This podcast episode features an interview with Dirk Sampselle, and attorney and founder focusing on supporting social entrepreneurs, impact investors, and nonprofit organizations.

The Numerous Choices Available for Social Entrepreneurs Can Be Overwhelming

Increased choice can create confusion. Barry Schwartz’s 2004 book titled Paradox of Choice: Why Less is More even suggests that the process of making a decision among many choices can actually decrease our enjoyment and confidence in our choice.Viewing social innovation through that unique lens, there seems to be a certain trend emerging. The trend of more. Today there are new legal structures, new business models, additional sustainability certifications, and more choices than ever before when it comes to effectuating change and measuring impact.The space that is emerging, while exciting and motivating, can seem overwhelming to both the consumer as well as the entrepreneur. The increased choice creates opportunities for experienced guides who can use and make sense of growing data to guide social entrepreneurs through the space.

B Revolution, a Consultancy for the B Corporation Movement

That’s why it was fascinating to come across new initiatives such B Revolution, seeking to address the potential problem of increased choice in social innovation. Founded by Dirk Sampselle in 2011, B Revolution serves growth companies, nonprofits, as well as individual and early-stage entrepreneurs. The consultancy assists its clients in projects such as designing an impact strategy, identifying investment sources, and taking a holistic look at legal and business needs in evaluating structuring options.

B Revolution has launched a few initiatives related to the impact space, including:

  • ezBcorp – a new B Revolution initiative that combines Legal Zoom type automation with benefit corporation legal structure to create an online platform for social entrepreneurs to explore benefit corporation options as well as incorporate as one.
  • B Revolution Consulting – consulting service for entrepreneurs, impact investors, companies, and nonprofits traversing the impact space.
  • B Revolution Capital – pairing mission-driven entrepreneurs seeking $50K-$1M in funding with impact investors seeking new avenues of creating impact-aligned investments.

Interestingly, B Revolution Consulting is itself structured as a California benefit corporation subsidiary of B Revolution, Inc., a B Corporation-certified Maryland benefit corporation.

Meet Dirk

DIrk SampselleDirk Sampselle grew up in Maryland and completed his undergraduate education at the University of Florida, where he also created a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization called “Citizens for Social Justice.”

His path to finding new ways to create meaningful change in society and business drew him to become involved in the benefit corporation movement early on and he has co-authored several white papers for B Lab on the subject. He recently graduated from Pepperdine University with dual degrees in business and law.

Listen to the Interview

 

Learn More

You can read Dirk’s white papers on benefit corporations here:

Can you make a business model around volunteering? The co-founders of GoVoluntr have put their bets on yes.I met M.J., Kevin, and Young when they served as judges of a panel for New Leaders’ Council Silicon Valley Startup Saturday in the Fall of 2012.   They provided insightful input from a social entrepreneur perspective to current fellows who pitched potential fundraiser ideas. They also introduced their work to make volunteering opportunities social, easy to find, and company-friendly.

Meet Young

Co-Founder and GoVoluntr’s CEO Young Han also led a session on social entrepreneurship Young Han(along with GoodJoe founder Nathan Pham) and participated in the informal social innovation unconference we organized in Spring 2013. The events provided a whole new snapshot on his passion for this work, his depth and breadth of experience in entrepreneurship, and the dynamic qualities that help him articulate GoVoluntr’s broader vision.

Young is a serial entrepreneur with the title of “Professional Do Gooder”, he helped launch GoVoluntr in 2011.

Listen to the Interview

 

GoVoluntr: Creating a Business around Volunteering

What makes a social entrepreneur unique is adopting a mindset of impact + enterprise. Adding layers of impact to the already-challenging task of creating a business is a puzzle all its own. As Young explains in his interview, it can help to be passionate about a problem or cause.

The founders of GoVoluntr saw a need in volunteerism. They saw potential to build a community of do gooders by making volunteer opportunities easy to find, creating ways to easily track and reward volunteers, and finding ways to centralize and encourage volunteering by companies.

Their innovative platform does these things in an easy-to-use format. A new user can select to create a volunteer, nonprofit, business, or school profile and login using Facebook. From there the fun begins by finding volunteer opportunities—which include one-time events (like local film, music, and art festivals) as well as ongoing needs (such as mentorship, math/reading tutoring, or museum volunteering). Sign up for an event and you receive a reminder by email as well as an automatic tracking of hours. In case you volunteer outside of the offered opportunities, you can submit “missing hours” to continue tracking your total.

