Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Interview with Nyna Caputi, Director, Petals in the Dust and Founder, The Expat Woman


Earlier this month we had a chance to interview Nyna Pais Caputi, a director of the upcoming social impact documentary Petals in the Dust: Endangered Indian Girls which is set to have its world premier on June 6, 2015 in San Francisco.

Petals in the Dust examines themes of gender discrimination and violence against women---through the lens and stories of incredible individual women from India and across the diaspora. The project has been one of passion and commitment by Nyna, taking over 7 years to make into reality.



Meet Nyna


Nyna Pais Caputi has the incredible knack of taking Gandhi's quote "be the change you wish to see in the world" to heart. When her own journey led to her to explore adopting children from India, she was confronted with stark gender inequality norms and difficult realities such as infanticide. Instead of standing by, she began the epic project of writing, directing, producing, and releasing a documentary that explores the layers of gender inequality in India---and also tells the stories of women who have found ways to overcome difficult realities.

As she researched her film and learned about atrocities such as killing of women and girls in India and globally, she took a bold step to galvanize attention and community by founding the Global Walk for India's Missing Girls. Now in its fifth year, it has become an international awareness campaign on the violence and genocide of Indian women that has taken place in over 25 cities and five countries.

And again, when she moved to San Francisco and couldn't find a group for international women interested in pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors, she took it upon herself to launch "The Expat Woman" as a group where women can hear from other women, can showcase their own ventures and products, and (soon) can pitch their startups in a "Shark Tank"-like pitch event.

I had the chance to speak on one of Nyna's Expat Women panels focused on the experience of entrepreneurship in the SF Bay Area. 

Nyna has been recognized for her leadership and tenacity with honors including selection as a "2015 Woman of Distinction" by Soroptimist International of Diablo and was selected for a "Women of the Year" award by the California State Assembly in 2015.


Listen to the Interview with Nyna






See the Trailer for "Petals in the Dust : The Endangered Indian Girls"




Sunday, May 10, 2015

Innov8Social Featured on The Foreign Policy Project [video]

As much as we love doing interviews and podcasts on Innov8Social, it is always an honor to be interviewed and featured on other great impact platforms across the web.

The Foreign Policy Project is starting off with exactly that intention in mind. Founder and Executive Director, Kelsey Suemnicht launched the TheForeignPolicyProject.org with the intent to provide international relations and diplomacy career mentorship for young women.

One of the ways she is facilitating this outreach is through interviews with individuals who have some meaningful connection or application to diplomacy, foreign relations, or international service.

Kelsey was interested in my experience as a U.S. State Department intern and subsequent path in entrepreneurship. After she invited me to for an interview, we had a chance to connect and share our experience with diplomacy and our passion for social impact and social media. It was inspiring to see her focus on building her project and platform specifically to create new pathways and opportunities in international relations.

Stay tuned for an interview with Kelsey ahead to learn more about her fascinating journey and the vision she has for her new endeavor.


Video Interview on The Foreign Policy Project 


Here is the video interview...which can be found on the Mentor Interview page of The Foreign Policy Project.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Direct Public Offerings (DPO) - Upsides, Risks, and Use Cases


Internet crowdfunding & DPO - raising funds from individual investors online
The Direct Public Offering  (aka investment crowdfunding) is a fascinating concept and unique way for certain businesses to raise funds.

For example, it is increasingly being championed by small businesses and social enterprises, which aren't always ideal candidates for traditional funding such as venture capital and loans.

But, what are the risks of DPO's? The upsides? And which companies have actually gone the DPO route?

In an effort to curate and organize published content related to DPO's, we have taken excerpts from a broad range of articles on DPO's and arranged by topic to help social entrepreneurs research this intriguing and growing funding option. 


Definitions


From "What is a Direct Public Offering a.k.a. Investment Crowdfunding? (Cutting Edge Capital)

Direct Public Offering (DPO) (also known as Investment Crowdfunding) is a generic term that includes any offer and sale of an investment opportunity to the public in which anyone (both wealthy and non-wealthy) can invest. Also, the entity that is raising the funds offers the investment directly, without a middleman like an investment bank.

