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Bo GhirardelliBo Ghirardelli is the Co-Founder and CEO of Sky’s the Limit, a rapidly expanding digital platform that connects entrepreneurs with peers, volunteer business mentors, training resources, and funding. Sky’s the Limit is one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the US serving underrepresented young adult entrepreneurs, with over 40,000 young entrepreneurs and volunteers registered on its website.

Through his experiences, Bo saw there was a gap in the market for supporting underrepresented young adult entrepreneurs who need the resources to help them realize their potential. That’s why Bo co-founded Sky’s the Limit. Now he leads a team of 30 people across software design and development, member experience growth and partnerships, and has generated over $10 million, primarily from national and global corporate partners, including Accenture, Goldman Sachs, PNC, and CVC Capital Partners.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Bo Ghirardelli describes his origin story from his time as a teacher to his work abroad with the Peace Corps
  • What compelled Bo to start Sky’s the Limit?
  • How Sky’s the Limit transformed from a brick-and-mortar to a tech nonprofit
  • How Sky’s the Limit creates value for both its corporate partners and its entrepreneurs
  • What drives people to come to Sky’s the Limit?
  • What is a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO)?

In this episode…

What can you do to improve an ecosystem that does not serve everyone? Many underserved communities are being left out of the entrepreneurial picture, even though they are frequently the people who need it the most.

Bo Ghirardelli began as an English and social studies teacher before joining the Peace Corps. During his time abroad, he was inspired to go to Morocco by the Arab Spring, which opened his eyes to the importance of entrepreneurship for many people facing adversity. That’s why Bo co-founded Sky’s the Limit, one of the largest nonprofit programs in the US, serving underrepresented young adult entrepreneurs. Sky’s the Limit has the resources to assist underrepresented entrepreneurs and to create a global community where they and their allies can form meaningful relationships and grow together.

In this episode of the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast, host John Corcoran welcomes the Co-founder and CEO of Sky’s the Limit, Bo Ghirardelli, to the show. Bo shares the experiences that led to founding Sky’s the Limit. Bo discusses the evolution of Sky’s the Limit’s focus, talks about the benefits of establishing a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), and shares some of the success stories made possible through his organization.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:02  

Welcome to the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast where we feature top founders and entrepreneurs and their journey. Now let’s get started with the show.

 

John Corcoran  0:13  

Alright, welcome everyone. John Corcoran here. I’m the Co-host of this show. If you are new to this program, check out our archives because we got all kinds of great past interviews with smart CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs, of all kinds of companies and organizations. And of course, this episode series is brought to you by EO San Francisco, which is a division of Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a global community of about 16,000 entrepreneurs, working together to support one another and to grow entrepreneurship support, entrepreneurship and companies around the globe. To learn more about it, go to EOSF.org. And my guest here today is Bo Ghirardelli. He went from teaching sixth grade English and social study in Los Angeles, to the Peace Corps and Teach for America. He ended up becoming the co founder and CEO of an organization called Sky’s the Limit. It’s one of the largest nonprofit programs for underrepresented young adult entrepreneurs in the US. He leads a team of 30 great people across software design and development member experience growth and partnerships, and has generated over $10 million, primarily from national and global corporate partners, including Accenture, Goldman Sachs, PNC CVC Capital, and many more. So we’re gonna learn all about Sky’s the Limit and the great work that they do there today. And Bo, just a pleasure to have you here today. And first, I want to hear about the origin story here. Now you had, as I mentioned in the intro, had been a teacher, had been in the Peace Corps, and had done Teach For America. And you’re kind of inspired by the Arab Spring to go over to the Middle East. First, let’s start with that. I watched it as fascinating as it unfolded. But what was experienced for like for you going over and being part of that uprising that movement?

 

Bo Ghirardelli  2:05  

Thanks, John. I think the reality of living and working in Morocco, through the Peace Corps and during the Arab Spring was was was that economic lack a lack of economic opportunity was really driving a lot of the the problems in the community I was living in and and the most important thing for me was to just listen to the community I was living in and the people there and it quickly became obvious that if companies weren’t hiring, how could working age young people who needed to put food on the table? How could they make money to, to support themselves and their families? And so entrepreneurship and necessity entrepreneurship was, was really a path that one of the few paths open to them. And, and so really be there. Those early years were about listening to the young people about their business ideas, figuring out what are the obstacles that they were facing to starting those businesses? So in the beginning, it was really about business planning, and how do I take this idea and figure out how to launch it. And then, you know, entrepreneurs had this this business plan, they said, Okay, now I need money to launch this, how do I find money and go to the microfinance organizations, and they wouldn’t lend to the entrepreneurs. They’re too risky. And so I said, you know, we’ll just build our own microfinance loan fund and, and we did and we underwrote loans, see entrepreneurs were serving and then to launch their businesses and they said, Okay, now we got to figure out how to keep this thing alive and grow it. And so we built a business mentoring program to help them learn from other businessmen and women in the community. And, and it sets them up for success long term. So that was the genesis of of our work.

 

John Corcoran  3:57  

And it’s kind of fascinating origin. So you would you had grown up speaking French, or you’d learn French and you were placed in Morocco, right, which as a lot of French speaking languages, is that right?

 

Bo Ghirardelli  4:12  

Yeah, yeah. I, I learned French in school and, and fell in love with it as a teenager on a trip there and in with France and, and with Morocco, and visiting it as a young person and, and learn a little bit of Moroccan Arabic. But yes, the French, the French definitely helped.

 

John Corcoran  4:33  

And did you have the vision that this is something that I’m going to bring back to Oakland where I was raised when you were in the Middle East?