Yesterday there was a meeting of the minds to discuss the future of social entrepreneurship. One tweet at a time.Ashoka Changemakers hosted a live tweet chat, #SocEntChat, which brought together thinkers from organizations such as Kiva, Ashoka, Agora Ventures, Echoing Green, Centre for Social Innovation NY, and a number of others, as well as bloggers, thinkers, company representatives, and practitioners in the area.Here are the questions posed and a few memorable tweets from the chat.  The snapshot below is by no means comprehensive, but gives a peek into the global conversation and dialogue about social innovation happening today.


Q1. What resources are available to help people create long-term careers in social entrepreneurship? What else is needed?
Q1. People in the sector are best resources, and seem to like coffee :) Buy them one and pick their brain. 
A1 also has an extensive resource list of competitions &  
A1. But  itself isn’t really a long-term career. Really, we’re talking about thousands of diff careers connected to it 
A1. Clear definitions of concepts are needed to develop a field of research. Less important but useful in practice. 
A1  It is a struggle making that transition from idea to career. Less than 1% get into programs like 
A1 I decided to start giving away free  training at to help people build sustainable programs
In blogging on  issues, resources re:  and programs are sought-after.  
50+ Fellowship Programs for Social Innovators …. Accelerator Programs  
Corporates can be investors in , supporters w resources & talent. Our corp partners have provided incredible brain power!


A1. Follow a calling. Even if you happen to stumble upon it. Each of us has the capacity to make big change & be changemakers
Q2. What role does the corporate sector play in offering opportunities for social innovation? Should it be doing more?
Corporates can be investors in , supporters w resources & talent. Our corp partners have provided incredible brain power!
A2 the corp sector has an opportunity to move beyond CSR and integrate meaning making deeply into their culture. 
A2: Corporate sector can be major attention amplifiers – and (harder) can invite socially oriented innovation into their domain 
A2: Being able to quantify value of  to corporations would help to further the reach & work of –make must v. should
A2. Demand for  shift from employees & consumers is powerful.  401K options, green consumer optns offer choice 
A2: Corporations have INCREDIBLE resources to invest in innovation. Key finding corporate rebels to change the systems 
A2:  combines social impact w/ biz pragmatism at Accenture. Corporate rebels exist!  
A2. Within a corp one can create a structure for Team of Teams that create and collaborate. A space for idea-buidling cc 
A2: All employees can be changemakers – no need for a trade-off between PURPOSE and PROFIT  
A2. True success can be achieved when you have “win-win” situations for the corporations and social entrepreneurs


Q3. How can we evaluate the impact of social entrepreneurs to ensure that social value is still the foundation of their work?
Q3: Knowing what to measure and how to measure it is still one of the biggest  challenges. Is it a number, or a smile?


. A3: Kiva looks at how much borrowers’ incomes have increased after loans & how they compare region wide


. A3: Kiva has 20+ Fellows in the field gathering stories and interviewing borrowers all the time 


A3. the introduction of social value act in UK is going to make have to get much better at demonstrating social value


 A3: Patient capital is key. Be prepared to accept repeated small losses; a single payoff often more than makes up.


A3: Martin Seligman’s PERMA equation might be part of the answer. 


Often see impact metrics fall to wayside as  chase funding (due to diff funder priorities) – need to educate funders 2.


A3. One thing we’ll have to let go of is the idea of common standards. We seek consistency but the world is dynamic & relative


Think we also need to demystify what  is – move away from warm&fuzzy & towards viable impact-driven biz 


 SocEnt is not Charity or NGO. The moment you decide to use “Ent” you decided on one metric: sustainability i.e. profits.


A3. We are entering into a big data phase of tech evolution. Organizing/analyzing data can help validate  initiatives.


A3. Being vision/mission driven sets the intention. Creating measuring tools, goals, deadlines puts in motion.  etc. help
 can totally use the lean startup. both to measure & support projects & ventures. small experiments, rapid prototype. 
Q3: Impact should not be oversimplified (ie # of people taken out of poverty), it should involve complex things like process 
A3 make IRIS metrics mean something tangible to funders. 


Q4. : White women, on average, earn 77 cents to a man’s dollar; black women earn 69 cents and Latinas earn 57 cents. 1/2
Q4. Given these stats, how can  be a powerful path with unique opportunities, access points and benefits for ? 2/2




Q4. Women are able to empower other women, take on leadership roles and prioritize issues they consider important as 


Q4. UK stats show 86% of socent leadership teams boast at least one female director vs. 59% in private sector 


A4 great essay last year on economic empowerment leading to social empowerment from grameenphone founder 


A4. It starts at the neighborhood level. We solve problems by first getting to know our neighbors and communities. 


