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Doing Business & Doing Good

Anh-Minh Le | June 23, 2016 | Lifestyle Story City Life

Raised in a family where, as he puts it, “giving back was at our core,” it’s no surprise that serial entrepreneur Trevor Traina would eventually find a way to merge his business and philanthropic interests. The idea for IfOnly came to him about four years ago, when he was “looking for a gift for my brother—tennis with a famous player,” recalls the native San Franciscan, who sits on several nonprofit boards. “Even though I had the means and connections to hunt it down, there was not a store to buy experiences. I realized that people of all walks of life wanted more experiences versus things.”

IfOnly—a marketplace for experiences whose backers include Silicon Valley’s Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg and Khosla Ventures—is Traina’s fifth startup. The company partners with luminaries in various fields on offerings such as a drone-flying and -building activity, and private lessons from the bassist of San Jose’s Smashmouth. The products range from the everyday to the exclusive: A group walking tour that highlights some of the best burrito joints in San Francisco’s Mission District is $13 per person, while a balloon ride over Mount Everest goes for $2.4 million.

A minimum of 10 percent of each sale is donated to charity, but the average is closer to 60 percent, according to Traina. More than 250 organizations benefit from the site, which has sold in excess of 20,000 experiences. “We get letters all of the time from causes we work with telling us how they were finally able to buy microscopes and supplies for their classrooms, or how we were able to help villages get the water that they desperately needed,” he notes.

And which IfOnly experience would the founder and CEO most like to have? “The private dinner in the Doge’s Palace in Venice with my wife,” says Traina. (Although dining like a doge comes with a price tag of $65,000 per person, his 10-year anniversary is just a few months away.) For those still mulling over summer vacation options, perhaps an Indonesian private yacht charter or shark-diving in the Bahamas should be added to the list.

Originally published in the May issue of Silicon Valley

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