To gamify the experience, volunteers receive rewards and badges for their service to the community. And companies can encourage employee participation by providing ways to track hours and share unique volunteer experience internally.

Read Interview Responses

Q | Innov8Social:  You have a rich history in entrepreneurship, tell us a little about your path to your current startup GoVoluntr.

A | Young Han, GoVoluntr:  I don’t think a typical person would call my entreprenuerial journey “rich” but it does sound much nicer to say that than saying, I’ve failed several businesses prior to GoVoluntr. (LOL). I think that there are a lot of experiences that have helped me to land on GoVoluntr. Including my various business ventures, community service roles, and my time at Starbucks and Apple. I know that I’ve always had a desire to be an entrepreneur since I was in high school and was able to leverage my experiences in the last decade to realize and bring together my passion for business and volunteerism through GoVoluntr.

Q | Innov8Social:  Do “social” and “entrepreneurship” mix—-or does it create more challenges for the social entrepreneur?

A | Young:  I think they mix wonderfully. I believe that with societal changes that have been trending, the next iteration of businesses will be inherently socially conscious business model. Partly due to the demands coming from future “paying” customers as well as the the future workforce looking for more and more responsible business operators to work for. Currently there are some challenges in overcoming the initial misunderstanding of what constitutes a social entrepreneur and we face the inability to understand how we are a for profit social good company. We are bridging our monetary gain with our social impact, creating a fairly unique model where the more money we make the more good we do and vice versa. It is becoming increasingly more popular though with great social good startups like Tom’s shoes and Causes leading the way.

 

Q | Innov8Social:  Tell us a little about GoVoluntr—how does it work, what inspired this startup idea, how is it structured, have you rec’d initial funding?

A | Young:   GoVoluntr is an online platform that brings together volunteer, nonprofits, and businesses to engage in doing good. We enable volunteers/employees to quickly and easily find the right volunteer opportunity, register for specific shifts, positions, times and dates, then work with our nonprofit partners to track and verify their service hours. Once the hours have been added by the nonprofit the volunteer starts to earn virtual recognition through Volunteer Pins. They can earn VPins the more they volunteer and each VPin comes with Points, that they can then go to our Volunteer Rewards store to purchase goods and services from businesses that support community service.

In addition we help Nonprofits effectively source, track, manage, report, and reward their volunteers. For businesses we offer a turn key employee volunteer program, cause related marketing program and robust reporting. They all fit together to create a mutually beneficial ecosystem around doing good.

We have raised an initial seed round to get us started and will be working on subsequent rounds as we work towards further building out the ecosystem and platform.

 

Q | Innov8Social:  What advice or tips do you have for new entrepreneurs who are trying create value but also make a positive impact?

A | Young:   Be unbelievably passionate about your impact and laser focused on the value you are creating. It’s not necessarily harder to be a social entrepreneur but like anything, it has it’s unique pros and cons, but being a social entrepreneur will require a certain amount of creativity and resourcefulness as it’s not a path that has been tread as much as other fields and industries.

 

We have about fewer than five days left on the clock for our Indiegogo campaign, and the journey has been incredibly revealing, in ways expected and unexpected. Crowdfunding has been a humbling way to tempt fate and meet truth—all in the same handshake.Prior to launching, co-author Shivani Khanna and I interviewed a few individuals who have written books and/or conducted crowdfunding campaigns.

Store open sign

They reiterated that managing a crowdfunding campaign is nearly a full-time job. There is choosing a platform, no easy task considering the wealth of options available. There is writing copy for the crowdfunding page, which is essentially like forming the backbone of the book, i.e. the book proposal. There is creating rewards that make sense and are compelling and, well, rewarding. There is spreading the word about the campaign—doing so to cast a wide net, without annoying those you want to inspire. There is following up, to express gratitude for each show of support.  There is planning updates, so your supporters feel included in the progress of the campaign.

I became mentally ready for all of those things, and budgeted time and mind space to stay on top of our grand crowdfunding undertaking.

What I wasn’t completely prepared for was how vulnerable the experience is. And, how incredibly igniting and motivating that can be.

Take a dream that you hold close for a long time, quietly tucked away between your outward persona and your inward self. And then imagine releasing it for everyone to see, judge, and participate in. That has been a version of this experience. The dream of writing a book for me was seeded a long time ago—and to make the bold decision, that yes, now is the time to act on it and this is the topic to address—is like standing in front of a crowd of people who can read your thoughts. Exposed in the most personal way.

