1st Podcast Hackathon for creative media storytellers hosted by Innov8social

 

We have learned SO MUCH about podcasting in the past year, and especially in the past few weeks. If there is something we wish we had a chance to do before launching our podcast—it is to ‘try out’ working on the creative the technology aspects of hosting a podcast.

So, we are creating a solution for YOU!

Here is an opportunity to work in small teams, use specific instructions, and then be let loose to identify problems, create solutions, collaborate…and pitch your podcast solution to a team of judges….all VIRTUALLY!

The reason we are doing this virtually is to allow teams to work and collaborate even if they are geographically not in the same area. Also, so much of audio work is about equipment and tools—all of which sometimes happens more easily when using your own audio setup.

Because it’s the first time and we want it to be an AMAZING experience, we are limiting participation to 30 individuals (who can then work in teams of 1-3).

So, are you READY??!! We are so excited and can’t wait to see the creativity and new ideas.

All participants will receive a digital certificate of participation and winners (selected by judges) will receive a cash prize.

 

REGISTER ON EVENTBRITE HERE

 

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51 Questions on Social Entrepreneurship is here! As an independently published book, this launch weekend is really key to getting this book out to the world.

Can you help with these 3 things?
1. Buy the book at the special launch price on Amazon.

2. Share over social media. Here are sample messages for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn:

It’s here! 51 Questions on Social Entrepreneurship now on Amazon 51questions.com #51questions #socent #book #launch @innov8social
Join the #Launch! 51 Questions on Social Entrepreneurship now on Amazon 51questions.com #51questions #socent #book @innov8social
Excited to read @innov8social‘s new book, 51 Questions on Social Entrepreneurship 51questions.com #51questions #socent #book #launch

3. Write a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads after you read the book. This is one of the most valuable ways to expand the reach of the book.
May the force be with all of us ;-) Happy Holidays and truly hope the book is a useful, actionable, and fun addition to your library.

Warmly,
Neetal

 

A video posted by Innov8social (@innov8social) on

GSVlabs hosted its first Pioneer Summit last week. One of the sessions featured a panel that was diverse in multi-faceted ways. The panel included Ken McNeely, Mashea Ashton, and Miriam Rivera—men and women from different parts of the country who identified with different ethnicities and who spanned fields including corporate roles, venture capital, education, and non-profit leadership. Moderated by GSVlabs CEO, Marlon Evans, the panel candidly and passionately addressed diversity in technology and leadership.

Early in the discussion there was a shift in framing—from challenges and limitations to what our life experiences can afford us. Each speaker in their own way expressed gratitude for the challenges, hurdles, failures they faced in their childhood and professional journeys.

“It gave me grit,” one speaker said, and the sentiment resonated not only across the panel but within the room.

 

Grit: a Super Power for Entrepreneurs and Social Entrepreneurs?

 

Reflecting on this idea of grit, a few basic questions come to mind.  What is it? How can it be a super power for entrepreneurs—especially social entrepreneurs who seek to create impact and value?

1. Grit stems from failure challenge, disability, setback, differences.

In thinking about grit, I was reminded of  Malcom Gladwell’s book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. He surfaced interesting facts about leadership including that an extraordinarily high number of successful entrepreneurs are dyslexic and that 67% percent of the prime ministers surveyed lost a parent before the age of sixteen. Being different, learning in unique ways, or suffering tragedy are formidable challenges–from which our actions to overcome, work through, and persevere can build grit.

2. Grit starts where failure ends. 

In the world of startups and entrepreneurship we hear about failure, we are told to ‘fail fast’ and to iterate. However, failure on its own, is little more than demoralizing. It is what happens after—the picking ourselves up, the constructive reflection, the tenacity to soldier ahead, that marks where grit begins.

3. Grit builds different skill sets.

In his book, Gladwell also explains the concepts of capitalization learning and compensation learning—the first being where we build skills by cultivating and maximizing our strengths; and compensation learning being where we build skills out of necessity—to compensate or overcome a particular difficulty.

And somewhere there, right between capitalization and compensation learning, or between what we can control and do and what we do with what we can’t control—is where you will find grit.

