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On a beautiful sunny Friday, hundreds of attorneys, legal tech folks, law students, legal bloggers, and others interested in innovation in law gathered at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View California to learn about innovation in law.

 

#ReInventLaw 2013 Silicon Valley Conference

A Movement to ReInvent Law

While Innov8Social has been a platform to explore social innovation and startup social entrepreneurs, I was surprised to begin to learn about the emerging innovations in law and legal tech. Speakers focused on design and process-oriented practice of law and focused on taking a long, tough look at whether the legal industry today best meets the needs of clients and the legal profession.

Silicon Valley Conference, March 8th 2013: Rapid-Fire

#ReInventLaw 2013 Silicon Valley ConferenceIn rapid-fire style, the conference featured over 40 speakers–many of whom presented in 6-8 minutes. The quick progression of speakers made the presentations more of a “pitch” than an in-depth view and allowed for many ideas to be presented in a short time. With numerous scheduled networking time, the organizers wanted to encourage discussion and debriefing with other attendees.

MSU Law Leads the Movement for Innovation in Law

Michigan State University College of Law (@MSULaw) has taken a leadership role in cultivating and growing this area of legal innovation. Organizers of the conference, Daniel Martin Katz and Renee Knake are faculty members at MSULaw and Co-Directors of ReInvent Law Laboratory that is actively pursuing building a platform to share and exchange ideas and innovation on how evolve the legal industry.

With funding from the Kauffman Foundation and MSULaw, the ReInventLaw Laboratory is focusing on building tools to address the R&D gap felt by law firms, legal departments, and other legal fields. Additionally, ReInventLaw Lab hosts Fellows to further the work and research in innovation in law. The core tenets of ReInvent Law Laboratory are: law + tech + design + delivery.

Twitter Recap of #ReInventLaw Silicon Valley 2013,  @Storify

[View the story “Twitter Recap of #ReInventLaw Silicon Valley 2013 ” on Storify]

Twitter Recap of #ReInventLaw Silicon Valley 2013

The ReInvent Law Silicon Valley 2013 conference on 3/8/13 explored law, tech, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the legal profession—and paid special attention to disruptive technologies, future trends, and identifying needs of clients. Here’s a recap of Twitter highlights!

Storified by Neetal Parekh· Sat, Mar 09 2013 12:34:27

Images from #ReInventLaw Silicon Valley 2013 by @margarethagan

#ReInventLaw a VC’s thoughts on the legal tech space, my #sketchnote http://pic.twitter.com/EQNsygiMXaMargaret Hagan
What is wrong with Law School? http://www.razblint.com/2013/03/law-students-on-law-school/ a Top 11 List from law students #reinventlaw http://pic.twitter.com/V2l7UxSOtVMargaret Hagan
Legal forms alone are not enough! #ReInventLaw Clients need wholly designed legal experience. http://pic.twitter.com/mCJV9WE8MHMargaret Hagan
Visualize the Law! #ReInventLaw let’s build legal maps… http://pic.twitter.com/hlnjsyYUlbMargaret Hagan
#ReinventLaw Where will good Legal Innovation come from? Good design process — some ground rules for brainstorms: http://pic.twitter.com/CMQlZeu3XwMargaret Hagan
#ReInventLaw To really design access to justice, we need to look beyond just making law publicly available. http://pic.twitter.com/gSzFAbOkSNMargaret Hagan

Set 1 #ReInventLaw Silicon Valley Speakers: 8 Talks, 6 Min

Henry Jones, Managing Director @Axiom_Law
RT @lbridgesmith: #ReInventLaw Henry Jones notes that the GC’s at the top 200 companies control 80% of legal work. Meeting their needs…Axiom
Henry Jones from @Axiom_Law kicks off #reinventlaw Silicon Valley 2013! http://pic.twitter.com/tETCoKNFVuComp Legal Studies
VC looks at @Axiom_Law but as investor, does not see exit strategy given non-lawyers can’t own #ReInventLaw [RF: but Axiom not a law firm[ronfriedmann
Stephanie Kimbro, Attorney @BurtonLaw
Assumptions about lawyer advertising need to be rethought; impeding access to justice @StephKimbro #ReinventLaw #LegalRebelsRachel M. Zahorsky
@StephKimbro asks: why so many under employed lawyers AND such a gaping need for legal services? #ReInventLaw – Good Question.Ed Walters
Silvia Hodges, Director of Research Services @CTTyMetrix
#reinventlaw Silvia Hodges – lawyers need to focus on efficiency and numbers – use UTBMS codespracticePRO
Ray Bayley, CEO @ Novus Law
Just did the 6 minute fast talk at #reinventlaw. Listening to CEO of Novus Law. Story telling increases learning.StephKimbro
“@ronfriedmann: #ReInventLaw Ray Bayley. Novus uses gamification to motivate workers” || Best thought legal business I’ve seen.Patrick Lamb
#reinventlaw Ray Bayley – groups always outperform individuals – get people working togetherDanPinnington
Ben Gubernick, Founder @ Resolvable
#reinventlaw Ben Gubernick: courts are like 10,000 independent burger joints – we need a McDonalds model for the courtsDanPinnington
Yes! Ben Gubernick: adoption, not technology, is our challenge to change the legal system. #reinventlawWeorce
Joe Kelly, Law Student @MSULaw
#reinventlaw Joe Kelly from MSU Law: we need to make law more visual – think Google Maps and touch http://milaws.orgDanPinnington
Totally! “@agoldner: Why is law text only? Why not at least as pictures? Joe Kelly wins most interesting idea thus far at #reinventlaw”Jeena Cho
Show what the law says: present the law in more consumer friendly formats. UX/UI > text-make law more accessible. Joe Kelly #reinventlawFair Document
#reinventlaw Joe Kelly, real people need real time legal solutions they can understand and accessLarry Bridgesmith
Nicole Auerbach, Founding Member @ Valorem Law Group
#ReInventLaw Nicole from Valorem Law – 50% women coming into law for last 20 years but only 15% equity partners in top 200 firms! ShockingRiverview Law US
Nicole Auerbach of Valorem talking about why billable hour is detrimental to women lawyers.-That’s why I unbundle w/fixed fees. #ReInventLawStephKimbro
“The billable hour disparately impacts women.” @ValoremNic on why women should bash the clock @ReInventLaw @MSULaw http://pic.twitter.com/8pUIIbz7YDRenee Knake
Colin Rule, CEO @Modria
Colin Rule takes the stage at #Reinventlaw to discuss Online Dispute Resolution. #ModriaLoic COUTELIER
#reinventlaw colin rule – 90% of 60 million disputes resolved by eBay through online dispute resolutionDavid Bohrer
Colin Rule – the EU will make ODR mandatory for all eCommerce vendors by 2015! #Modria #reinventlawLoic COUTELIER