It can’t be denied that when you visit a crowdfunding page, there is a certain tendency to view it with a fair dose of skepticism. Like when your friend, the one who is always dreaming up increasingly far-fetched startup ideas, paints you the picture of another questionable endeavor. You sometimes inadvertently want her to fail so that she gets a dose of reality. Stop living in the clouds, you want to yell, try walking on the ground like the rest of us. When you launch a crowdfunding campaign, that is a reaction that might ensue—though you quickly learn that anticipating that flavor of reaction is not your burden to carry.

You need to focus on those who will pick up pen and write along side you. And, you will find them—the people who believe. With their contributions, shares, and encouragement toward your efforts, you are refueled and shielded again. And, then the focus shifts.

As I write this, we have raised over two-thirds of our goal of $7,100. In more telling terms, 87 funders have joined our team. They have picked up their proverbial pens, ready to write alongside us. And, from someone who grew up playing team sports, this simple fact has literally changed the game. There is a whole new motivation to not let the team down.

I feel a new drive beyond the campaign. There is a new urgency to create something useful and relevant. We aren’t the only ones who are deeply interested in the nuanced intersections of value and impact—we are joined by dozens of others—and our message has amplified be even more. Our focus now is not only to deliver the book to our supporters, but to validate their support.

Would we do this again? Ask us again at the end of the week, and then again in six months. Right now, I can say that the dream lived silently is now set free to fly—and today it flies with the support and strength of a flock. And crowdfunding has given it wings.

 

Anthony shares video examples of transformative hip hop in his guest post, here

For many of us, music plays a huge role in our lives. It is the soundtrack to what do and think about. It is helps inform our memories. It can shift our mood and give perspective. It can make us want to dance. And, according to Anthony Pineda, it can be a powerful force for transformative social change.

Meet Anthony Pineda, Founder of Creatrix Institute

Anthony holds a Masters degree in Consciousness and Transformative Studies from John F. Kennedy University and is the Anthony Pinedafounder of Creatrix Institute. He is currently finishing a documentary on transformational hip hop—the culmination of over seven years of research and work.

Anthony has been a student of the effects of music and human consciousness since 1999, when he reflected on the role music played in his own life. Hip hop, specifically a genre dubbed ‘Conscious Hip Hop‘, transformed his outlook and personal and professional goals. It was a catalyst to his personal evolution and launched him on a path to deepening his understanding of the music and sharing its potential with others, especially kids.

In fact, Anthony has demoed a class called “Hip Hop & Poetry” in local middle schools and high schools in Silicon Valley. He designed a class specifically for emotionally disturbed students and used conscious hip hop as a way to connect, related, and help students move forward.

Starting with the music, he analyzes elements that make it conscious-raising and transformative, as well as creating ways to discuss themes of overcoming hardship and challenge through examining lyrics and message.

Conscious Hip-Hop: A Tool for Social Innovation?

Anthony firmly believes in the power of hip hop to be conscious-raising and in a word, transformative.

What struck me most about meeting Anthony over a year ago during the course of our New Leaders Council Fellowship in 2012, was his determination to create the life he envision for himself and share his knowledge and passion. From becoming a father at an early age to finding his voice and purpose in hip hop, he has worked against numerous challenges to pursue his education, develop his art, and set a meaningful example for his family. It is humbling to meet such a determined, committed proponent for social change.

I had a chance to sit down with him and discuss in depth his evolving view of music, hip hop, conscious hip hop, and the 2.0 version he calls transformative hip hop.

 

Q | When did the transformative/conscious hip hop movement begin?

Anthony Pineda, Founder of Creatrix: The movement of transformative hip-hop was in the beginning, in my opinion. Hip-hop began in America as a way to transcend socioeconomic and environmental situations. It was to expose the ills of society and a critique of what was happening on the streets of impoverished areas of America.

Some may argue that the golden age of hip-hop through the mid 90’s with Tupac began a new stage in conscious hip-hop. I believe it was created with this premise of being transformative, so the basic foundation of hip-hop culture is a conscious movement. I feel that transformative hip-hop is a new phrase I feel I am contributing to the academic discourse of hip-hop studies. People often use ‘conscious hip-hop’ or even ‘spiritual/positive hip-hop’ to define sub-genres of hip-hop music, yet transformative hip-hop denotes a process by which the music offers a new perspective to become self-aware and change one’s path.

 

Q | How can someone get involved in the movement?

