Alumni Spotlight — Doug Galen, MBA 88
Galen, BS 84, MBA 88
Co-Founder & CEO of Ripple Works: rippleworks.org
Lecturer at Berkeley-Haas and Stanford GSB
Doug Galen is passionate about building and scaling great companies that disrupt industries and drive innovation. He has had extensive experience in building and scaling startups and currently lectures at Berkeley-Haas and Stanford University. “I’ve learned how to make brutally hard decisions when you don’t have enough resources, and I’ve come to know what it’s like when a product is great vs. mediocre,” said Doug.
He is the founder and CEO of RippleWorks, where he now gets to play a role in helping companies scale as they do everything from solar panels in rural Tanzanian villages to micro-insurance for the poor across Africa and Asia.
The initial question at the core of RippleWorks was “How can we best help millions of people?” It’s an overly ambitious, daunting quest. But there already exist great social entrepreneurs well on their way to helping millions get out of poverty. The question then became, “How can we help?” RippleWorks pairs promising social entrepreneurs around the world with tech and startup experts from Silicon Valley to jointly conquer specific scaling challenges of the social venture.
Impact through RippleWorks
RippleWorks is wrapping up its first cohort of companies that it has helped scale. They have taken on projects ranging from cloud infrastructure to scaling call centers. The program pairs volunteer experts, who give 1–5 hours per week of their time, with social ventures for a 3–4 month project. Culminating the project, RippleWorks flies the experts to spend a week with their social venture for an immersive work session.
“We get to bring the best-of-the-best people together to collaborate, which is always special,” Doug said. “We recently had an expert, Mike, go and visit Aldi, his project partner in Jakarta, Indonesia. Mike felt pure joy because he maximized his volunteer time by providing priceless technology and architecture advice. His input will accelerate Aldi’s growth to help more shop keepers in rural Indonensia.” Mike also visited Aldi’s home and connected with his son, teaching him how to sing the itsy-bitsy-spider. Now, Aldi sings the song per his son’s nightly request.
“It wasn’t just about the project,” Doug said. “We get to see personal encounters like Mike and Aldi, the where two people bring the best out of each other, and really see what can happen when you connect two worlds together.”
Advice for current Berkeley-Haas students:
Doug reminds students to appreciate the true melting pot that is Berkeley. “Haas exposed me to business people from around the world, and Berkeley exposed me to the most diverse group of people.” It offers an opportunity to experience the vast world outside of Silicon Valley. Also, Doug advises to take advantage of everything Haas offers, particularly beyond curriculum.
- Attend every event you can — you have the chance to attend more powerful events in your two years at Haas than you can for the rest of your life.
- Make sure to take the time to understand your passions and values, and use that to discover what opportunities are out there and what goals you want to set for yourself.
- Appreciate your classmates — you will learn as much from your experiences with them as you will from instructors, homework, or assignments.
- And have fun along the way. Play intramural sports. Kick some butt at Challenge for Charity, and, if nothing else, beat Stanford.