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Jon Lincoln of goimagine.com: “Failure is a good thing, Embrace it ”

The goal of goimagine is to prove that an eCommerce company can succeed by focusing on social good rather than investor profits. All of the profits from goimagine will be donated to children’s charities, with our first charity being Horizons for Homeless Children. Horizons for Homeless Children is a charity that works to help alleviate […]

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The goal of goimagine is to prove that an eCommerce company can succeed by focusing on social good rather than investor profits. All of the profits from goimagine will be donated to children’s charities, with our first charity being Horizons for Homeless Children. Horizons for Homeless Children is a charity that works to help alleviate the trauma and stress of homelessness on both children and their families by providing high-quality early education, vital opportunities for play, support for parents, and crucial advocacy.


As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jon Lincoln, founder of goimagine.com.

Jon Lincoln began his entrepreneurial life out of a dorm room at Northeastern University in 2001. Since then he has earned accolades for ventures in different industries, including a comedy club that earned multiple awards as “Boston’s Best Comedy Club” and later an insurance software solution that earned the “Insurance Innovation of the Year” award.

Never a stranger to new adventures, in 2020 Jon has entered the world of eCommerce with the launch of goimagine.com — a marketplace that donates 100 percent profits to charity.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Like many people, my career has been anything but a straight line. I have been an entrepreneur since 2001, when I launched my first company from a dorm room at college. It was a stand-up comedy club at a college venue that later led me to opening a full-time comedy club in downtown Boston. I spent the better part of 10 years performing and producing comedy shows. During that time we were featured on NBC’s Today Show, we won Boston’s Best Comedy Club (twice) and I met many amazing comedians along the way.

Of course, as Mike Tyson says, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” When I hit my 30’s I was married, having kids and it was time to ‘grow up’. I needed to focus on a career path that offered more stability and benefits than working nights making people laugh in a nightclub. Not knowing what I wanted to do, I bounced around between bartending, selling used cars and an embarrassing string of failed job interviews. In 2010, I eventually got a job selling software in the insurance industry, sending me in a new and unexpected direction.

By the time 2015 rolled around, I had gained enough experience in the software industry to launch my own company, an insurance industry solution built on SalesForce.com called Veruna. We quickly gained notoriety by winning the “Insurance Innovation of the Year” award. I was also named an “InsurTech Top Ten Leader” and we raised multiple rounds of funding. While the company is continuing to grow today, I could not shake the feeling there was still a business itch I needed to scratch.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to do something philanthropic that would have a meaningful impact in the world. Years ago I started thinking about an online economy that would focus on social good instead of being built solely to serve investors. So, earlier this year my existing company,Veruna, hired a new CEO, which gave me the opportunity to start focusing on this new project.

This leads me to today and the launch of goimagine.com. This new company is the world’s first marketplace donating 100 percent profits to charity. My passion for this cause continues to grow everyday. I firmly believe if buyers and sellers come together on a caring marketplace we can do a lot of good in the world.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

The goal of goimagine is to prove that an eCommerce company can succeed by focusing on social good rather than investor profits. All of the profits from goimagine will be donated to children’s charities, with our first charity being Horizons for Homeless Children. Horizons for Homeless Children is a charity that works to help alleviate the trauma and stress of homelessness on both children and their families by providing high-quality early education, vital opportunities for play, support for parents, and crucial advocacy.

The concept of goimagine is simple; buyers and sellers still transact like they would any other marketplace. The major difference is while other marketplace focus on increasing wealth for their investors, our mission is to use our profits to help children in need.

We believe that over time this has the chance to disrupt buyer behavior and introduce a new category of eCommerce…we like to call this the #caringeconomy.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Oh boy. About 12 years ago I was invited to do an interview on a local news station. I think it was around Halloween and I thought it would be funny to do the interview wearing a fake mustache and purple velvet suit. Long story short,I got people to laugh, but not in the way I wanted. My brother still makes fun of me to this day over it.

