When the Cosmos Align
Sponsored by: Female Founders Community
Emily Fowler Pellen : Founder & CEO of Purpose Ventures
When I was 7 years old, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up and I confidently stated that I wanted to be a doctor. I knew that I wanted to help people feel better from a very young age. It was only when I was entering college that I realized I didn’t want to do that through medicine, but rather through the realm of our minds, our energy and ultimately our consciousness.
I didn’t have the intention to start my own company when I set out. I started my career as a business strategist so I spent a lot of time researching trends, consumer behavior and markets. My very first career job was at a web analytics company and my job was to evaluate the effectiveness of big brand websites in accomplishing their goals. It was a really interesting experience because I was getting to observe human behavior from the other side of a screen. After that I was recruited to work as a business strategist at an advertising agency where I continued to research the behaviors of millennial’s, the uber wealthy, and Vegas consumers, among many other types of people. Again, I loved learning about people and what was driving them - the only problem was that I felt super unfulfilled. At the end of the day, I was providing insights to large companies who only cared about selling their less-than-positive products to people. It was soul crushing and I knew I had to get out. It would still be a couple of years before I could find my way out - I moved to Toronto with my then boyfriend (now husband) and continued to work in the advertising world.
Upon my return to the US from a trip to Israel where I truly contemplated my place in the world, I had received a Facebook message from a former boss of mine who I had met at the first advertising company. His message was super simple and really powerful. He said, “Do you want to do something totally different?”
I was on the phone with him in under 5 minutes. He explained that he was now working at a foundation that focused on solving massive global challenges (like clean oceans, CO2 emissions, women’s safety, safe cookstoves in India...oh and private space flight). He was looking for a strategist who’d be willing to move to LA as soon as possible to start work on a number of projects including researching spinal cord injury, ocean oil spill clean-up technologies, and a ocean plastics. Needless to say, it was a YES. I felt it throughout my whole body.
So, I moved from Toronto to LA and I started my journey at the XPRIZE Foundation. While I was there I met the most amazing people on this planet - everyone from established scientists, doctors, inventors, philanthropists and even celebrities. Everyone was banding together to craft these challenges into prizes that the world wanted to solve. It was so fulfilling. One of the projects that I worked on was a 2-day workshop where the foundation invited 100 of the world’s leaders in business, philanthropy and Hollywood to create the next “batch” of challenges that would go live. It was during the preparation for that event that I realized that this process of “designing” a challenge in such a way that it motivated other people to solve it was a method that EVERYONE should have access to doing. If it were to be kept within just the four walls of our organization, it wouldn’t serve the billions of people that I knew that it could.
So there I was - a first time entrepreneur. We needed to raise enough money to build the platform and hire a team. It was a really hard chapter in which my job was simultaneously to help to raise $1.5M as well as to define how the platform should be designed and to prepare the massive amount of teaching content that would need to be on the site. Oh, and attract both sides of a marketplace. The greatest call that I received was when NASA called me to say that we had won a 5-year contract with them. When they call they DO announce that they are calling from Houston. After receiving that call I knew that my time with starting the company was done and that my next chapter was calling me. My business partner remains as the CEO today and is doing a great job of running it.
I was ready to focus on leadership coaching with other social entrepreneurs who were like me - powerful, visionary, dedicated and honestly - burning out and losing themselves on the journey! What good is it to try and build a positively oriented company when you’re draining yourself? That had been my journey with HeroX and I wanted to use that experience to benefit others so that they could have abundant energy to keep building incredible new companies. So, I started Purpose Ventures a few years ago and I focus on invoking leadership “consciousness” with powerful first-time CEO’s who have positively impactful companies. It is the most rewarding “job” in the world!