A4: Young people should know they can be changemakers ANYWHERE – working at big consulting firms or running their own ventures 


Q4. Women statistically reinvest in their communities more than men allows them to contribute in new ways eg microcredit


. A4: When you help women make their own money you promote gender equality, later marriage, education + more


A4: Mentoring, support networks & building community for women have worked in some ways to stronger apps for our Fellowship.


A4 great essay last year on economic empowerment leading to social empowerment from grameenphone founder 


 A4: Be Bold. Collaborate. Innovate. See Solutions where other see problems.


Q5. Should governments and political leaders be responsible for helping to facilitate the growth of social entrepreneurship?


  A5. Not exclusively,but enabling a supportive ecosystem is a necessity. They play a key role in removing barriers.


A5: Governments & politicians need to realize that crowd funding for social enterprise is powerful & here to stay 


A5 Absolutely.  will not thrive with advocates from any one sector, region or class. Everyone has a role to play 


Q5: the  space is very new and needs to be nimble. Government/political intrusion could hurt the space. 

A5: Public sector innovation can mirror private/social sector innovation. Again, connecting all stakeholders… 


A5. Governments in developing countries would help  best by developing a favourable environment for all enterprises.


Q5: Entrepreneurship usually thrives during economic hard times. So screwing up the economy could be government’s contribution?


A5: Gov’t should demand accountability and ensure cost reimbursed by enterprises that create the poverty & pollution 


A5: Govt represents huge platform for $$$, resources & rules of the game. Having govt alligned is huge factor.  


A5. We are all responsible of making positive change in our communities 


Q6. What will the world look like 25 years from now, when social innovation is business as usual? Is that a realistic future?


A6: World I’d like to see in 25 years is… 1. Sustainable 2. Empathetic and 3. A global changemaking community 


A6   25 yrs=75% of world will know of socent. 100 yrs=socent will be obsolete. All biz will be social.


A6.The best way to predict the future is to create it, so let’s stop rearranging the chairs and get busy making new furniture!!


A6: We want a world where EVERY women is a Changemaker – it’s feasible if girls are given the resources to innovate 


A6: In 25 years, global governance will be much more citizen-led, diplomats will need new jobs 


 A6 our hope and one of our fave quote business will be about “sharing the market not market share”


A6. 3BottomLine accounting would be the norm in a  future. Normalised impact accounting practices doable in 25 years?


A6 We already have intrapreneurs taking us , in 25 years time I hope creating profit with purpose will be common place


A6: We want a world where EVERY women is a Changemaker – it’s feasible if girls are given the resources to innovate 
A6: In 25 yrs, there will be solar everywhere, gender equality will be the norm & credit will be accessible to 1B more 

Screen Shot 2012-12-19 at 4.59.09 PM


We are in the middle of StartUp Weekend for Social Good in San Francisco, hosted by Hub Ventures. The concept of Startup Weekend is to bring together budding entrepreneurial-minded coders, designers, business folks, marketers, media, and just about anyone to dedicate 54 hours (Friday pm through Sunday) to work on a startup idea.There is an emphasis on pitching ideas, forming teams, validating concepts through customer feedback, and building as much of a prototype as time allows.This StartUp Weekend has an extra layer of focus. It is being held to bring cultivate startup concepts that focus on social impact in addition to entrepreneurship.

Though we are just crossing the halfway point, the weekend has been exciting so far—it has been interesting to see the kinds of ideas that have cropped up and the unique effect adding an impact focus has added to business models.  Here are a few photos from the first night.

#swbay @hubbayarea social good (1)

Wes Selke, Founding Director of Hub Ventures, introduces his organization’s social enterprise accelerator program.

#swbay @hubbayarea social good (2)


StartupWeekend SF participants respond to questions from the speaker.
#swbay @hubbayarea social good (3)


A few areas in which social entrepreneurs create impact.
#swbay @hubbayarea social good (4)

Keynote Speaker Nick Ellis talks about his social enterprise, Job Rooster, which connects anyone, anytime, anywhere to local employment through text messages–addressing issues of access to job listings for non/low-tech job seekers.

#swbay @hubbayarea social good (6)


Startup Weekend organizer John Beadle explains the game plan for the weekend.


