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Posts Tagged ‘social’

Entrepreneurship Is Fueling Global Change

April 21st, 2013

Ah, Entrepreneurship…

Entrepreneurship is now fueling the world’s quests to end epidemics, resolve inequities and poverty, increase education and care for our natural resources.    Three forces – government environment, bottoms up desire for skills/learning, and conscious capital — have come together to create this sea of change.  The Millennials will cause changes like we’ve never seen in the world.  In general, there is a growing consciousness that we CAN change our world for the better and entrepreneurial thinking is the key to this change.

For the past two years, we’ve had an amazing set of innovators/entrepreneurs share their experiences @ The Intersection Event on how their work impacts the world. Some of the most memorable moments…

–> Leila Janah, Founder/CEO of Samasource spoke at our event inside Pixar about how her company is creating mico-work opportunities for impoverished women and children around the world

–> Reid Hoffman, Founder of LinkedIn, and Ev Williams, Co-Founder of Twitter have talked about the impact of their game-changing social networks

–> Barry Zito, SF Giants star pitcher, spoke @ Google about Strikeout for the Troops, his entrepreneurial endeavor that supports our nations military families

–> Kushal Chakrabarti, Chairman of Vittana, gave a passion-filled pitch at 2013 The Gratitude Awards for ways in which his company has enabled young people in Africa to complete their educations with help from those of us who care

These …and many many more memorable moments at The Intersection, have reminded us that innovation that impacts social change is not coming from the large NGOs – it’s coming from the ingenuity of the entrepreneurs.

How popular is Entrepreneurship today around the world?

If measured by televisions sets in our homes in the US, Entrpreneurship has reached the pinacle of popularity…shows like Shark Tank, a TV show  developed by Mark Burnett (executive producer of Survivor, The Bible, The Voice, and Celebrity Apprentice) and featuring 5 angel investors who love (or shred apart) various entrepreneurs who “pitch” their wares. Thanks to this program, millions of people around the world now know how to calculate the valuation of a start-up, how to evaluate a team, what sales are needed to impress investors, and how to negotiate a term sheet (…and for this I went to Harvard Business School???).

Around the world, Big Governments is encouraging Entrepreneurship. This trend started 10 years ago and has reached a crescendo in recent years.  My former professor at HBS and colleague, John Kao, authored Innovation Nation in 2007 to “pour some cold ice” on the US government about how the US is losing its edge as an innovation leader.  New institutions, laws, cultural norms will enable other countries to surpass the US in innovation, posits Kao, if we don’t embrace entrepreneurship and ingenuity in new ways in the US.   Regardless, with the recent

entrepreneurship in internet search, mobile software and human interface design,  the SPIRIT of ENTREPRENEURSHIP still seems embedded in our culture I don’t see it going anywhere in the coming years.  Initiatives, under Obama, like the Steve-Case-headed Start-up America are looking for ways to turn around our competitive situation

Grass-roots Desire

While Mr. Burnett is raking in the ratings, there is clearly a grass roots, bottoms up desire for Entrepreneurship among tomorrow’s leaders – who are today in undergrad and graduate schools around the world. I see this with each year that I teach at UC Berkeley and U. Cambridge – more and more students are asking me how they can “do well” AND “do good”.

General Entrepreneurship is taught at every major University around the globe; three dozen of the top business schools now offer a “Center” for Entrepreneurship” or program – without one they are no longer competitive players in the college market -  many students are looking to build their entrepreneurial skills as part of their core learning experience in college.

Social entrepreneurship is now the hot new area: courses at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Management illustrate the case. In the past few years, numerous course on innovation, entrepreneurship and now social entrepreneurship have proliferated – and most students take at least one of these electives in pursuing their degrees.  These offering  have spilled over into the 3-year (“weekend/evening MBA program”) which takes in students who for the most part also have full-time management-level jobs in the Bay Area. According to February 2013 blog on HBR between 2003 and 2009 the average course in US MBA schools has skyrocked over 110% per year.

A recent Fortune article on higher ed illustrates the points:  The latest trends in undergrads are programs that develop students as social entrepreneurs.  Already Berkeley (Haas), Yale, Stanford (GSB), Harvard MBA, and Duke (Darden School) have entire programs around teaching social entrepreneurship. Abroad, INSEAD has led the way and Oxford (Saïd School) has sponsored The Skoll Foundation’s annual trend-setting conference called Skoll World Forum for Social Entrepreneurship.

