River Cohen is an American entrepreneur and philanthropist spanning a career of more than 20 years. His most prominent roles have been Founder and CEO of Datainsure, an electronic payment processing and data compliance company, and his non-profit organization, River Cohen Giving. He currently operates both companies in Scottsdale, Arizona.
What inspired you to want to become an entrepreneur?
I do not believe there was anything specific that inspired me to become an entrepreneur. It was more of a case of what to use as a vehicle for my passion, which is to help others. After I completed my undergraduate degree at Arizona State University, I was fortunate enough to have a few doors opened. I committed to focusing my time and energy into starting up River Cohen Giving. Although I have been actively involved with other entrepreneurial efforts, my heart’s desire has been to positively impact society through River Cohen Giving.
What are some of the giving services that you provide?
At River Cohen Giving, we focus on aiding a breadth of social topics such as human rights, health, animal welfare, arts & culture, and education. In addition, we have extended our services to include economic empowerment, environmental issues, and civil rights.
I am a deep supporter and promoter of organizations such as Make-A-Wish Foundation of America, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, Feeding America, the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix, and The Pollination Project. I also lend support to the Forest Preservation Society and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
One piece of advice for entrepreneurs?
I would advise entrepreneurs to use their influence and power to give back to improving some facet of society. It is quite easy to get caught up in greed after reaching financial success, however, making a difference in others’ lives not only improves their lives, but also the one giving. I find that by focusing my efforts into assisting others helps keep me grounded. It is important to dismantle the social hierarchies when an entrepreneur gives back to society.
One piece of advice for philanthropists?
In regard to philanthropists, I would advise them to never lose sight of their passion. Being a philanthropist can be mentally and physically taxing over time. There will be moments where there is a desire to help more, but it just is not possible due to time constraints and finances. I have found myself distraught at times when I have had to turn down offers simply because I am aware I cannot spread myself too thin. At that point, I question myself if I am really capable of helping others. However, in order to combat that, I remind myself of why I decided to be a philanthropist. There is no greater satisfaction than seeing the positive impact one can make in even just one person’s life. By keeping that in mind, that one person’s smile is where I find the motivation to keep going.
As a family man, how do you balance entrepreneurship with your personal life? Any tips?
My companies are based in Arizona, which does not make it easy to spend all the time I want with my family in California. I do my best to allocate dedicated time to them. The obvious is to never miss holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions. My wife is very strict with me to not neglect those. When I do manage to find extra time, I always make sure it is in the form of an outing that involves the entire family. My son and daughter both enjoy being quite immersed with the internet, however, I make it a point to look away from the screen and take in the surroundings. Luckily, our family shares an admiration for nature, which affords us the ability to go on biking and hiking trips a couple of times per month.