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Social Entrepreneur

Author: Tony Loyd: Business executive and mentor to social entrepreneurs

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Social Entrepreneur exists at the intersection of profit and purpose. We tell positive stories from underrepresented voices, focused on solutions.
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Lunar Startups creates opportunities and access for underestimated entrepreneurs. The deadline to apply to Cohort 2 is January 13. Danielle Steer, Managing Director of Lunar Startups, describes the events leading to the formation of their organization as a “serendipitous perfect storm.” In 2017, the Knight Foundation became interested in supporting underrepresented, underserved entrepreneurs, such as women, people of color, and LGBTQ entrepreneurs. Around this same period, the late Glen Nelson bequeathed a gift to help American Public Media to invest in the future of journalism. This led to the launch of the Glen Nelson Center. Also, around this same time, Ecolab moved their global headquarters, leaving their former building vacant. Ecolab CEO Doug Baker worked with the building owners to sell the building to a group of entrepreneurs who had a vision for an entrepreneurial center. “So, we had space. We had the funding from the Knight Foundation. We had the organization who was willing to be the home of this startup,” says Danielle. It was from this confluence of events that Lunar Startups was born. Lunar Startups is a year-long incubator dedicated to serving underestimated entrepreneurs such as women, people of color and LGBTQ. Danielle says that she borrowed the term “underestimated” from famed venture capitalist Arlan Hamilton. Amanda Heyman is the Director of Lunar Services at Lunar Startups. Lunar Services provides business and legal technical assistance to those within Lunar Startups cohorts. “The underestimated founders that we work with often don’t have those informal networks to key service providers,” Amanda explains. “For example, they may not have an uncle who is a lawyer, or a neighbor who is a CFO, or a friend who is a software developer. The idea behind Lunar Services is to provide access to that sort of help early in the journey.” Cohort 2, Applications Closing The deadline to apply to Cohort 2 is January 13. If accepted, startup founders will receive the following: Dedicated office space Access to investors $5,000 travel, technology, and marketing reimbursement fund per startup Access to an expert network of professionals providing pro-bono support Access to state-of-the-art equipment for video conferencing and podcast development Weekly startup-specific programming based on the needs of the cohort A peer network And more. Applications close January 13. To learn more about the criteria and to apply, go here: https://www.lunarstartups.org/criteria. Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Amanda Heyman and Danielle Steer “It came out of my background as a lawyer for startups and as a co-founder of a startup myself.” @AmandaHeyman @LunarStartups “Those underestimated founders that we work with don’t always have informal networks to key service providers that startups need.” @AmandaHeyman @LunarStartups “They may not have an uncle who is a lawyer, or a neighbor who is a CFO, or a friend who is a software developer” @AmandaHeyman @LunarStartups “That’s my personal motto: Helping people do good better.” @DaniellejSteer @LunarStartups “I was hungry to get back to my program design roots.” @DaniellejSteer @LunarStartups “We have doubled down on the idea that the strength of someone’s social network is increasingly important.” @DaniellejSteer @LunarStartups “If you don’t come from a community of entrepreneurs, it’s hard to know where to start.” @DaniellejSteer @LunarStartups “I truly believe that entrepreneurs have the best eye for identifying innovation.” @DaniellejSteer @LunarStartups “We work hard to build a trusted, robust peer network.” @DaniellejSteer @LunarStartups “Gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform the national industry median. And ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform.” @DaniellejSteer @LunarStartups “We’re leaving money on the table, both from the investor’s perspective and from a business opportunity perspective.” @DaniellejSteer @LunarStartups “There is a huge gap between who has access to funding and resources to help them scale up and meet more market opportunities.” @DaniellejSteer @LunarStartups “Some people are just a couple of steps ahead of you and can help you understand the opportunities and challenges.” @AmandaHeyman @LunarStartups “Lunar Services is a startup, within Lunar Startups, which is a startup itself.” @AmandaHeyman @LunarStartups “The members of the initial cohorts will get more individualized support.” @AmandaHeyman @LunarStartups “We are working to help companies that have achieved a certain level of traction, really blow it up.” @AmandaHeyman @LunarStartups “The really hard point for startups is the scale point.” @AmandaHeyman @LunarStartups “We don’t take equity or guarantee investment.” @DaniellejSteer @LunarStartups “Not everyone can afford to take off and pursue just their dreams only.” @DaniellejSteer @LunarStartups “You’ll never see programming here that’s at the same time as daycare pick up.” @DaniellejSteer @LunarStartups “Think bigger.” @AmandaHeyman @LunarStartups “Being a steward and customer of startups is the single most important thing we can be doing.” @DaniellejSteer @LunarStartups Social Entrepreneurship Resources: Lunar Startups: https://www.lunarstartups.org Cohort 2 Criteria and Application: https://www.lunarstartups.org/criteria Glen Nelson Center: https://www.glennelson.org American Public Media: https://www.americanpublicmedia.org Knight Foundation: https://knightfoundation.org Lunar Startups on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LunarStartups Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs: https://tonyloyd.com/book  
Kathleen Kelly Janus is the author of Social Startup Success: How the Best Nonprofits Launch, Scale Up, and Make a Difference. Note: We have been counting down the top twelve popular podcast interviews of 2018. This interview with Kathleen Kelly Janus was the most downloaded episode of 2018. It like is a people’s choice award. The interview originally aired on January 8, 2018. Kathleen Kelly Janus grew up in a family that cared about social causes. “My family cared about volunteering, and spent our weekends volunteering at soup kitchens,” she explains. “But they also cared about the organizations and supporting the conditions so that nonprofits can not only survive but can thrive.” Kathleen studied the law at UC Berkley. After graduating, she worked as an attorney. In 2004, she co-founded a nonprofit, Spark. Spark makes it easy for young people to give to women's causes. At their first fundraising event, Kathleen and her cofounders watched in amazement as attendees formed a line around the block. That first night, they raised $5,000 for an organization in Rwanda. As word spread about Spark, their revenues doubled every few months. By the third year, they were ready to hire their first Executive Director. But that is where their fundraising plateaued. “Just at the point when we were poised to take the organization to the next level, we hit a wall,” Kathleen says. “We couldn’t get over this hump of $300,000 – $500,000 in revenue.” As a lecturer at Stanford University’s Program on Social Entrepreneurship, Kathleen heard stories of organizations that had overcome the plateau in fundraising. She saw examples of success among her friends. “That is the question I’ve been studying for the past five years,” Kathleen explains. “What does it take for nonprofits to succeed, and particularly in those early stages? What does it take to get over that hump?” Kathleen used what she knew from her own startup experience. She worked with her students to research hundreds of articles on best practices. She surveyed thought leaders and interviewed hundreds of successful social entrepreneurs. Based on what she’s learned, Kathleen has written a new book, Social Startup Success: How the Best Nonprofits Launch, Scale Up, and Make a Difference. She lays out five key strategies of successful nonprofits: Testing Ideas Measuring Impact Funding Experimentation Leading Collaboratively Telling Compelling Stories Social Startup Success describes specific methods for executing each of these key strategies. Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Kathleen Kelly Janus “We were operating month-to-month, trying to make ends meet.” “In Silicon Valley, I saw these organizations that were taking off.” “What were organizations like Kiva doing differently than we were doing at Spark?” “What was allowing them to take their organizations to the next level and to maximize their impact?” “That hump is something a lot of organizations are facing.” “Of the 300,000 nonprofits in the United States, two-thirds of them are $500,000 and below in revenue.” “A lot of them have proven ideas that can work in communities around the world.” “Every organization is going to have a different threshold.” “By sustainable I mean, are you able to operate in such a way that allows you to focus your energy on the impact?” “Every one of these organizations had these very early periods of illumination before they went out to raise money.” “They were very careful about testing it early on.” “The best social entrepreneurs fall in love with the problem, not the solution.” “Organizations that measured their impact from the start tended to scale more quickly.” “Always be thinking about the impact and measuring that.” “The organizations that are most successful are the organizations that have a much more distributed leadership culture.” “Go work for someone who has been successful before you.” “You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.” “A lot of the best organizations have executive coaches.” “We all have the capacity to make a difference in the world.” “We all need to think about how we can support our nonprofits.” “Pick a cause. Pick a nonprofit organization, and go out there and make a difference.” Social Entrepreneurship Resources: Book: Social Startup Success: How the Best Nonprofits Launch, Scale Up, and Make a Difference: http://amzn.to/2ETqk8F Kathleen Kelly Janus website: http://www.kathleenjanus.com/ Kathleen Kelly Janus on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KathleenKJanus/ Kathleen Kelly Janus on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kkellyjanus Kathleen Kelly Janus on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathleenkellyjanus Spark: http://www.sparksf.org/ Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs: https://tonyloyd.com/book  
All Square is a craft grilled cheese restaurant and training institute that breaks down barriers for those with a criminal record. Note: Between now and the end of the year, we’re counting down the top twelve popular podcast interviews of 2018. It is a people’s choice award, determined by the number of downloads. This interview originally aired on January 29, 2018. A criminal record can be a barrier to employment, housing, benefits, and voting. With barriers to employment and housing, there is a high rate of recidivism. One study across 30 states found that 67.8% of released prisoners were rearrested within three years of release. Recidivism is a large problem impacting millions of people, including the loved ones of those with criminal records. Nearly one-third of American adults have been arrested by age 23. Arrests fall disproportionately on men of color. One out of every 106 white men is behind bars. Compare that to one in every 36 Hispanic men and one in every 15 African American men. And, it’s not just men who have criminal records. In the ten-year period from 1997 to 2007, the number of women in prison increased by 832%. The volume of cases in the criminal justice system overwhelms the courts. Defendants are pressured to accept a plea deal for probation or early parole. Many who accept these deals do not realize the full consequences of their future employment and housing options. Emily Hunt Turner is doing something about this. Emily is an architect, a civil rights attorney, and more recently the founder of All Square. All Square is a craft grilled cheese restaurant and training institute for those with a criminal record. They plan on opening their restaurant this spring. Their name is a play on words, representing those who have paid their debts to society are "all square" and free to move forward unencumbered. When opened, All Square will be a self-sustaining social enterprise. Profit from the restaurant will fuel the organization. As a non-profit, they will augment their professional institute with grants and individual donations. The Moments that Shaped Emily’s Mission Emily grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota. Things weren’t always easy. Her mother raised her as a single parent. She says that “as a gay woman from rural North Dakota, from a family who has never known financial stability, I have seen and experienced adversity.” Still, she describes her early life as “the most incredibly happy childhood. I was a very happy kid.” Emily describes her mother as “the most inclusive human I've ever known. She was so eccentric in her dress and her manners. She was quite a force and a vision.” When Emily grew up, studied Architecture at Syracuse University. She became interested in issues surrounding housing. She worked on a documentary film, The Atlanta Way that describes gentrification in Atlanta after the 1996 Olympics. “I learned about some of the troubling practices that took place in the name of clearing housing for athletes. I was beyond troubled. It was shocking to me that this sort of thing could actually happen.” “What came out of that was, unexpectedly, a passion for housing discrimination and displacement,” Emily explains. Seeing her passion, a professor encouraged Emily to study law. “Keep in mind, Emily says, “this was my seventh year in college.” Nonetheless, Emily remarks  “This led to my law degree and my focus on contemporary housing discrimination through zoning, land-use, lending algorithms, and low-income housing tax credits.” Emily worked as an attorney for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for nearly five years. “I not only ran into widespread housing discrimination in lending, zoning, and land-use, but I also saw it day-in and day-out in tenant selection policies.” Emily witnessed how those with criminal records are excluded from both public and private housing. Eventually, Emily realized that she could not change the outcomes from people with criminal records from inside of HUD. “I had no legal remedies for this exclusion. It is basically legal to exclude those with records from housing.” Emily came up with a business plan. Around a year earlier, she had thought about a grilled cheese restaurant. At the time, she had laughed off the idea. However, she thought, “I want to be part of the solution.” Emily’s solution was to create employment for people with criminal records through a grilled cheese restaurant. She also wanted to create a powerful brand. She landed on the name All Square. Advice that Shaped her Solution Before Emily went further, she shared her idea with several people. First, checked in with two groups of people – the formerly incarcerated and experts in barriers to employment. Both groups agreed that creating a restaurant with employment opportunities was a promising idea. However, they added an extra element. They encouraged Emily to go further by creating an institute that would look at the holistic needs of the person, to prepare them to be successful in the work world. Emily found Edwins in Cleveland, a restaurant and institution