Category Archives: Venture Capital

Startups have a chance to share $1 Million in prizes in MassChallenge, world’s largest competition

Image representing MassChallenge as depicted i...

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Last year I had the opportunity to participate as a judge and mentor in the inaugural competition, MassChallenge. This is a serious business competition that has shown it can attract top quality concrete job creating ideas from round the world. Over 450 entries applied and 110 finalists were incubated for 3 months including free office space, introductions to VC, funders, customers and team resources.  Sixteen finalists split $1 Million including $100,000 for the top finisher. Seeding Labs, profiled elsewhere on my blog, won $50,000 as the Social Impact finalist and also was offered free office space for another nine months.

If you have a venture and are looking to make it to the next level I strongly encourage you to apply to the 2011 accelerator. If you have any questions please reach out to the organizers at contact@masschallenge.org or apply online at www.masschallenge.org/enter. Continue reading

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Thinking about a social enterprise? Pitch your idea and win

Pitching SE- How Great Leaders Sell Smart Ideas 

Pitching SE is your opportunity to refine your pitch, focus your ideas and wow a panel of seasoned judges. A panel of experienced non-profit and social investors will evaluate your pitch, and provide feedback and constructive advice.

Eligibility

You don’t need a business plan – just a business idea with significant social impact.

Your idea can be for a non-profit or for-profit or any combination.

It needs to be early stage/less than a year old – operations started after September 1, 2009.

How to apply

Applicants should be a registered attendee for ForSE 2010 and is required of all applicants, It is non-refundable if you are not selected. Applicants should mail the following information to pitchforse@tie-boston.org by 11.59 pm EST October 21, 2010.

  • Name of organization.
  • Names of team members.
  • School affiliation (if applicable).
  • A two page (1000 word) Executive Summary of the business idea.
  • Brief bios (1-2 para) of team members. This will not be counted towards the 2 pg limitation. Continue reading

World’s largest Business plan competition looks to help social entrepreneurs

To help jumpstart job growth in Massachusetts, a unique public/private partnership, Masschallenge.org, was launched earlier this year. By unveiling what it claims is the world’s largest business plan competition; the folks at MassChallenge are hoping to attract hundreds if not thousands of interested entrepreneurs. While most business plan competitions have been university based in the past, MassChallenge intends to go mainstream with entries accepted from all quarters. With the intent of raising serious money – a target of $25 Million for the first year – it hopes to change the way plans are run by providing the winning teams with $1 million in seed funding. It hopes to run six parallel competitions in the following areas:

  • Healthcare, and Life Sciences
  • IT, Software, and Gaming
  • Clean Technology and Energy
  • Social Development and Non-profit
  • Open Category, Seed Stage
  • Open Category, Expansion Stage

The one on Social Development and Non-profit caught my eye as it is along the lines of what we have been discussing on this blog. As I had said in some of my earlier posts, early stage social innovators sorely need a jumpstart as they face a tougher time raising funds than a for-profit. More importantly, Massachusetts has grown to be a focal point for social innovation attracting the best and brightest to the exciting programs offered in all the leading universities. Coupled with the incentives from MassChallenge and the Massachusetts Government, we have the opportunity to create a new growth cluster in the state. We have an opportunity to retain the top talent attracted to the programs in the area and to channel them to building the next generation of innovative social enterprises here in Boston.

I recently wrote a more detailed article for the MassChallenge.org blog that outlines this and am excerpting it below. Continue reading

ForSE 2009: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs on Oct 23 at Babson College

Once again we are holding our annual conference on Social Entrepreneurship – ForSE 2009: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs on Friday October 23. This time we are working together with Babson College’s Net Impact Undergrad organization to host it at Olin Hall on Babson College’s lovely Wellesley campus.

We also have a number of interesting panels and speakers and, for the first time, a Pitch contest that will allow emerging social entrepreneurs to wow a panel of seasoned judges.

The forum brings together social innovators, leading business professionals, investors, donors, academics, and students to help share new technology and business ideas that have significant social impact.

If you are interested in meeting emerging social entrepreneurs, hearing of innovative ideas for social impact and supporting young innovators as they launch their concepts, this is the event to attend. If you are an aspiring social entrepreneur, this is your chance to pitch your idea at the pitch contest and to wow a panel of seasoned judges.

This years keynoters will include Pamela Hawley who was a co-founder of Volunteer Match, one of the earliest online volunteer matching sites, and who later founded and currently runs UniveralGiving.org, an online site that channels donations and volunteer hours to non-profits around the world; Leonard Schlesinger, President of Babson College, one of the leaders in entrepreneurship; Andre Porter, Executive Director of Massachusetts’ Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship; and Carol Cone, Founder and Chairperson of Cone LLC, an innovator in Cause Branding and CSR programs for corporations.

We have tried to keep ForSE very affordable for our attendees, many of whom are students or starting non-profits and social entrepreneurs. The registration fee for attendees is nominal ($20 for students /$35 for affiliates of BU and TIE /$/75 for all others) for a full day conference including meals. However these discounted fees will only be available only until October 19th.

I urge you to sign up as soon as possible as the past two years we sold out days before the event and many were disappointed. We try to make the event as interactive and intimate as possible and keep total attendance capped to 250. If you are interested in attending I would encourage you to register soon. The fees will go up substantially after October 19th.

Click here for more info and to register.

Responding to Clayton Christensen’s article on Government’s potential role in Social Innovation

My recent post on Clayton Christensen’s article on Social Innovation resulted in several comments and responses questioning the appropriate role of the government in fostering social innovation. I do believe there is a role for government to play in encouraging growth in this sector. I believe the Office of Social Innovation is a well intentioned attempt by Obama of putting Social Innovation on the nation’s agenda. I also believe that the government should try to be a transparent facilitator where needed and then get out of the way and let the market work its way.

The single most critical issue for a young, startup social entrepreneur is the lack of a well structured ecosystem to encourage social innovation. This is where the government can play a significant role. Some of the things it can do are to: Continue reading