Business for Good Update

February 13, 2013

Response to the Business for Good competition exceeded our expectations. The judges invited 10 teams to participate in a Pre-Accelerator Program at the Entrepreneur Center.  At the conclusion of the process, judges will hear each team present their Business Model and select 6 to 8 teams to present at the March 14th finalist event at EMMA – Bistro, 9 Lea Avenue from 5:30 PM -8:00 p.m. To register to attend the event, click here. Tickets will go fast. So be sure to act quickly.

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Nashville is a polestar of innovation. Ley lines of creativity intersect throughout the city. A rich culture of music, visual art, technology, design, and architecture emerged decades ago. Nowadays, a new art form known as social enterprise or social entrepreneurship is emerging.

Many students graduating from local Universities such as VanderbiltBelmont, and Lipscomb are being prepared and pointed into the world with a variety of interests ranging from sustainability to entrepreneurship to community development. These students often feel a sense of calling and purpose to make an impact in the world through their daily work. Many of these individuals decide to start companies that borrow values and strategies from both nonprofit and for-profits business models. The emergence of these types of businesses in Nashville is creating a ‘fourth sector’ consisting of social enterprises or multiple bottom-line startups.

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It’s booked! Our November mixer will be held at the Entrepreneur Center on Wednesday the 28th: 5:30-7:30. Join accomplished and aspiring social entrepreneurs for an evening of idea sharing, brainstorming, and all-in-all delight.

We’ll also be sharing exciting news about the Business for Good competition.

Drinks are on us. Let us know if you can make it: I’ll be there!

See you soon!

Entrepreneurial ideas are often first experienced as metaphors (e.g. “Wouldn’t it be great if there were a Pandora for dating relationships?!”) or as vague impressions (e.g. “I think we need a tool to help us manage our quality assurance efforts better.”).  Despite their raw form, these original ideas can be incredibly exciting and inspiring.  However, the ability to turn your original idea into a reality requires much greater precision.  One of the best ways for developing such precision around your entrepreneurial idea is that of business modeling – the process of describing or depicting how an organization creates and delivers value (economic, social, or otherwise).

Many social entrepreneurial ideas can be categorized according to three broad business models types.  The first is a variation on the “freemium” business model.  Businesses that employ a freemium model generally rely on a tiered pricing system to encourage a wider customer base.  For instance, in many Web-based services (e.g. Flikr), stripped-down functionality is offered to the majority of users for free, while greater functionality is offered to paying customers.  In turn, those paying customers subsidize the costs associated with providing free services.  A similar model is frequently employed in social entrepreneurship.  In such cases, social entrepreneurs are relying on one customer segment to highly subsidize the offering for another group or customer segment.  For instance, in workforce development, consumer purchases cover the additional costs associated with hiring and developing underemployed populations.  Alternatively, In “one-for-one” models like that of Tom’s Shoes, individuals that purchase shoes at a premium subsidize the distribution of free shoes to developing economies.

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Social entrepreneurship refers to the process of employing market-based methods to solve social problems (e.g. poverty, environmental degradation, health care and education access, sanitation, unemployment). To date much has been written about how social entrepreneurship is revolutionizing the social sector by encouraging both greater innovation and financial sustainability. The ubiquity of social problems is undeniable, and the promise of social entrepreneurship is inspiring, but taken together these facts raise an important question for aspiring social entrepreneurs. If social problems are obvious and plentiful and social entrepreneurship provides a fruitful way to address such problems, why do we not see a greater degree of social entrepreneurial activity in our societies?

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