From "What is a Direct Public Offering? Going Public Attorneys" (Securitieslawyer101.com)

A Direct Public Offering allows a company to sell its shares directly to investors without the use of an underwriter. With a Direct Public Offering, the company files a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”). 
Typically, in going public transaction Form S-1 (”S-1”) registration statements are used.

From "Social Enterprises Raise Money Through Direct Public Offerings" (Forbes, 8/6/2014)

Andy Bamber, Cutting Edge Capital’s business development manager, calls [Direct Public Offerings] “securities-based crowdfunding.” Through DPOs, companies sell securities directly to a lot of unaccredited investors. It’s a way to raise capital without all the regulations, underwriting and expense required for a regular IPO. In some cases, there’s a cap of $1 million; in others, there’s no cap.

From "Social Enterprises Raise Money Through Direct Public Offerings" (Forbes, 8/6/2014)

While they’ve been around for a long time, DPOs have flown largely under the radar—until now. One reason could relate to the JOBS Act. Although DPOs aren’t regulated by that legislation, the pace of the law’s implementation could be one factor in the stepped-up interest. “I think DPOs are getting a boost from the continued regulatory delays of investment crowdfunding,” says Amy Cortese, author of Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and an authority on the subject of local investing. “It’s a form of crowdfunding that’s legal today.” 
This is good news for social enterprises, because DPOs are useful for ventures “with a strong following or appealing social mission,” says Cortese. (That includes businesses that are of interest to investors and consumers looking to support local ventures, as well as many social enterprises).

From "Entrepreneurs- Have You Considered Direct Public Offerings To Raise Capital?" (Return on Change, 1/29/2014)

DPOs allow community members to invest in local business, allowing public offerings of securities (stock, notes, or any other kind of investment) to all investors, wealthy or not. 
DPOs are different from IPOs in that they allow business owners to sell stock directly to the public without the registration and reporting requirements of an IPO. However, they must be filed with the individual states and are screened by state-level securities regulators who have a great deal of experience at spotting fraud and overly risky propositions. That is a big advantage over the JOBS Act, which prohibits state securities regulators from getting involved. Vetting by such regulators reduces the need for onerous limits like those imposed under the JOBS Act. 
Generally, DPOs do not require audited or reviewed financials, caps on total amount raised or individual investments, ongoing reporting or limitations on communications. There are maximum limits on the amount that can be raised, usually up to $1 million, but this can be flexible. 
A major feature of DPOs is that business owners are permitted to advertise and promote to potential investors. There is a downside. DPOs stocks can be harder to sell when investors are ready. This can be a deterrent for investors.


From "Direct Public Offering (DPO): Expanding Your Team of Stakeholders" (California Bank & Trust)

Here's the process for the creation of a DPO - an ideal capital development tool for many growing businesses:
  • Stock is registered with state administrators instead of with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
  • The company generates a prospectus that clearly lays out company financials, fiscal history and reasonable projections for further growth. There are regulations that must be followed in the preparation of a DPO prospectus, so hiring legal counsel to help develop your DPO prospectus is just plain smart business.
  • The company makes financial reports and documents publicly available.
  • The company provides accurate and timely information about the business to investor-shareholders, usually on a quarterly basis.
  • The company is audited by an accredited, independent accounting firm, which means your books must be current, clear and down to the penny so auditors give your business the "thumbs up."
... 
Types of Direct Public Offerings 
A DPO falls into one of three regulatory classes: 
  • Regulation D: The most widely known form of DPO, a Regulation D, also called a Small Corporate Offering Registration (SCOR), equips you to raise up to one million dollars every 12 months. Shares are registered with your state's securities regulatory administration.
  • Regulation A: Enables your company to raise up to five million dollars annually. However, a Reg A DPO requires registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission's Small Business Office. This increases the costs of compliance and reporting. In addition, it adds another agency looking over your shoulder every 90 days.
  • Intrastate DPO: This class of DPO isn't capped on allowable sale of stock but you must raise funds within your state, be incorporated in that state and do at least 80% of your business in that state, hence the term "intrastate" DPO.
  • This type of DPO is ideal for growing businesses with a clearly-defined, regional service area. Planning on going global? An intrastate DPO is not the way to grow.