#swbay @hubbayarea social good (5)


After the speakers it was time to test our pitching skills with a pitch exercise.
#swbay @hubbayarea social good (7)
After individuals presented, attendees ‘shopped’ around for ideas they wanted to work on.
#swbay @hubbayarea social good (8)
Groups met and strategized how to begin building a startup in a weekend.
#swbay @hubbayarea social good (9)
Burning the midnight oil, groups stayed late to map out an approach to do well by doing good.
Mary Meeker talk for BASES 150k challengeOn Monday, December 3rd 2012, the Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students (BASES)— a student organization promoting entrepreneurship, hosted a panel event open to the public.Co-Presidents Ruby Lee and Matt Goodyear kicked off the evening with an introduction to the BASES 150K Challenge which offers a total of $150K in three type of award competitions:

About the host, BASES

Stanford BASES Challenge competitions:

1. E-Challenge — teams compete to present the best business pitches for for-profit business models. Previous winners have included Courserank, LightBit, Ingenuity. A total of $50K is awarded to the winning teams.

2. Social E-Challenge — teams compete to present exceptional ideas that generate positive social impact in areas including health, education, economic development, and the environment. Prior winners include Kiva, One Acre Fund, Embrace.  $50K total is awarded to winning teams.

3. Product Showcase — teams compete to present the most compelling prototype ranging from mobile devices to hardware to medical devices.

*Note: Entries are due by January 25th 2012, and can be found here. All teams must have at least one Stanford connection (i.e. current student, alumnus, professor, etc.) to enter.


The Keynote : Mary Meeker

The main event of the evening was kicked off by the keynote speaker and Silicon Valley luminary, Mary Meeker. As General Partner of Kleiner Perkins her focus is to identify and support promising startups and to detect trends.  Her background in analysis paved the way to her current role She was named #43 on FORBES’ 2012 Midas List of VC royalty.

Meeker spoke about trends and shifts in the tech startup space. She reviewed the replacement of prior (and current) technologies with what is new and what’s ahead. Find her full slides here:


The Panel: Founders of Jawbone, Nest, and Gumroad

Following her keynote, Mary Meeker introduced the panel, founders of a few of Silicon Valley’s hottest startups. They were honest and candid with their responses and insight, emphasizing the importance of communicating effectively when things aren’t working out with an employee to the importance of seeking customer validation versus building what you believe audiences will love.
One of the memorable questions posed by Meeker was:
“What is the best advice you have received?”
entrepreneurship talk by Silicon Valley startup Founders

Hosain Raham, Founder & CEO of Jawbone (@hosain): “Think bigger.” Raham emphasized thinking about the biggest possibility. He said shooting for the stars may at least get you to the moon.

Matt Rogers, Founder & VP of Engineer at Nest (@nestmatt): Learn “how to talk about the ‘why’ behind your product.” Rogers emphasized showing ‘the why’ over ‘the what’ of a product. He suggested on being able to answer questions like why a product is a great for particular preferences.
Sahil Lavingia, Founder & CEO of Gumroad (@shl— “Think about what the product will look like in 10, 20, or 50 years.” A similar play on Raham’s advice of think bigger, Lavingia focused on visualizing a time frame for a startup. He noted that if you imagine staying at a company for 15 years, it will can change the way you think about your projects and will validate your attention to even the most minute details.
When was the last time you agreed to a privacy policy? Perhaps when you powered on your smart device, or when you visited your favorite social media outlet, or even now as you are reading this post.

So, the last time you read a privacy policy was…..

We live in a world where there are so many privacy policies and terms and conditions agreements that it could be pretty time consuming to peruse them each time we use the site, device, page, form, or service. So we often end up not reading them—not just each time of use, but ever.

For those of us who took a year or more of coursework on Contracts Law, that can be potentially problematic. Most people don’t really know what we’re signing up for at any point. We don’t know if our privacy is being protected—and to what degree.

That’s the problem

That’s a problem, a pretty formidable pain point. And you and I aren’t the only ones who think so.

Disconnect a startup that creates tools to let people manage the data they share online, was drawn to work on a groundbreaking project that could change the way we analyze privacy policies on sites we use every day.

Legal Hackathon – Nov 16th 2012 – at Mozilla Foundation HQ in San Francisco (#PrivacyIcons)

On November 16, 2012 the Mozilla Foundation and Disconnect hosted a Legal Hackathon at the Mozilla headquarters in San Francisco, CA.

