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Meet Kalen

Kalen GallagherKalen Gallagher is a social entrepreneur’s social entrepreneur. He doesn’t just resemble what it means to pursue social impact with an entrepreneurial mindset, he pretty much embodies it.Talk to him for a few minutes and you’ll notice that he possesses many of the characteristics of fellow millennials. Easy-going, confident, and ready to take on (and lead) change, Kalen has served his community as far back as he can remember. As a student at Westmont High School in San Jose he was active in community service organizations.
Kalen attended UC Davis as an undergraduate and served in student government in the roles of Senator, Vice President, and student body President. He stayed on at his alma mater for law school, graduating from UC Davis Law in 2009. Where passing the California Bar exam often signifies an official entry into the profession, for Kalen it was a turning point at which he decided to steer away from practicing law to focus on education. He took on the role of social studies teacher at a KIPP Heartwood Academy, a public charter school serving East San Jose.Kalen’s path to creating impact and pursuing entrepreneurship led him to join an education technology startup called ClassDojo in 2011. ClassDojo is a tool that helps teachers improve behavior in their classrooms and captures and generates data on behavior that teachers can share with parents and administrators. The Next Web named it one of the top education apps of 2012.

For Kalen, the roles of educator, innovator, and leader push him to seek different avenues to create impact. In May 2012 he announced his candidacy for Campbell Union High School District Board of Trustees. An elected position, he would be running against an incumbent and vying for a four-year term. In a close race fueled by grass roots campaigning, social media pushes, and plenty of precinct walks—Kalen won a seat on the Board on election day in November 2012.

I have had a chance to get to know Kalen, through one of his passions–New Leaders Council. Kalen and Reeta Sharma,  co-founded and co-direct the Silicon Valley chapter of this progressive fellowship program to build skills in leadership and social entrepreneurship…which I participated in as a Fellow in 2012 and continue to be involved in as an member of the Advisory Board.

Innov8Social caught up with Kalen to find out about his commitment to social entrepreneurship, and his path in the field.

Read the Interview

Interview with Kalen Gallagher, Social Entrepreneur and Elected Leader

Q1 | Innov8Social:   How do you define “social entrepreneurship”

A1 | Kalen Gallagher, Social Entrepreneur and Campbell Union High School District Board Trustee:  To me “social entrepreneurship” means using the principles of entrepreneurship to create sustainable, long-term solutions to our society’s biggest problems. While traditional entrepreneurs are primarily focused on earning money, social entrepreneurs seek societal change.

Q2 | Innov8Social:   What inspired you to run for office?

A2 | Kalen: I decided to run for the school board of my old high school district because it has been plagued by numerous issues for years with little discussion at the board level on how we can turn things around. Since well before I walked through the gates in 9th grade our dropout rate has been incredibly high, we’ve had low test scores, the number of our students going to and through college has been small, we’ve had the lowest paid teachers in the Bay Area, and even today we have a disturbing lack of technology available to teachers and students. While the districts around us are thriving, we’ve been held back, which is negatively impacting thousands of our community members every year. I think there’s a lot that bringing my teaching experience, the “startup mentality,” and higher expectations to the board can accomplish.

Q3 | Innov8Social:   What have you learned about the intersection of start-up entrepreneurship and education technology through ClassDojo?

A3 | Kalen: We’re in the middle of a dramatic shift in public education, powered in large part by young teachers. Any teacher 30 or younger (about 30% of all teachers) grew up in a post-AOL world, which means the internet has been ingrained in their daily lives since childhood. These teachers, along with older tech-savvy teachers, are helping change the expectations, and delivery, of public education.

This has been coupled with a revolutionary change in purchasing power. Traditionally if education companies wanted to reach teachers, they had to sell to districts, which was a slow, frustrating process. Today the internet and spread of cheap internet connected devices allow education companies to go straight to teachers and skip the middle man. Teachers are also much more in tune with the tools they want and need than a school board or administrator could ever be. Now, hundreds of teachers can be using a tool within a district without the school board having even heard about it. This new distribution strategy is allowing the shift we’re experiencing today.