4. Having grit doesn’t have to make us “gritty”—it can make us grateful.

I was particularly struck with the overwhelming sense of gratitude the panelists expressed—despite growing up in tough areas or facing formidable challenges on their career paths. They spoke about having great mentors, of opportunities to improve, about making mistakes and learning from them. They showed that accepting our challenges (even welcoming them), doesn’t make us gritty, but can actually lead to immense growth and grace.

5. Our grit is our super power. We can use it for good!

Mashea on the panel noted that those who excel only truly succeed when they bring others up with them. If grit is our hidden super power—we can use that super power to create positive impact in our startups, our careers, and how we vote with our purchases. While we don’t often choose the experiences that precipitate grit, we can choose how to pay forward the strength, resilience, and wisdom we gain and share from it.

 

Images and videos from GSVlabs’ Pioneer Summit

 

   

A video posted by Innov8social (@innov8social) on

Here is a look back at my experience as a participant in Startup Weekend Tech for Good a few years back, and recent experience mentoring, and a mini-documentary by Forward Films providing a lens into the Startup Weekend experience.

Rewind

The year is 2012. It’s a Sunday morning in April a few months into the New Leaders Council Silicon Valley Fellowship I am participating in along with a dozen or so young professionals and leaders in the area.

On this day we are hearing from social entrepreneurs. One speaker mentions how her start into social entrepreneurship though forming a team at a Startup Weekend event. She recommends the program and suggests we all try it.

So, I do.

A few months later, and coincidentally three years ago today, I attend my first Startup Weekend  where participants gather and work for 54 hours on a startup idea. It is incredible and exhilarating. It breaks the boundaries of what we think is possible to do and to create over the course of 2+ days. So, we keep the momentum going and participate in the inaugural Startup Weekend Next (now called Startup Next) program spanning a few more weekends and featuring live lectures and feedback from Silicon Valley startup luminary Steve Blank.

When I hear about the first Startup Weekend Tech For Good SF happening at Impact Hub later that year, I do that too.

Fast Forward

Jump forward three years to this summer. The organizers of the third annual Startup Weekend Tech for Good reach out to find out if I might be able to serve as a mentor.

It’s a full-circle moment– a chance to share what I have picked up in the past few years in the social entrepreneur startup and education space and to listen and learn from the questions, challenges, inspirations this session’s group of talented aspiring social entrepreneurs are facing.

This time, unlike any other StartupWeekend I have attended, a talented social impact-focused film crew, Forward Films, is on hand to record the weekend. From the hours and hours of footage and interviews they captured, they created the beautiful, artistic, immersive mini documentary below about the experience and the entrepreneurs. You can also read Forward Film Co-Founder Mary Pratt’s overview of the experience here.

Play

Here is the mini documentary. That is my mug on the cover photo and you will hear some of my reflections and thoughts shared in the film. However, the main focus, fortunately :), is on the aspiring entrepreneurs of two participating teams; fellow mentors and judges, and Jessica Falkenthal, the Global Facilitator & Community Organizer for Startup Weekend.

 

Effective pitching or telling a compelling startup story can take many hours of practice to perfect, is honed and shaped by feedback coming from diverse perspectives, and can require a different kind of courage than in actually building your startup. One of the most important things inevitably, is to start. Pitching early and often lets you get comfortable with telling your story in a natural, conversational way; receive feedback like a pro; and find ways to process and integrate comments without losing sight of your company’s vision and your personal momentum and drive.

These are the sentiments I had in mind when I submitted an application to pitch Innov8social, an engagement platform that connects people that want to create social impact with actionable tools and resources on ways to create impact, to a panel of 5 VC judges at Pitch2Sharks in San Francisco. The pitch event was a valuable and insightful experience. And though I have heard many startup pitches (and serve as a judge at times), I learned a great deal from being in the hot seat both about pitching, and about pitching a social enterprise startup.

As social entrepreneurs explore how and where to pitch their startup ideas, I thought it might be useful to share what I learned from my experience of pitching a social enterprise startup here.

1. Define success, then decide if it’s the right time to pitch

 

It can be helpful to define what success looks like to you before pitching. It’s a way to set expectations and also to be able to process critical feedback in a constructive way.

Since it was the first time pitching Innov8social to investors, and that too at a public event, I decided early on that showing up, not freezing or melting mid-sentence, and articulating my key points with clarity and confidence would be success. Those things fortunately happened, though I did read much of my pitch which the judges mentioned, and I left feeling satisfied and glad for the experience.