The Upside


From "Direct Public Offering (DPO): Expanding Your Team of Stakeholders" (California Bank & Trust)
  • Stock sales raise capital you are not required to pay back, as you would a commercial loan. Investors accept and share both risk and reward generated by your business.
  • Because DPO investment capital isn't a loan, you don't make interest or principal payments on the funds you receive. Investors grow wealth through appreciation of share price.
  • Selling shares of stock through a DPO won't require your company to give up as much equity as it would using venture capital (VC) investors. A DPO keeps greater control of the company in your team's hands.
  • Marketing shares of stock simultaneously "sells" your company brand to customers, clients, vendors, contractors, subs, suppliers and others with whom you conduct business regularly.
  • Since the legal and accounting requirements for a DPO are relatively simple, a DPO measures investor interest - a critical metric when you decide to take the company public.
  • Employees, customers and suppliers who purchase an ownership stake in the company have a vested interest in seeing your company succeed. You expand the team outside the four walls of your facility.
  • Capital loans are easier to obtain when lenders recognize that investors participate in risks faced by the company. This enables you to leverage the good name of your business to raise more capital at better rates and terms.

The Risks


From "Seeking Capital, Some Companies Turn to ‘Do-It-Yourself I.P.O.’s’" (New York Times, 7/31/2013)

On the downside, business owners must be prepared to invest a substantial amount of time and effort in the process and to deal with hundreds or even thousands of small investors. And most direct offerings require assistance from a knowledgeable lawyer. Not surprisingly, however, cutting out the middleman and streamlining the process lowers the cost considerably. A direct offering might cost around $25,000 in legal fees, while a formal initial public offering can cost $1 million or more. That makes direct offerings an increasingly attractive option for companies that need a substantial amount of capital — typically between $500,000 and $5 million — but not enough to justify the cost of an initial public offering.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

21 Fast Facts about the Etsy IPO, a Certified B Corporation

21 Fast Facts about the Etsy IPO (Certified B Corp)


    mini wrapped gifts
  1. Etsy sold more than 13 million shares on its first day of trading as a public company (April 16th 2015), raising $267 million with a valuation of $1.8 billion. 

  2. Etsy was founded in 2005 in Brooklyn, New York.

  3. Etsy became a certified B corporation in 2012.

  4. Etsy is the 2nd B corp to go public, of 1000+ B corporation. (The first was Rally Software, interview with CTO here).

  5. Etsy has over 25M members.

  6. Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship Program launched in 2013, to offer classes to help individuals in low-income areas learn how to make and sell crafts on Etsy. It is now in 3 US cities and expanding internationally.

  7. Etsy debuted its IPO at $16 a share, and closed it's first day at $31 a share.

  8. Etsy has over 1 million active sellers and 19.8 million active buyers on the site.

  9. Originally, Etsy had only one rule for selling, everything posted for sale must be handmade by the seller.

  10. In 2013, Etsy dropped the sell-only-handmade rule.

  11. Etsy Founder Kalin stepped down twice, once in 2008 (resumed in 2009) and in 2011.

  12. Etsy CTO Chad Dickerson became CEO in 2011.

  13. As of 2015, Etsy employees about 400 employees.

  14. Sales on Etsy topped $1B in 2013. 

  15. In the 3 years prior to filing IPO (i.e. from 2012-2015), Etsy lost close to $18.4M.

  16. The term "Etsy Economy" is defined by CEO Chad Dickerson as "a people-powered economy with person-to-person commerce" that is "the feel of a farmer's market instead of a supermarket..."

