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Interview with Rex Northen, Serial Entrepreneur and Lead of Cleantech Open Global

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Meet Rex Northen

Rex Northen

This episode of the Innov8social Podcast features an interview with Rex Northen, former Executive Director of Cleantech Openand current head of Cleantech Open Global. In the interview he shares his own journey as a serial entrepreneur and how his initial role as a volunteer at Cleantech Open led to leadership career roles in organization.

Over the past decade, Cleantech Open has accelerated over 2,000 companies, built a network of both funders and entrepreneurs committed to clean energy and sustainability, and helped companies raise upwards of $1B in funding.

Rex’s own background as a serial entrepreneur and computer professional with a long history of bootstrapping companies serves him well as he works with companies, founders, funders, and executives at all stages of startup growth. He has led startups in Europe and the United States (Silicon Valley and New York) and has consulted to companies of all sizes.

Cleantech Open was founded in 2005 by leaders in Silicon Valley and Boston, Much of the organization’s work is powered by the 2,000 volunteers spanning a variety of professions and education disciplines. It has 8 active regions across the US and 39 countries participating in its global challenge competition.

 

Find Out More

More About Rex Northen

  • Rex’s bio, as listed on the Cleantech Open website
  • Rex’s video explaining how to create a successful cleantech business from your clean technology idea.
  • Rex Stanford Seminar, where he explains why cleantech is important and explores how the entrepreneurial engineer fits into this market.

More About Cleantech Opencleantechopenlogo

 

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Interview with Nasir Qadree, Head of Education at Village Capital

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Meet Nasir Qadree

 

Nasir QadreeThis episode of the Innov8social Podcast features an interview with Nasir Qadree, who serves as a Head of Education at VillageCapital, a venture capital firm that sources, trains and invests in seed-stage entrepreneurs with business solutions to major global problems.

Nasir, born in Atlanta Georgia and a graduate of Hampton University, began his career as an Analyst at Goldman Sachs, and later worked as an Associate to State Street Corporation before serving as Co Chairman of Innovation for Senator Cory Booker, during his special run for Senate in 2013.

Nasir was later was appointed and served as an Education Pioneer Fellow/Special Assistant at the Connecticut State Department of Education, leading the states digital learning and infrastructure initiative , and creating new strategies to empower teachers and school leaders to improve persistently low-performing schools.

I connected with Nasir in connection to Village Capital’s deep work in supporting global social entrepreneurship—and had the fortuitous chance to meet him just weeks later at the Pioneer Summit at GSVlabs. We also found another great connection—we are fellow alumni of the New Leaders Council Fellowship Program and both participated in 2012! Nasir, in the Boston chapter, and me in the Silicon Valley Chapter.

Another fascinating and inspiring factoid about Nasir is that he has committed to running 51 full marathons in each US state, including DC, in an effort to raise scholarship funding for first-generation college students. He has run 14 marathons towards his goal.

 

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More About Nasir Qadree

  • Nasir’s bio, as listed on educationpioneers.org
  • Nasir’s fundraiser focused on supporting the career aspirations of highly ambitious first generation college students by providing Mentorship, Leadership, Training, and Career Development

 

More About Village Capital

  • Website: http://www.vilcap.com/
  • Value proposition: “Village Capital finds, trains, and funds early-stage entrepreneurs solving major global problems. Their peer-selected investment model has supported more than 450 entrepreneurs in 9 countries. Program graduates have created over 7,000 jobs and raised more than $110 million in follow-on capital, and 94% of their portfolio alumni are still in business.”
  • Village Capital’s Visiona video

 

 

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Interview with Pamela Roussos, Sr. Director at SCU Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI)

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Meet Pamela

Pamela RoussosThis episode of The Innov8social Podcast features an interview with Pamela Roussos, who serves as Senior Director at Santa Clara University’s Global Social Benefit Institute (known as GSBI). She will be sharing her experience and overviewing some of the key topics outlined in GSBI’s recent white paper titled “The GSBI Methodology for Social Entrepreneurship: Lessons from 12 Years of Capacity Development with 365 Social Enterprises”

GSBI is housed in the newly re-named Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at SCU, and was founded in 2003. In its first decade, GSBI offered a ‘one size fits all’ program and today features a range of programs to meet social enterprises and social entrepreneurs where they are today, as well as they grow and scale.

Pamela herself has a deep background in working with companies in Silicon Valley and San Francisco on business strategy and go-to-market plans. She has worked in various capacities of corporations and non-profit organizations…and that’s all before she turned her full-time attention to engaging with GSBI over the past few years.