Had I set the goal of receiving funding and/or doubling my social media followership, I could have left feeling pretty lousy about the situation, and may have missed the incredible value of getting feedback from a group of people who listen to numerous startup pitches regularly, and that too fund a few too. A comment or insight from them could potentially inform my pitch in meaningful, impactful way, that could save me time and effort effort ahead.

2. Pitch events can be a great way to start…

 

Depending on the stage of your social enterprise startup and your goals, a pitch event could be a great way to start pitching. If you select the opportunity wisely, you can pitch at an event that aligns well with your social enterprise startup’s mission, or is for  startups at the same stage you are in, or features a VC or judge you particularly want to engage.

A pitch event can also be a bit more of a ‘safe space’ to test out your pitch and receive some initial feedback. Before you hear more fierce, unapologetic criticisms that VC’s can be famous for at pitch meetings, a pitch event can provide you a platform to share your startup story and get feedback, all in an abbreviated timeframe.

For my experience in pitching Innov8social, it was a great place to start pitching and I learned as much by what the VC’s didn’t ask as by what they did. It gave me some quick investor feedback of what was conveyed in my pitch and what may have been unclear or ambiguous.

 

3. …but DON’T expect an investment

 

From my experience in attending dozens of pitch events over the past half-decade, one thing I have noticed (and have even asked startup founders about) is whether they expect investments from pitch events. The consensus seems to be a pretty consistent no. Some pitch events, by default, however, do offer a prize to the winning pitch. Winning a pitch event comes with the bragging rights, that can be shared not only over social media and the company website, but at future pitches to potential investors as well.

But even without an investment or a win, a pitch can be the start of potential connections. Whether it is building relationship with one of the VC panelists, with someone in the audience, or the event organizer—those relationships may actually be incredibly valuable as you progress and grow your social enterprise.

 

4. DO plan to educate your audience/judges about the concept of social entrepreneurship

 

Perhaps one of my biggest takeaways was that as social enterprise startups, we are wise to explain and contextualize social enterprise in a simple, easy to follow way within our pitches. Since social entrepreneurship is a growing space, VC’s or audience members may not have heard of related buzzwords in the field, and frankly, may come away thinking you are pitching as a nonprofit. If you are, that’s not a problem, but if you are trying to show a for-profit business model, potential of growth, scale, and revenue potential and/or relay the double or triple bottom line—this may be problematic. Especially since you might not even realize the confusion until the pitch is all but over.

Better, is to be proactive and avoid assuming your audience’s familiarity with the social entrepreneurship space. As a still-emerging and evolving space, social entrepreneurs are also ambassadors of social entrepreneurship. We have to find easy and accessible ways to explain how impact and business models can co-exist and even thrive.

 

5. DO use your pitch experience to THINK BIGGER about your social enterprise startup

 

One of the undeniable advantages of pitching to VC’s—who have likely heard hundreds of pitches, is that in just a few words or with a question or two—they can help you think bigger about your company, goals, and process.
I was asked about Innov8social’s traction and value proposition. Though I had mapped it out, in the context of hearing the other pitches and understanding the viewpoint of the judges, their questions actually helped me to think bigger about the scope and potential of our work.

So, as ever, it’s a good rule of thumb to pitch your social enterprise startup early and often. If you can take the good, the bad, and the ugly in stride you will be able to effectively iterate and improve your pitch and may even gain new clarity about your startup’s path to success.

 

A few photos from the event

Here are a few photos from Pitch2Sharks, hosted by The Expat Woman. Photography is courtesy of Yeluguri Entertainment (see all of the photos on Facebook here). Good luck with your social enterprises…and remember, always be pitching!

 

 

 

As a new mentor at the Sustainability Innovation Lab at GSVlabs,I recently had the opportunity to speak there on a topic I am often asked about, namely—what are the essential things that founders should know about social entrepreneurship.

From the engaging follow-up questions and spirited conversation during the presentation, I thought it might be useful to share the slides and key learnings here too.