Not Just the MBAs

Turns out the social entrepreneurship movement is gaining momentum in many undergraduate schools as well – from Dartmouth to Azusa Pacific.  For example, at Brown University, undergrad students are leading the entrepreneurial charge.  This bottom up approach has led to the continued success of the Entrepreneurship Program, or EP, a 15-year-old student run entrepreneurship initiative, which is now thriving as both an engagement program for blossoming entrepreneurs, and an accelerator program for more experienced founders.  In addition, EP has recently formed a partnership with E’ship, the student-run entrepreneurship club at the Rhode Island School of Design.  Through partnering RISD designers with Brown coders, engineerings, and creative thinkers, the Brown-RISD entrepreneurship initiative could assert Providence’s College Hill as one of the nation’s top entrepreneurial breeding grounds, all thanks to a grass-roots approach to entrepreneurship. Brown was also ranked recently by US News & World Report as a leader in the area of Social Entrepreneurship, with its unique programs at the Howard Swearer Center including the Social Innovation initiative and a Seed Fund for social ventures.

The Intersection of Need and Talent and Money

The third component, MONEY, completes the puzzle.  Over the past 10 years there has been a steady rise in funding sources available to social entrepreneurs. There are angel groups (for example, Investors Circle), foundations (Skoll Foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Kauffman Foundation), social-impact banks (such as Triodos Bank in Europe), and a variety of emerging venture firms (see a great list here, from Olivia Khalili of Cause Capital blog).

At UC Berkeley, my students and I have completed a “Note on Social Impacting Investment” that can be used with MBA students to provide an overview of the options available.  The Note, written in 2012, provides an overview of the wide range of emerging options for philanthropic and impact investing, along with overviews of 8 of the top funding organizations.  To download and read the Note, click here: A Note on Social and Impact Investing

Put them all together they spell “C-H-A-N-G-E”

Put these three trends together — top-down government policy, rising desire of the Millenials for social entrepreneurship, and Conscious Capital –  and one gets a very encouraging picture of impact that global social entrepreneurship is likely to have in the next 20 years. Scores of young minds desire to understand how they can become social entrepreneurs,  governments (in the US and abroad) are likely to legislate in favor of the entrepreneurs and capital is becoming more available.

The Gratitude Network and The Intersection community are ready for this change.  Are you?

Events fostering Innovation

November 8th, 2011

Back at Apple in the 1980′s, we knew how to throw a party – annual developer conferences, beer bashes and new media shindigs…all served to bring together the community around the Macintosh.   Then something funny happened.  Macworld led to Internet World; Internet World led to Always On; Always On led to Web 2.0, and well…here we are today with lots of speakers and lots of events.  All are good, but I long for something innovative, time-saving and useful.

I began attending TED Conferences in the 1990′s and enjoyed it.   What has set TED apart from many other events and made it innovative: the quality of the audience was nearly as good as the quality of the speakers. TED has built up a community of innovators that enjoy seeing each other every year and use the lectures and talks to invigorate the “hallway” and break-time talk.  As TED turns into a bigger production each year, the “organic” conversations become harder and harder, IMHO.

New Models, New Ways of Meeting Up

During the past decade, within the tech world, we’ve witnessed a huge range of innovative new business models, new products, new software, new services.  The innovations have given rise to platforms, such as Apple, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter,  Skype, Webex, Groupon, and Google.  How do members of these innovative companies find out about one another, meet, and create relationships?

As the tech world has become more innovative, the way in which people gather to exchange ideas has also become more innovative. Today there are a wide range of virtual and physical ways to meet up with others – the trick is settling on the ones that have the biggest impact for you.

Virtual Models for small groups

There is no doubt that WebEx/Cisco and teleportation technology have become more sophisticated in the past 10 years. This equipment, still expensive to build out, allows companies to communicate across the world as if they were in the same room.  But is is limited to a small number of people around the table and still inaccessible to the masses.  More accessible, of course is Skype, which is really built on a 1:1 model and is great for 2-4 people communicating but relatively unreliable in quality still and not great for a full “room” full of people.  Advances in large screen monitors (soon to be WALL sized) will likely change the ability of distant groups of people to communicate.