Anthony: First, I think its important to note that hip-hop is a global youth culture and most of our youth are in fact involved with the movement. The way to get most involved in the movement is to become a practitioner of the craft or culture. To be involved means to act, and action can occur in many ways. For me, becoming not only an emcee, but to actively engage my community and help facilitate dialogue regarding hip-hop as a way to educate youth is part of my path within the movement.

 

Q | Tell us about the film project and what you hope to accomplish with its release?

Anthony: So the film represents the story/narratives of Hiphop music and culture. The power of Hiphop to save the minds and lives of people who use it to evoke their consciousness. We are looking at the impact of the music to be transformative and educational.

The main themes are education, spirituality, and story. The therapeutic implications of Hiphop are innate, so perspectives will solidify the current and ongoing research of Hiphop within institutions and systems. We are interested in personal stories with the youth and desires to expand Hiphop culture as a main aspect towards educational aspirations and what would it mean to include Hiphop in schools with structure and curricula. I have been documenting hip-hop in my life for 7 years and this film is the culmination of my transformation and research.

I hope that people begin to question the stereotypes of hip-hop and what we can accomplish with hip-hop in schools and around the globe. I also hope people acknowledge the power of lyrics in hip-hop to advance human consciousness. I want this to be the first installment of future projects on hip-hop research in visual form and to continue to document what it means to be hip-hop and what our responsibilities are to youth and their development. Hip-hop is more then entertainment and culture, it is a way of life and a spiritual practice by which people transform.

 

Gene Takagi has been a friend of Innov8Social nearly from the start. He demonstrates a dedication to nonprofit and social enterprise law and uses social media in innovative, nuanced ways. It was a pleasure to interview him and learn more about his path into the the social enterprise law space as well as the future he sees for the field.

Meet Gene Takagi

Gene TakagiGene is a leading attorney in the nonprofit law space and is an active voice for social impact on social media.

He is the Managing Attorney of NEO Law Group (Nonprofit & Exempt Organizations), based in San Francisco, CA. His presence on social media includes regularly blogging on the Nonprofit Law Blog and tweeting as @Gtak. He also posts a weekly series called “Nonprofit Tweets of the Week“.

Listen to the Interview

Interview with Gene: key takeaways

How did you get involved in social enterprise law?
  • Gene started as a science major in college, graduated with degrees in Zoology and Oceonography
  • First worked in for-profit sector, including role in operations of Duty Free Business in San Francisco.
  • Realized he wanted to work in non-profit sector
  • Then pursued graduate studies in non-profit
  • Worked at SPCA in San Francisco, learned about the power of advocacy
  • Attended law school to develop skills in nonprofit law school
  • Worked at a big law firm as an associate in corporate and securities law, leading him to reassess his interest in working in nonprofit law
  • So, started own law practice focusing on nonprofit 8 years ago
What role do you see social media playing in the nonprofit/social enterprise space?
  • Plays a huge role in sharing of information, potential development of networks, collaboration among organizational leaders—it is already showing an impact
  • In social enterprise law space, however, there aren’t currently a lot of players on social media—why? Lawyers tend to be risk-averse and there are not many attorneys in this space.
  • However, for small firms/solo practice firms—they can share more valuable information that can be helpful and informative. There is more of a willingness to share over social media.
  • Tries to get the conversation started about key issues in the space through his social media
What do you think of new legal structures for social change? 
  • The movement is tremendously valuable and the time has come
  • Sees a gap between for-profit and nonprofit that new legal structures might fill
  • It is incredibly valuable
  • There is a misconception that as a board member of for-profit, the primary purpose is to maximizing shareholder valuable. Gene doesn’t think that is exactly true, but notes that there is a grey area in how board members can promote social cause.
  • On a case by case basis, it can be more challenging to recommend a new structure because of the lack of case law and untested treatment by courts, ability to attract institutional investors
What tips or advice do you have for social entrepreneurs who are considering what legal structure to adopt?
  • Become educated about the process
  • Read For Love or Lucre, Stanford Social Innovation Review which outlines some key considerations and options for traditional and new legal structures
  • “Hybrid” legal structures used to refer to situations in which for-profit and nonprofit entities were affiliated in some way
  • Talk to a knowledgeable consultant or attorney early in the process before setting your heart on a particular structure
Do you have any tips for new attorneys, JD’s, and policymakers interested in the social enterprise space?
  • First off, follow your passion into the social enterprise space
  • You can maintain a traditional career and also start working with clients in the nonprofit space
  • If seeking to work at a traditional firm, get tax and corporate securities background before joining a firm dedicated to nonprofits
  • If you do engage in a solo or small firm practice, cultivate a business acumen so you can effectively run a practice
  • Invest in your networks and developing knowledge in the social enterprise law

Miss an Innov8Social interview? Here is a list of Innov8Social interviews with thinkers and doers in social innovation—including social entrepreneurs, members of academia, attorneys, legislators, media personalities, impact funders, and those in search of solutions.