  17. Founder Rob Kalin owned less than 1% of Etsy at the time of IPO.

  18. Etsy's updated policies allow sellers to work with manufacturers for mass production.

  19. Etsy hosts an annual "Hello Etsy" conference for Etsy sellers and small business owners.

  20. Etsy may have to incorporate as a benefit corporation to maintain its B corp status, according to rules set forth by B Lab. (Note here's the difference between a b corp and a benefit corporation)

  21. Etsy's IPO was the largest IPO ever for a venture-backed, New York-based startup.

Etsy I.P.O. Tests Pledge to Balance Social Mission and Profit (New York Times)
Rally Software IPO to benefit nonprofits (Denver Business Journal)
Why Etsy’s IPO Could Silence Haters of the New York Tech Scene (Xconomy)
Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship Expands to 3 New Cities (Etsy News Blog)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Introducing the Innov8Social Podcast!

Over the past few years, Innov8Social has featured dozens of interviews with a broad spectrum of doers and thinkers in the social innovation space. We have used different means of capturing and sharing the interviews, including text interviews, video, and audio formats.

After a few months, and interesting journey of consolidating and centralizing the audio interviews, we are excited to announce our new Innov8Social Podcast on SoundCloud! With sound design and sound engineering by Schizophrenic Housecat, over 20 interviews have been posted and are ready for your listening pleasure!

We are constantly looking for ways to connect social innovators and aspiring social entrepreneurs to the knowledge, experience, content, and inspiration to help them on their journeys. This is another way to reach listeners, and we hope it simplifies the process of finding and listening to the stories and experiences of these thought leaders.

The journey continues! As every, thanks for joining us and hope that together we can find new and innovative ways to think about define, and create positive impact.


Innov8Social Podcast on Soundcloud







Sunday, May 3, 2015

Interview with Jordan Phoenix, Social Entrepreneur & Author -- Walked 1000+ Miles

Jordan Phoenix - Canada to Mexico walk 2014-2015
Meet Jordan Phoenix--a civil engineering by training, social entrepreneur, blogger, and Founder of Project Free World--an organization that facilitates and creates social innovation projects to improve access to food, human rights, education.

He is also the author of a recent book called "It's All My Fault: How I Messed up the World and Why I Need Your Help to Fix It."

To add to his work, Jordan also embarked on a 1 year project to walk from 1000+ miles down the west coast of North America to build support and awareness for community incubator projects focused on alleviating poverty. He kicked off his journey in mid-2014 in Canada and spent the better part of the year, walking, meeting new people, and sharing & exchanging ideas.

I had a chance to catch up with Jordan as his journey reached Northern California. In a residential neighborhood in one of the iconic cities of Silicon Valley, Palo Alto, we walked and talked about the inspiration for his walk, what he has learned on the journey, and the community incubator project he is most excited about developing over the next few years. 

Listen to the Interview





More on Jordan


Jordan is a HuffingtonPost contributor, is active on Quora, and runs his website--Uncommonsense.is.

You can read more about his interesting and authentic journey of impact and self-exploration and in these posts:


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Why We Do

When we speak with social innovators or those creating impact a question always finds its way into the conversation. We want to know why. Why have they sought ways to innovate solutions for local and global issues? Why do they do?

And with Innov8Social as well, over four years, some ask what drives this work. Why is it so important to share stories of social innovation and explore what is happening in the space?

Just last week this email came in from a reader.

Dear Ms. Parekh and Innov8social team, 
I wanted to send a brief thank you from Scotland Co., NC. We are growingchange.org, a non profit start up 'flipping' closed prisons in NC into sustainable farms and educational centers to provide court diversions for youth, internships for veterans and programming for communities in one of the poorest areas of the US Southeast. 
Your website has been invaluable and a real source of guidance for those of us who operate well outside of urban areas. I am looking forward to your newsletters as we prepare for our media push. Thank you for doing the good work. 
Regards,
Noran Sanford, Founder growingchange.org
paper heart

This is why we do.