Find Out More

More About Pamela

More About GSBI & The Methodology

More About the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship

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Interview with Julie Lein, Co-Founder of Tumml [AUDIO]

In March 2013 Innov8Social interviewed Julie Lein who co-founded Tumml, a (then) brand new urban accelerator program that was accepting applications for its first cohort of social entrepreneurs focus on urban solutions.

A turn of a page, and tick of the year later, Tumml has not only graduated its first cohort but is welcoming its 2nd cohort of social entrepreneurs! This group, like the first, includes five startups focused on designing solution to urban issues, and have the vision and capacity to scale.

Before the new cohort was selected, but after the first cohort finished the accelerator program—Innov8Social had a chance to connect with Julie to hear updates on the program, the social enterprises that participated, more about the nuances of urban innovation, questions about accessibility of urban solutions to the populations they serve, and what Julie and her fellow Co-Founder Clara Brenner, and the extended Tumml team look for in a social enterprise candidate. It was also a great chance to re-visit Tumml’s legal structure as a nonprofit in light of an equity stake in the social enterprises that participate. You can listen to her full interview below.

Who are the Tumml Social Enterprises?

(Note: descriptions below are from Tumml.org/Portfolio)

2014 Winter Cohort

  • Neighbor.ly is a toolkit to help people, brands, and foundations invest in the places and projects they care about
  • The Farmery is an urban vertical farming and retailing system designed to produce and sell local food in the city
  • SavySwap is a secure experience to get what you want simply by trading
  • Feeding Forward is a mobile platform that connects those with excess food to those in need
  • Sovi is a collaborative social pinboard for local and community events
www.tumml.org

2013 Summer Cohort

  • WorkHands – A blue collar online identity service that makes it easier to find work in the trades.
  • HandUp – direct giving for homeless people and others in need in individual neighborhoods.
  • Corral – A service that makes your urban commute easier and faster
  • Earth Starter – All-in-one garden systems that help city dwellers grow food and flowers in small spaces
  • KidAdmit – An easy, efficient way to apply to multiple preschools online and manage the preschool admission process

What Do Tumml Social Enterprises Receive & Give?

Tumml social enterprises receive:

  • $20,000 in seed funding
  • free office/meeting space
  • customized education curriculum
  • four months of hands-on support and mentorship
  • opportunity to pitch to VC’s, angel investors, government entities, potential partners and customers
Tumml social enterprises give:
  • Approximately 5% equity stake in their for-profit entity

Tumml will begin taking applications for its next cohort in March 2014.

Listen to the Interview

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Interview with Nicholas Fusso, Program Director of D-Prize [AUDIO]

Earlier this year Innov8Social interviewed Nicholas Fusso, Program Director of D-Prize. D-Prize is an innovative competition dedicated to scaling distribution (i.e. the “D” in D Prize) of solutions to global poverty.Now that multiple cohorts have passed through the social innovation competition, Nicholas back in an audio interview to overview past winners, the types of social entrepreneurs that have been selected as D-Prize recipients, and what is ahead for the program.The call for Fall applications concluded at the end of November. Applicants from that round who advance past the first round will have until the end of December to submit their social venture plan, and if they are selected to advance, will be required to complete additional items by January 24, 2014. Winners can receive up to $20,000 to implement their proposed solution.

There will be another call for applications in Spring 2014. You can find out information about past winners and competition details at www.D-prize.com. Good luck to all of the D-Prize participants!

 

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Interview with Thane Kreiner, Executive Director Overseeing Santa Clara University GSBI [AUDIO]

Thane Kreiner, Executive Director of SCU Center for Science, Tech, Society

Thane Kreiner founded, led, and developed multiple life sciences startups before joining Santa Clara University as Executive Director of the department that houses its prestigious GSBI program for social entrepreneurs.

A neuroscientist by training, Stanford Business School graduate, and an experienced serial entrepreneur himself, Thane brings a pragmatic optimism to his role at the helm of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at SCU.  Listen below to is interview to learn more about GSBI, what kinds of social entrepreneurs should apply, past successes, and his advice for those thinking about launching a social innovation venture.

What is GSBI?

Piloted in 2003, Santa Clara University’s Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI) applies Silicon Valley acumen to help scale proven early-stage impact innovation for-profit and nonprofit ventures. It does this through offering 2 curriculum programs: the GSBI Accelerator is a nine-month program that combines online modules with mentor meetings and culminates in a in-residence bootcamp at SCU’s campus in California’s Silicon Valley.  Social entrepreneurs can also engage through the GSBI Online program—which provides more general startup training through an exclusively online medium.

