Stephen created Charity Charge to provide people with an easy way to give every day. He was inspired to start the company when he learned that 31% of consumers have never redeemed their credit card rewards. He sought a way to direct the $16 billion a year in unused reward points to someplace that would do the most good with them. Additionally, he was motivated by his father who lived to help others and told Stephen to “always do the right thing” before passing away from cancer at 53.
Stephen has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Growing up in the northeast, he spent afternoons selling lemonade at the corner of his block, washing neighbors’ cars, and shoveling snow. High school was no different, where he started his own website consulting business after the Web 2.0 boom. As a freshman in college, he decided to be the solution to his peers’ dreaded laundry responsibilities by starting Laundry Connect, a business that offered washing and folding services to students. So from an objective standpoint, Stephen was on a clear path toward entrepreneurship after graduation.
In 2008, he earned an economics degree from Washington University in St. Louis. He visited Austin in 2009 and discovered that the city was a “personification of who he is and who he strives to be.” Several months after his visit, he returned to Austin for good and found a job with the Austin Technology Incubator at The University of Texas at Austin. There, his opportunities for personal and professional growth were numerous and he slowly gained an education of the “real world.”
The Charity Charge launch in June 2016, was the culmination of his work to build partnerships with MasterCard, Commerce Bank, Network for Good, and Guidestar. Stephen said:
“ I have always felt that entrepreneurship is the pathway to create prosperity for individuals, companies, and nonprofits, but there was no ‘how-to’ guide for starting a credit card focused on creating social good….so it’s been quite a journey.”
Throughout his career, Stephen has come to enjoy the process of building a company. He is passionate about ideation, branding, and digital marketing and has developed an expertise in consumer financial services, co-branded credit cards, donation processing, philanthropy, branding, and cause marketing. During his professional journey as an entrepreneur, he was honored to speak at South by Southwest and star in IBM’s reality show called “A New Way to Startup.” Stephen was also recognized by IBM as one of the top 5 social entrepreneurs in the world.
Stephen is a humble leader who recognizes the team effort that made Charity Charge what it is today. Now he lives each day with a mission to empower Charity Charge cardholders to give to the causes they feel most strongly about. If you ask him about his passion for giving, Stephen will tell you that:
“Doing the right thing is always the right thing.