Set 2 #ReInventLaw Silicon Valley Speakers

Ed Walters, CEO @FastCase
#ReInventLaw Ed Walters from Fastcase on who owns the law?Aric Press
#reinventlaw Ed Walters from Fastcase: Should big corporate publishers own the law? Audience answer: “Hell no!”DanPinnington
Law is a damn cool data set – Ed Walters of FastCase #ReInventLawR. Amani
Ed Walters: Law must be both free AND open; law is our code of ethics #reinventlawDonna Seyle
Sol Irvine, Partner @YusonIrvine
How to #ReInventLaw you asked? Data-driven contracts talk by Sol Irvine. Great stuff!Daniel W. Linna Jr.
#reinventlaw Sol Irvine – amazing value-add for lawyers – tell your clients about the data in their contractspracticePRO
#reinventlaw Sol Irvine has totally convinced me most contracts can be written as a dozen data points in ExcelDanPinnington
Daniel Martin Katz, Co-Founder @ReInventLaw Lab, Asst. Professor MSU Law
A pretty packed house tuning into co-founder of #ReinventLaw Lab, Daniel Martin Katz talking about the future of law http://pic.twitter.com/Km4XLCGHw5Neetal Parekh
#reinventlaw daniel katz-KEY “you can’t sell something to someone who does not want to buy it” Just cuz we build it . . .David Bohrer

Set 3 #ReInventLaw Silicon Valley Speakers

Jason Mendelson, Managing Director @FoundryGroup
VC investor Jason Mendelson of The Foundry Group is interested in the legal space & would love to disrupt the AmLaw 10! #ReInventLawReid Trautz
Jason Mendelson: big data is nothing without insight #reinventlawDonna Seyle
Insightful talk by Jeff Mendelson of @foundrygroup—legal education is ripe for transformation #ReinventLawNeetal Parekh
Focus on consumer & work efficiency- impact driver of innovation-the consumersJason Mendelson @foundrygroup#reinventlaw @FairDocumentsJustin Yarmark
Sell margins not hours. Lawyers need to think strategically about creating profit and margins not # of hours. #reinventlaw @foundrygroupJustin Yarmark
Jason Mendelson “Great lawyers will buy things to make them more efficient” – very true. #ReinventLawThe Law School App
Josh Becker, CEO @LexMachina
Thanks Andrew! “@agoldner: Josh Becker rocking #reinventlaw. @lexmachina delivers empirical value and saves companies money.”Josh Becker
#ReInventLaw josh Becker describing money ball techniques to predict judge or lawyer behavior.Aric Press
Raj Abhyankaer, CEO @Legal Force (@LawInspiring)
Raj Abhyanker talks how a dissatisfied associate became an entrepreneur taking on the legal industry #Trademarkia #LegalForce #ReinventLawRachel M. Zahorsky
RT @aricpress: #ReInventLaw Raj on trademarkia: 24k clients world’s largest trademark firm @legalforce @trademarkiaNeetal Parekh
Raj Abhyanker from @legalforce: Invest in retail access to law, not lobbies. #ReInventLaw Beautiful slide deck! http://pic.twitter.com/rizv70Dvr3Ed Walters
#ReinventLaw – Video, talk by #LegalForce CEO Raj Abhyanker, Silicon Valley, March 8 2013 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxiSlG2Lcmw&sns=tw via @youtubeLegalForce
Dane Stangler, Director of Research & Policy @KauffmanFdn
Dane Stangler, Kaufman Fdn: looks at how reinvention of law can affect other areas of economy, release entrepreneurial energy #reinventlawDonna Seyle
Dane Stangler of Kauffman Foundation: “How can legal sector help other sectors open themselves up to innovation?” #reinventlawGideon Grunfeld
#ReinventLaw Law can be a tool to encourage entrepreneurship. Almost an unbelievable truth from Dane Stangler, Kaufmann Foundation.Tweet The Debates

Set 4 #ReInventLaw Silicon Valley Speakers

Tim Stanley, CEO @Justia
Hearing the history of free law online from @Justia Founder/CEO Tim Stanley…not as much change as you would expect in 18 yrs #ReInventLawNeetal Parekh
Tim Stanley (@justia): We can’t rely on Google for everything…or maybe we can #ReInventLawDavid Kemp
Tim (@Justia) Stanley talking about origins of the #openlaw movement. He’s led effort for many years. #ReinventLaw http://pic.twitter.com/PaP0c31PWGEd Walters
Michael Bommarito, Co-Founder @ Quantitative Legal Solutions
#ReInventLaw @mjbommar up now. Law’s Future from Finance’s Pastronfriedmann
Value + risk management is what clients want, not hours. #ReInventLaw @mjbommarronfriedmann
.@mjbommar has posted slides of his #ReInventLaw presentation, “Law’s Future from Finance’s Past”: http://bommaritollc.com/2013/03/08/slides-from-reinvent-law-silicon-valley-talk/Robert Richards
John Murdock III, Partner @ Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP (@BABC_Law)
#reinventlaw John Murdock brings process management to knowledge management in legal production like no one else! Well done John.Larry Bridgesmith
John Murdock illustrates what efficiency sounds like. #ReInventLaw http://pic.twitter.com/lUAeFAPn7MEd Walters
Mark Sherman, Asst. Director Education Division @ Federal Judicial Center
#ReInventLaw mark Sherman from fed judiciary on big strides by fed judges into 21st c. Includes iPads, apps, YouTube. Judges! Who knew?Aric Press
Federal judiciary follows gamification, leverages YouTube and nearly 60% employ iPads. #reinventlaw Mark Sherman federal judiciary centerJustin Yarmark
#reinventlaw Bend, flip, collaborate learn with content, interactivity and repeat. These words are the future of leaning. Mark ShermanLarry Bridgesmith
Renee Knake, @ReInventLaw Lab, Assoc. Professor @ MSU Law
Why are we here at #ReInventLaw? It’s gotta be the (law)ntrepreneurship, explains Renee Knake of @ReInventLaw Lab @msulawNeetal Parekh
Lawentreprenuership -making legal industry affordable, accessible and focused on the users experience in law. #reinventlaw Renee KnakeJustin Yarmark
My slides from @ReInventLaw Silicon Valley on (Law)ntrepreneurship – why are you here? http://www.slideshare.net/mobile/reneeknake/knake-talk-on-lawntrepreneurship-re-invent-law-silicon-valley-march-2013Renee Knake