 

5 Things Every Founder Should Know About Social Entrepreneurship, GSVLabs, July 2015

1. There are legal structures for social entrepreneurship.

This topic was one of the inspirations of founding Innov8social—i.e. to follow the progress and explore the potential of various legal structures including benefit corporations, social purpose corporations, limited low-profit liability companies (L3C’s), and various combinations thereof. These legal structures are intended to form companies founded on principles of creating impact as well as generating profit. These new structures serve to expand the ‘bottom line’ focus of a company to a double or triple bottom line (i.e. people, planet, profits)  and in doing so, expand the stakeholders to which a company owes a legal duty from shareholders to stakeholders such as the environment and community as well.

2. There are business models for social entrepreneurship.

We often say that a legal structure is a “glove” meant to fit the business goals and model of a venture. With that in mind, founders should know that business models are emerging to serve social impact ventures. Models such as buy one give one, or 1%-1%-1%, or dedicating a percentage of revenue to non-profit/policy entities, or pay-what-you-can models are gaining ground as ways to easily explain and account for impact and profit.

3. There are  funding options for social entrepreneurship.

Traditional funding options such as loans, grants, and venture capital can be applicable to social enterprises; however, sometimes the dual goals of impact and profit can make these hard sells for social ventures. There is also a growing body of funding options that can serve social entrepreneurs well—these include impact investors (who actively seek a return on impact and profit on their investments), Program-Related Investments (“PRI’s”) powered by foundations, and the use of crowdfunding (both donation-based and investment-based) to validate and fund social impact companies.

4. Social entrepreneurship isn’t just a way of doing business — it is also a mindset.

Since countries such as the US do not legally define social enterprise per se, that term along with social entrepreneurship and social innovation are often used to describe various legal structures and business models (for-profit and nonprofit). With this broad application, social entrepreneurship signifies a mindset as much as a specific type of venture. In fact, social entrepreneurs are often described as those seeking business-minded solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. They employ methodologies of entrepreneurship and ‘lean’ approach to startups in building revenue models and impact potential. This mindset is a way to problem-solve and calls on the problem-solver to consider and account for multiple end goals, and to do so with accountability and transparency.

5. You are NOT alone! There are resources, tools, and communities to help you reach your profit and impact goals.

If there is one thing to emphasize, it is that social entrepreneurs (and those aspiring to be) are NOT alone! Being an entrepreneur is challenging, add the additional goal of creating impact— and the path to success can feel distant and even lonely. However, there is an ever-strengthening ecosystem of support emerging and evolving to better meet the needs and challenges of social entrepreneurs.

A few leading resources for social innovation and social entrepreneurship:

Resources we have compiled and are building:

 

Here are Prezi slides from the talk



It was year two of participating in Social Good Tech Week in San Francisco. This time, it was an honor to serve as a judge to the immensely driven, mission-oriented social entrepreneurs who pitched on the Main Stage on Friday afternoon.Social Good Tech Week SF 2015

Social Entrepreneur Pitches

The startups and nonprofits that pitched were:

  • Noora Health (Judges’ Selection) – training patients & families with high-impact health skills to improve outcomes and save lives
  • SWAT App (Peoples’ Choice) – aims to end police violence everywhere (Safety With Accountability, Transparency)
  • tinyGive – enables people to donate to causes with just a tweet
  • Long Distance Voter – the absentee ballot experts
  • Say This Not That – new tool for compassionate communication
  • FeelGood – mobilizes resources and the public to address the pressing challenges of our time
  • Youthful Savingsempowers the next generation with financial education and entrepreneurship training
  • ActOn mobile apphelps users engage with causes, organizations and responsible brands by taking simple actions on mobile app
  • HandUpdirect giving for the homeless and others at risk
  • Charity Miles – earn money for charity when you walk, run, or bike
The entire experience of the workshops, sessions, and presentations was incredible and…immersive. There was a chance to connect and get to know a number of attendees, thanks to ample networking time and ahead-of-schedule timing.
Below are various forms of media, including YouTube, Flickr photos, and tweets, to get a look and feel for the Main Stage (Friday) and a workshop on Growth Hacking (Saturday).
Looking forward to following the progress of the startups who pitched!