The place where all this is mostly to change is Facebook.  With over 800M people, Facebook now represents the single biggest “meet up” locale in the world.  Live chat features, ability to send video, and applications that  connect like-minded friends.  For example, the FB applet called “Branch Out” ties together people with similar business interests.

A 2010 start-up called Plancast has also hit the Silicon Valley scene recently. Plancast.com allows you to look for events online, but also to let others know which events you plan to go to.  So those on the circuit – Dave McClure, Ron Conway, George Zachary (Charles River Ventures), etc, etc. are all posting their anticipated trips and attendances.  What a tool for an entrepreneur who is trying to “meet up” with (or stalk?) a particular angel or venture investor!

MeetUp is an approach the blends the virtual and the physical – anyone can start or sponsor a meeting or gathering, post it and attract like-minded local people to the gathering.

 

Physical Models

For all practical purposes, still the only way to interact with hundreds of people to meet up  is to shuffle off to an event and join the party.   The good old-fashioned event (conference, seminar, gathering) still exists and has wandered into some new intriguing spaces.  Events and gatherings, after all, can often be the catalyst to new relationships, new ideas and new connections in the mind. And, some of these events are taking on interesting twists.

Facebook, Apple, Google, GigaOm, and TechCrunch all hold interesting events for programmers (sometimes called “hackathons”) – Techcrunch has its Disrupt Hackathon, Facebook calls its event the “Garage” .  Tim O’Reilly’s Foo Conferences have also been called UnConferences. There is no agenda set prior to the meet-up, but once people arrive they determine what topics and seminars are most important to those assembled.

On the non-technical side, a host of conferences around start-ups, innovation and technology have blossomed in the past few years…many of them featuring scores of speakers and panels on a variety of today’s topics; examples include Web 2.0, Always On, and TechCrunch Disrupt and Demo.  Each region of the country typically has speaker-series hosted by a regional player – in the Bay Area, the best known is The Churchill Club (features top speakers from technology, innovation on single evening topic).

A good listing of global conferences on technology can be found here.

Social and Impact Get their Turn

One of my new favorite events is SoCap (Social Capital Markets) event, held each year in SF.  I’m a newbie to this, but the conference itself has been around for many years, bringing together leaders in social/impact space, entrepreneurs and   The event head-quarters are located in The Hub, in downtown SF, which today is a hot-bed of social/impact start-ups.  Social entrepreneurship is a hot topic these days on college campuses, at events, and in mid-life crises.

Another event for social/impact space is the Take Action! Impact Investment event – held annually in SF, and bringing together investors interested in the impact/social investment space.

A relatively complete list of events in the Social/Impact space can be found on Socialbrite’s blog.

A missing gap in all this is Application of innovation to helping others.  While events like TechCrunch Disrupt and  might explore technology, innovation and trends, they do not talk about how these new tools, services and platforms can be used to help the bottom of the pyramid or those who most need it.  In fact, trickle-down theory tells us that it will be many many years before today’s innovations reach those most in need .

 

Where Innovation Meets Social/Impact

A new model for exploring how today’s innovations can make an impact on the less fortunate in the world will be explored at  The Intersection, a unique one-day extravaganza  supported by Pixar, WorldVision and the Gratitude Network .

The Intersection is bringing together some of the country’s leaders in innovative thinking from a variety of sections and looking at the INTERSECTION of ideas as a means of finding solutions to large social issues.  Susan Sarandon (actress)  & Greg Brandeau (Disney) with perspectives from Hollywood; Steve Case sharing insights from government and entrepreneurship;  Linda Hill, John Hagel III and Frans Johnasson (all respected authors) on their perspective on leadership and innovation; Ed Catmull (Pixar) and Tim Brown (IDEO) with their perspectives on creativity; and Chris Pitt (World Vision) and Guru Singh with examples from around the world of social innovation.

I’ll be moderating this event on January 14, 2012. The event will be intimate with only 350 in attendance.  We have been fortunate enough to be invited to hold the event at Pixar’s world headquarters and studios.  So, it’s not only a great collection of activities and speakers on the topic of innovation and social change but it will be held in a unique venue (complete with surprised throughout the event).  Click here for Information about applying to the Intersection.