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Michael Hyatt on Becoming Canada’s First Venture Philanthropist

Michael Hyatt on Becoming Canada’s First Venture Philanthropist

Michael Hyatt became a self-made millionaire at age 25, after building two highly successful tech firms that he sold for $500 million dollars. Today, he is ranked as one of Canada’s top entrepreneurs, is a mentor and investor in several startups, and is teaming up with SickKids hospital in Toronto to unite investment with charity. He calls it venture philanthropy.

“It hasn’t been done in our country. I thought, ‘why can’t I use my instincts and understanding and funding good things to do it in philanthropy?’” Michael said to Financial Post.

Through the Hyatt Family Foundation, Michael is supporting research he thinks has potential for commercial success. If it stalls, he moves on but if it’s successful, he will take a portion of the profit and re-invest it into another research study.

“It’s not about Michael Hyatt making any money, it’s about the foundation placing investment into a researcher who wants to try and make a discovery that could change the world,” he said.

His first venture is in support of Dr. Ronald Cohn, the president and CEO of SickKids, whose work focuses on congenital muscular dystrophy type 1A, one of many genetic disorders that target the body’s muscles.

“They have to scrimp and scrounge for money all the time,” Michael told Financial Post. “This is early, remote-chance science — who funds these researchers with these amazing hunches?”

Dr. Cohn was the first to reverse these type of disorders in mice by manipulating genes without breaking genetic sequences. They are looking to attempt this with humans now with the hope that it could solve other genetic disorders.

Michael is investing $100,000 over the next three years with the hospital matching his investment. If all goes well, Michael’s foundation will get 10 per cent of the profit. He told the Financial Post that he is particularly interested in funding very niche research and hopes to contribute to a research project on blindness or deafness.

A recipient of Canada’s “Top 40 Under 40” award, a finalist for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award, and a former “dragon” on CBC’s online sensation Next Gen Den, Michael Hyatt speaks on leadership, innovation, entrepreneurship, and the future of tech. He shows audiences how to embrace change, because, as he says, “change is good” and “our future is great”.

Interested in learning more about Michael and what he can bring to your next event? Email us at [email protected].

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