 

Innov8Social Interviews

 

What does Janelle Orsi have in common with the Dalai Lama, Buckminster Fuller, Mahatma Gandhi, and Dr. Seuss? She joins them as one of 100 individuals named on the (En)Rich list of inspirational leaders whose work contributes to a sustainable future.

I was introduced to Janelle by Jenny Kassan last year—they both co-founded the Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) in 2009. Based in Oakland, California, SELC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides legal resources, education, and advocacy to support more sustainable, localized, and just economies.

Meet Janelle Orsi, a leading attorney for the sharing economyJanelle Orsi

Janelle continues to actively run SELC, serving as its Executive Director. She also manages a law practice focused on meeting the needs of the sharing economy.  The sharing economy encompasses social enterprises, collaborative consumption startups, local food initiatives, cooperatives, and co-housing projects that are shifting the way we seek, use, and spend on products, services, and space.

How is Janelle a leading attorney in the space? She wrote the book on the topic, literally.

In 2012 ABA published her latest book, “Practicing Law in the Sharing Economy: Helping People Build Cooperatives, Social Enterprise, and Local Sustainable Economies”.

Listen to the interview

I had a chance to catch up with Janelle for the first time at a coffee shop in downtown Oakland, along with SELC staffer and law apprentice Christina Oatfield in 2012. More recently, we sat down to learn more about her path to social impact law, her interest in the sharing economy, and the future challenges and successes she envisions.

Key Takeaways:

  • Janelle was originally interested in defending juveniles in the court system
  • Her focus shifted after taking a transactional law class taught by Professor Bill Kell at Berkeley
  • She then looked at the types of organizations that impact change—and focused on shared resources (i.e. car-sharing, shared housing, food cooperatives, etc.)
  • She started her own practice in “sharing law” out of law school because this was an emerging field
  • She has been surprised by barriers encountered in sharing economy—regulations that were intended to protect, but don’t fit will in highly-collaborative, highly-democratic sharing initiatives
  • Has seen that even in the past 3 years, we have gone from not using the phrase “sharing economy” to an explosion of the use of the phrase. She foresees the sharing economy and social enterprise will bump up against the existing law, causing law to evolve to include these new ways of thinking of consumption and business.
  • Her advice for attorneys and law graduates interested in this field: start a law practice

 

SELC goal: raise $300K in 2013

SELC has some exciting projects it is working on, including building a legal apprenticeship program, hosting a regular “legal cafe” to make law more accessible to those in the community, and working on legislation to legalize cooperative housing. An overarching goal for SELC is to raise $300K in 2013.

Learn more in the cartoon (ahem, with narration and guitar by Janelle!)

Jenny Kassan is a pioneering attorney in the social enterprise space. I first met her two years ago when she delivered an insightful presentation at the San Jose Green Business Academy. There, she detailed ways that social entrepreneurs can raise capital.When we met last, she recapped her involvement with the federal crowdfunding legislation (part of the JOBS Act), which at the time was still making its way through Congress. (See her Huffington Post article here). Since then, the bill has passed and is awaiting official rule details from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Meet Jenny Kassan, a pioneering social enterprise attorney

Jenny is incredibly personable, experienced, and passionate about connecting law, sustainability, and small businesses to create Jenny Kassansocially responsible ventures. She is the CEO of Cutting Edge Capital (check out their great blog), and a Partner at Katovich & Kassan Law Group.

It was a sincere pleasure interviewing Jenny for Innov8Social. It was an opportunity to hear more about her path to social enterprise law,  her interest in pushing for equity crowdfunding for non-accredited investors, her current work with creating new financial tools, and advice she has for individuals entering the social enterprise law and policy space.

Listen to the interview

A few interesting takeaways:

  • After law school, Jenny became interested in community development
  • Saw that law alone didn’t necessarily help individuals in disadvantaged communities—legal remedies do not always address the root of issues
  • Completed a Masters in City Planning after law school
  • Worked at community development nonprofit, Unity Council for 11 years, in the commercial district in Oakland
  • Loves working with small business owners
  • Joined John Katovich’s firm and worked to find new ways for small businesses to pursue financing
  • Launched Cutting Edge Capital in 2011, focused on creative financing tools for social enterprises—with focus on raising funds from their communities
  • Direct Public Offering (or investment crowdfunding) is a financial tool small businesses can use to raise funds: is legal, but must comply with strict legal compliance guidelines, open to accredited (wealthy) and non-wealthy investors
  • Suggests law students interested in social enterprise law take classes and electives in corporate law subjects

 

Big news for Cutting Edge Capital!