#SGTech Multi-Media Recaps

 

SCU Magis  2014On a beautiful Sunday evening in mid May 2014, hundreds of social entrepreneurs, mentors, funders, leaders, professors, and faculty members gathered for a gala to honor two individuals in the social enterprise space as well as to further the global dialogue about mission-driven ventures.The inaugural dinner named Magis—the Latin term for “more” (i.e. as in more strategic, or better) highlighted the work of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society (CSTS) and its long-running Global Social Benefit Institute which has over 200 alumni social enterprises that have positively impacted nearly 100 million lives since the program launched over a decade ago. It also recognized and honored the work of Graham Macmillan, former Sr. Director of VisionSpring ( social enterprise dedicated to ensuring the distribution of affordable eyewear) and Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation (one of the institutions that support GSBI).Santa Clara University is no newcomer to social enterprise. As learned through an Innov8Social audio interview the Center of Science, Technology, and Society Director Thane Kreiner—-the Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI) has a rich history in the space, and Thane’s own experience as a serial entrepreneur in the health sciences arena informs and inspires his work at CSTS. The department also hosts an annual GSBI Accelerator Showcase, which features pitches from current participants. (Coverage of the 2013 GSBI Showcase here.)

Though the Magis showcase & dinner evening was seated in elegance and dressed to the nines, one of its most glimmering accessories was the humility of its participants. From Master of Ceremonies Thane, to featured speakers, and award recipients, to the esteemed guests, there was an honesty and authenticity in engaging in value-driven work, understanding the reason behind the work, and the long and often challenging road in launching ventures that seek to improve lives in addition to employing an entrepreneurial mindset. In this space, just as with any niche, there can be a tendency to gild individual contributions or the sector itself, or brush past known challenges and failures. But the tone of Magis, perhaps due to its firm roots in the Jesuit tradition or because the presence of so many active social entrepreneurs in the evening’s program, was one of engaging in dialogue, of furthering conversations, and of finding ways to help each other better understand and support the space.

Photo Essay: Santa Clara University Hosts MAGIS — Celebrating Global Social Entrepreneurship

Sunday, May 18, 2014

 

SCU Magis 2014
A pre-event slideshow featured various GSBI and social enterprise projects and initiatives.

SCU Magis 2014
Final touches before attendees are seated.

 

SCU Magis 2014
One of the social enterprises featured at the tables was WE CARE Solar— a portable solar-powered off-grid electric system to power electricity in hospitals that do not have steady electricity. Co-founder Dr. Laura Stachel spoke about her experience in starting this organization on a panel at Kiva in 2013.

 

SCU Magis 2014
Mexico-based social enterprise Prospera, a 2014 GSBI participant, empowers female-led micro businesses with consulting and training and connects them to conscious citizens and consumers looking to create a more equal and engaged society. See the beautiful video they created to explain their work.

 

SCU Magis 2014
Solar Ear, a Brazil-based social enterprise, tackles the daunting World Health Organization statistic that over 6000 million people worldwide have some form of hearing impairment. It develops high quality and affordable solar-powered hearing aids, produced by deaf people to hearing impaired ones in deprived areas.
SCU Magis  2014
GSBI mentor Amanda North has turned social entrepreneur, with Artisan Connect— an online marketplace for quality home goods made by artisans in developing countries. Read about how witnessing the 2013 Boston Marathon explosion shifted Amanda’s focus from her corporate work to starting this social venture.

 

SCU Magis  2014
Gemma Bulos, Director of Global Women’s Water Initiative, a nonprofit and GSBI alumnus, explains the organization’s work in training and building a movement of local women water experts to address water issues, that affect them the most. GWWI focuses on Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania and has trained over 200 women to build over 30 rainwater harvesting systems, that provide over 300K liters of clean water to their communities. (see their impact infographic)
SCU Magis  2014
Sankara Eye Care Institutions, a 2014 GSBI participant, aims to eradicate preventable and curable blindness in India by providing free high quality eye care to millions of rural poor. Over the span of 35 years, Sankara’s network has grown to 11 eye hospitals, 120+ doctors, 600 paramedical professionals, and over 250 support staff–that have collectively impacted an estimated 40 million people.
SCU Magis  2014
Launched in 2010 and a GSBI alum of 2013,  Ilumexico is a social enterprise comprised of a for-profit and nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting development in rural areas through solar-powered electricity systems, with a focus on last-mile distribution.

 

SCU Magis  2014
The Magis showcase evening program started with statistics outlining some of the world’s most pressing issues.