Q4 | Innov8Social:   When did you decide to actively turn away from the practice of law to the practice of social entrepreneurship?

A4 | Kalen: It might seem ridiculous, but I actually knew I would never practice law when I applied to law school. To me law school represented something very attractive: a 3 year, socially-acceptable vacation that would give me amble time to explore my passions and learn the legal structure of California.

I spent the summer after my 1L year in deep-reflection, trying to figure out how I could make the biggest impact possible on the issues I’m passionate about. After all the soul-searching, research, and informational interviews, it was clear to me that if I should devote my life to improving public education. The lack of a quality of public education for all is at the core of most issues that plague the United States today. Four days after taking (and somehow passing) the California Bar, I was in my new classroom at KIPP Heartwood in East San Jose.

Q5 | Innov8Social:   Do you have any tips for those who want to create a career that creates social impact and profit?

A5 | Kalen: Genuinely care about the issue you’re trying to solve. Listen to your users. Focus. If you don’t do all three, you will go nowhere.

The field of social innovation and impact entrepreneurship is growing. Six additional states passed benefit corporation legislation, bringing the total to twelve heading into 2013. Crowdfunding startups, ideas, and causes is now a multi-billion dollar industry.In making sense of the movement, we turn to people in the field who are engaging in work that yields both profit and impact to surrounding communities and environment.

Innov8Social is looking to profile social innovators in the field and tools they have championed in their work. If you know someone who has found a way to do well by doing good, nominate them below. Innov8Social will be profiling social innovators at different stages of their venture.

 

Meet Ryan

Ryan MartensWith the start of a new year comes new opportunities to connect, engage, and explore. One such opportunity was an interview on Rally for Impact, a fascinating arm  of the for-profit social enterprise Rally Software. Innov8Social spoke with Rally Software’s Founder and CTO Ryan Martens about his vision for empowering engineers to turn their attention to many of the world’s most pressing problems.
In addition to his work at the helm of Rally for Impact, Ryan also served as Mentor in Residence for the Unreasonable Institute in 2011 and continues to serve as a Mentor.

Rally Software and Rally for Impact

Rally Software has adopted a 1/1/1 model similar to Salesforce, where 1% of the company’s founding equity is put toward the Entrepreneurs Foundation, 1% of employee’s time is used for volunteer projects, and 1% of equity financing to endow the efforts of citizen engineers.
Scroll to end of the post for an informative introduction video to learn about what the organization does, its goals, and an account of a citizen engineer. When asking Ryan about Rally’s decision to become a B Corporation he said that he certified as as a B Corporation because he sees it as a promising hybrid model between a non-profit and for-profit entity.

Read the Interview

Interview on Rally for Impact with Ryan Martens, Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Rally Software

Q1 | Innov8Social: How did you first get involved with Rally for Impact?  How long has it been around?

A1 | Ryan Martens, Rally for Impact: The idea has been percolating for 10 years. We officially launched it in October 2012.

Q2 | Innov8Social: What problem/pain point is Rally for Impact addressing?

A2 | Ryan: I feel strongly that business is the only force on the planet large enough and pervasive enough to change our broken global systems. With Rally for Impact, we are stepping up to say that business must lead the way in solving social problems. We can embed our social enterprises within the wrapper of business and be successful at both by bringing the learnings from one into the other.

My vision is to bring citizen engineers and social entrepreneurs together to help scale their efforts, as well as to inspire businesses to create sustainable and equitable solutions that span the globe.

Together, citizen engineers and social entrepreneurs can be the giant lever to fix the global systems that create clean water, clean air, rich soil, biodiversity and happiness as a natural by-product of everyday work.

