Tag Archives: startup

12 wonderful wishes you can share for 2012

As we tick down another year and look back at all the milestones of the past year and plan for the next, it is time to also consider some of the wonderful organizations that are making an impact around the world.

Here is my list of a dozen that are making a difference in no particular order. Most of them are young organizations that are just getting started and an opportunity for you to get involved and help them on their way.

  • Greentown Labs http://greentownlabs.org/ An incubator for clean technology ventures that allows entrepreneurs to get down and dirty constructing their next generation green machines. Setup as a nonprofit and collaborative, Greentown provides a unique location for startups that need to build stuff.
  • Sol Solution http://www.sol-solution.org/ A nonprofit that helps underprivileged schools to save on expenses by installing solar solutions to offset their electricity expenses.
  • Social Capital http://www.socialcapitalinc.org/  Social Capital inc has worked over the past 10 years to strengthen communities by connecting diverse individuals, neighbors and organizations and bringing them together through civic initiatives
  • ABAN http://www.aban.org/ Is a young organization that I came across during a visit to University of North Carolina that was started by a team of passionate students that works with the street girls of Accra to help them learn a trade, make a living, and secure a future as well as helping them transform their city into a healthier environment.
  • Space with a soul http://www.spacewithasoul.org/ is another innovative nonprofit that provides shared office space and services to nonprofits. A great landing place for emerging nonprofits as they get started.
  • Peace First http://www.peacefirst.org/site/ Peacefirst works to build a safe and productive environment at schools by teaching students the skills of conflict resolution and civic engagement.
  • Samarthanam http://www.samarthanam.org/ Samarthanam is a nonprofit registered in India and the US that provides quality education, accommodation, nutritious food, vocational training to help empower the visually impaired, disabled and underprivileged in India. It runs a free middle school for underprivileged youth including the visually handicapped.
  • Merrimack Valley Sandbox http://www.uml.edu/mvsandbox/default.html Launched in 2010 November by the Deshpande Foundation, the Merrimack Valley Sandbox works with students in the Lowell/Lawrence area through partnerships with colleges and community organizations to build leadership and entrepreneurship within the Merrimack Valley.
  • LifeCity http://mylifecity.com/  LifeCity helps encourage green businesses in Louisiana through its membership organization where customers get discounts to green businesses and products and green businesses certified by LifeCity get greater visibility and support from LifeCity members.
  • Peacetones  http://peacetones.org  Peacetones supports talented, unknown artists from developing nations build their careers while giving back to their communities.
  • Vision Aid http://visionaid.org/ VisionAid works to help people with visually related disabilities in underserved areas to lead a life of independence and dignity.
  • Ummeed http://ummeed.org/ is a nonprofit that works with children with developmental disabilities in Mumbai and is one of the few that helps bring professional support to this segment of society in India.
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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

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

Chuck Lacy speaks about Raising Venture Capital for Socially Responsible Businesses

Earlier last month, I was fortunate to attend a lecture by Chuck Lacy former President of Ben & Jerry’s and currently President of Barred Rock Fund. He was a guest of the Legatum Center at MIT and spoke about raising funds as a social business.  It was interesting hearing him speak since he really did not focus on the fund raising part as much as some basic precepts that most entrepreneurs should keep in mind – whether you are growing a socially responsible business or a plain old fashioned technology startup.

I thought I would try to distill the essence of what he said as I think it is very relevant especially in these tougher economic times.

  • Don’t raise money. Sounds counterintuitive but it makes sense. You should run as long as you can on your own money. You should think about working part time and keeping 100% of your company instead of working 100% and giving up 50% of the company to raise cash. Raising money means you are giving your company away. There are many ways to raise money without diluting your stake in the company – Grants, state funds, PRI funds. Continue reading

Models for Early Stage Funding

Several outfits, that I am counseling, are looking at the traditional VC route to raise funds. Sometimes people find this at odds with a socially focused business. The term Social Entrepreneur provides a broad umbrella that covers a number of different types of organizations – ranging from non-profits, to socially focused businesses (as defined by Yunus) to for-profits that have solutions that address a social issue in a major way. Continue reading