Set 5 #ReInventLaw Silicon Valley Speakers

Karnig Kerkonian & Rudy Minasian, Principals @ Velawsity (@VelawsityApp)
#ReInventLaw starting after lunch beak with Karning Kerkonian and Rudy Minasian @Velawsityronfriedmann
http://Velawsity.com launching now at #reinventlaw. LPM in the cloud.Elmer Masters
#reinventlaw Velawsity Integration of knowledge data communication and collaboration: best practices made perfect and data made real time.Larry Bridgesmith
Amani Smathers, Law Student @MSULaw
The martini glass of legal services. @R_Amani @ReInventLaw @MSULaw http://pic.twitter.com/whQvBiHUBqRenee Knake
Does what we call ourselves matter? Lawyers need to rebrand ourselves. @R_Amani rocks the stage @ReInventLaw @MSULawRenee Knake
Kevin Colangelo, Managing Partner @YousonIrvine
Show clients the guts of your process – Kevin Colangelo #ReinventLaw that’s a great way to set client expectationsSachin Bhatia
Law factory? Sounds ominous. RT @aricpress: #ReInventLaw Kevin colangelo on building the law factory.Gwynne Monahan
Dan Lewis, CEO @RavelLaw
Very cool data viz tools – looking forward to seeing more from @ravellaw! #ReInventLawEd Walters
Blown away by the dataviz demos for legal info. @RavelLaw is awesome. #reinventlawmarcidale
Dan Lewis launching @ravellaw at #ReInventLaw. http://pic.twitter.com/2YfjXjolTxEd Walters
Sam Rysdyk, Fellow @ReInventLaw Lab
Sam Rysdyk a #ReInventLaw fellow on object oriented lawyering. Every law student should know some programming. Law as code. Rock on.Elmer Masters
#ReinventLaw Fellow Sam Rysdyk says successful law students will have programming skills. How many liberal arts grads will listen?Rachel M. Zahorsky
Because coders now get the ladies (or gents)! @reneeknake @rysdyk @reinventlaw @msulaw #CodingistheNewCoolLast Honest Lawyer

Set 6 #ReInventLaw Silicon Valley Speakers

Charley Moore, Founder @RocketLawyer
RT @LawScribbler: @RocketLawyer Charley Moore: nearly ½ small biz operate w/o legal help, now, collaborating w/lawyers online #ReinventLawAlli Gerkman
After hearing from Charley Moore at #ReInventLaw I have to get a copy of the new @RocketLawyer consumer survey before #ABATECHSHOW in April.Reid Trautz
81% of small business owners expect 2013 to be better than 2012 #RocketLawyer #ReInventLawAJ

Hon. Ann Aiken, Chief Judge @ Federal District Court of Oregon

Hon. Ann Aiken – evidence based practice for reentry – #reinventlaw Silicon Valley 2013 http://pic.twitter.com/wmqFVzLyWUComp Legal Studies
Amazing presentation on reentry into society from the criminal justice system by Judge Ann Aiken (fed dist OR) at #ReInventLawR. Amani
Wow. Judge Ann Aiken (Fed-OR) has an ask (& a spec!) — an app to prevent recidivism. Hello, Silicon Valley! #reinventlaw #gov20marcidale
Judge Aiken: we’re losing geniuses to broken criminal justice system. #ReInventLaw #RememberAaronTweet The Debates
Judge Aiken talking about 3553(a) factors #ReInventLaw #SentencingGuidelinesJosh Blackman
David Estrada, Legal Director +GoogleXLabs
David Estrada @googleXlabs makes the pitch to roomful of lawyers to support #selfdriving cars. Is Skynet around the corner #reinventlawJustin Yarmark
David Estrada – google x labs – discussing the inapplicability of existing laws to self-driving cars – more than I imagined! #reinventlawDonna Seyle
David Estrada, Legal Director of Google X. Time for Skynet automotive … err, self-driving cars. #ReInventLaw http://pic.twitter.com/nB47CgFP3wEd Walters
David Estrada – who is responsible if two self-driving cars crash in the woods #reinventlawDanPinnington
Kinglsey Martin, Owner @KMStandards
Kingsley – computer capacity will exceed lawyer capacity soon #reinventlawDanPinnington
@Kingsley_Martin building tools for quantitative legal prediction. #ReinventLaw http://pic.twitter.com/dAcU5xEPWfEd Walters
Kingsley Martin – machines will draft and review contracts #reinventlawpracticePRO
New post: Reverse Engineering Legal Logic (Live from #ReInventLaw) http://bit.ly/X4WE0F @Kingsley_Martin #KMronfriedmann
Ajaz Ahmed, Founder @Legal365.com
Ajaz Ahmed, founder of http://Legal365.com, based in the UK says “The legal market is too big for entrepreneurs to avoid.” #ReInventLawReid Trautz
@ajaz_ahmed: Great innovators do the obvious before it’s obvious to everyone else. #ReInventLaw #truth http://pic.twitter.com/0vChFDZmEREd Walters
@ajaz_ahmed @LEGAL365 We will see outsiders (like, Apple and Amazon) in the legal services space. #ReinventLawRachel M. Zahorsky

Set 7 #ReInventLaw Silicon Valley Speakers

Chas Rampenthal, General Counsel @LegalZoom
Chas Rampentahl, GC of @LegalZoom up at #ReInventLaw on Retail Lessons for the Legal Industry. Cites Quality Solicitors in UK as exampleronfriedmann
“If you can’t afford a solution it’s not a solution.” Chas Rampenthal @LegalZoom @ReInventLaw @MSULaw http://pic.twitter.com/uXI8X2jdsWRenee Knake
Great talk by Chas, @LegalZoom, our fellow traveler in retail legal innovation. Hope to visit Legalzoom in a @Target one day. #ReInventLawLegalForce
TargetLaw=solution? @ronfriedmann: Intrstng focus on those 2 poor to pay rack rates but don’t qualify for free aid #ReInventLaw @LegalZoomRachel M. Zahorsky
Sorry to say, but I haven’t met a person yet whose used @LegalZoom and had the “right” experience. #reinventlaw So be careful tagging TargetJason Wilson
Bill Henderson, Professor @ IU Bloomington Law (@IUMaurerLaw)
#ReinventLaw the great and good bill Henderson on new approach to lawyer development.Aric Press
Bill Henderson talking about original Cravath development system: raw talent, salary, training, teamword, up or out #reinventlawDanPinnington
Love the pedagogical shift suggestion by Bill. Love the suggestions for legal ed. Love love love.We’re on the right track at UT #ReInventLawAaron Dewald
Bill Henderson’s clockworks #ReinventLaw http://pic.twitter.com/yWmHvzsNYaDanPinnington
#reinventlaw Bill Henderson, project management, systems engineering, knowledge management and system design: key legal education componentsLarry Bridgesmith
#reinventlaw Bill Henderson says that the leverage model of today’s law firms serves the partners very well. Not so much clients and assocLarry Bridgesmith
Deven Desai, Professor @ Thomas Jefferson Law School (@TJSL)
Love it. RT @DanPinnington: Deven Desai – Should law firms have a T-rex in the lobby? (a reminder to evolve or disappear) #reinventlawR. Amani
Deven Desai – “lawyer of the future should be preventative” (that means understanding the client’s business) #reinventlawDanPinnington
Lawyers shouldn’t help people do whatever they want, they should help people do whatever they want that’s legal. Deven Desai #ReInventLawTweet The Debates
Andy Daws, VP for North America @RiverviewLaw
#reinventlaw Andy Daws with Legal Services Act and ABS initiatives, UK has become the world’s legal laboratoryLarry Bridgesmith
Andy Daws of @RiverviewLaw captures a key trend in law firms adopting new technology. #ReinventLaw http://pic.twitter.com/vJYU4GueTcEd Walters
Andy Daws: Q: How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb?A: Hourly, or flat fee? #ReinventLawEd Walters
#reinventlaw With retail legal services, consumers can buy tea and legal services with loyalty points: Andy DawsLarry Bridgesmith