I do not believe you can make one singular giant leap to become a social impact enterprise, but rather, incremental progress. You need the support of the business to value the work and thus create an environment where citizen engineers are empowered to explore not just feasible and effective solutions, but highly desirable and sustainable solutions. We need to build the right things that help us make the world better with every use..

Q3 | Innov8SocialThe site emphasizes the presence of citizen engineers—how did you first think of this broad category? Who are the most typical ‘citizen engineers’ you have come across?

A3 | Ryan: I did not coin the term Citizen Engineer; Dave Douglas and Greg Papadopoulos actually did in their book: Citizen Engineer. There really is no “typical story” – the profile is someone who identifies a social problem and then works to solve it. Much of comes from finding an unfortunate opportunity that they are compelled to wrestle with and attempt to solve. We have great examples on the Rally For Impact site that include business, technical and grassroots organizing stories: http://www.rallydev.com/community/rallyforimpact/stories.

Q4 | Innov8Social: What is the primary purpose of Rally for Impact?

A4 | Ryan: Our mission to mobilize citizen engineers to solve the world’s toughest problems is based in part on my interactions with Dave Douglas, co-author of the book Citizen Engineer. Dave and Greg define citizen engineers as “the connection point between science and society—between pure knowledge and how it is used. Citizen engineers are techno-responsible, environmentally responsible, economically responsible, socially responsible participants in the engineering community.”

To mobilize citizen engineers to do this, we need to leverage:

  • design thinking to produce highly desirable solutions that scale quickly
  • agile thinking to bring the power of small teams to large problems
  • lean startup to simultaneously solve for feasibility and effectiveness
  • open source licenses to disseminate learnings and solutions freely across the planet
  • sociology and biology to design sustainable solutions that work with nature
Between Dave’s book, the Stanford d.school, Eric Ries, Steve Blank and what we know about scaling Agile, we now have a recipe for mobilizing citizen engineers. Our job at Rally For Impact is to work collaboratively with our employees, business and social partners and most importantly, our customers, to leverage these methods to educate, enable and mobilize these citizen engineers across the planet. We have the science and technology, now we just need citizen engineers to apply them in uniquely local and global ways.

We believe business can be the force that helps us create sustainable systems for billions of humans to live on this planet in a just, equitable and restorative fashion. It is why we are here as a company.

Action

Rally for Impact is seeking to build its base of social innovation-minded engineers. If you are interested you can take this pictorial citizen engineer survey.

 

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

 

The final component of a StartUp Weekend is the pitch presentation. Starting early evening on Sunday, all of the teams pitch the startup company they have been building over the past 50+ hours, including any multimedia or live demos.

post_it-1

The pitches are judged by a panel notable by some achievement—participated in a successful tech company early-stage, founder of a successful startup themselves, hail from a VC background, etc. And they are open for friends, family, and other interested tech folks to attend.

At some StartUp Weekends prizes include medals or even tools to help the startup venture—such as online ad credits, or co-working space passes. Prizes can be awarded however judges see fit—including rewarding things like innovative design, or most promising concept.

The pitch is five minutes—but can be enough to cause bouts of anxiety or even strains in the group. It can also bring out the best in a team–because by the time you do a practice pitch in front of organizers a few hours before the actual pitch, everyone on the team can feel that it’s crunch time. And the common enemy of limited time can unite a team and facilitate honest conversations of what needs to happen in the next hour or two in order for the startup to put its best foot forward in front of their peers, friends, and judges.

Develop a Pitch Itch

Your team pitches, judges ask questions (or don’t), and winners are announced. Teams celebrate another successful StartUp Weekend, swap contact info, and opine on how much they learned.

And that can be it—when the clock winds back to Monday morning, the pitches might remain a fond/anxious memory.

But, if you are  budding social entrepreneur, I might suggest you take the weekend as an opportunity to develop a pitch itch.

If you can cultivate the desire and acumen of delivering a focused, friendly 30 second pitch for almost anything in your life (i.e. your startup, your own skills, what you do, your education, what you are looking for in a significant other, what you New Year’s resolutions are)…it can lead to an effective way of framing those things for yourself and expressing them to others.