The overall idea was to crowdsource the reading of privacy policies and to bucket major components  by designating a different icon for each bucketed response (i.e. “iconifying”)

privacy icons legal hackathon

Here are the 4 questions Disconnect uses to iconify privacy policies:

1. Does this website sell your data or share it with third parties or affiliates without your express permission, or as you’d reasonably expect given the site’s service?

2. Does this website collect and use your data other than as you expressly allow or as you’d reasonably expect given the site’s service?

3. Does this website disclose user data to the government and other third parties without proper legal procedure (E.g., the presentation of a valid court order)?

4. How long does this site retain user data after the service is provided or a user requests deletion?

Say for example, all sites that keep private data of users for 3 months get a square bubble with a large yellow 3 in it. Then, anytime you go to a site has that icon, you know exactly what that means. As of now the icons appear to the far right of a URL while browsing in Firefox, and once certain extensions are installed.privacy icons legal hackathon (2)It could enable us to scan a set of icons instead of warm up to the idea of reading entire privacy policies—which are each formatted and written differently. It could also encourage drafters of said privacy policies to be clear on key points of their policies and present their points in an easy-to-read way.


There were a number of speakers and introduced guests. A few included:
Casey Oppenheim (Co-founder, Disconnect)
Alex Fowler (Global Privacy & Public Policy Leader, Mozilla)
Laura Berger (Sr. Attorney Division of Privacy & Identity Protection, FTC)
There is also a complete video replay of the event, which can be found here:

Can reading privacy policies be crowdsourced? Should it be crowdsourced?

It was a question that came up from the organizers themselves, should the reading and evaluation of privacy policies according to the given ‘buckets’ actually be crowdsourced by users of the site or be reserved for individuals some how specialized or prequalified to review the privacy policies.
The answer is to be determined, and as of now it remains an open platform for anyone to review and iconify.
Want to get involved? Find all you need to get started here:
Dear Innov8Social readers and followers,

Happy Thanksgiving! Hopefully the holiday left you charged to not only count your blessings, but multiply them for yourselves and those around you.


Innov8Social has not been far from my mind for the past few months. And I am excited to share my recent adventures and ideas for what’s ahead with you.
white board notesIn September 2012 I participated in StartUp Weekend, an exciting entrepreneurship event that brings together developers, designers, and non-coders for 54 hours of a ‘hackathon’-like experience of building out a startup idea. The goal is to be able to give a brief pitch of the idea and show a prototype to the judging panel by Sunday evening. Our team won recognition for our website design.
The event was a mind stretch—requiring participants to wear multiple hats, think through potential pitfalls and problems, and be able to pivot our idea in any direction as we built it. It was the quintessential experience in entrepreneurship.
I was fortunate to have joined with a dynamic team and together we began building a solution to the problem of how people in a neighborhood can ‘vote’ on which local businesses they wish to see in their neighborhoods. From our review, there seemed to be a need for effective ways for people to support and encourage small businesses they desire in their neighborhoods. That, combined with the popularity and influence of crowdfunding platforms, put us on a fascinating journey involving lots of interviews, product market fit testing, and pivots on the idea.
I have learned that in social entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship is the initial challenge. And the challenge can be formidable! Before you think about how your business should run and what it’s core values are…you have to have a business.
The experience makes me all the more appreciative of start-up entrepreneurs who bootstrap their way to profitability and then scale and grow their ideas to broader audiences and markets, all the while staying within the broad course of their core values.
The past few months have been all about ‘getting out of the building’ a phrase that Steve Blank uses often in his Udacity lectures to encourage entrepreneurs to be action/input-oriented rather than insular inventors.
I’ll be posting more on these recent adventures. But for now, I wanted you to know that I am thankful for this space for us to connect and that there is so much we can do together. I have ideas of ways to continue building and improving Innov8Social, and would love to hear your input on what you would like to see.
All the best, always.

VLAB gamify everything panelMIT/Stanford Venture Lab (VLAB) hosted its first event for Fall 2012 yesterday, September 18th 2012. The topic on tap was gamification.

“Gamify Everything: from Monetization to Social Benefit,”: The Recap

The event brought together start-up entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and other tech, media, social/mobile types against the backdrop of a sunset at the Stanford University’s Graduate School of business.

Panelists from successful gamifying endeavors provided their insight, points, and counterpoints on topics ranging from the term ‘gamification’, to its actual meaning, to what makes a game successful.

Though the event was geared to address the general practice of gamification, i.e. applying elements of game design to non-game processes, there were some tactile takeaways for social entrepreneurs.


So, what do social entrepreneurs need to know about gamification?