employing people with criminal records. She reached out to the owners who met with her and encouraged her. Edwins is a fine-dining restaurant with high overhead. They encouraged her to pursue her fast-casual restaurant idea. Emily checked in with other restaurateurs she knew. They encouraged her to keep the menu simple to avoid high food costs and labor costs. They also told her, if she was going to pursue this idea, she could not do this part-time while still working at HUD. With this input and the addition of the professional institute, All Square was an idea whose time had come. Two months after those conversations, Emily resigned from her job at HUD. The next day, she launched a Kickstarter campaign for All Square. This campaign included a six-city tour across the country. The goal was to raise $50,000. They exceeded their goal, raising $60,000. Overcoming Challenges Coming off of the success of the Kickstarter campaign, All Square had momentum. However, not everything has gone smoothly. Emily suffered a major personal setback. Her mother, who was such a large figure in her life, passed away only three months after the Kickstarter campaign. “This loss was both grave and unexpected,” Emily says. “The emotional hardship has been devastating; so difficult.” Emily feels lucky to have friends and a fiancé to see her through. “Self-care is critical,” she explained. “I'm still working on getting that piece right.” Emily has continued to struggle with the business aspects of All Square. Despite the fact that All Square has raised over $140,000 in capital in the last 16 months, she has struggled to access business loans. “I think we're now there with securing our construction loan, but wow, has it been difficult,” she says. Emily also had a steep learning curve. “I didn’t know the first thing about starting a business when I started this 16 months ago,” she explains. “There are thousands of things I've learned since starting: How to properly structure a nonprofit; understanding social impact investing; understanding the benefits of a hybrid structure; understanding capital markets,” and more. However, she says “I feel like I now have a very strong business foundation.” Emily says that she is grateful for “the humans that have come into my life and the time/energy those that are already in my life have freely given. It's been just incredible.” She has a laser focus on just one goal. “Our focus is on our first location on Minnehaha Avenue. Period,” she laughs.” Emily’s Advice to Aspiring Social Entrepreneurs Emily’s advice to aspiring social entrepreneurs comes from a saying on a neckless she wears. “It always seems impossible until it's done.” But “done” requires more than talk. It also requires collaborating with others, even those with whom you may not initially agree. “Rather than posting articles condemning or condoning certain viewpoints, which I, of course, used to do constantly, find a human in your life with whom you disagree on the subject matter, and see if there's any space for common ground, despite your differences.” All Square is slated to open in late Spring of 2018. Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Emily Hunt Turner “It felt like people’s lives were being treated like monopoly pieces.” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “The law…wasn’t something that had ever appealed to me.” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “It was really compelling to work from the inside.” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “The biggest thing that I saw that was the criminal record piece.” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “You don’t see housing discrimination how you used to – very overtly.” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “It’s very strategically written into single-family zoning ordinances.” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “I thought, as a lawyer, there’s a way to be part of the solution from the inside.” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “Somehow a social enterprise centered on a restaurant and an institute came from all of that.” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “What if I became the employer?” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “We led by example.” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “What if I can be part of the solution in a respectful way?” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “Weighing in on social media…just doesn’t feel effective.” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “There’s an institute side of it that looks at the human as a whole.” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “I will say it was the most terrifying 45 days of my life.” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “I was asking people to invest in an idea.” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “It was terrifying, and kind of magical.” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “I’m the impulsive one in the relationship.” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “That helped me to say, if not now, when?” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “Real things take real time.” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “I think law school did for me was really appreciate and value perspectives that diverge from mine.” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls “I still believe finding common ground despite differences is still possible.” @emilyhuntturner, @allsquarempls Social Entrepreneurship Resources: All Square: https://www.allsquarempls.com All Square on Instagram: https://instagram.com/allsquarempls All Square on Facebook: https://facebook.com/allsquarempls All Square on Twitter: https://twitter.com/allsquarempls Film: The Atlanta Way: A Documentary Film on Gentrification: http://www.theatlantaway.com/ Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs: https://tonyloyd.com/book  
The Venn Foundation uses Program-Related Investments in surprising new ways. Note: Between now and the end of the year, we’re counting down the top twelve popular podcast interviews of 2018. It is a people’s choice award, determined by the number of downloads. This interview originally aired on February 19, 2018. This week, we’re kicking off a two-part mini-series how to fund a business that does social good. We did something like this in April 2016. Next week, Cathy Clark is going to be here to talk about CASE Smart Impact Capital, an online resource to help social entrepreneurs figure out how to find the right capital at the right time. This week, we’re talking to Jeff Ochs of the Venn Foundation. Jeff is an experienced entrepreneur and investor. He invented and commercialized an educational party game that was licensed by Hasbro. He started a successful nonprofit, Breakthrough Twin Cities. And he was the Executive Director of an angel investing network. In each of these instances, Jeff saw the difficulty of getting the right investments to the right startups at the right time. Jeff explains that today there are two types of capital: Charitable donations, which support causes we care about with no expectation whatsoever for financial return. For-profit investments, which are designed to make as much money as possible for investors on a risk-adjusted basis. “In this current capitalist system, it is obvious why there is no investment capital available that is willing to accept ‘below-market’ financial terms,” Jeff explains. To meet this challenge, Jeff partnered with Rob Scarlett and Jeanne Voight to launch the Venn Foundation. Jeff says, “At the highest level, Venn Foundation has a method for using charitable donations, which today we just give away, to make investments. This allows us to create the below-market investment capital that we badly need. Charitable investments have all the same tax advantages of donations, are anchored against -100% financial returns of donations, and allow the precious charitable donation to be recycled over and over again. Venn Foundation is where charity and investing meet.” Venn is creating a marketplace for charitable investing. They are removing the obstacles that donors face in making charitable investments directly. By opening a special donor-advised fund called a Venn Account, any individual or organization can recommend that their charitable dollars be used by Venn to make Program-Related Investments or PRIs. Venn can syndicate any PRI among any number of Venn Accounts. Financial returns from these PRIs go back to participating funds for the donors to redeploy into new PRIs or to grant out as desired. Venn recently made a program-related investment to Binary Bridge. BinaryBridge creates software that helps humanitarians do their work effectively and efficiently. You may recall our conversation with BinaryBridge founder Lori Most. Who should seek program-related investing? Jeff suggests that business and nonprofit leaders ask themselves, “Is that I’m doing helping advance a charitable cause as defined by the IRS? And if the answer is yes, or maybe yes, the program-related investment tool is something that could apply to you and your goals.” Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Jeff Ochs “If that kind of capital existed, what could we do?” Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation “It’s where charity and investing meet.” Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation “Today, there is not a market for charitable investing.” Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation “If capital behaved differently, what would be possible?” Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation “Capital is the lifeblood of our economy.” Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation “If we can change the nature of capital, we can change the way our economy works.” Jeff Ochs, Venn Foundation Social Entrepreneurship Resources: Venn Foundation: https://www.vennfoundation.org BackpackEMR:https://www.backpackemr.com Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs: https://tonyloyd.com/book  
Coral Vita is growing climate-change resilient coral in order to restore dying coral reefs. Note: Between now and the end of the year, we’re counting down the top twelve popular podcast interviews of 2018. It is a people’s choice award, determined by the number of downloads. This interview originally aired on January 22, 2018. Coral reefs make up less than 1% of the surface area of the oceans, and yet, they provide a home for 25% of all marine fish species. Globally, coral reefs contain between 6,000 and 8,000 species of fish. As a point of comparison, across North America, there are 914 species of birds. Humans depend on coral reefs for everything from livelihoods, food, and medicines. According to Sam Teicher, co-founder of Coral Vita, “There are up to one billion people around the world who depend on reefs for their livelihoods. Reefs conservatively generate $30 billion per year through tourism, fisheries, and costal protection.” Sam’s cofounder at Coral Vita, Gator Halpern adds, “The ocean provides us, not only most of the oxygen that we breathe, but also food for billions of people around the world.” However, coral reefs are threatened worldwide. It took between 5,000 and 10,000 for the Great Barrier Reef to be created by nature. And yet, because of overfishing, poor coastal development, pollution and climate change, we expect to lose 75% of all of the world’s coral by 2050, unless we do something about it. Sam continues, “This is obviously an ecological tragedy, losing such incredible ecosystems, but what we’re also considering is that this is a socio-economic catastrophe.” Gator added, “These issues of ocean degradation are essential for everyone, everywhere. All lifeforms depend on having healthy coral reefs to survive.” Coral Vita brings dying reefs back to life by growing climate change resilient corals and transplanting them into degraded reefs. They are establishing a network of land-based coral farms. Sam explains, “We sell coral restoration as a service to customers who depend on healthy reefs, like hotels, governments, the coastal insurance industry.” Coral Vita works with cutting edge researchers to grow coral through a process called “assisted evolution.” Assisted evolution allows Coral Vita to boost the climate resilience of coral. Gator and Sam work closely with Dr. Ruth Gates at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, and Dr. David Vaughan of the Mote Marine Lab to commercialize their work. Sam experienced a coral reef restoration project in Mauritius in 2012 and 2013. The project was funded by a grant from the UN. “I saw fishermen returning to this lagoon,” Sam says. “It was amazing to see, we can bring a reef back to life. But, there is only so much grant funding. Given the scope of the problem…that grant funding model wasn’t going to cut it.” Sam and Gator both grew up on the ocean. They met while studying at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. “We both wanted to make the big changes in the world we think are necessary in order to have our society thrive in the future.” Gator explains. When Sam explained his experience with a coral farm in Mauritius to Gator, Gator says “My eyes lit up. I thought this was an incredible thing. My entrepreneurial mind starting thinking, ‘Hey, this could be a company!’” Sam and Gator wrote their business plan in their last semester at Yale. Since then, their work has been recognized and supported by organizations such as Echoing Green, Halcyon Incubator, J.M Kaplan Fund, and more. So far, Coral Vita has raised $1 million to launch and run their pilot coral farm. They are taking pre-orders for an “adopt a coral” campaign. Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Gator Halpern and Sam Teicher “Since the 1970’s, we’ve lost around 30% of the world’s reefs.” @SamTeicher, @CoralVitaReefs “We’re projected to lose 75% of reefs by 2050.” @SamTeicher, @CoralVitaReefs “Over the last few years, over half of the Great Barrier Reef died, or is dying.” @SamTeicher, @CoralVitaReefs “There are up to one billion people around the world who depend on reefs.” @SamTeicher, @CoralVitaReefs “Reefs conservatively generate $30 billion per year.” @SamTeicher, @CoralVitaReefs “Coral reefs dying is a serious problem that effects everyone everywhere.” @SamTeicher, @CoralVitaReefs “The ocean provides us, not only most of the oxygen that we breathe, but also food for billions of people around the world.” Gator Halpern, @CoralVitaReefs “We are creating stronger reefs that will be able to survive the oceans of the future.” Gator Halpern, @CoralVitaReefs “The best thing to do for coral reefs is to stop killing them.” @SamTeicher, @CoralVitaReefs “We have this deep love for the ocean environment.” Gator Halpern, @CoralVitaReefs “We have witnessed how reefs have suffered and died.” Gator Halpern, @CoralVitaReefs “It’s definitely taken many evolutions.” @SamTeicher, @CoralVitaReefs “How do we create a system that is financially sustainable, to also do large-scale restoration?” @SamTeicher, @CoralVitaReefs “One grant for one lagoon isn’t going to work for all the world’s reefs.” @SamTeicher, @CoralVitaReefs “I’ve yet to meet an entrepreneur who hasn’t had some sort of setback.” @SamTeicher, @CoralVitaReefs “There is a lot of support out there for people trying to do things to improve our society.” Gator Halpern, @CoralVitaReefs “In the field of social entrepreneurship, there’s a very strong community led by Echoing Green and Halcyon Incubator.” Gator Halpern, @CoralVitaReefs “It’s a field that comes with a lot of personal passion.” @SamTeicher, @CoralVitaReefs “Consider who is already working in this space.” @SamTeicher, @CoralVitaReefs “Try to check your ego.” @SamTeicher, @CoralVitaReefs “Go outside. Be in nature. Jump in the ocean if you can.” Gator Halpern, @CoralVitaReefs Social Entrepreneurship Resources: Coral Vita: http://www.coralvita.co Coral Vita on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CoralVitaReefs Coral Vita on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/coralvitareefs Coral Vita on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CoralVitaReefs Movie: Chasing Coral: http://www.chasingcoral.com Short Film: Naomi Klein at the Great Barreir Reef: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/video/2016/nov/07/naomi-klein-at-the-great-barrier-reef-under-the-surface Ruth Gates: http://gatescorallab.com Dr David Vaughan: https://mote.org/staff/member/david-vaughan Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs: https://tonyloyd.com/book  