The lesson I learned is don’t wear a fake mustache when doing a TV interview. So, I now only wear my fake mustache while doing written interviews like this one.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I have had countless mentors over the past 20 years and believe throughout life you continually meet many new people that will influence your future.

Most recently I reached out to Nell Newman, who graciously took my phone call. Nell was the founder of Newman’s Own Organics and pioneered the idea of giving 100 percent profits to charity through selling food at supermarkets. Over the past few decades, Newman’s Own has donated 550 million dollars to charity and we are now bringing this business model to eCommerce.

Nell not only offered me some great advice from her time running Newman’s Own Organics, but also introduced me to other experts within the field. Having her as a mentor is invaluable.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

I believe the constant evolution of technology is often disruptive in both good and bad ways. For instance, global logistics has made it easier to ship products all over the world in a faster and more reliable way. This has helped make it easier for people to buy products online quickly and at discounted prices. Conversely, global logistics has made it increasingly difficult (if not impossible) for local brick and mortar stores to compete. So small businesses that thrived for decades are now closing at an alarming rate. The classic American dream is slowly being killed off by technology advancements in logistics.

Similarly, social media has been a fantastic disruptive technology that let’s people connect in ways they never could before. In an instant you can see what your friends and family are up to or let them know at the same time what you are doing. It’s wonderful that people are connecting more now than ever before. Ironically, this is also making people feel less connected. Social media is reducing ‘real’ human interaction and meaningful relationships, which is resulting in higher rates of depression and lower self-esteem.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Failure is a good thing, Embrace it — I have had so many failures I’ve lost count. As I experiment with new businesses and ideas, most of them go belly up. In the past when I failed at something it really upset me. I would take it much harder than I should have and it would throw me off for weeks (or even months). What I’ve learned is that each failure has taught me something new and often led me to something even better. If I never failed, I would have never succeeded. If you treat failure as a learning opportunity, it will give you the fortitude to leave the failure behind and create something new in the next chapter of your life.

Nobody else knows what they are doing either — It’s easy to feel like everybody else knows what they are doing. The reality is entrepreneurs always put on a great façade and tout their accomplishments to look good, but everyone is faking it. Everyone is insecure, questions their own decisions and worries about the future. It’s important to remember you have just as much opportunity to succeed as anyone else.

Stay Humble — When you are an entrepreneur, it often means you end up being ‘the boss’. Remember that everyone you meet knows something you don’t and everyone you interact with can teach you something. If you ever think you know more than everyone else or treat others as inferior, you are not only doomed, but also not a very nice person. Kindness is everything.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

By continuing to grow a movement of online buyers and sellers that will transform eCommerce into an economy that supports worthy charities. Goimagine is proving the concept of the #caringeconomy in the genre of Handmade. Once successful, this concept can be applied anywhere. Imagine an Airbnb that donates profits to disaster relief or an eBay that donates to saving the environment.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

I am a big fan of reading biographies. I find it inspiring to learn how people became successful in whatever field they are in. In particular, learning that their path is rarely easy and often covered in endless challenges and sacrifice.

In particular I enjoyed reading the biography of Benjamin Franklin. He was a true renaissance man who reinvented himself at different points throughout his life. Always being inquisitive, always trying new things and always learning. It’s a reminder that life isn’t static and that there are always new adventures to be had, no matter your age.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one” ~ John Lennon

I have always believed if people come together to create positive change in the world that it will happen. Part of the reason we named our new company goimagine is inspired by the song Imagine by John Lennon. Most people want to see a better economy, but no single person can change things. We believe most people are ‘dreamers’ and when we come together online we will bring meaningful positive change in the world.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’m trying this right now. We are building a community of makers and artists throughout the United States to change the way people think about shopping online. We (the people) have the ability to change eCommerce in a way that has never happened before by helping children in need.

How can our readers follow you online?

Every week I’m doing interviews with makers on goimagine’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/goimagine.life/

You can also follow me personally at: https://www.facebook.com/jonlincoln or https://twitter.com/jonlincoln

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