VLAB gamify everything program1. Gamification is a relatively new, debated, and trending term.  Considering that Panelist Rajat Paharia spoke about coining the phrase “gamification” in 2009, a few years after founding Bunchball—it may seem like the term is still a toddler. But, as moderator Margaret Wallace of Playmatics pointed out, according to the 2012 Gartner Hype Cycle, the term has nearly reached its peak.

Panelist Amy Jo Kim of ShuffleBrain expressed some pushback to the term, saying that it has rubbed her and others in the field the wrong way because of its attempt to suggest that the concept of adding gamelike elements to non-games is new, and one that has not been in existence for much longer.
Key takeaway here: agree to disagree about the roots of the word, and be aware that the term has proponents and detractors.
2. You need to think hard about what the core purpose of a game is and what the end value of playing it will be for the user. With social entrepreneur objectives, there are creative and unique ways to implement gaming because the desired outcomes for gaming go far beyond purchases and engagement—and extend to societal, environmental, health, education well-being. For example, gamifying literacy, hunger, or clean energy can be compelling reasons to play and the end value for the players can be tailored differently to reward social change behavior. Panelists cautioned start-up hopefuls about trying to gamify before having a core business idea.
Key takeaway: don’t let friends gamify without a point.
3. How do you want to measure success. Onboarding? Retention? Mastery? Build games accordingly. One panelist pointed out the sheer success of FourSquare in onboarding new gamers. The easy to use UI, accessibility, and social aspects lead players to “check-in” to places, even become “mayor” and be active with the game. However, he noted that there has been a customary dropoff after some time. If their measure of success is onboarding, they are successful; however, if retention is the end-goal, they may have to determine other strategies to keep gamers playing.
For social entrepreneurs, ‘touches’ to a game are important. However, determining measures of progress will likely be more important. The game may be engaging users in a topic but to impact greater change, the collective gaming may have to seek some broader end-goal.
Key takeaway: measure with purpose.
4. Gamifying healthcare has proven to be difficult (in other words, big opportunity for social innovation!) Answering a question from the audience, Panelist Rajat Paharia noted that healthcare games (seeking to help patients get faster sooner, or help individuals lose weight or be more healthy) have traditionally faced challenges in keeping players motivated long enough to achieve the desired results.
It looks like the code to improving health through gamification hasn’t been cracked yet, and is a huge opportunity for social entrepreneurs.Key takeaway: design for health
5. Create incentives, rewards, and recognition that make sense. Panelist Joshua Williams of Microsoft talked about the effectiveness and equal non-effectiveness of leader boards. Knowing who is #1 may motivate the top players but may deter those who are new or far behind. Instead, he outlined ways to ‘abstract’ the leader boards to show ranges of top players, as well as to pit players against their own progress rather than others.
Additionally, panelists talked about creating real-life rewards for virtual engagement. Discounts, freebies, and special invitations were mentioned as ways to fire up the (gaming) base.
Key takeaway: If no one really wants it, it’s not a prize.
6. Gamification 2.0 has been about making non-game processes feel more like games, i.e. making them fun to play. Panelist Amy Jo Kim spoke about the shifting emphasis of gamification from adding game-like elements to non-game functions, to actually making non-games feel more like games. The distinction is about creating an experience rather than a game-like UI.
This can be key for social innovators as it can make difficult, complex subjects feel more handleable and addressable through play.
Panelist Courtney Guertin of Kiip mentioned a and referenced these two videos showing how successful gamification can make a task fun and engaging, and can inspire behavior such as throwing away trash in a trash can and taking the stairs instead of an elevator.



Key takeaway: fun may be the key7. There are different paths for monetizing gamification–and room to be creative. Some of panelists noted that their companies charge for each user engagement while others billed for licensing and users of the game. The diversity of ways to monetize shows that there is no single effective method.
Social entrepreneurs seeking double or triple bottom lines may find ways to create and generate value through what happens after a player engages in a game. Additionally, social innovators may be able to partner with foundations and government to subsidize game-creation costs for industries such education and health.Key takeaway: understand your game’s value, then devise a cost structure
8. CodeforAmerica is one way gamification elements are being created in conjunction with government activities. When asked whether IRS activities can be gamified, Panelists talked about gamifying for social good. Code for America was mentioned as one attempt to unite gamification and government. And Panelist Andrew Trader spoke about his focus on finding new spheres of intersection between gamification and social benefit.Key takeaway: seek to create unlikely partnerships to achieve far-reaching results
9. Education + Gaming + Mobile = massive potential. While the panel did not specifically address the growth of gamification in education, the sheer number of apps and start-ups in this space shows growth and opportunity. Panelists discussed increasing demands by consumers that they learn something new from games or understand a topic better.
Combine the needs of consumers with the handy smartphones likely in their back pocket, and there is a ready path for quick, bite-sized learning that can add up to meaningful mastery over time.Key takeaway: The way we read, communicate, and buy is changing because of apps and sites, why shouldn’t we learn differently too…

