverage Software, an enterprise social networking start-up which was later acquired by Telligent. Joe is passionate about product innovation and has helped to develop successful software products in a variety of areas, including biotech, web publishing, and financial services.
Additionally, Joe has been a Member of Full Circle Fund since 2010, and joined our Board of Directors in 2013! He recently became The Founders' Pledge, a Full Circle Fund program that helps founders of startups instill philanthropy into their companies' DNA by giving back a portion of their funds, skills and time to local organizations. Joe will be speaking at our Founders' Pledge kickoff event on 9/10 at Runway Incubator in SF on why the Founders' Pledge was so important to him and his company's culture.
Member Since 2010
Co-Founders & CEO, Obindo
FCF: What drew you to Full Circle Fund and what is your history behind joining as a Member and as a Board Member?
JK: The thing that first drew me to Full Circle Fund, and still does, is the passion, energy, and knowledge of the other members. There are so many people here who think deeply about the problems we’re addressing and are willing to get involved. It’s an amazing community.
FCF: What is the most meaningful aspect of being involved with FCF?
JK: For me it’s the inspiration I draw from the non-profit leaders we work with. There have been so many times I’ve attended a Full Circle Fund event and come away energized because of the work they’re doing.
FCF: What inspires or excites you about the Founders’ Pledge?
JK: The thing about founders is that, at their core, they are basically unreasonable people. They believe, despite limited resources, that they can have this incredible impact simply through passion, creativity, and sheer hard work. That approach really shouldn’t work. But, in the Bay Area especially, we know that it can.The non-profit leaders Full Circle Fund supports have exactly the same perspective. People tell them that the problems they are tackling are too large, too unwieldy, and they don’t have the resources to make a difference. And they listen to that and they say, no. No, that’s not the future our community wants. And they set about creating a better one.The Founders’ Pledge to me is a bridge that connects these two incredible groups of people – a way to align the energy of the founders in the private sector with the leaders in the non-profit sector. On both sides, they’ll be out-gunned, out-resourced, and up against huge odds. But there is no way I would bet against them.
FCF: What has been your highlight with Full Circle Fund thus far?J
K: I really enjoy the off-site meetings, like the one we had at TomKat Ranch earlier this year. It’s so nice to step away from things for a day and just learn and hear about the amazing work so many members are involved in.
FCF: How do FCF and the Founders’ Pledge align with your values and view of philanthropy?
JK: My favorite part of Full Circle Fund’s approach is that it’s an active one: it’s not about writing a check and then walking away. It’s about learning, sharing, meeting others, and getting involved.I love that approach, because it means that you’re not making a one-time gift. You are giving your community a new gift, every day, through your actions, your talents, your connections and resources.The Founders’ Pledge takes this even one step further – it means that not only are you actively giving, you’re interweaving that into the DNA of your company as well. It takes that active approach to a whole new level.
FCF: What do you hope the Founders’ Pledge will do for the SF Bay Area Community -- for individuals, companies and the community?
JK: San Francisco is at an inflection point right now. There has been so much growth, so many new companies moving in, and like it or not, their values are shaping what the city is going to become over the next decade. That city is either going to be one in which the business community is separate from the city, or one in which the two are engaged with one another.My hope is that the Founders’ Pledge will serve as a catalyst for individuals, companies, and members of the community who want it to be the latter, who don’t want the city to lose what makes it so special.
FCF: Why should someone make the Founders’ Pledge?
JK: Founders work long hours – 70, 80 hours a week. They throw their soul into their work. And, though many want to, they don’t typically have a few “extra” hours to devote to their community.The Founders Pledge addresses that problem by providing a way for companies to integrate giving and philanthropy into their culture directly. That’s amazing. It means that, as a founder, I don’t have to find a way to give back on the side. Instead, it means that each of those 80 hours are working double-duty – the more successful the business, the more impact I will have on the community. That’s leverage.
FCF: What do you love most about San Francisco/the Bay Area?
JK: There is an energy here that isn’t like anywhere else I’ve ever been. You can have an idea that sounds absolutely nuts, completely ridiculous, and people here will say, hmmm. Seems tough but at least it’s worth trying.
FCF: To date, was has been your favorite FCF memory?
JK: There have been so many! One that comes to mind is the first retreat I ever attended, down in Monterey. I was a very new member, and I remember thinking as I was driving down, “this seems like a great organization, but am I really ready to spend an entire weekend with these people?” But within hours of arrival I was having an amazing time -- the weekend was a terrific blend of learning and making friends.Thank you, Joe, for being an ongoing ambassador for Full Circle Fund, and now, for The Founders' Pledge.