This past weekend’s Impactathon in partnership with Soka University Bridges to Business brought together over thirty Soka University students and alumni for a weekend of learning about social entrepreneurship, hearing from practitioners in the space, building their own social enterprise ideas, and pitching to judges.

Participants self-organized into eight teams over 24 hours to explore pressing local and global issues, begin mapping root causes, and take initial steps to develop business model-driven solutions.

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On Friday evening, Mary Patrick Kavanaugh, Director of the Soka University Bridges to Business program opened the event and welcomed participants.

After networking over delicious tacos, participants went through a mini ‘social enterprise bootcamp’ led by Innov8social founder, Neetal Parekh, where they were introduced to legal structures, business models, impact measurement frameworks, and funding options. They also engaged in their first informal pitches.

Bright and early Saturday morning, after warming up with a few improv games, participants had the unique opportunity of hearing candid perspectives through Impact Talks by Eugene Lee, investment professional and founder of Digital Mosaic, and Brian Walker, founder of Culture Bridge and Diversity and Inclusion Manager at the Walt Disney Company.  After final team formation and a mini design-thinking exercise, participants dove deeper into the issues they were seeking to solve.

They learned about storytelling and elements of a pitch through a brief workshop before going into full hackathon mode, where some of the teams took the opportunity to speak with Impact Catalysts Mitul Jambusaria, David Babbs, and Bin Li to get feedback on their ideas.  They incorporated their research and feedback into designing a simplified pitch slide deck for their final four-minute pitches.

Nine teams stepped up to the plate to pitch to a panel of experienced and thoughtful judges, including Shaheen Sheik-Sadal, Founding Attorney at Esse Law; Carlo Tomaino, Economic Development Manager for The City of Lake Forest; and Stephanie Roxas, Urban Planner for The City of San Clemente.

The day concluded with three teams being awarded seed funds and mentorship as a vote of confidence to keep moving forward.

Here is a summary of teams and brief descriptions of their social enterprises.

It was incredible to see participants identify pressing issues and come alive as they explored solutions.  Thank you to all involved.

And, that makes Impactathon® #14 :)


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