How Binary Capital Cofounder and Duke Alumni Justin Caldbeck Is Fighting For Change
The former Duke basketball player turned financial whiz is donating time, money, leadership and expertise to make positive change.
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Justin Caldbeck is not only a tech investor, but a passionate philanthropist with a vision of making the world a better place. Caldbeck’s recent focus on angel investing to help women and minorities realize their business dreams is just another example in a long list of actions Caldbeck has taken to give others a leg up, leveling the playing field for those who may have had to start a little further down.
Since leaving his post as the co-founder of Binary Capital in 2017, Caldbeck of Duke basketball has ramped up his efforts to make a difference through donating time, money, leadership and expertise. We recently sat down with Caldbeck to talk one-on-one about what Caldbeck been doing to change the world for good, how improving his community in the Bay Area and on a global scale became important to Caldbeck, and what Caldbeck plans to do next:
You have devoted so many of your resources to helping those who are less advantaged to find their footing. What inspired you to take the first steps in philanthropy and community action?
I grew up in a small town community in Shelburne, Vermont. The opportunities I had while in school because of the programs I was involved in and because of my upbringing were ones many others don’t. I was able to go to private schools, see movies and go to college with fewer concerns about how to pay for it; and the realization that there was a disparity between what I was able to do as a child compared to others became clear to me at an early age. I’ve also become increasingly aware of many other elements of privilege in the world over the last few years and I want to do what I can to change that. It was important to me to do my part in giving back because I felt so lucky that I had that many options and opportunities.
You learned a lot about the world from your educational opportunities. Playing basketball for Duke University solidified your talent for teamwork, no doubt. What other experiences have you had that shaped your attitudes about helping others?
When I was in school, I got involved in a lot of clubs—sports, community service and leadership — and that led to all sorts of opportunities. One of the first organizations I joined in high school was a community service organization that had a motto I remember vividly: “Helping others while helping myself.” That year, I did a lot of community service; and through the group, I was able to discover a lot about myself and how I wanted to spend my time. It became a common belief that it was so important to help others as much as possible in all areas, even if it was just helping others get back up after they had taken a tumble, or perhaps helping them write an application for a college. Those opportunities opened my eyes to some incredible things and really made me realize that I had to share those experiences.
What kinds of charities and causes are most important to you right now, Justin?
I’ve tried my best to use my time since leaving Binary Capital in 2017, to use my skills and resources to make a positive impact in charities and organizations around missions including reducing sex trafficking; providing opportunities for those who were formerly incarcerated and trying to do good with their second chance at life; offering mentoring to at risk youth and working with organizations for the advancement of women in leadership in various organizations.
You have already given so much, but your mission isn’t over. What is the central theme of the goals you have for your philanthropic work?
A lot of the work I do is about giving back to create change. Being able to do that is a privilege. It’s also the gift of equality. This year, I’m going to be adding my name to a number of additional local, national and international charities. Ultimately, I hope to make a difference in the world. We’re all created equal. Giving my time and resources back to help make it even more equal is my dream.
Thanks for talking with us today, Justin. How do you hope the world is going to benefit from your contributions?
Ideally, I hope that through my actions people will see that happiness, good health and joy are contagious—a lot of happy people and even less happy people get happier. And when they do, they get the support that they need. I think that people need more opportunities to share their experiences and their passions, so that others can feel more like the world is a better place when they’re a part of it.