Tag Archives: Social Business

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

Image representing MassChallenge as depicted i...

Image via CrunchBase

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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45 Finalists to Raise $200,000 and vie for a slot in this year’s Unreasonable Institute

In 2009 we had the distinct honor of being one of the first locations where the Unreasonable Institute was announced when we had one of its original founders sign up as a judge for the Pitching SE contest at ForSE 2009. Following an incredible launch of this new format for jump-starting  social enterprises in the summer of 2010, the Unreasonable Institute is in the process of selecting the final list of 25 potential attendees for the 2011 summer session. Unreasonable Institute Marketplace

This year there are several candidates that have strong ties to the TIE Social Entrepreneurs Group and ForSE. Some of them are:

  • Zubaida Bai founder of AYZH, who presented her idea at ForSE 2009 in the Pitch contest. AYZH provides appropriately designed health and livelihood products to address rural women’s needs.
  • Sana: Care Anywhere, presented last year at ForSE 2010 on the Technology panel about their mobile platform for delivering healthcare in developing countries
  • EGG Energy also was one of the panelists in our Technology panel last year at ForSE describing their work on providing electricity to  remote Africa by creating a service infrastructure that recharges and supplies batteries to their customers
  • Deepak Ravindran, a fellow in the Startup Leadership Program from TiE Boston and founder of SMSGyan a mobile is also one of the finalists

You can help these and other entrepreneurs by helping them raise the $8000 it costs to attend the Unreasonable Institute.  Continue reading

Eight things I learnt from a 20 year old – My Startup Life

I finally got around to attacking the pile of books in the ‘must read’ pile on my desk. I picked up “My Startup Life” by Ben Casnocha first. Not many times you get to read about a 12 year old who started a company and is still around running it. 

The book was a relatively easy read, something you can knock off in an evening. It provides a refreshing young perspective on growing an idea into a real organization. There were times when I wished the author would have shared some of the inner workings of his company and how they tackled some of the challenges they faced. However I think it is a ‘must read’ for any aspiring entrepreneur in high school or college and speaks to the issues that you face balancing the routines of everyday life with the tug of the crazy startup ideas in your head. Continue reading

How to get started with Twitter to get your message out

With the all the buzz about Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools, organizations feel pressured into incorporating these tools into their marketing arsenal. Non-profits specially are interested in leveraging social networks as cost effective sources of volunteers and supporters and are seeking ways to convert followers to funders and donors. All of them are looking for guidance in getting started.

Based on my experience working with a number of startups, and from discussions with several others, I have compiled a quick list of do’s and don’ts that I hope will provide some guidelines to help you get started. Continue reading

On CK Prahalad and his impact on social entrepreneurship

I, like many others, was saddened to hear of the untimely passing away of Prof. C. K. Prahalad. His career spanned over three decades during which time he introduced several innovative business ideas that quickly became mainstream. He was one of the first to identify ‘core competencies’ of a business and relate it to a company’s competitive advantage. His next book introduced the concept of ‘co-creation’ where corporations engaged their customers in creating joint value. It influenced many of the approaches used by companies in the 2000s to get their customers to co-design products.

Perhaps his most widely influential work was his last book on “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through profits”. In it he outlined his take on how corporations could profitably service the very large market that consists of the bottommost economic strata. While the affluent tip of the global economic pyramid consists of less than 100 million people who make over $20,000 a year, there are over 2 to 2.5 Billion people who live on less than $2 a day. Yet these markets at the bottom of the economic pyramid also have needs and wants. By properly designing products and delivery mechanisms to satisfy this segment of the consumer population, he showed how companies could make money while helping this social segment.

His Bottom of the Pyramid or BOP approach quickly caught on and today a range of multinationals are focused on creating solutions that are targeting this market segment. Examples of these include Hindustan Lever, Godrej and GE Healthcare. His philosophy that even the poorest segment had a real market need and were a viable market has helped redirect corporate strategies and will have significant impact across the globe.

CK Prahalad has been honored for his work around the world including most recently being awarded the Padma Bhushan, one of the highest civilian honors, by the Indian Government. The world will miss this strategic thinker but his legacy will continue to improve the quality of life for millions subsisting at the bottom of the pyramid. 

You can read an earlier piece I wrote about his work on my blog at “Designing for the bottom of the pyramid”.