10. There is growth in non zero sum games through social and mobile apps. Panelist Amy Jo Kim discussed the rise of non zero sum games, i.e. refocusing the spotlight from winners v. losers to win-win situations, where users can share their experiences and guide others as they start their experience with a game.Key takeaway: win-win gives you two ways to win

Meet the Panelists

Margaret Wallace (moderator): CEO/Co-Founder of Playmatics | @MargaretWallace
Courtney Guertin: Co-Founder/CTO of Kiip | @courtstarr
Rajat Paharia: Founder/Chief Product Officer of Bunchball | @rajatrocks
Amy Jo Kim: Founder/CEO of ShuffleBrain | @amyjokim
Joshua Williams: Senior Software Design Engineer Microsoft Corporation | @joshuadw
Andrew Trader: Venture Partner, Maveron


VLAB crowdfundingThere was standing room only at June 19th 2012, “Crowdfunding: Disrupting Traditional Funding Models”panel hosted by MIT/Stanford Venture Lab (VLAB). The event was held on the Stanford campus at the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge.The talk centered around the passage of the federal crowdfunding legislation as part of the JOBS Act, and its implications.

Agreeing to Disagree

Berg Hall, StanfordThe panel was moderated by the founder of, Carl Esposti and featured players with  unique perspectives associated with the field. The main points of distinction between panelists had to do with the benefit (or proposed detriment) that is to come part and parcel with the new crowdfunding legislation. And while each panelist had significant experience and perspective on the topic, the opinions clashed on key points, making it all the more interesting to listen in on.
The evening also included a video message from Senator Scott Brown who introduced the crowdfunding legislation as a way to fund innovation. He noted that the SEC is reviewing the legislation and is accepting comments at
Below are some main points raised by the speakers.


Moderator: Carl Esposti, Founder at <<@crowdsourcing_>>

Mr. Esposti gave a little background on his experience in crowdfunding, which he began exploring 4 years ago. He entered the field to determine the ‘why’ of why bets are placed on whether companies succeed and to dive deeper into determining if crowdfunding companies would eventually lead to job creation. Since his entry into crowdfunding he noted that crowdfunding has taken on larger platforms and payment systems. conducted a survey which found a growth in the number of crowdfunding platforms from 450+ as of April 2012 to a projected 500+ by the end of 2012. He noted that the steep expansion of platforms is partially attributable to the ‘low cost of admission’ since there is often not much required in the way of setting up a crowdfunding platform.

He highlighted the U.S. as home to the greatest number of crowdfunding platforms, but noted that Europe is on the heels, and there are increasing efforts in Britain, Brazil, Netherlands, Australia, India, and China.

A key point Mr. Esposti set forth is the impetus behind crowdfunding as a way to support and grow entrepreneurship. He stated that crowdfunding is largely grounded in our desires for social experiences, to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

4 Types of Crowdfunding Platforms

Mr. Esposti outlined four distinct types of crowdfunding platforms, and noted that over $1.5 billion have been raised through all four types, and that reward-based platforms are the fastest growing ones.
  • equity-based crowdfunding (incl. revenue + profit-sharing)
  • reward-based crowdfunding
  • lending-based crowdfunding
  • donation-based crowdfunding

