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!