Matt Scott asks if there is an easier way to tell your story and build your brand. Note: Between now and the end of the year, we’re counting down the top twelve popular podcast interviews of 2018. It is a people’s choice award, determined by the number of downloads. This interview originally aired on August 27, 2018. You have a message to share – a message that is as unique as you are. You want to tell the world, “This is who I am, and this is what I’m building.” You recognize the power of storytelling, but these things take a lot of time, right? And, there are so many options! Write a blog. Share a live video. Podcast. The choices of how and where to tell your story are limitless. Maybe you’re like Matt Scott. He wants to know if there is a way to easily and efficiently share your story. Matt is the Manager of Storytelling and Engagement at SecondMuse, a certified B Corporation. He is also the founder of 180° of Impact, a project to celebrate 180 people dramatically improving our world through their work. Matt recently sent a question through my “Ask Me Anything” page, where you can ask about business, productivity, personal growth, or anything else. Here’s the question Matt asked: Knowing how limited the time is for social entrepreneurs, what is one tip for a lower-effort way for someone to build their brand and tell their story; to build a community and build their audience? In this episode of Social Entrepreneur, Matt and I go over five steps to easily tell your story and build your brand. Here they are: Know why you want to tell your story. Know what story you want to tell. Know your strengths. Know your audience. Know that you’re going to be OK. Let’s look at these one at a time. Know Why You Want to Tell Your Story Know the Impact Are You Trying to Achieve Let’s face it. When it comes to sharing your story and building your brand, there are so many choices. Knowing what impact you are trying to achieve will inform your decision of how and where to share your story. Are you going to use social media such as Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn? Are you going to share your story through a third-party website, such as Medium, YouTube, Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Soundcloud, or Spotify? Do you need to build your home base – your domain name and website? There are also a lot of choices to be made when it comes to media. Are you going to share your story in text? Will you microblog, write in short form, or write a long form story? Will you share an audio file? Should the audio be a podcast or just a simple recording on your website? Or, do you want to share using video? Should you post a pre-recorded video, or stream your video live? With all these choices, knowing the outcome that you’re trying to get to will inform your decision. Want to change people’s minds? Sending a single tweet probably isn’t going to accomplish this goal. Want to build excitement and engagement? You must decide if a long-form blog post is going to do that. Know why you’re sharing what you are sharing. Why Will Sustain You When you know why you do what you do, it will sustain you over a long period of time. When it comes to brand-building, it takes time. Even Oprah wasn’t the Oprah we know today when she first started. It took years for her to perfect her craft and build her brand. This work is a long slough. If you’re going to stick to it, you’re going to need a big ‘why.’” Know What Story You Want to Tell First, Edit You are a complex person. You don’t easily fit into one label or even a handful of labels. So, part of telling your story and building your brand is deciding what part of your story to include and what to leave out. You may be a daughter, sister, mother, and aunt. You might be a dog-owner, marathon runner, guitarist, and puzzle master. So, one of the first choices you’re going to have to make is, what part of my story am I going to leave out? Editing is a master skill when it comes to telling your story quickly and efficiently. Be Congruent A second reason you need to clarify your story is, you want to be congruent between the story you’re telling, and how you tell it. If, for example, the brand you are building is mellow, almost Zen, then mimicking the style and delivery of Gary Vaynerchuk is not going to work. If you’re offering financial services, adding a bunny Snapchat filter to your picture might not be the best strategy. Be the Source This week on Sally Koering Zimney’s podcast This Moved Me, neuroscientist Carmen Simon talked about the importance of source memory. Source memory is the ability to recall where or when something was learned. This provides a powerful context for the content of the memory. According to Carmen, “Source memory is as critical as content memory.” Here’s what’s interesting. When I wanted to tell you about source memory, the first thing I thought of was my friend Sally, her podcast, and her guest, Carmen. That is what locked the memory in my brain – the source. And, because I associate this knowledge with Sally and Carmen, I now attribute this knowledge to them. It raised their brand awareness in my mind. And, it caused me to see them, especially Carmen, as subject matter experts. The next time I want to know more about neuroscience, I’m probably going to look for something written by Carmen Simon. This is what you want. By being the source of information, you create a quick association for others. That is why it’s important to narrow your focus and be congruent. Know Your Strengths Find What Makes You Comfortable This third point gets at the core of Matt’s question about how to quickly and easily tell your story. By finding the media that works for you, you can reduce resistance and increase flow. When it comes to finding the best way to share your story, ask yourself these two questions: What overwhelms me? What makes me feel free? Every person I work with has a favorite media format for sharing their work. For some people, the thought of sitting down with a blank computer screen and writing a blog fills them with dread. While others love being able to thoughtfully compose their thoughts in writing before sharing. Others love the spontaneity of sharing live video. With a little bit of planning, they find that they can think on their feet more easily than sitting still and writing. Whether you prefer to write, speak into a microphone, or appear on video, do what works for you. It’s important to start with what you have and improve as you go. If the media is tripping you up, find a new media. There are so many choices. Learn to Stretch Once you find your comfort zone, don’t be afraid to experiment with new media choices. Not all consumers want to read blog posts, just as not all consumers want to watch videos (more on that later). By experimenting with new outlets for your message, you’ll introduce yourself to new audiences. Trying new methods and media will stretch you outside of your comfort zone. But, as author Susan Jeffers says, sometimes you have to “Feel the fear, and do it anyway.” You might even be surprised by how much you enjoy it. Know Your Audience In the first three steps, we’ve been focusing on you, the author of the content. But, to build your brand, you must focus on being of service to others. Here are two important