Richard Granat, CEO @DirectLawUSA

@rgranat up at #ReInventLaw. Richard has been working for decades to deliver affordable legal services to middle class.ronfriedmann
#ReInventLaw Richard Granat says US shouldn’t let UK be only legal lab in world. If lawyers can’t solve access to justice, let non-lawyers!Riverview Law US
Richard Granat – 75 million clients in $45 Billion latent legal market (and Big Law doesn’t serve them) #reinventlawDanPinnington
#reinventlaw Clients want transparency, price certainty and convenience. Richard GranatLarry Bridgesmith
Richard Granat (@rgranat) of @DirectLawUSA on private investment in legal services. #ReinventLaw http://pic.twitter.com/IYvp59p5uMEd Walters

Set 8 #ReInventLaw Silicon Valley Speakers

Ron Dolin, Lecturer @ Stanford Law, Research Fellow @CodexStanford
@calbarlpmt ‘s own Ron Dolin presents on “Thinking Outside the Bar”. #ReInventLawPerry Segal – Charon
#ReInventLaw Stanford’s Ron Dolin asks what law really means. We need an attitude that thinks beyond current legal system and beyond the BarRiverview Law US
#reinventlaw Ron Dolin: let software do what it can do best (process) so lawyers can do what they do best.Larry Bridgesmith
Use legal technology to amplify human judgment rather than replacing it with inadequate short cuts. (Ron Dolin, Stanford) #reinventlawAlli Gerkman

Josh Blackman, Founder @HarlanInstitute, Asst. Prof. @ South Texas College of Law

Amazing @joshmblackman talk on potential of #bigdata in legal system. Nod to @aaronsw re: closed #PACER data. #reinventlawmarcidale
@JoshMBlackman: How we get from learning by precedent to learning by data, then to predicting w/data. #ReinventLaw http://pic.twitter.com/vZdBzFDxGnEd Walters
@JoshMBlackman is looking to liberate all the good data locked in PACER, to use it to change law, make predictions. http://www.fantasyscotus.net/Elmer Masters
@JoshMBlackman has crowdsourced outcomes of court cases w better results than most experts. #ReInventLawronfriedmann
@JoshMBlackman re: eventual effects of tech on law – we’re prob not far off from tools that aid justice, but what about equity? #reinventlawDavid Marble
At #ReinventLaw speakers read notes from smartphones, not index cards. #MineWasImpromptuJosh Blackman
Michael Poulshock, Founder @ Hammura.bi
Michael @Poulshock talks about the Hammurabi Project, to make law computable, like TuboTax for law. #ReInventLaw http://pic.twitter.com/y4kNp6WkmGEd Walters
@poulshock: why not publish the law in source code, a chunk of open logic? #ReinventLaw #codeislaw #lawiscode Big idea.Ed Walters
Marci Harris, CEO @PopVox
@marcidale of @popvox: How public participation changes lawmaking. #ReinventLaw http://pic.twitter.com/48sVet2C7FEd Walters
#reinventlaw Marci Harris, traditionally public policy making consisted of moving money or moving people. Now Congress is over capacityLarry Bridgesmith
Lobbying meets social media w/ @Marcidale and #PopVox #ReInventLawAJ

Andy Ninh (@_ninhja), Law Student @ MSU Law

#ReInventLaw Andy Ninh from MSU suggests augmented reality will transform future legal services. Must get a pair of those Google glasses!Riverview Law US
@A_Ninhja shares his recent visit to google and future of augmented reality within legal system #reinventlaw http://pic.twitter.com/q1AQoDC29WSam Hensley
Tony Lai, Co-Founder @LawGives
@TonyKLai of @LawGives discusses why lawyers – humans – so important for legal services, even (especially?) today? http://pic.twitter.com/ahI6CTAuUsEd Walters

Seth McGrath, CTO @PropylonUS

Missed #ReInventLaw Silicon Valley conference on legal tech & services innovation? See tweets & resources here: http://legalinformatics.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/8-march-reinventlaw-silicon-valley-2013-conference/Robert Richards
Sean McGrath of Propylon is final #reinventlaw presenter; talking paperless using TimeArc software–product for legislative drafting.Reid Trautz
Over fifty women and a handful of men gathered at the eco-chic offices of Kiva in downtown San Francisco on Tuesday, February 12th 2013 to discuss social entrepreneurship. The panel of experienced women practitioners and mentors in the field was organized by Linda Cleary and Barb Krause of Women in Business (WIB), a subgroup of the Northern California German American Business Association (GABA).

GABA Panel of Women Social Entrepreneurs @ Kiva
Women Social Entrepreneurship Panel, hosted by GABA and Kiva

 

While the panelists—from IndieGoGo, Kiva, Santa Clara’s GSBI program, and social enterprise startups— explained their work and organizations’ missions, they made the gathering uniquely personal by sharing their individual stories and journeys in the field.

Moderated by Britt Huber of Kiva

 

Seven panelists shared the stage and were hosted by the evening’s Moderator Britt Huber, Kiva’s VP of Human Resources. Britt outlined the role Kiva has played in expanding microfinance, noting that repayment rate for the organization’s micro-loans to borrowers in developing countries is over 95%. Kiva, a 501(c)(3) non-profit,  has expanded it’s presence to 67 countries since its inception in 2005 and is powered by over 100 employees and 400 volunteers.
GABA Panel of Women Social Entrepreneurs @ Kiva
Moderator Britt Huber

The speakers sat on stools in front of the audience creating an informal, intimate setting.  Each gave a brief introduction, and then Britt posed a few questions spurring anecdotes and candid reflections before opening the session up for Q&A from the audience.

  • What was the trigger motivation that shifted your interest to social entrepreneurship?
  • What are you most proud of? What keeps you up at night? (See below for their responses)
  • How do you define a nonprofit and for-profit social venture? How should a social entrepreneur decide?

