To say Dany Bouchedid did not have a privileged background is an understatement. The first eight years of his life were spent in Beirut, Lebanon, amid violence and trauma. Even when his father managed to move to the US, his family lived very modestly. The young Bouchedid at first explored the world of finance during the 1990s, gaining experience with Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan Chase and gaining an MBA from NY University's Stern School of Business.
All this time the seed sown by Jeff Bezos – that infrastructure was the key to the internet – was germinating in his mind. “I am a researcher by nature – that is who I am.” Satisfied of his market and following his entrepreneurial instincts he put together a team and started COLOTRAQ. In terms of running that team, he says: “I have been spoiled! Over 21 years I have been blessed by having rock stars for my employees and that makes it really easy to lead the company. My approach is always democratic: I am surrounded by extremely capable and self-driven people so I don't just want their buy-in to decisions that affect the whole company, I want to learn from them. Most of our decisions are made by mutual agreement.”
He thinks his role is comparable to that of a football coach. “The team are the stars on the field: I just have to leverage their strengths and abilities and know what positions they play best in, sometimes moving from one to another if they are multi-talented. It's really easy to win the game if you have players like these!” A good coach has also to be a good scout, he insisted. He is less interested in what a player knows than in who that player is, as a person. “I can teach you the products and the services and you can go to training for specialist knowledge and skills. But innate qualities like integrity, honesty, your work ethic and your moral compass are another matter. At an interview I am looking for the stuff you can't teach, and that is why I can call my team rock stars. We have survived two recessions and we will survive the pandemic because we are a family.”
Dany Bouchedid is not one to sit on his success. He has always felt the urge to give something back to society. Choosing causes to support, for example in the field of food insecurity, was not easy though: he searched for a mutual fund-style foundation that might navigate the sector and be an advocate for the most oppressed and disenfranchised, but found none. “There were a couple of data aggregators that depended on details uploaded by the charities themselves, but no way to fact check them.”
So he started the Bouchedid Foundation, 'the mutual fund of charities.' It is powered by CHARITYTRAQ, a platform that gives donors a dashboard where they can access metrics across an expanding portfolio of causes including child welfare and family hunger, homelessness, the refugee crisis, human trafficking, domestic violence, food insecurity, LGBTQ, health services, suicide prevention and autism. “We took a diversified approach; they include large to small, local, national and international. You can funnel your donations to a specific cause, spread them evenly or shift them in response to, say, a one-time need like hurricane relief.” He is focusing his personal donations on food insecurity right now. “We see so many Americans struggling to eat. I know what it is to go to bed hungry, and don't wish it on anybody.”