Panelist: Slava Rubin, CEO & Co-Founder at Indiegogo <<@gogoslava>>

Mr. Rubin started his talk on a very personal note, sharing the story of his father’s passing when he was only 15 years old. Ten years later Rubin decided to start a charity for cancer and used online platforms but noted that the process, in his words, “sucked”. He launched Indiegogo on January 17th, 2008 as an alternative to existing crowdfunding platforms.
He talked about how crowdfunding is not a new concept, noting that a version of it was used to raise funds for the base of the Statue of Liberty.  He shifted into explaining the concept of Indiegogo, namely   to be a global crowdfunding platform where anyone can raise funds for anything. In 2009 Indiegogo was open to all, and today hosts 70K campaigns, in 200+ countries, with millions of dollars raised, and a contribution happening every 55 seconds.
Mr. Rubin underscored that Indiegogo is a “no judgment platform” that does not filter the kinds of campaigns created. He noted that successful campaigns have had good pitches, have been proactive, and have been able to find an audience that cares about the campaign.
He also spent a few minutes dispelling myths related to starting a company:
  1. startup myth: there’s a right time to start a company—Rubin said there’s not. His team started in 2008, he noted that perseverance is a key trait for startup success.
  2. startup myth: you need a lot of initial funding to start—Rubin said Indiegogo bootstrapped for a long time.
  3. startup myth: you need a business plan—Rubin dismissed this myth saying, instead, that you need a 1 pager with your idea
  4. startup myth: it’s all about the idea—Rubin stated that while ideas are interesting, its actually about the expectation created from the idea.

Panelist: Ryan Caldbeck, CEO & Founder, CircleUp <<@CircleUp>>

Ryan Caldbeck recently founded CircleUp as a platform to present investment opportunities to investors. He explained that investors visit the site, read about various new companies, invest in them, wire funds over, and become an owner in the company.

Mr. Caldbeck expressed his skepticism about the new federal crowdfunding legislation which opens investment to non-accredited investors in addition to accredited investors (the current rule). He is concerned that venture capital (VC) firms will just make a decision to pass on companies seeking crowdfunding.

Panelist: Daniel Zimmermann, Partner, WilmerHale <<@WilmerHale>>

Mr. Zimmerman is a partner at WilmerHale, a corporate law firm with offices in a dozen cities across the globe. His specializes in corporate and transactional law. Regarding the new crowdfunding legislation, he said it would be interesting to see what specifics the SEC arrives at with regards to implementation and compliance.

He provided a background explanation of the crowdfunding legislation stating the JOBS Act laid groundwork for the bill. Mr. Zimmerman mentioned that where existing crowdfunding efforts and platforms are aimed at simplifying the raising of capital through loans and donation, there is a possibility that the new legislation may complicate the process.

Panelist: Don Ross, Managing Director/Founder and Board Member, HealthTech Capital and Sand Hill Angels <<@Sandhillangels>>

Don Ross provided a venture capital perspective to the conversation. In addition to being the Founder and Managing Director of HealthTech Capital, a funding group made of private investors supporting startups at the intersection of healthcare and technology, Mr. Ross is also a Board Director of Sand Hill Angels. Sand Hill Angels is a consortium of successful Silicon Valley tech professionals who are dedicated to supporting formation and growth of startup companies.

Mr. Ross stated that rewards-based crowdfunding has generally been ‘totally embraced’ by the VC community and noted that equity-based crowdfunding models may have hidden ‘landmines’ and issues, especially with regards to the how the new crowdfunding legislation may be implemented. He pointed to messy capital tables, liability issues, and requirements for public disclosure of business plans (eliminating the ‘stealth mode’ advantage most startups aim for) as issues that could become further complicated by legislative requirements.

He also stated that allowing non-acredited investors could raise accountability issues, increase responsibilities of entrepreneurs, and may even create situations ripe for abject fraud.

(B)enefit Corporation West Coast Forum

On April 27, 2012 San Francisco University and B Lab hosted the (B)enefit Corporations West Coast Forum. It was a day of seminars, talks, and networking intended to connect academia with social entrepreneurs, and to provide an overview of the benefit corporation movement.

One of the interesting panel discussions featured three social entrepreneurs who actively pursue triple bottom line results in their companies. It was moderated by San Francisco-based B Lab Director of Business Development, Dermot Hikisch.

Here is a rundown of the speakers and a few of their key points.

Mike Hannigan, President of Give Something Back

Give Something Back (GSB) is the largest business to business office supplier in California, and has been running for around 20 years. What makes the business socially entrepreneurial is that the company pays competitive wages, but invests 100% of its profits to community non-profits.

Hannigan reiterated that the community was the key stakeholder in his company, which is a registered B corporation. (Note: a point of confusion is b corporation v. benefit corporation. They aren’t the same thing! Learn about the differences here). He noted that when the company was launched two decades ago, it represented a new and novel way of doing businesses, but that he is noticing more and more new companies being started with social mission in mind.

Benefit corporation symposium 3He also underscored the concept that his business has been successful because, at its core, it has a strong business model and can beat out its competition. In fulfilling the company’s vision to support the community and environment, employees receive competitive wages and full health benefits.

Hannigan outlined the democratic process the company engages in to decide on where to redistribute profits within the community. GSB polls their 10,000+ customers and clients to decide on the causes and organizations to support.

