TMCnet Feature
June 03, 2020

Business Spotlight: Bo Parfet, Founder of Denali Venture Philanthropy



Bo Parfet
is an executive-level professional dedicated to “impact investments.” He fuses his love of business with his desire to foster positive global change with the Denali Venture Philanthropy. Bo founded Denali Venture Philanthropy alongside his wife, Meredith Parfet, in 2010. The organization invests in like-minded entrepreneurs looking to execute socially conscious initiatives.



An avid high-altitude ski mountaineer, Bo also is a member of the Explorers Club. He partnered with the fabled group to create the Seven Summits Awards Program, which offers grants to outstanding students in health-care research. He also spearheaded a partnership between the Explorers Club and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management to enable seasoned explorers to host on-campus lectures about how their adventures offered invaluable leadership lessons. Parfet is one of 127 people in the United States to climb each of the Seven Summits. He recounts this journey in his two published books: Die Trying: One Man’s Quest to Conquer the Seven Summits and They Lived to Tell the Tale: True Stories of Mountain Adventure from the Legendary Explorers Club.

Parfet also has a research background. He served as a Research Fellow at the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and was apart of a multidisciplinary team to discover 29 new biological species on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Parfet earned his Bachelor of Science in Economics from Colorado State University, a Master in Economics from the University of Michigan, and a Master in Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He currently resides in Boulder, Colorado with his family

1. Why did you start your business?

I started my business, Denali Venture Philanthropy, to honor and build upon my family’s legacy of philanthropy within a modern framework. We are an investment organization that funds entrepreneurs who are committed to social change and conscientiousness. Overall, Denali Venture Philanthropy has provided me with the opportunity to continue my family history of philanthropic work with a specific eye to forward-thinking innovation. Starting this business has allowed me to be an agent of positive change while making a modest return on invested capital, for which I am very thankful.

2. How do you set goals for your business?

All good goals start with good ideas. For me, ideas can come from a diverse set of mediums, whether from reading books, from listening to audio-books, from watching TedTalks, from exploring YouTube and Google (News - Alert), or from utilizing my network of domain experts. Good ideas tend to shine through quickly. Once I am able to pinpoint a potential idea, I share these ideas with and send materials over to my team members to highlight the most relevant insights. From there, we usually hold a few group meetings to discuss the ideas and whether or not to move forward. If we are all on board, then we make a plan and execute.

3. How do you stay on top of your workload while motivating your staff?

I stay on top of my workload while motivating my staff by incorporating my staff into the process idea generation. I do not move forward with an idea or a goal without my staff’s approval, and I am determined to make the work needed to achieve these goals as fun and rewarding as possible. I like to prioritize exercise and eating well as a means of staying on top of my memory and keeping my energy high.

It is also important for me to prioritize high-quality interpersonal communication. On the road, for example, I schedule as many meetings as possible. I typically schedule meetings at a local cafe or over long walks. I especially enjoy discussing matters over a long walk because it brings out better “energy” than a normal sit-down meeting. If someone is too busy for either of these options, I offer to commute with them to or from work to save them time and energy. In between meetings, I like to tackle phone calls and stay in touch with my staff.

4. What would you say is your “secret recipe” for success?

So many different qualities make a person successful, such as work ethic, passion for something bigger than yourself, integrity, and maintaining good health. When thinking about a “big picture” vision on how to make a business successful, there is something to be said about how some of the world’s most successful companies have liberated themselves from traditional operations. The largest taxi company in the world, Uber, does not own a single taxi. AirBnb, the largest hospitality player, doesn’t own a single hotel room. Even Amazon, the largest global retailer, didn’t own any retail frontage until recently. This to me exemplifies how the “secret recipe” for macro-level success entails creative, cool ideas that make money, save time, and break traditional patterns.

5. In your opinion, what are the qualities of a good leader?

A good leader does not necessarily need to be the smartest guy or gal in the room, but they definitely should be one of the hardest workers. If you are passionate about your work, your work output will have more depth. I find that this in turn trickles down and enhances all aspects of an organization. Good leaders also make decisions that might not be the easiest, but are the most honest. I have found that having integrity as a leader pays off in droves further down the line.

I am also able to lead as a productive and fulfilled person by exercising and eating well. Some of the many benefits of exercise and eating well include higher energy levels, open-mindedness, increased creativity, better memory, and more happiness. The results of maintaining a healthy lifestyle enable me to lead my business and staff to the best of my abilities.

6. What does the future hold for your business?

I am excited for Denali Venture Philanthropy to continue contributing to movements that change, enhance, and fix the world’s great problems. This includes sitting on the boards or advisory boards of quality companies to maintain social consciousness within their decision-making process(es). We are also hoping to continue connecting “impact entrepreneurs” with other interested individuals, families, and institutions to expand our impact and help the right people find the right opportunities. We are also planning to continue investing small amounts into social enterprises in addition to publishing relevant articles and papers. Lastly, we are interested in speaking at events to help advance the impact investing movement and put Denali Venture Philanthropy at the forefront of public discourse surrounding transformative change.


 
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