questions to ask about your audience: Where do they hang out? How do they want to consume content? Where Does Your Audience Hang Out? The fastest way to reach an audience is to go where the audience already exists. If you’re fishing, go to the lake, not the desert. Where does your audience hang out online? For example, if the content you’re sharing is for business people, you may want to focus on LinkedIn instead of Instagram. Or, if your content is for 18 – 24-year-olds, you may wish to hang out on Snapchat. If there is a conference on your topic, can you become a guest speaker? Or, is someone running an online summit about your topic? Or, perhaps you can start your own online summit. Find out where your audience is and go there. How Does Your Audience Want to Consume Content? When you create content for your audience, you want it to be in their preferred format, even if it’s not your preferred format. For example, I’m not a huge fan of Twitter. Twitter can be a haven for trolls. A few years ago, I almost gave up on Twitter. But, I surveyed my audience and found out that many of them love Twitter. So last year, I redoubled my efforts on Twitter, and as a result, I grew my following by 380%. Now, Twitter is one of my primary sources for connection. I even met Matt Scott through Twitter. Remember that, storytelling and brand building isn’t about you. It’s about your audience. If you want to be of service, share your story where they are in a way that they want to consume your content. Know That You’re Going to be OK When it comes to sharing your story online, there are so many choices; it can all be a bit intimidating. If I could give you one piece of advice it is this: Just start. When I started writing this post, I brainstormed several key pieces of advice: Know the right equipment for sharing online and learn how to maximize their use Know the rules for each social media outlet Know how SEO works, etc. But, when I force ranked these pieces of advice against one another, in the end, the most important thing I can tell you is, it’s going to be OK. If you share a live video and your dog starts barking; if you find a typo in your blog post; or if you post a video and suddenly realize that your hair is sticking up in a particularly peculiar way, know that it is all going to be OK. Perfection Prevents Connection Last week I was in a meeting with the very talented voice actor, Sue Scott. Sue is working on a fun podcast project, which I can’t wait to share. During the meeting, she said something that stuck with me. “Listeners want to connect to the host.” As a podcaster, I find this to be true. I love receiving unsolicited messages from listeners who tell me how much they enjoy getting to know my guests and me. One of the best ways to break down the wall between podcaster and listener is to show up authentically. People want to know that you struggle with the same things they do. They want to know that your life is imperfect. As the saying goes, “perfection prevents connection.” My Cringe-Worthy Moment Here’s an example. Last April, I received an email from a listener who told me that I mispronounce the word “entrepreneur.” I tend to drop the second r…so I say “äntrəPAˈnər” instead of “äntrəPRAˈnər.” I want you to picture this. The name of my show is Social Entrepreneur. I say the name of the show probably five times per episode. I also created promotional audio where I mispronounced the name of my show. Over the last 2 ½ years, I have mispronounced the word entrepreneur around 5,000 times. Ugh! At first, I was horrified. I went into a shame spiral. But eventually, I made this video where I confessed what a massive error I had made. The funny thing is, I think it brought a lot of my listeners closer to me. People reached out and told me about their own cringe-worthy moments. When you show up as authentic and vulnerable, people find their way into your story. More About Matt Scott Thanks to Matt Scott for asking this question. Matt just launched a new podcast called 180º of Impact. You can find it on iTunes, Stitcher, or other podcast apps. Be sure to check out his video interviews at Lets.Care. If you have a question, submit it at https://tonyloyd.com/asktony. I’ll do my best to respond to every question. Your question might even make it on to a future episode of Social Entrepreneur. Social Entrepreneur Quotes from Matt Scott: “It is my journey to learn from people who are making a positive difference.” @MattScottGW @LetsYouCare “The WHY is something that weaves itself into my conversations.” @MattScottGW @LetsYouCare “The first step is why do you want to tell your story? The second is, why would anyone want to hear your story?” @MattScottGW @LetsYouCare “It’s important to know why, for the simple reason of staying motivated.” @MattScottGW @LetsYouCare “When my dad passed away early last year, that’s something that’s continued to drive my work.” @MattScottGW @LetsYouCare “It’s crazy how much grief ties into people’s stories and the work they do to make an impact.” @MattScottGW @LetsYouCare “It’s important to not get tied up in the numbers.” @MattScottGW @LetsYouCare “The way for me to more effectively tell their stories was to have conversations.” @MattScottGW @LetsYouCare “It’s going to be OK if you are authentically approaching your work.” @MattScottGW @LetsYouCare Social Entrepreneurship Resources: Ask Me Anything: https://tonyloyd.com/asktony Matt Scott’s project, 180º of Impact: https://www.lets.care 180º of Impact podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/180%C2%BA-of-impact-the-podcast/id1431547090?mt=2 180º of Impact podcast on Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/matt-scott/180-of-impact-the-podcast 180º of Impact podcast on SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/letsyoucare 180º of Impact on Twitter: https://twitter.com/LetsYouCare Matt Scott on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MattScottGW Matt Scott on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/matt-scott-6ba55a28/ SecondMuse: http://secondmuse.com/ SecondMuse on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SecondMuse Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs: https://tonyloyd.com/book  
Sky.Garden is a SaaS e-commerce platform built for retailers in Africa. Note: Between now and the end of the year, we’re counting down the top twelve popular podcast interviews of 2018. It is a people’s choice award, determined by the number of downloads. This interview originally aired on March 12, 2018. People who work in the informal economy make up half to three-quarters of the non-agricultural labor force in many countries. In Kenya, the informal sector represents 82.7% of all employment. Many of the people involved in the informal economy also have a job in the formal economy. Isaac Hunja, the Chief Marketing Officer at Sky.Garden, comments, “Every Kenyan has a side-hustle.” One example of the informal economy is street vendors. They may have a kiosk in a marketplace or they may be selling goods from the back seat of their car. According to Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO): Most street vendors provide the main source of income for their households. Over half of street vendors surveyed said they source the goods they sell from formal enterprises. Street vendors create jobs, not only for themselves but also for porters, security guards, transport operators, storage providers, and others. Many generate revenue for cities through payments for licenses and permits, fees and fines, and certain kinds of taxes Street vendors have a particular set of challenges. They may place a classified ad, offering their merchandise for sale. Customers call their mobile phone, with perhaps one in ten calls converting to a sale. Then the merchant must figure out how to deliver their merchandise and get paid. They may use a carrier. The carrier must deliver the merchandise, collect the payment and return the money to the