Kirsten Saenz Tobey, Founder and CEO of Revolution Foods

If the audience wasn’t already wowed by the history, and operations of Give Something Back—Kirsten Saenz Toby’s story about how and why she started Revolution Foods surely inspired the room.

Tobey started the company six years ago after to change the way kids eat at school and with the vision of fundamentally changing the relationship between food and kids.

She outlined her company’s founding value with simplicity: food should be real. Tobey and her team found ways to replace processed foods (with numerous additives and preservatives, high salt content, and too many grams of sugar) with healthy, nourishing alternatives. And they found ways to mass produce and deliver these healthy meals to local schools on a daily basis.

Tobey also spoke about honoring and respecting the workforce, and shared that in addition to providing full health benefits, her business model makes each employee part-owner of the company.

As they say, the proof is in the pudding, or in this case maybe in the fruit and yogurt parfait. The company has grown fast, very fast. Revolution Foods has gone from preparing and delivering 500 meals per day in 2006 to 120,000 meals per day in 2011. And, it is expanding to eight different regions across the country.

Revolution Foods certified as a b corporation (not the same as a benefit corporation) in 2011. Tobey spoke about the certification process, saying that it was valuable in outlining a roadmap for how her company wanted to grow, expand, and operate. She mentioned that as a social entrepreneur, she has often found it her role to educate potential investors about what b corporations are and what the triple bottom line entails.

In answering an audience question about the future of Revolution Foods, she didn’t rule out an exit strategy such as an intial public offering (IPO) or acquisition by a larger company.

Vincent Siciliano, President and CEO of New Resource Bank

Turning to a banking state of mind, the third panelist Vincent Siciliano of New Resource Bank opened his presentation by asking if we knew where our money “spends the night.” He spoke about his company’s goal of ensuring that every dollar of depositor’s funding is invested in building a sustainable community.

Founded in 2006, New Resource Bank has aimed to bring new resources and create new opportunities for sustainable business. Siciliano mentioned that the bank became a certified B Corporation in 2010.

He expanded on the ways his bank evaluates impact for its stakeholders, mentioning a client sustainability assessment that identifies learners, achievers, leaders, and champions in sustainability. New Resource Bank actively practices slow banking because it does not consciously seek an exit strategy, but instead focuses on long term growth and reach, franchising, and creating lasting economic impact in communities.

Answering questions from the audience, Siciliano mentioned foundations as an emerging source of funding social entrepreneurs, in addition to VC funding and crowd sourced funding. For example, Kellogg Foundation became an equity investor in Revolution Foods.

When asked about the academic community’s role in the (b)enefit corporation movement, Siciliano reiterated the need for impact metrics to support data-driven decision-making.

As posted earlier I was selected as a New Leader’s Council Fellow in December 2011. After nearly six months of sessions, collaboration, small group meetings, and events, our cohort of fellows graduated from the program yesterday. It has been a great experience, and as with many instances of experiential learning, the more we have put into it–the more we have learned about progressive causes, leadership, and ourselves.
Stay tuned for a follow-up post about key takeaways from the New Leaders Council fellowship program coming up. In the meanwhile, there is still one big event we are planning, and you’re the invited!

T-1 Day to Our Annual Event!

Tomorrow (May 22nd, 2012)  we are hosting our annual event/fundraiser in downtown San Jose from 6-9pm. It will bring together young professionals in the area to experience live and art and music by up and coming local artists and bands.
The event is set to the backdrop of the Silicon Valley Capital Club, which offers a 360 degree view of South Bay from the top of the Knight Ridder building. The event will be an evening to mix and mingle and make new friends over refreshments and drinks.
Proceeds will be used to ‘pay it forward’ for next year’s fellows and to further develop and build the program for future years.
More info & registration available here.

Get your Free ticket!

As co-chair of the fundraising committee, I experienced first-hand the process of outreaching to sponsors. It involved creativity, understanding, and resilience and we found that social media enabled new ways for us to outreach to potential sponsors and to feature them in a personalized way.
One of my team members collaborated with the American Civil Liberties Union to create a unique way for attendees to get in to the event for “free”. For the first 25 individuals to sign up to be a member with the ACLU for $20, ACLU will pay for your ticket ($35 online, early-bird, $40 at the door).
It was an out-of-the-box way to connect with a progressive organization and offer value to our attendees (i.e. the membership and free entry to the event).
More info & sign-up for a free ticket here. Hope to see you there!