“Diversity of experiences is how innovation is created,” said Matt Pfaltzgraf, founder and CEO of Softgiving as he spoke at the Scheller College of Business Impact Speaker Series.
Pfaltzgraf shared stories of his humble upbringing in Iowa and how he discovered his entrepreneurial and leadership aptitudes at different stages in his life. Raised partially through the benefit of local nonprofits, he talked of how his early experiences in blue-collar jobs provided him with a basis of strong work ethic: “The default setting was just working really hard.”
After running for public office in Iowa, Pfaltzgraf eventually landed at Shazam Payment Association, where he quickly rose to a leadership role and had the opportunity to serve on different nonprofit boards. It was there that he first observed a disconnect between generational giving behavior: while older generations gave via check primarily, younger generations of new donors weren’t used to this older style of donation processing. He decided to leave his stable job and gave himself six months to come up with an enterprise solution.
After moving to Atlanta and building his company “in a hammock off the Beltline,” Softgiving moved into Atlanta Tech Village. The team has now grown to 10 and have served over 50 organizations. Pfaltzgraf shared insights on what it is like to grow and lead a start-up: “I always thought it would be nice to work for myself and have no boss. Instead, I have 50 bosses now. I report to everybody else because I have to make sure everybody else is successful.”
Organized by the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship (ILE) at Scheller College of Business, Impact is a weekly series that brings successful leaders from the corporate and nonprofit sectors, as well as innovative entrepreneurs, to campus for an authentic discourse with students and staff.
Events for the series take place every Wednesday at Scheller College in room 200, at 4:30 p.m., unless otherwise noted. The series is free and open to the public. Reservations are not required.
Watch past recordings on the ILE YouTube channel.