Meet the Panel

Panelist Dr. Laura E. Stachel, Co-Founder of WE CARE Solar.
After fourteen years practicing obstetrics-gynecology medicine, a back injury took Dr. Laura out of the daily practice of medicine and on a path to pursuing policy through a Masters in Public Health.  She redefined her connection to the medicine following a trip to Nigeria. The purpose of the travel was to study and support local physicians in a region with high maternal mortality rates; however, she discovered a very essential problem limiting medical care at the facility. Light, or the lack of it. Because of the region’s sporadic electricity, doctors and nurses were using makeshift lighting methods such as candles and headlamps to administer surgeries and intensive care. Dr. Laura emailed her husband, a solar energy innovator, and the seed of a social enterprise was planted.  Together they developed prototypes and researched need for a solar-powered off-grid electric system that was portable.  Five years later, and WE CARE solar suitcases have been delivered to medical facilities in countries including Sierra Leone, India, Sudan, Nigeria, Liberia, Uganda, Malawi, Thailand, Burma, and Somalia. Organized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, WE CARE Solar has received recognition, awards, and multiple grants facilitating its growth and scalability.

What she is proud of: Creating an impact on women’s healthcare.
What keeps her up at night: The daily challenges of running a business.

Panelist Lesley Silverthorn Marincola, Founder and CEO of Angaza Designs
Lesley’s background in human-centered design stems from her study of product design and mechanical engineering at Stanford and hands-on work on the first three generations of the Amazon Kindle. She co-founded Angaza Designs in 2009 after living in Tanzania and experiencing first-hand the local dependence to kerosene-powered light. Lesley and a small team were compelled to innovate a design-oriented solution. She shared the iterative ideation process Angaza Designs has gone through in developing an off-the grid energy solution that is also affordable. The team’s initial product was a high-powered light bulb with relatively steep up-front costs. Realizing that it wasn’t affordable for the populations they were trying to serve, Angaza pivoted to create a low-cost pay-as-you go solution. The product that resulted was the
GABA Panel of Women Social Entrepreneurs @ KivaSoLite3 Solar Home System that emits bright LED light and also charges cell phones, which is supported by a unique payment platform allowing for small-sum payments. Her company is a for-profit social venture, with an emphasis on keeping up-front costs low.

What she is proud of: Being okay to fail.
What keeps her up at night: Fundraising—you need to be really resilient as a social entrepreneur, passion is not always enough.

Panelist Dr. Lee Ng, Director of Social Venture Technology at Siemens and Mentor at SCU’s Global Social Business Incubator.
In a humorous, candid style, Dr. Lee imparted sage advice to social entrepreneurs and would-be social entrepreneurs based on her years of experience and mentorship in the field. Her day job at Siemens keeps her close to emerging technologies in cleantech, and as a mentor at SCU’s GSBI program for the past seven years, she has been able to impart valuable knowledge to entrepreneurs from around the world who have a social mission for their venture. She emphasized taking a practical approach to deciding on a social entrepreneurship structure—consider first, the type of funding your organization will be seeking and then evaluate the formation structures with that in mind.

What she is proud of: Her mentees who have succeeded in their social ventures.
What keeps her up at night: Her teenagers :)



Panelist Michelle Kreger, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives at Kiva.
When Michelle joined Kiva in 2006, after volunteering with the organization as a translator, Kiva serviced $2M in micro-loans to borrowers fighting poverty in developing countries. Seven years later, the non-profit has serviced over $400M in loans. The exponential growth in participation in  microfinance has also changed the landscape and needs of the industry. In 2011, she joined an emerging group at Kiva dedicated to exploring new loan products to serve the influx of new players in the social impact world. One main constituencies she focused on was social entrepreneurs. Kiva has partnered with over 30 social enterprises to fund projects and support their work. These new partnerships span fields from education, innovative agriculture, clean energy, water and sanitation, to transportation and health. Her team recently partnered with Strathmore University in Kenya to create student loans payable in 10-12 years.

What she is proud of: Consciously deciding to break a model that works to create new models.
What keeps her up at night: How to find people who are social entrepreneurs and don’t know it, and how to use Kiva’s network to support their work.

GABA Panel of Women Social Entrepreneurs @ KivaPanelist Erica Bliss, Past Manager at Technoserve and President of Women Entrepreneurs at Haas.
After gaining experience as a business analyst, Erica discovered Technoserve as a way to leverage her consulting skills to support social enterprises in developing countries. She spent two-and-a-half years as a TechnoServe Consultant and Manager in Uganda assisting local farmers develop partnerships and products to increase local market share. She also served as a consultant to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Africa before returning to California to pursue an MBA with a focus on social enterprise. She shared a unique experience working with local farmers to create a mango juice sourced from local mangoes to parallel popular juices imported from other countries.

What she is proud of:  Building a cohesive team in Africa that continues the work they started together.
What keeps her up at night: The massive population of youth under the age of fifteen in Africa and the challenges, such as job creation, that they will face in the coming years.

Panelist Juli Betwee, CEO, Pivot.Point Partners and Mentor at SCU’s Global Social Business Incubator.  Juli has over twenty-five years of experience in business consulting and strategy. Recently, she partnered with the GSBI at Santa Clara University to leverage her knowledge and experience in business to support social entrepreneurs. New to the field of social entrepreneurship, she offered a practical look at the industry from the lens of corporate growth and scalability. About how to measure social impact, she noted that assessing social impact engages a three-dimensional way of thinking which calls on looking at predictive analytics rather than historic analytics and focusing on trends, patterns, and correlations rather than simply numbers.

What she is proud of: Impacting and influencing over 100 women entrepreneurs.
What keeps her up at night: How to move more quickly to make greater impact with social entrepreneurs.

Panelist Erica Labovitz, Director of Strategic Programs at Indiegogo.
Erica admitted to the audience that she hadn’t considered herself to be a social entrepreneur before speaking on the panel, but in sharing her personal history in engaging in education and policy work in the U.S. and abroad it became clear that she wears the title well. Erica studied in Economics in college and pursued a Masters degree at Northwestern’s School of Education and Social Policy. While on a volunteer trip in Africa she received an email from the founders of IndieGoGo asking her if she wanted to join their team. She was one of the first four employees at the popular crowdfunding platform. She is interested in finding creative ways to leverage the potential of crowdfunding platforms and enterprise tools to serve social impact. IndieGoGo is a for-profit corporation.

What she is proud of: Generating esteem-building through job creation.
What keeps her up at night: How to create a level playing field for startup entrepreneurs.

GABA Panel of Women Social Entrepreneurs @ Kiva

 

 

Amid the dark wood and high ceilings of the second floor of an upscale Irish bar & restaurant in downtown Sunnyvale, CA over fifty people gathered to celebrate and honor the achievements of three local winners of the 40 Under 40 Leadership Awards.The 40 Under 40 Leadership Awards, hosted by New Leaders’ Council (NLC), recognizes emerging leaders across the country who have created impact in fields such as political leadership, social entrepreneurship, media leadership, and effect advocacy.The Silicon Valley Chapter of NLC organized the event to honor the three local award recipients.