Both GSBI programs focus on startups that have progressed past early ideation (i.e. blueprint) and validation stages of their startup and are in the ‘prepare to scale’ stage of startup development, as articulated in From Blueprint to Scale.

Alumni of the program include Kiva, WE CARE Solar, Husk Power Systems, World of Good and over 200 other social innovation ventures with entrepreneurs spanning over 50 countries.

Applications for GSBI are open now and due this Thursday, October 31st 2013.

Meet Thane Kreiner

I had a chance to catch up with Thane about GSBI and his own experience and views on the importance of resources for social entrepreneurship. He is articulate and passionate about social innovation, and incredibly well-versed on the Silicon Valley startup experience.

Thane’s education spans a B.S. in Chemistry from University of Texas, Austin to a PhD in Neurosciences from Stanford School of Medicine, to an MBA from Stanford GSB. His professional portfolio includes a number startups that he has founded, led, and guided through development, such as:
Second Genome, Presage Biosciences, iZumi Bio, Inc. (now iPierian).

Listen to the Interview

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Recap: Santa Clara University GSBI Accelerator Showcase + New Applications Open

When enough people, especially those not otherwise connected with each other, recommend something, it can do wonders to capture your imagination and fascination. That happened with Santa Clara University’s Global Social Benefit Incubator program.

Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI)

Though I learned about GSBI while researching social innovation startup accelerator and incubator programs, over the past few months I have heard it mentioned in various conversations with social innovators and entrepreneurs in the space.

Then, at the Womens’ Social Entrepreneurs’ Panel hosted by GABA at the Kiva offices in SF, a few panelists were also graduates of the program—and were doing absolutely fascinating work. My interest was building, and every subsequent mention of GSBI was akin to a “Klout” moment on my personal interest pique-o-meter.

Attending a GSBI Accelerator Showcase

GSBI accelerator showcase

More recently, SCU hosted a GSBI Accelerator Showcase on campus. The pitch event featured over a dozen social entrepreneurs, hailing from around the globe, who presented pitches and status updates on their endeavors directly to impact investors and the broader philanthropic community.

These driven problem-solvers were educators, artisans, farmers, and engineers—but took on the role of social innovators in the face of deep-rooted issues in their communities.

VentureBeat covered the event noting that “of the 202 enterprises that have completed GSBI programs since its inception in 2003, 90 percent are still in business and can boast of having positively impacted nearly 100 million lives around the globe and raising $89 million in funding.”

Thane Kreiner, Executive Director of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society, at Santa Clara University, which is home of the Global Social Benefit Incubator also published a recap of the event on NextBillion.

The pitches were direct asks for funds to help social enterprises cross the proverbial chasm in scaling to the next level.  Here is a sample of a few of the asks:

  • Clinicas de Azucar requested $3.3M to scale low-cost diabetes solutions to reach 200 clinics in Mexico.
  • Avani requested $500K to scale sustainable textile production by women to 101 villages in northern India
  • Nishant Bioenergy requested $600K to scale production and distribution of energy-efficient, sustainable, cookstoves.
  • Literacy Bridge requested $500K to scale their accessible (non-literacy dependent) audio solution for teaching agricultural practices to rural farmers in Africa
  • Drishtee requested $3M to scale their solution to extend last-mile distribution of products to remote regions in India.
  • Iluméxico requested $250K to scale solar grid electricity solutions to open 30 branches in 10 states in Mexico.
  • Husk Power requested $5M to scale mini powerplants and provide electricity as a service from 5K to over 25K households in India and East Africa.

(Note: videos of the pitch event can be seen here and will be posted on YouTube here.)

The Courage to Try

The pitches represented more than a singular idea. In social innovation, as in entrepreneurship, ideas often come “into vogue”concurrently—i.e. if you are thinking of a new innovation or improvement, there’s a good chance someone is thinking along the same lines too.

This simple realization humanizes the social entrepreneur’s experience and also takes it out of the abstract. These entrepreneurs who venture into the dimly lit space of creating value and impact aren’t necessarily the first, they are the the ones courageous enough to grab the torch and stumble into the darkness to test out their potential solution.

In the coming weeks I look forward to interviewing a few of the leaders of GSBI to learn more about the program, the selection process, how the institute has evolved, and what the organizers have learned from hosting an annual accelerator/incubator program for social innovation.