To empower, inform, and inspire individuals, social innovators, and those who supporting or learning about the space---to find actionable information related to their work---is why we do and look forward to continuing to do ahead.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Couchsurfing: Rocky Road from Nonprofit to B Corp & Lessons in Honoring Your Mission and Members

Back in 2011, we wrote about the re-incorporation of Couchsurfing from a nonprofit to a for-profit B corporation.

Couchsurfing Goes From Nonprofit to Certified B Corp


Couchsurfing: Rocky Road from Nonprofit to B corp...In August 2011, the newly-formed company initially raised nearly $8M in venture funding from Omidyar Network and Benchmark Capital before it informed its member base of over 3M users worldwide about its shift.

It wasn't a smooth transition.


The Couch Pulled From Under Its Surfers 


Over the course of four years, there has been a impactful decline in engagement along with some major internal restructuring-- which at first led to the hiring of new Apple and MTV Alum, Tony Espinoza, as CEO. He would resign 18 months later. Under his watch, it is said that registered users more-than-doubled to 7M, but many of the existing and new users were not actively engaging on the platform. Additionally, reports indicated that October 2013 also saw layoffs of 40% of Couchsurfing staff.

In fact, this Change.org petition was launched on September 15, 2011 protesting the change in legal structure.  Notable excerpts include:

"We represent thousands of Couchsurfing (CS) members, donors and volunteers. We found meaningful work and global connections to each other through our commitment to the ideals of CS as a non-profit organization. 
Couchsurfing Intl. was established as a non-profit corporation in April 2003 and registered with the state of New Hampshire as a public charity in 2007. It was dissolved and its assets were acquired by a newly-created for-profit C-Corporation with the name “Better World Through Travel Inc” in Delaware in August 2011. Since its inception, the organization received >US $6,000,000 in member donations and verification fees. Community volunteers freely donated volunteer labor, time and talent which created much of the network’s current value. (12) We find it difficult to believe that the verification income was insufficient to operate a travel website and disagree that these gifts should be sold to investors. We believe that these gifts belong to the community that created them. 
We believe these changes betray the relationship the organization had with its network of volunteers and members, the relationship that shaped Couchsurfing into what it is today, and are concerned that its values will not persist."
While the petition didn't garner the 1600+ signatures it proposed, 882 supporters did sign as a show of dissatisfaction.

At Innov8Social, we caught scent of this too. Though very few people post comments to blog posts here, there were two lengthy and thoughtful posts by avid Couchsurfing (CS) aficionados challenging the change in legal structure.

Notably "CS host" said:

"Many people were surprised by this move as CS had always prided itself for being a non-profit organization which wanted to be a charity. For those who had seen how volunteers had been used and abused for years by Couchsurfing, how safety measures such as credit card "verification" have been misrepresented, how management covered up repeated sexual misconduct with volunteers by one of its own or how rarely promises were kept none of this should come as a surprise. Reality could hardly be any further from the offical Couchsurfing claim to "create a better world".... 
Most will continue to offer their couch, just not for Couchsurfing International Inc. to resell it to travellers against verification payment or optional premium services, but in one of the other more democratic communities organised as non-profit organisations, such as BeWelcome.org or WarmShowers."
Equally passionately, "Anonymous" noted:

"Couchsurfing and its 'team' or 'board' or whatever they have constructed now have never kept a promise, certainly not the one repeated for 5 years that "WE WILL NEVER BE A FOR-PROFIT CORPORATION". Their skill lies in jettisoning devoted volunteers when they ask serious and professional questions. 
Instead CS has taken 'donations' under the guise of a charity and published delayed audits that always showed they had made hefty margins and had cash in hand.. till suddenly they show up with a $3.9 MILLION debt.

And yes I am still trying to get some equity for my time invested in a proclaimed 'charity' -this is why i am 'anonymous'."

This is shaping not only in an incredible story of a social enterprise, but a rich opportunity for tomorrow's social entrepreneurs.


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