Pitch Early, Pitch Often

In the first StartUp Weekend I attended we started a practice of turning to someone random in our group and asking them to pitch. At first, it felt a  little random and awkward—especially when the idea was itself still changing and evolving. But after a handful of times—it became easier, and I would even venture to say we enjoyed the challenge of the pitch.

Oftentimes when we are working on something really important, we tend to want to wait until it’s ‘done’ to explain or summarize it. A neat thing I’ve learned through two StartUp Weekends is that it can be immensely helpful to pitch early and pitch often.

Even if the pitch changes, or is incomplete, it helps the process of articulating conceptual ideas into words.

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.
Here is list of 25+ tools to build your inner entrepreneur.That’s it. Just a compilation of lectures, publications, blogs, news, learning tools, and more; in no particular order.Whether you were born an entrepreneur or are called to be one, one or more of these tools might help you hone your skills and sharpen your instincts.

productivity tools

So, peruse, learn, and then flex your inner entrepreneur in whatever setting you find yourself in.

Don’t find a tool you love? Just add it in the comments and we can incorporate to the list.

A special thanks to my fellow participants of StartUp Weekend Next SF (Oct 2012) for contributing their favorite tools to the list!

  1. StartUp Weekend — find out what’s it’s like to have an idea, work on it non-stop for a weekend, get customer feedback, and build a prototype
  2. StartUp Weekend Next — take your StartUp Weekend experience further and work on your idea in a guided setting for another 3 weeks
  3. Udacity — learn about about how to map out your startup strategy including this class from Steve Blank author of “Owner’s Guide to StartUps”
  4. Tools for StartUp Weekend — list of nearly 30 more tools for startup success by TokBox Developer Song Zheng
  5. PitchCrawl — informal events organized by DishCrawl where startups can pitch to VC’s in a ‘speed dating’ setting
  6. Steve Jobs — book by Walter Isaacson based on 100+ interviews of those who knew the Apple Co-Founder and CEO, and 40 interviews with Jobs himself. Candid, honest account of an innovation & entrepreneurship luminary.
  7. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose — book by Zappos! CEO Tony Hsieh, an insightful narrative (he reads the audio book version himself)
  8. Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives — book on entrepreneurial leadership by Christopher Gergen and Gregg Vanourek, founders of Mountain Ventures.
  9. Founder Dating — an online network to help you meet your next co-founder
  10. LaunchPad Central — online tool to help you manage, track, and analyze your startup and business canvas
  11. Coursera — take online classes on what you don’t know from top schools across the country
  12. Codeacademy — learn how to code through these online, interactive classes.
  13. 24 Must-Read Blogs For Entrepreneurs — article by Alyson Shontell of Business Insider. Links to blogs by entrepreneurial thinkers such as Guy Kawaski, Penelope Trunk, Seth Godin and more.
  14. Meetup — search “entrepreneurship” to find meetup groups for start-ups, bootstrappers, and entrepreneurs, possibly just like you.
  15. DeskWanted — find a coworking space near you, or list one
  16. Animoto — make a totally unique, creative animated slideshow explaining your site or blog
  17. Dezquare — find a web or print designer who vibes with your design sensibilities and get a quote on a project
  18. Apple One to One — a one-year pass for in-store trainings with Apple trainers to learn the ins and outs of Apple software that can can make your presentations, videos, and slideshows sparkle
  19. MorningStar Financials — take a look at the financials of other players in the space
  20. AngelList — online platform where startups and investors can meet
  21. 10 Legal StartUps to Keep You Out of Trouble — blog post by Natasha Murashev, of StartUp Stats, re: new legal startups on the scene, including those that have forms available for startups.
  22. Privacy Icons for Privacy Policies — initiative by Disconnect to categorize privacy policies–a way to find privacy policies aligned with your startup’s goals. Read more here
  23. Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist — book by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson
  24. Instagram — it’s more than a photo-sharing app—its the way millennials and their successors are building communities–around images and experiences
  25. Pinterest — expand your reach by finding ways to integrate this way of sharing content
  26. Facebook Groups — These private groups can be a way to manage internal communication on Facebook. Besides, you’re probably on FB all the time anyway—might as well get your startup updates here too!
  27. HootSuite — manage your startup’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. accounts from one place and schedule posts too.