 

Apply to GSBI by October 31

Applications for the 2014 class of GSBI are available now and you can apply until October 31, 2013.

Application for GSBI are here.

 

GSBI accelerator showcase
GSBI accelerator showcase
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D-Prize: A Focus on Distribution of Social Innovation Solutions

Visit D-Prize.org and your bound to do a double take when posed with the question:

“If you were awarded $20,000, how would you fight poverty?”

I had a chance to learn about this innovative program that identifies and funds promising social ventures that are still at an idea phase through a conversation with Nicholas Fusso. Nicholas serves as Program Director of D-Prize.

Q & A with Nicholas Fusso, Program Director of D-Prize

Nicholas FussoWhat is D-Prize?

[Nicholas Fusso] D-prize is a competition program to identify top social entrepreneurs focused on innovative initiatives for distribution.

It was launched by Andrew Youn, of One Acre Fund. Andrew has been working with African farmers to help them become more sustainable. Since One Acre fund started in 2006 it has expanded in scope and scale, now serving over a 100K families.

Through his work at One Acre Fund, Andrew became increasingly frustrated because he saw easy solutions to major problems but they were not being scaled & distributed effectively. He and a few co-founders launched D-Prize to focus on the distribution end of the social enterprise equation. The “D” in D-Prize stands for “distribution equals development”.

How does D-Prize work? Is it an accelerator program?

[Nicholas] D-prize is not necessarily an accelerator program. It is a mechanism to fund ventures that are at the idea stage.  Entrants are considered based on: (1) distribution-focused venture; 2) that can radically scale up (i.e. create massive amounts of impact). Ideal candidate will read the description and come up with concept that meets (1) and (2) and then can apply for D-Prize.

D-prize applications are generally accepted on a rolling basis. Our first round of applications was due April 30, 2013, and we received over 300 applications.  The next deadline for applications for the Fall 2013 cohort will be November 30, 2013.

What are the requirements for candidates? U.S.-based? Proven Model?

[Nicholas] There is no geographic requirement, however, solutions have to be launched in developing areas. The organizations that D-Prize looks to fund are generally highly proven, and just need innovative methods of scaling and distributing solutions. The other skill we look for is the ability of the founders to listen and find out what people need in the area.

How is D-Prize funded?

[Nicholas] By the co-founders & colleagues.

How is D-Prize structured?

[Nicholas] It has applied for non-profit status.

Tell us a little about yourself

[Nicholas] I have been in the role of Program Director since February 2013. When I started, D-Prize had already  published and launched the first competition program, and interested applicants had about 5 weeks to submit an idea. We had an aggressive schedule but were able to identify entrepreneurs in that space.

A little about me…I studied political economics in college and had a lot of friends with idealistic goals pursue nonprofit and ngo-work. I was one of the few to go into business. My first social enterprise was right out of college, called “Sustainable of Sexy.” The mission was to educate people of coffee-drinking habits, especially sustainability of coffee-related goods, such as coffee cups. We took the problem on from a business perspective, trying to show how reusable coffee cups could be better for business all-around. We had a blog, and received some great press coverage. The whole experience really excited me about entrepreneurship. D-Prize was a great fit and has been an exciting experience.

What do you see as the connection between enterprise and impact?

[Nicholas] I see entrepreneurship as the surest path to sustainable development.

How is funding disbursed?

[Nicholas] People submit a 1st round application, then if its a good fit will invite them to a final round. Selected finalists will receive $10-20K funding. Payment method will be Lump sum or in parts, based on what makes more sense for the concept and work. It’s important to determine what type of venture to figure out how to fund. (i.e. build website, market, etc.). D-Prize does not necessarily take an equity stake. The amount of funding is partially based on the budget that applicants must include as part of the final application.

What are you looking for in D-Prize candidates?

[Nicholas] Measurable impact, and lots of it. Whether applicants are non-profit or for-profit, we look at whether they are committed to creating responsible change—that it part of their core business, and not just a consideration. Finally, we are look for ideas that are transformational in their approach to meeting the distribution challenge.

How does a team apply?

Visit the D-Prize competition page for deadlines, etc. and download the application packet.