 

SCU Magis  2014
Statistics and initiatives from organizations such as the World Wide Hearing, based in Jordan, were featured in the slideshow. WWH, a current GSBI participant, provides provides access to affordable, high quality hearing aids to children and youth with hearing loss in developing countries.

 

SCU Magis  2014
Thane Kreiner, Executive Director of Santa Clara University Center of Science, Technology, and Society served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening.
SCU Magis  2014
A brief video outlining innovation and social impact was shared.

 

SCU Magis  2014
Jim Koch, the founding Director of CSTS introduced the first Magis award.
SCU Magis  2014
Thane and Jim presented the award to Graham Macmillan.
SCU Magis  2014
2006 GSBI participant and former VisionSpring Sr. Director Graham McMillan accepted the inaugural Magis Award for his work in field and his continuing work within the social enterprise sector, now in a funding role. To date, 2 million people have access to affordable eyewear as a result of VisionSpring’s work. He related the near-death experience he faced in the wake of 9/11 and how it changed his view on everything and inspired his work in social impact.  “We are aspirationalists” said Graham of his fellow social entrepreneurs.  You can see a NextBillion video interview with Graham here.

 

SCU Magis  2014
Kirk Hanson, Executive Director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics  introduced second Magis Award recipient, Sally Osberg.

 

SCU Magis  2014
Sally Osberg,  President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation, spoke about her experience and pragmatism in supporting the social enterprise space and the honor and “shame” associated with the term “social enterprise”. You can watch a Skoll video featuring Sally here.

 

The dialogue continues! Catching up with social enterprise attorney Barbara Krause after the event.

 

The first Berkeley “Social Enterprise Law Symposium” took place in the first week of April 2014. The Boalt Social Enterprise Group (a student organization of UC Berkeley School of Law) and the Impact Law Forum hosted the insightful event to take a closer look at financing & exits for social enterprises. The event comprised of two panel discussions and surveyed the finance and legal structures for social enterprises from startup stages to scale– focusing more on scalable social enterprises backed by foundation or grant funding.Scroll down below for links to watch videos of the sessions.From the perspective of covering social enterprise law in various posts on Innov8Social about the introduction and passage of benefit corporation legislation in California and beyond; hybrid corporate forms including L3C, CA flexible purpose corporation, and others; the merit of tandem structures (i.e. for-profit + nonprofit combinations); potential of crowdfunding for equity; and impact financing possibilities and constraints—-the panel talks validated some overall trends that have been emerging and brought to light interesting nuances by active legal practitioners in the space, social entrepreneurs, funders, returns-focused venture capital, and policy experts.

Below is a photo essay from the talk, along with a few notes about notable quotes and points raised. You can also read literature handed out at the Symposium on the Impact Law Forum website.

Attorney Gene Takagi also posted about about the session in his blog post, “Financing Social Enterprises: From Start-up Through Exit”.

Social Enterprise Law Symposium

The panel talks afforded legal practitioners continuing legal education credit and brought together a diverse group of individuals engaged or curious about the social enterprise space.

Panel 1: Early Stage Financing and Mission Preservation

Social Enterprise Law Symposium

Panel 1 included (from the left): Rick Moss (Founder and Managing Director of Better Ventures); Ayesha Wagle (President of KOMAZA, a social enterprise); Will Fitzpatrick (General Counsel and Secretary of the Board of Omidyar Network); and Susan Mac Cormac (Partner at Morrison & Foerester’s Clean Technology Group & PRivate Equity and Venture Investment Practice, and Co-Chair of the Working Group for the Flexible Purpose Corporation). The panel discussion was moderated by Berkeley law student, Jen Barnette (extreme right)

 