merchant. The entire chain of events is fraught with problems. Sky.Garden offers an alternative to this problematic process. Merchants can download the app and set up their online store in five minutes. They can take pictures with their phone and upload their inventory in less than 30 minutes. Each item in their shop has a unique URL. And their webshop has a unique URL. This allows the vendor to share links via WhatsApp, text message, or social media. When a sale is made, Sky.Garden takes the transaction from there. They call the vendor to confirm the item is still available. They call the customer to confirm delivery details and dispatch a courier to deliver the item. Once the item is delivered, payment is made via mobile money, mPESA. Sky.Garden manages customer care using a machine learning framework. The process protects all parties involved and builds trust in the platform. Sky.Garden has over 3,000 unique web shops on their platform, featuring over 10,000 products. Sky.Garden employs field agents to acquire new merchants, help them upload their first inventory, and teach the merchants to use e-commerce. While they are working with the vendors, the field agents are also vetting the vendors to ensure that they are not selling knock-off items. There is also a daily clean-up process on the platform to ensure all merchandise meets Sky.Garden’s requirements. Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Isaac Hunja “We’ve been able to handle it by getting our hands dirty.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “Make the world your business.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “Every Kenyan has a side-hustle.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “They had a lot of money falling through their fingers.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “We’re trying to make e-commerce accessible to the market.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “We have a big city expansion plan.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “We only charge per transaction.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “We give the merchant the freedom to choose.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “I guess the startup blood is in me.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “They wanted to give e-commerce back to the hands of the people.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “We mapped 6,000 to 7,000 merchants and spoke to about half of them.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “Using the merchants’ networks really helped.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “You speak to one merchant in a building, and he would act as a gatekeeper.” “We were able to build a platform around them.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “Building the platform around Kenyan merchants, we realized we needed to build I with Kenyan developers as well.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “We were built out of a fantastic program called iHub.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “Nairobi is a melting pot of really bright young people who are developing things every day.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “Every single product has a unique link. Every single webshop has a unique link.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “Launching a social-based company isn’t easy.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “Knowing that you’re doing something good, continue doing it, and the money will follow.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “Investors are there for social-based companies.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “Most importantly, track everything.” @itshunja @wwwskygarden “Scale. Scale. Scale.” “We are as agile as possible.” “Our customer service is world-class.” “We’re bringing e-commerce back.” “In five minutes, you have a webshop.” Social Entrepreneurship Resources: Garden: https://sky.garden Garden Merchant App: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=garden.sky.shop Garden on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/www.sky.garden Garden on Twitter: https://twitter.com/wwwskygarden Garden on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wwwskygarden iHub: https://ihub.co.ke Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs: https://tonyloyd.com/book  
Global Gaming Initiative provides a suite of tools and services to make it easier for game developers and publishers to produce and monetize games for social good. Note: Between now and the end of the year, we’re counting down the top twelve popular podcast interviews of 2018. It is a people’s choice award, determined by the number of downloads. This interview originally aired on February 12, 2018. Elizabeth Sarquis was born in a small town along the Magdalena River in Colombia. When Elizabeth was five years old, her family moved to the US. Growing up, she went to school in the US and spent time her summers in Colombia. Elizabeth says “It struck me, when I would see children on the streets begging. Then I would go back home, and I would have everything. It didn’t make sense to me.” As an adult, Elizabeth worked in nonprofits focused on children’s issues. During the 2008 financial meltdown, Elizabeth observed how difficult it was for nonprofits to raise funds. And, after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, she noticed that there was a wide gap between the money raised and the impact of those funds. “I knew something had to change,” she says. “I wanted to create a model that used technology, which I love, and create an impact.” In 2010, Elizabeth’s 14-year-old son traveled to Ecuador to volunteer with a nonprofit. Her son told her a story about a boy he met. The boy did not have transportation, and therefore, did not attend school. Elizabeth’s son challenged her to help. Around this same time, Elizabeth found herself playing Angry Birds for hours. She thought, “Can’t we figure out a way to use games, tied to impact?” From this thought cam Global Gaming Initiative. Global Gaming Initiative is a mobile game company that creates games and aligns them with social impact. They are a cooperative. They work with game developer who wants to create social impact through their game. Global Gaming Initiative is a BCorporation. They have been selected as a “Best for the World” company two years in a row. Global Gaming Initiative was not successful right away. They hired eight engineers and animators, spent months on the game, but it was not commercially successful. “We didn’t bring marketing in soon enough,” Elizabeth explains. “At that time, it was a bit more of the wild west in the app store.”   One of Global Gaming Initiative’s first successful games was Sidekick Cycle, a competitive retro arcade game that positions players in a race against time. Profits from in-app purchases and advertisement go towards bicycles for kids. The game is popular and has provided lots of bikes. However, parents began to push back on the content of the advertisements. To help control the types of ads that are presented on their games, Elizabeth and her team created Jukko. Jukko connects game players with socially-conscious brands. Jukko is scheduled to launch around April of 2018. Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Elizabeth Sarquis “You can make games and you can have an impact.” @elizabetsarquis, @GGInitiative “You have to surround yourself with a network of people who believe in what you’re doing.” @elizabetsarquis, @GGInitiative “Get involved in your community.” @elizabetsarquis, @GGInitiative Social Entrepreneurship Resources: Global Gaming Initiative: https://www.globalgaminginitiative.com/ Global Gaming Initiative on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GlobalGamingInitiative Global Gaming Initiative on Twitter: https://twitter.com/gginitiative Jukko: https://jukko.com Jukko on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/myjukko Jukko on Twitter: https://twitter.com/myjukko Free Bikes 4 Kids: http://fb4k.org Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs: https://tonyloyd.com/book  