[Note: This post has been updated to reflect that D-Prize may not necessarily take equity stake in startups.]
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Imagine H2O Water Entrepreneurs Showcase 2013: Recap, Photos, and #ih2o13 Tweets

Imagine a room full of inventors, designers, social entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and individuals passionate about water innovation—and you can begin to picture the Water Entrepreneurs Showcase 2013 hosted, fittingly, by Imagine H2O.Innov8Social first wrote about the work of Imagine H2O in 2011, in a video interview of one of its team members, Brian Matthay.Imagine H2O 2013 Showcase WinnersImagine H2O, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is dedicated to inspiring and empowering people to turn water challenges into opportunities. For its annual gala held on March 19th 2013, the organization gathered diverse constituents together to meet finalists and announce the winners of its startup competition. The event highlighted promising innovative impact-oriented startups in the water sector based on the selected theme of the year. Past themes included: water efficiency (2009), water energy nexus (2010), wastewater (2011), and consumer water innovations (2012).

The Competition

The 2012 competition kicked off in the Fall, with a call for business plans to be submitted between September 1st and November 15th 2012.  Startups worked on pitches, business strategy, and product design and a win based on judge feedback. Imagine H2O Showcase winners receive cash prizes, free software, mentorship and a spot on Imagine H2O’s exclusive Accelerator Program.

The Venue

The Water Entrepreneur’s Showcase was held in the beautiful gallery of Autodesk building in downtown San Francisco. Autodesk is one of the headlining sponsors of Imagine H20 and itself has a vibrant Clean Tech Partner Program within its division for Sustainable Design. The gallery showcases incredible innovations in design (including the crowd favorite, a life-sized motorcycle suspended with cables—that was printed from a 3D printer…see below for a tweeted photo)

 

Winners

Finalists were divided into two broad groups depending on their stage of development and production. The Pre-Revenue track included those startups in their early stages of operations, with a strong business plan, measurable methods of impact, but no operating revenue.

The second broad group, the early revenue track includes startups that are farther along in their product development and sales but still relatively new in the entrepreneurial space.

Below you will find the winners and finalists along with descriptions of the startup ventures, as displayed on the official Imagine H2O finalist page.

Pre-Revenue Track Winners of Imagine H2O Showcase 2013 

Imagine H2O 2013 Winner: Leak Defense Alert
Leak Defense Alert Founder Scott
Pallais holding his award.

Leak Defense Alert combines an easy-to-install sensor and transmitter that automatically identifies home leaks and notifies the homeowner that there is an issue requiring attention – essentially creating a “smoke detector” for water leaks.

Led by a team of Haitian and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investors, Dlo Haiti offers a market-based solution providing safe drinking water in Haiti at a price average Haitians can afford. Dlo Haiti seeks to replace centralized water purification and delivery by truck with a decentralized approach to lower costs and improve water quality.

By matching the flow of water to lawn outlines, Innogation’s SMARTRotor™ dramatically reduces water used for outdoor irrigation while providing up to 98% distribution uniformity.

Early Revenue Track Winners of Imagine H2O Showcase 2013 

  • Winner: PaveDrain
    PaveDrain is an innovative paving system made up of arched concrete blocks that feature internal store chambers to absorb storm-water runoff while still maintaining a tough rugged exterior able to withstand extreme weather conditions, heavy vehicle loads, and storm downpours. The PaveDrain system is comprised of interlocking paving stones that are visually appealing, water saving, and highly functional. The PaveDrain system can be be used in a multitude of settings including driveways, city streets, sidewalks, and parking lots.

Finalists

Pre-Revenue Track Finalists
This stainless steel retrofit toilet flapper is designed to address a very basic, yet large, source of lost water. According to the American Water Association, one out of five toilets are leaking today because of faulty toilet flappers.
A biomimicry and nanotechnology company that harvests water from the air, NBD Technologies employs materials science and chemical engineering innovations to create water from the air. ReFresh
A provider of water on the go, ReFresh’s water distribution machines provide bottled water and accept used bottles for a partial refund making drinking water cheaper, more convenient, and more environmentally friendly.Early Revenue Track Finalists

Jompy 
The Jompy water boiler is a simple, easy to use device that allows the user to cook food and boil water simultaneously, so saving on fuel and time spent over an open fire. The Jompy will pasteurize contaminated water reducing the chance of water borne diseases such as diarrhea and cholera.

The HighSierra Showerhead combines a low-profile design that uses 40% less water and a flow control that maintain the feel and experience of a conventional showerhead even at varying pressures.

Tweets, Images, Articles from #ih2o13 made with @Storify

[View the story “@ImagineH2O Water Entrepreneurs Showcase 2013: #ih2o13 Recap, Photos, and Tweets” on Storify]