Social Enterprise Law Symposium
To put the social enterprise sector into context, Susan Mac Cormac (center) noted that social enterprises represent less than 1% of the total capital market. She also framed the stage of development and reporting of the infrastructure for social enterprises, in her reflection that “if hybrid structures are in the the ‘1st grade’ of development, impact measurement is in ‘kindergarten.'”
In addressing his perspective on hybrid legal structures, Will Fitzpatrick (left in photo) of Omidyar referenced a quote by famous Silicon Valley venture capitalist Marc Andreesen, likening hybrid structures to a “houseboat” because, in Andreesen’s view, “they are neither a good house, nor a good boat.” He also emphasized the weight Omidyar Network places on the scalability of the social enterprises and nonprofits it funds and supports.
Moderator Jen Barnette (right) covered questions surround legal structure options as well as ways social enterprises can avoid “mission drift” and the impact of legal structures and channels of funding.
Social Enterprise Law Symposium
Ayesha Wagle (right) discussed the emerging view of social enterprises as a new asset class in investing. She also reflected on social enterprises pursuing funding, noting the importance of choosing funding types wisely, based on risk tolerance and ability to bear debt or give equity.
Rick Moss (left) brought up an interesting point that his venture fund prefers social enterprises to come in for funding with no legal form rather than an overly-complex of “bad” legal structure.


Social Enterprise Law Symposium
Social Enterprise Law Symposium

 

Panel 2: Exits

 

Social Enterprise Law Symposium

Panel 2 included (from the left) Mark Perutz (partner at DBL Investors & Board member of Revolution Foods); Kendall Baker (CFO at Revolution Foods); Jan Piotrowski (Head of Venture Coverage at Credit Suisse); and Eric Talley (Berkeley Law professor and co-director of Berkeley Center for Law, Business, and the Economy). The panel was moderated by Berkeley JD/MBA candidate, Libby Hadzima.

Social Enterprise Law Symposium
Jan Piotrowski (left) noted that while we haven’t seen big exits in the social enterprise space yet, the time is coming.
Professor Eric Tully (center) expanded on the case of Ben & Jerry’s as a “zeitgeist” of social enterprise M&A and expanded on the implications of the legal case Revlon and “teeth” that new legal structure provide in preserving a social enterprise’s mission in exists.
Moderator Libby Hadzima (right) posed questions framing typical exits for social enterprises, what venture capital firms seek when engaging with social enterprises, and ways social enterprises can pursue mission even in exit scenarios.

 

Social Enterprise Law Symposium

Mark Perutz (left) emphasized that DBL Investors seeks big returns so as to be making “absolutely no sacrifice on financial return” when investing in social enterprises.


Kendall Baker (right) shared Revolution Foods’ mission to become the first mission-based company to go public and expounded on the “halo effect” of health/wellness companies trading higher than companies not dedicated to those goals in similarly situated companies in their class. (i.e. Annie’s brand).

 

Social Enterprise Law Symposium

 

Reception

After the panel discussions, speakers and attendees gathered on the patio—continuing conversations and sharing insights from diverse perspectives and experiences in the social enterprise space.

Social Enterprise Law Symposium

 

Social Enterprise Law Symposium

 

Social enterprise Law Symposium 2014

Watch the Videos

PANEL 1: EARLY-STAGE FINANCING & MISSION PRESERVATION
PANEL 2: EXIT
“Do the most important thing.” – Paul GrahamSimple, elegant, and something that has likely been said over millennia—this has been the phrase that has echoed over and again in my mind since I saw Paul Graham speak at the 2014 Launch Festival in San Francisco.

Paul Graham at #Launch 2014
Paul Graham, at Launch Festival 2014

 

In his afternoon keynote on the first full-day of the conference (Monday, February 24, 2014), Paul shared what he has learned at the helm of Y Combinator (YC)—arguably the accelerator that catalyzed the launch of hundreds of other accelerator and incubator programs designed to spur innovation and provide an alternative pathway for thinkers and founders to become companies.  He reflected on the past decade, the kinds of founders YC has selected in the past, his changing role in the organization, and his announcement that he will be stepping back from day-to-day operations at YC.

He said that when he meets with founders he often prods them to identify their most important next task—-and to focus on doing exactly that thing.

It is apt advice for the entrepreneur and especially so for a mission-minded social entrepreneur serving multiple stakeholders.

All too often founders can get distracted, sidetracked and perhaps overwhelmed, causing them to spread ourselves thin and focus on multiple targets simultaneously. But, in practicing Paul’s advice, much of the surrounding noise dissipates and is replaced with focused attention and follow-through.

I hadn’t heard Paul speak before, and was struck by his easygoing, open style. After hearing him, I imagine this as a typical, garden-variety talk between Paul and a founder:

Paul: “Hey [Founder], so what’s the most important thing right now?”

Founder: “X”

Paul: “Yeah, go do that.”