New Leaders Council offers an annual fellowship to inform, tool, and connect emerging progressive leaders interested in fields such as social entrpreneurship and advocacy. You can find out more about the fellowship program on the NLC website and learn about other fellowship programs here: 50+ Fellowship Programs for Social Innovators.

Here is a recap of the event in photos.

Photo Essay: 40 Under 40 Leadership Awards, New Leaders Council Silicon Valley 2013

NLC SV 40 under 40 Awards Reception
Attendees including current NLC Fellows, Alumni, Board Members, and
friends gather, mingle, and connect.
NLC SV 40 under 40 Awards Reception
NLC Silicon Valley Co-Directors, Reeta Sharma and Kalen Gallagher 
 welcome guests and give opening remarks.

 

NLC SV 40 under 40 Awards Reception
Ash Kalra, NLC Silicon Valley Honorary Chair, San Jose City Council Member
introduces the 40 Under 40 Leadership Awards and reflects on his own
experience in progressive leadership.
NLC SV 40 under 40 Awards Reception
Award recipient Sarah Granger, prolific impact blogger, journalist,
 entrepreneur, and new media expert & trainer, accepts her award in
Media Leadership.

 

NLC SV 40 under 40 Awards Reception
Services of Silicon Valley, accepts his award for Leadership in
Entrepreneurship.
NLC SV 40 under 40 Awards Reception
Award recipient Alexandra Acker-Lyons, Director of Youth Engagement Fund,
accepts her Media Leadership.
NLC SV 40 under 40 Awards Reception
NLC SV Co-Directors thank the honorees and attendees, and the crowd
continues to connect and engage amid the drum beats and
vocal sound-checks of a live band warming up.
If you love social media, online communities, and the people that power the magic…yesterday’s Community Leadership Summit West 2013 (held Sat. Feb 2nd 2013 in San Jose) was the it place. Period.

http://clswest.us

If you, like me, couldn’t make the event—-there is a silver lining. At a conference bringing together community leaders and managers adept in the digital space, there is a wealth of learning and sharing about the event online.

Below is an overview of what went on at #CLSWest using Storify.

[View the story “Catching Up on Community Leadership Summit 2013 (#CLSWest)…For Those Who Missed It” on Storify]

On Tuesday, January 29th 2013 Ashoka Legal brought together a few top law firms specializing in social enterprise law and hybrid structures. The session was created to be an open discussion and training on some of latest trends, tools, and resources for setting up nonprofits, for-profits, hybrids, and new corporate structures.
Hybrid Structures Webinar: Nonprofits, For-profits, and New Corporate Forms
The event, held at the Morrison & Foerster offices in San Francisco, was live-streamed online. The presenters’ list included:

Watch the Webinar

For social innovation attorneys, law students, and social entrepreneurs seeking to research legal entity options, formation, and restructuring—this webinar is an excellent tool to begin unpacking the many options available. And, the experience is made more meaningful as it is guided by attorneys at the forefront of the social enterprise legal space.
If you missed the the live webinar or live session, Morrison & Foerster is making the archived webinar available for viewing until April 2013.

Legal Structures

The speakers spoke in detail about legal structures that have been covered on Innov8Social, weaving in practical experience, policy history, and examples into their assessment of how each structure may benefit a social enterprise or non-profit.
Legal structures for social enterprise law covered in the webinar
Hybrid legal structures
  • For-profit subsidiary of a nonprofit
  • Nonprofit under control of for-profit
  • Sibling relationship of for-profit and nonprofit
  • Independent, but aligned entities
Other tools that can create value, and enable entities to remain mission-driven 
  • Licensing
  • Trademark
  • Integrated reporting: to integrate social, environmental impact alongside financials
Impact law forum 1/2013 (1)Impact Law Forum (ILF), a San Francisco Bay area social enterprise law practice group, held its latest meeting in Silicon Valley this past week.

Impact Law Forum’s 3rd Meeting

On Thursday evening, January 24th 2012, a group of over a dozen legal minds spanning backgrounds in entrepreneurship law, public health policy, environmental law, solo practice, non-profit law, corporate counsel, and social enterprise law filled a cozy room in the StartX offices in Palo Alto.

Held at StartX, a Stanford Initiative

StartX, run by Stanford University, is an innovative accelerator program for startups that have at least one founder affiliated with Stanford and who are selected through an application process. It is one of the unique programs that requests no equity from its participants. And, by leveraging Stanford’s vast network of mentors, venture capitalists, and resources it positions startups for early-stage success. In fact, 85% of StartX companies have successfully raised funding.

Impact law forum 1/2013 (2)With standing room only, Impact Law Forum Co-Founder Zoe Hunton, of Hunton Law, welcomed the group and introduced the evening’s speaker Tony Lai and Pieter Gunst—Co-Founders of LawGives, a startup that was developed and launched in StartX.

Featuring the Founding Team of LawGives

LawGives is a social enterprise startup seeking to broaden access to legal information for social entrepreneurs. It is a product of the StartX accelerator. Tony and his founding partner Pieter developed the idea together after they met during their LL.M studies at Stanford. They both have practice experience— Tony practiced law in England and Hong Kong, and Pieter practiced with a large firm in Palo Alto. Since their time in the StartX accelerator, they continue to iterate and innovate the offerings of LawGives.

In their presentation for Impact Law Forum, Tony and Pieter provided an in-depth overview of the concept behind LawGives and the tools that were part of the 1.0 version of the site. They spoke candidly about their startup journey, what they have learned along the way, and about the process of building site elements, testing, and then shifting their products and services based on feedback of users, attorneys, and potential backers.

After the demo of the site, the focus shifted from introducing LawGives to an open discussion about what draws attorneys to working with startups, non-profits, and social enterprises and what pain points are experienced in the process.

The diversity of backgrounds and experience in law lent to a robust conversation and exchange of viewpoints.

Impact law forum 1/2013 (3)
Around the Room

The session concluded with introductions from each of the attendees along with sharing what would make a legal practice group for social entrepreneur legal practitioners a valuable group to participate in.  Reasons for engaging included:

  • meet other attorneys and social enterprise thought partners
  • connect with others on public policy supporting social entrepreneurs
  • find pro bono law opportunities in the area
  • find attorneys to do pro bono work
  • understand the social enterprise law sector from an academic perspective
  • explore social innovation law
  • meet cool people doing cool things
Stay tuned for more updates on Impact Law Forum, events, and ways to get involved.
Under the umbrella of social innovation are the many emerging technologies that have the potential to create a meaningful, positive impact on society and the environment. Synthetic biology falls squarely into this category.

