The Entrepreneur's Hierarchy of Needs

Many successful entrepreneurs want to leave a legacy, not after they have died, but during their lifetimes. This creates a tremendous opportunity for health entrepreneurs and research universities.

By now, most of us are familiar with Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs that appeared in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation," where he described the stages of human motivation.

While these might apply to all, philanthrocapitalists and philanthropreneurs take it a few steps further. After demonstrating market validation for their products and peer affirmation of their accomplishments, once they have reached self-actualization, they want to leave a legacy, not after they have died, but during their lifetimes.

In part, this seems to be driving philanthropreneurs to leave something of meaning while they can see the fruits of their efforts while they are alive, but also have comfort in knowing that they have contributed to solving some of society's wicked problems like health care disparities, education, a cleaner environment, or women's rights after they die.

While philanthropreneurship is certainly not new, we are seeing more and more evidence of private and nonprofit foundation support, family offices, and venture philanthropy donating their money, talent, and energy to solving health care challenges or supporting institutions that are.

For biomedical and health entrepreneurs and for research universities this is good news for it opens a new source of money to support translational research and commercial development of ideas, inventions and discoveries and puts the efforts on the fast track, pushed by benefactor entrepreneurs who want to see results and impact quickly.

We’re now living through a second golden age of philanthropy that will make Rockefeller, Carnegie and Morgan look like skinflints.