*Note: Since our interview, Cutting Edge Capital successfully raised $150K in a Direct Public Offering of their own. Congratulations! You can contribute until July 1, 2013. More information here.

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.]

Through a confluence of interesting happenings, I had the chance to do a quick phone interview with Gary Vaynerchuk, social media headliner, last month. It. Was. Awesome.

Gary talks social entrepreneurship. Listen in.

 
A few notes: this was done on Google Voice, so you will hear the “start recording” message. You will also hear the runaway guest star of the interview, i.e. Gary’s GPS.

Takeaways:

  • Gary’s thoughts on social cause marketing–It is at an interesting point in maturation. Business people are leveraging cause marketing, not sure if it’s a good thing–will it cause consumer cynicism?
  • Business models that have caught Gary’s attention: buy one, give one is clever, so is giving percentage of retail price. He is more concerned about the passion of founding entrepreneurs of a startup—how are they evangelizing the message of impact + business?
  • Social enterprises Gary likes: Warby Parker, charity: water

 

Gary Vaynerchuk, a household name after 2008 TED Talk

A little background on Gary, and my sincere enthusiasm in having a chance to chat with him. Gary has been a household name for me and my entrepreneurial siblings since we watched his TED Talk  —“Do What You Want (no excuses!)”— about a year after it was posted.

To be fair, I think we were as captivated by his passionate, colorful speaking style (note emphasis of phrases such as “please stop doing that!” and “there is no reason [in 2008] to do $#@! you hate!”)  as by the clarity of his message. [tune in, esp. to 25-55 sec :]

There is something refreshing about his vigor and unapologetic, no holds bar approach to entrepreneurship. He went all in for his new venture, saw traction, and was committed to making it grow. Let’s just say, at moments demanding inspiration, I have tuned back in to this talk—and maybe even joined him in some of his memorable phrases.

A book, another two, and an empire

Since those early days of breaking into the social media scene, Vaynerchuk has attained certain celebrity status among social media superstars. There was the first book in 2009, Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion, which was well-received and frequently quoted. The follow-up came just a couple years later.
The Thank You Economy and has been topping charts as a best-seller. Gary will be releasing his latest book this year,  Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy, Social World.


Gary V’s empire now expands beyond WineLibrary TV to include books, a social media consultancy, and investments in upcoming startups. He frequently headlines large social media events and conferences, is popular for his candor and humor, and is unabashed in giving advice to new entrepreneurs. (See him give his two cents to this entrpreneur at a talk at 59:00: warning, expletives)

What would Innov8Social have to ask Gary Vaynerchuk?

Gary Vaynerchuk does not profess to be a social entrepreneur, so why interview him for Innov8Social?

As has been mentioned before, in this blog’s authentic exploration of social innovation, I have found (repeatedly) that one of the hardest part of social entrepreneurship is being an entrepreneur. It is the initial hurdle.

Whether you are enterprising for money, world domination, or social good—there is a pervasive emphasis on taking on the challenge with an entrepreneurial mindset. And that’s why Gary Vaynerchuk was a great candidate to continue and deepen the exploration. In a few words (some of them likely four-letter) he can get to the heart of the matter when it becomes to being an entrepreneur.

Notably, not every entrepreneur needs to be like him. Not by a long shot. But there is an infinite depth that can be learned from his enthusiasm, belief, and strategic thinking when it comes to launching and growing enterprises.

 

Gary shares what he really thinks about Innov8Social

As you may have noticed from the audio interview (above) we spent part of our 15-20 minutes doing a Q&A for Innov8Social readers. The rest of the time I talked blogger-to-blogger with Gary. I caught him up on my efforts with Innov8Social at the meta level, asked his opinion of how I can focus on growing, and what would be “success” for this blog and effort.

As I anticipated (and hoped), he was frank and honest. From dealing with readership in hundreds of thousands of pageviews, and millions of clicks—Innov8Social is at best a humble effort. It was good to talk to him openly and pause for reflection on my efforts so far, and how Innov8Social can grow into the expansive vision I have for it.

Hope you enjoy listening to our conversation as much as I did having it., and that it provides a different perspective on how a through-and-through entrepreneur views social enterprise.