A Steve Jobs Perspective

“One of the very few silver linings about me getting sick is that Reed’s gotten to spend a lot of time studying with some very good doctors…His enthusiasm for it is exactly how I felt about computers when I was his age. I think the biggest innovations of the twenty-first century will be the intersection of biology and technology. A new era is beginning, just like the digital one when I was his age.” – Steve Jobs

These words, captured by Walter Isaacson and said in a moment of reflection, are both profound and prophetic.

So what would Silicon Valley luminary and chief innovator, Steve Jobs, have said about a room full of the sharpest, brightest, most innovative minds in the field of synthetic biology talking about the future of the field?

MIT/Stanford VLAB Hosts “Programming Nature”, a Panel Discussion on Synthetic Biology

That is what the scene was this week at the MIT/Stanford Venture Lab (VLAB) event titled, “Programming Nature” held at the Stanford School of Business Knight Center.  Hundreds of attendees filled the auditorium to listen in on experts in the field share their insights and predictions.

VLAB: Programming NatureYou can check back on VLAB’s YouTube Channel to watch the entire event once it is posted.

A (R)evolution?

The discussion was moderated by Megan Palmer, Deputy Director of the Practices Thrust at the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC), which is housed within the Stanford University School of Bioengineering. At SynBERC, a multi-university initiative to promote synthetic biology, Megan recently organized the Synthetic Biology Leadership Accelerator Program (LeAP).

Beyond organizing and creating opportunities for others in the field, she is herself a tried and true synthetic biologist. She holds a Ph.D. in Biological Engineering from MIT and a B.Sc.E. in Engineering Chemistry from Queen’s College in Canada.

Megan provided an effective guided tour into the field of synthetic biology, highlighting the key features that make it applicable across sectors. She introduced synthetic biology as a disruptive technology—asking the audience about what the potential could be if biology could be programmed just like computer program code.

She posed the advances in synthetic biology as a either an evolution or revolution since the field has been active for some time. And, Megan spoke to her experience of spending 6 years to test one single aspect of a hypothesis as an example of how the lengthy life cycles of bioengineering can impact the time it takes to see results. Synthetic biology seeks to make the design, build, test cycle for bioengineering faster, cheaper, and better.

VLAB: Programming Nature
An Infusion of Innovation

The panelists provided unique perspectives and infused the discussion with examples of innovation in the field.

Panelist Dan Widmaier, CEO and Founder of Refactored Materials in San Francisco, spoke about his company’s project of simulating spider silk fibers and mass-producing. The fibers, known for their strength, durability, and extensibility, have the potential for building cars and airplanes that are aerodynamic and light, creating durable  performance apparel and gear, developing medical devices that the body may be more apt to accept, creating new offerings in cosmetics, and revolutionalizing entire industries.

Other panelists included:

Nathan Hillson, Chief Science Officer and Co-Founder of TeselaGen Biotechnology. While at Berkeley Lab, Nathan was on a team that developed j5 software, which uses advanced sythetic bioogy techniques to support DNA design and efficient assembly instruction generation. TeselaGen has licensed j5, and according to BerkeleyLab News, has over 100 scientists and companies in its beta.

Alexander Kamb, Senior VP of Research at Amgen. Alexander pointed out that DNA sequencing has had the fastest rate of change of output of any bioengineering process. He noted that the first genome sequence cost in the range of $1B, the next iterations were in the range of $100M, and now a complete genome sequencing can be completed within a few thousand dollars. To illustrate the point, DNASequencing.org shows a table of cost per Mb of DNA sequence and cost per genome.

Warren Hogarth, Partner at Sequoia Capital in addition to being a chemical engineer. He brought to light how the long cycle of bioengineering can impact the kind of investment sought. Rather than depending on manufacturing deadlines or coding restraints, bioengineering is based on the lifecycle involving designing, building, and testing.

Interestingly, the requirement that venture capitalists look to the long term is akin to the “patient capital” aspect of social impact investing, which also generally involves longer life cycles for return.

 

Soul Searching

While the panelists displayed genius and creativity in sharing their views on the potential reach of synthetic biology, the night would have been even more meaningful if they also revealed its soul.

Just because we can program nature and synthesize biology, should we? In food nutrition just as there is movement to continue innovating in food synthesis, there is an equally robust movement to avoid genetically modified foods.

If biology can be programmed, so too can viruses, mutations, and destructive traits. Additionally does cloning or creating entire organisms through bioengineering create new life or is it am emulation of life?

The VLAB event, as always, was an amazing meeting of the minds—a braintrust of its own.

During this event, for those of us outside of the field who may conjecture about moral considerations of bioengineering, it would have been insightful to hear about how thought leaders in synthetic biology traverse the murky ethical dilemmas they must face at every turn.

#VLABsynbio Tweets

  1. . talks about open source as a foundation for hacking & research, with proprietary systems being for enterprise
  2. “It’s very hard to compete & scale a product when you’re trying to do something as a $1/lb commodity.” 
  3. . of sequoia notes, when starting a company you don’t really want funding, you want a company that pays for itself
  4. At  event at Stanford, good discussion with startups @refactoredmaterials chaired by SYNBerc’s Megan Palmer 
  5. : “DNA sequencing may be the fastest change rate of output of any technology in human history.” 
  6. Synthetic biology is notorious for having very, very, very unreliable timelines & failure rates. –  
  7. Curious to see if the panel will address the potential of destructive as well as constructive use of synthetic bio…solutions? 
  8. “Unlike electronics  doesn’t have good predictive tools yet so our design-build-test cycle is very empirical.” 
  9. “When thinking about  remember timelines are long & capital requirements are not small.” 

  10. @refactored_mat addressable mkts include performance, cosmetics, biomedical, aerospace, automotive, industrial industries
  11. Learning about synthetic biology tonight 
  12. Excited to be at the  event on  in synthetic biology 
  13. MTJoin  &  & learn how entrepreneurs are transforming  in two biz ventures 
  14. Discussing the endless possibilites of synthetic biology in the cloud at  tonight w/   
  15. Where will synthetic biology lead us?  Programming Nature  on Tues Jan 22 Register at: 
Stanford Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS) hosted a thoughtful discussion last week on funding avenues social entrepreneurs can pursue to support and grow their ventures.A panel of five speakers representing unique sectors shared perspectives on non-profit grants, impact investing, venture capitalist investing, program-related investments, and perspectives from being a social entrepreneur in the field.

The panel discussion was followed by a brief Q&A and then breakout groups to further discuss nuances of various funding models. Below are a few key points made by each speaker.
Stanford PACS Panel

Kim Meredith, Executive Director of PACS (moderator)

Kim welcomed guests and outlined four initiatives related to social innovation that the Center supports.  These include:
Stanford PACS program

 

4 Initiatives by PACS for Social Innovation:
Kim then introduced the panel made of diverse players and perspectives in the social impact field.

Jenny Shilling Stein, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation.

