When it comes to the business model for Time Auction, time is better than money.
Time Auction is a platform that lets people bid volunteer hours to meet inspiring leaders from all walks of life. Participants log their volunteer hours for causes they want to support. The more hours they put in, the more value they have to bid on rewards such as meeting a co-founder of Tim Hortons or the managing director of Facebook Canada.
“Priceless rewards are the best motivators for the priceless work people do when they volunteer,” says David Wen, co-founder of the social venture. “When more people volunteer, society strengthens as a result.”
Sauder is currently partnering with Time Auction on a pilot program to thank Metro Vancouver-based alumni for their community service. Alumni can use volunteer hours accrued with Sauder, UBC or any other organization between January 1, 2014 and February 28, 2015 to bid to watch a Vancouver Canucks game with team COO Victor de Bonis, cook a meal with a celebrity chef David Hawksworth, meet advertising guru and tech CEO Brian Wong, and more.
“We wanted to give our alumni something really meaningful with added value,” says Martina Valkovicova, Manager of the Volunteer Program at Sauder. “We appreciate everything our volunteers do in the community, and this was a unique opportunity to recognize and engage them, and provide them with access to a larger network and relationships.”
Wen’s professional passion grew from personal experience. Raised by parents with a strong commitment to service, he had volunteered frequently until university, work and life took him away from it. When he spotted a scholarship promotion that offered the opportunity to meet Tim Hortons’ co-founder Ron Joyce and required a strong background in volunteering, he jumped back in by teaching math in local schools, raising funds for cancer research and even travelling abroad to assist youths in impoverished nations.
He won the scholarship—and got to spend two days in Nova Scotia with the legendary Canadian business leader and philanthropist.
“Meeting someone inspiring can help your career and strengthen your trajectory,” Wen says. “It’s all about the connections that can happen and the possibilities that are created.”
The emerging entrepreneur knew he wanted to bring the inspiring experience to others, and loved the concept of time as currency. Originally delivered in a live auction format, Time Auction moved online. To date, more than 10,000 volunteer hours have been logged and numerous connections formed, leading to board governance roles, project collaborations and other initiatives.
Time Auction is one of five business ventures welcomed into the 2015 Coast Capital Savings Innovation Hub, a one-year accelerator program run by the Sauder School of Business Centre for Social Innovation and Impact Investing. All five ventures have created innovative ways to combine their passions for doing good with smart business sense.
This article will be published in the next edition of Viewpoints, Sauder's alumni magazine.