RALEIGH – Former tech entrepreneur Brian Hamilton is a philanthropist now after having sold is software firm Sageworks to a private equity firm in 2018, focusing on multiple issues from helping veterans to former inmates find jobs and careers to aspiring children entrepreneurs. Billboards touting “Entrepreneurship for Everyone” are part of his campaign to promote the foundation and its efforts.
He’s also one of the backers for the Triangle Children’s Business Fair on Saturday, and in an exclusive Q&A with WRAL TechWire, Hamilton talks about his mission to help others.
Called by backers “the largest children’s entrepreneurship event in North America,” the event in Morrisville from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. is expected to draw more than 75 “kid-preneurs.”
According to the Business Fair, “kid-preneur” participants are between the ages of 6 to 18, and hundreds applied for the 75 spots available for booths. The Fair launched in 2016.
“We started the Triangle Children’s Business Fair to help inspire children to discover their inner entrepreneur by setting up and showcasing their very own businesses,” Executive Director Rupal NisharNishar says. “We didn’t realize how quickly the event would grow.”
Hamilton is looking to help it grow further as he expands his own philanthropic efforts.
- Why did you get involved with the Triangle Children’s Business Fair? Why is it important to you?
I started out as an entrepreneur when I was a little kid, which, as I think about it, largely directed my professional life. So, I think it is important for kids to start learning about entrepreneurship even at a young age because their downside is minimal and they can pick up very valuable lessons.
- Why did you launch your foundation (and when) and what’s its purpose?
I sold Sageworks last year, which has allowed me to teach entrepreneurship full time through the foundation. I started teaching inmates about entrepreneurship in 1992, and the foundation’s broader purpose is to extend entrepreneurship to as many groups as possible.
- Do you plan on returning to the private sector?
That’s a great question, and I don’t know. I really want to make sure the foundation is solid before I do anything else. I may start another tech company, but I’m trying to figure all that out as I go.
- Your philanthropic efforts range from helping train inmates to return to the workforce to this Business Fair. What drives you every day as you try to give back to communities?
I see this a little differently than the direction of the question, which is a good one.
I really like solving problems, so, although I’m gratified with helping people, I also get a lot of joy from solving big problems. For example, the free enterprise system is the best economic system I can think of, however, it has a negative externality of poverty, which we face even in the United States today.
I think we can reduce poverty and low-grade economic misery by teaching people how to become entrepreneurs.
- Do you plan to expand the scope of your foundation’s efforts? if so, in what ways? How can others help?
The more that I look at what we are trying to do, the more it occurs to me that we have to use technology to reach more people.
We recently released “Starter U”, which is an online course and which is much more scaleable. It’s a free service that teaches people exactly, in a practical way, how to start their own businesses.
It is getting very positive reviews thus far, and I like technology because you can reach people in an inexpensive way. So, the specific answer to your question, I want to do more with technology.