Jenny provided insight on how her organization selects social innovators to receive funding from the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, which focuses on funding early-stage high-impact nonprofit organizations. She emphasized that her organization believes that great people make great change and that much of the evaluation has to do with the leader. Her team pays close attention to characteristics of the leader, past experience in leadership and management, and the ability to maintain great judgment, especially in challenging situations.
The Foundation also takes into account the impact of the model and how the social initiative will address deep needs.

Susan Phinney Silver, Program-Related Investment Officer at the David and Lucille Packard Foundation.

Susan provided a unique perspective on program-related investment—a funding model that enables foundations to invest in philanthropic projects where the return on investment is not the primary outcome sought. She highlighted that although the space of social entrepreneur investment may feel fairly new,  foundations such as the Packard Foundation have been engaging in PRI’s for the past 15 years.
She emphasized that it is key for a social innovator to study the areas of focus of various foundations. However compelling a new social venture may be, if it is not aligned with the goals and mission of the foundation, it could be a hard sell.
A few areas of focus of the Packard Foundation include land conservation, kids and education, climate change, and reproductive rights. She said her organization looks for a strong programmatic focus with on impact-related outcomes. She also mentioned that part of the assessment in granting a PRI is what the funding will mean for the venture and whether it has the potential of attracting other forms of funding as well.Innov8Social addressed program-related investment last year, in connection with the L3C legal structure aimed at streamlining the process of granting PRI’s.

Liz Rockett, Vice President of Imprint Capital.

Liz’s area of focus at Imprint Capital–an impact investment firm–is health practice and improvement of domestic healthcare.  She mentioned that she has noticed a trend in the five years the firm has been in existence. Namely, she has seen a rise in the number of private wealth looking to enter the impact investment market.
Also dubbed “patient capital” impact investment is a funding model that anticipates a modest rate of return as a social venture focuses on impact and scalability.

Michael Dorsey, Managing Partner at the Westley Group.

The Westley Group is a venture capital firm that specializes in investment in cleantech companies. Prior to his role at Westley, Dorsey was co-led the Bay Area Equity Fund that successfully funded cleantech ventures including Tesla, PowerLight, and SolarCity.
Michael reassured the audience that there is money available for driven, focused social innovators. He cited universities such as Stanford and Duke that have campaigned to raise billions of dollars on funding that can support interdisciplinary approaches to technology, impact, and innovation.
In answering how social innovators can raise funds, Michael emphasized the importance of matching the donor with the need—if there’s a real need—and an excellent team.

Sunita Mohanty, Business Development at Lumosity.

Sunita provided a perspective from the field. She shared her experience of being part of a social impact startup that did not proceed forward. She has since parlayed her skill set in finance, strategy, and education into a business development and strategic partnerships role at Lumosity—an online platform and app that leverages neuroscience to create games and exercises that improve core cognitive abilities.She noted that for a social venture, early stage funding can be a mixed blessing. While providing capital and stability it can also lead a startup to pursuing more angles of their venture instead of focusing on perfecting a main strategy. 

SustainableSV.org/ecocloud

Back in Fall of 2011, Innov8Social interviewed Sustainable Silicon Valley’s Executive Director Marianna Grossman to learn about the organization and its efforts in building a consortium of diverse partners (corporations, non-profits, research institutions, agencies, consultants) dedicated to sustainability.

And now, Sustainable Silicon Valley (SSV)—in partnership with NASA Ames Research Center—has launched a bold, innovative initiative to actively encourage and seek out the best, viable, scalable solutions for advancing global sustainability.

SSV is calling for submissions for its Solutions for Planetary Sustainability Competition in conjunction with its 5th annual Water, Energy, Smart Technology (WEST) Summit set for May 23, 2013. At that event, sustainability solutions are usually showcased.

This year, for the first time, SSV is leveraging a competition style entry process (in addition to its regular registration) with professional review by a panel experts. The competition will also including a crowdsourcing component which will open up voting for solutions to the general public.

Innov8Social had a chance to catch up WEST Summit Program Manager, Martina Frndova to learn more about the Sustainability Solution Competition.

Here are a few highlights she mentioned:

What Do I need to Know Before Applying?

There is no cost for applying.
The deadline for submissions has been extended to Thursday, January 31st, 2013.
Finalists will receive recognition, marketing resources, as well as the opportunity to deliver their pitches in front of VC’s, angel investors, and NASA Ames experts.  There is a possibility for a cash prize as well.
Solutions should be comprehensive—specifying technology, policy, processes, and ability to scale within a community, city, country, and even globally.
Solutions can be at any stage—they can exist at the idea level, or be further along.

What is the Timeline for the Competition?

  • Submit a Solution: Oct 1, 2012 to Jan 31, 2013
  • Vote for Solutions: Feb 1, 2013 to Feb 22, 2013
  • Finalists Announced: March 7, 2013 (evening event)
  • Showcase Conference: All day May 23, 2013

How to Submit a Sustainability Solution

1. Register with Sustainable Silicon Valley

2. Submit a sustainability solution

Here is SSV Executive Director, Marianna Grossman explaining the competition.

Impact Law Forum (ILF) is an innovative response to the growing interest of the legal community in serving impact entrepreneurs and social enterprise.

Started by Zoe Hunton of Hunton Law and Natalia Thurston of Social Venture Law, the practice group seeks to inform, share resources, build networks, and survey relevant issues, legislation, public policy and case law. 

Impact Law Forum Events

Impact Law Forum has organized two events since its inception in Fall 2012 and has a third planned for Thursday, January 24th 2013. You can Register here.

Upcoming:

  • January 24th 2013 Thursday meeting in Palo Alto. Founder of LawGives, Tony Lai will speak about his experience in social enterprise and the goals of LawGives—an online platform to engage and inform attorneys and to make free legal information widely available. Tony is a staff member of StartX (Stanford startup accelerator), was on a teaching team for the new Legal Technology course at Stanford Law School, and completed his LL.M at Stanford in Law, Science, and Technology.

Past Events:

What Inspires Impact Law

When asking co-creators of ILF Zoe and Natalia about how they envision Impact Law Forum, here’s what they had to say.

According to Natalia, a San Francisco-based attorney who leads a law firm specializing in social enterprise issues, “Impact Law Forum is a unique opportunity to engage a community of attorneys to support the growth of social entrepreneurship and build law practices also based on sustainable principles.”

Zoe, whose firm is based in Menlo Park, envisions ILF “building community in a dynamic area of law that is rapidly evolving to keep pace with social entrepreneurs who push the boundaries of what is possible despite limited resources and intense challenges.” She is enthusiastic about being part of a community “working towards social change and justice and consciously shifting the role of the law and lawyers to create a better and more just world.”

The potential for impact + law

There is great potential in moving the conversation of social entrepreneurship law from theory and policy to how it actually applies. Stay tuned for information on updates on the progress of ILF and the 411 on upcoming events.