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 funtheory.org 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

 

In whatever stage of your social entrepreneurial dream you find yourself in, there is something you may have noticed. There is a power in momentum. Here’s insight on the momentum that led to the launch of BlendedProfit and to my involvement with the new site.

http://www.blendedprofit.com

The Momentum Effect

Momentum. It can be challenging to build, and once achieved you have to think strategically about how to maintain, pace, or even shift it.

One interesting aspect of momentum that I have noticed is that once it is set in motion, it can actually build on itself.  I have been writing on Innov8Social for over a year this week. It has been amazing, exhilarating, and eye-opening. Parts of it have been marked by solitude and self-motivation, and others have been built on collaboration, attending events, and meeting thought leaders.

One aspect of my social innovation journey that I realized I wanted to build a few months ago, was working with a team.  I think some of our best work emerges when we work with and alongside dynamic thinkers, dedicated to exploring a field or concept from various angles.

So it was a welcome surprise when one Brian Weinberg connected with me over social networks after reading one of my blog posts. He talked about his idea about a new site featuring podcasts by thought leaders and helpful resources for social entrepreneurs and innovators (he had seen Innov8Social’s list of fellowships), and he wanted to know if I was interested and what I might be able to bring to the table.

And just like that, a wheel was slowly put into motion.

Push Start — BlendedProfit emerges

That was months ago, over half a year even. The idea was big and, in some ways, amorphous. Conversations, emails, Google hangouts, text messages, and cloud-based documents slowly chiseled it into something we could understand, participate in, and contribute to. Brian’s podcast interview with Sam Daley-Harris (former Director of Microcredit Summit Campaign and thought-leader in micro finance) was not only informative and professional, but provided a footprint of possibility for how these interviews can give useful insight on past and current social innovation efforts.

When the website mockup of BlendedProfit was released, it further fueled the momentum.

The Team

Through our connection, the entire BlendedProfit team has been inspired by Brian as the ringleader. He has taken the role to heart, welcoming ideas, infusing input, and facilitating collaboration. And if Brian connected individuals, the idea of a blended economy sustained the connections. Says Dhruva, one of the team members, “Inspiration to join the team was first and foremost Brian’s passion…In addition, I think that the blended profit economy is the most sustainable way to build the world most people would want to live in.”

It has been inspiring virtually working with dynamic individuals spanning the realm of social innovation. Here’s a snapshot of the founding team, broken down by the various section of the site:

Content Team

Operations Team
  • Graphic/Web Design: Carol Nguyen
  • Marketing: Kristin Schultz and Carol Miller
  • Business Development & Strategy: David Dimmock and Dhruva Rajendra (@drajwfu)
  • Social Media: Pelpina (@pelpina)
  • Audio Engineer: Emre Yagni

Mission-Inspired Momentum

As simply posted on the site, “Blendedprofit.com seeks to aggregate actionable resources for a community of people committed to a lifestyle that supports good business. By shifting how we interact with business throughout our societal roles, we can grow the good economy together.”

BlendedProfit + You—Together Ahead

Our journey with BlendedProfit is on its way, and no doubt the months ahead will show evolution and growth in content, organization, and a better sense of how the site will engage and serve the audience.
But the journey for you is just beginning. Now is the time for you to connect with the idea of a good economy, one based both on profit and on values of sustainability, social responsibility, and environmental tenets. You can connect with BlendedProfit on Facebook and Twitter, so we can continue the journey together.
(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.