Astrid Scholz: Becoming a Tech Entrepreneur from a Nonprofit Executive

Astrid Scholz is a nonprofit executive turned tech entrepreneur and the Managing Director of Sphaera. In this episode she discussed her journey from leading Ecotrust, a nonprofit to actually becoming a tech entrepreneur in her 40s. We discuss several important topics about business, but Astrid also talks about a lot more.

becoming tech entrepreneur astrid scholz

Who is Astrid Scholz?

Dr. Astrid J. Scholz is Managing Partner and CEO (“Chief Everything Officer”) of Sphaera, a system design, and technology firm dedicated to co-creating global, distributed, democratic infrastructure for mobilizing data, innovations, and capital to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Astrid was previously President of Ecotrust, a conservation-based development organization with $150M in AUM, where Sphaera was incubated.

Astrid is a founding director of the XXcelerate Fund, a revolving loan fund and mentorship program created for and by women entrepreneurs that is piloting in her home state of Oregon, USA.

She is also a founding director of Zebras Unite, a growing global community of founders, investors, and allies who are creating a more ethical, inclusive, collaborative, and sustainable approach to building businesses. Astrid holds degrees from the University of St. Andrews, the University of Bristol, and the University of California, Berkeley.

' The actual moonshot cost a few hundred billion. But now achieving the sustainable development goals is going to cost 50 trillion. (What we’re trying to do) It’s orders of magnitude more challenging compared to...' - @ajscholz… Click To Tweet

Why Should You Listen to Astrid Scholz?

There are plenty of reasons why you should listen to Astrid Scholz. Let me give the top 3:

  1. Astrid made a change in her career when she was in her 40s.
  2. She brings in a very good mix of nonprofit, tech, and design – you wouldn’t find entrepreneurs with this kind of experience easily.
  3. Astrid is building something that’s going to change the way sustainable development goals are approached today (and the way nonprofits worked).
In my very first job interview when it comes time to talk about salary expectations I read the statistics that women undervalue their work and their time. So I just took the number... and I multiplied it by 1.25. - @ajscholz #business… Click To Tweet

What You’ll Learn from this Interview?

Astrid talks about a lot of things in this interview. Here are specific things you’ll learn:

  1. Why Astrid considers herself a ‘flawed parent’.
  2. Astrid explains why she did a master’s in art and science.
  3. Why did she choose to move from being a President at Ecotrust to this joining Sphaera?
  4. What’s so exciting about Sphaera that she chose to switch?
  5. What is the Resilience Exchange Platform and how different it is from an Open Innovation platform like Open IDEO.
  6. She explains the three design principles Citizen Centered, Equitable, and Investible.
  7. She explains Sphaera’s business model.
  8. Astrid talks about what Zebras Unite is, and how she met the team.

and so much more!

How Can You Listen?

Astrid’s interview is available in audio.

Direct Link to Audio

How to Get In Touch with Astrid Scholz?

Twitter: @ajscholz

Zebras Unite on Twitter: @sexandstartups

LinkedIn: @ajscholz


Zebras Unite Website:

Project 1800:

Astrid’s article titled Questioning the Business of Philanthropy

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Special thanks to Astrid Scholz for taking the time to join me this week!

Karthik Vijayakumar

Managing Partner at Design Your Thinking Labs. Storyteller, producer, copywriter, digital marketer, and artist. Helping purpose-driven entrepreneurs and brands. Husband to a makeup artist, dad to a 7-year old.