In the Business of Change features stories of changemakers who use the power of business to address society’s most pressing problems. Note: Between now and the end of the year, we’re counting down the top twelve popular podcast interviews of 2018. It is a people’s choice award, determined by the number of downloads. This interview originally aired on May 24, 2018. Elisa Birnbaum is the publisher and editor-in-chief of SEE Change Magazine, a digital publication of social entrepreneurship and social change. You may recall her interview from June 2017. Elisa has a new book out, In the Business of Change: How Social Entrepreneurs are Disrupting Business as Usual. The book highlights how social entrepreneurs are using business savvy to create change in their communities. Elisa tells stories from a wide range of sectors, including employment, food, art, education, and social justice. Each chapter focuses on lessons learned and measurable impact. The book provides practical tips for starting and scaling a social enterprise. Social Entrepreneur Quotes by Elisa Birnbaum: “It’s part storytelling and part lessons for those who want to start their own social enterprise.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag “It’s for the average person who wants inspiring storytelling.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag “Look at all of this amazing work being done.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag “I wanted to provide a broad spectrum of people doing things in different sectors.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag “The book has actually been on my mind for a long time.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag “It’s good to tell stories in different medium.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag “You want to get these stories out there in as many ways as you can.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag “This was a lot more strategic.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag “There were a couple of chapters that ended up changing.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag “You have to be flexible.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag “Social entrepreneurs are taking a bigger role in systems change.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag “I didn’t start writing until I had a contract.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag “I had a book on my mind for many years.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag “People don’t get to see the grit, the passion, and the work that goes into it.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag “These stories, I find so inspiring.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag “I enjoyed the process more than I imagined I would.” @ElisaBirnbaum @SEEChangemag Social Entrepreneurship Resources: Book: In the Business of Change: How Social Entrepreneurs are Disrupting Business as Usual: https://amzn.to/2ILp2OA Elisa Birnbaum’s previous interview on Social Entrepreneur: https://tonyloyd.com/storytelling-platform-social-entrepreneurs-elisa-birnbaum-see-change-magazine SEE Change Magazine: http://www.seechangemagazine.com SEE Change Magazine on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/seechangemagazine SEE Change Magazine on Twitter: https://twitter.com/seechangemag SEE Change Magazine on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/seechangemag In the Business of Change podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/in-the-business-of-change/id1214748429 Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs: https://tonyloyd.com/book  
Mondo Davison, known as “The Black Tech Guy,” is on a mission to inspire a generation of black youth to pursue a life in tech. Note: Between now and the end of the year, we’re counting down the top twelve popular podcast interviews of 2018. It is a people’s choice award, determined by the number of downloads. This interview originally aired on January 15, 2018. African-Americans make up a little more than 11 percent of the US population. However, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, only 2.1% of businesses with at least one employee were owned by African-Americans. In the tech sector, the statistics are worse. According to CB Insights’ data on VC investments, only 1 percent of VC-funded startup founders are black. Mondo Davison, known as “The Black Tech Guy,” is trying to close that gap. When Mondo was a child, people would ask him what he wanted to be when he grew up. Mondo always said he was going to play professional sports. When they heard this answer, folks would often ask, “What’s your Plan B?” This bothered Mondo. “Is there anybody besides my dad that believes in this Plan A?” When Mondo grew up, he went to the University of Tennessee and tried to walk on. “I got crushed,” he says. He went to Florida A&M and had a similar experience. He eventually graduated from college and became an educator. Mondo worked in a school district with a high rate of poverty. When he asked kids what they wanted to be when they grew up, many of them said that they were going to play professional sports. “I didn’t want to be that adult that said, ‘What’s your Plan B?’ Really it was, what can I do differently? That’s when The Black Tech Guy was born. Can I build this persona of this Black Tech Guy who is doing awesome things in tech, so that I can compel a young mind to go into tech as their Plan A?” In January 2010, Mondo had a moment of synchronicity. “I was sitting at home, and I was flipping through channels. I came across this one-hour special on CNBC called Planet of the Apps.” Mondo thought to himself, “Let me go into this space. Let me see if I can do something.” Mondo explains, “That’s how I got into tech. Right after I watched that series, I invested my whole self into tech.” Early Setbacks Things did not go smoothly for Mondo. “For the next five years, I did everything wrong,” he admits. “I didn’t understand what best practices were.” Initially, Mondo sought out business advice from those who were experienced in traditional brick-and-mortar stores. However, their advice did not fit. “Bringing a tech startup to market is completely different than building a traditional business.” At the time, Mondo felt like he had to get his business idea perfect before launching. “That was so wrong, and I ended up wasting $50,000.” Mondo wishes he would have had someone to show him the way to build a tech startup. “I had nobody to help me navigate this space. I didn’t know anybody who had been through the tech journey to even ask.” Mondo describes his first big mistake. When he built his first app, he was ready to launch, when he discovered a competitor. “I essentially stopped and didn’t go to market. I invested a bunch more money on ‘How can I make my thing cooler?’” He added several new features without feedback from the marketplace. “What I learned moving forward was, it’s not about the bells and whistles. How do you get that minimum viable product to market and then execute your product to the best of your ability?” Building Knowledge and a Tribe Eventually, Mondo found an online course from Stanford University that spelled out how to launch and iterate a tech startup. And, in another moment of synchronicity, Mondo came across an organization called Graveti. Graveti’s mission is to make Minnesota a promised land for people of color in tech and entrepreneurship. “We all met at a time when we needed each other, Mondo says. “It just organically happened.” Graveti became a peer group with whom he could share his struggles and learn from others. Mondo does not regret making mistakes and learning. “My mission is to inspire and motivate black boys to go into tech. If it takes me to learn through $50,000 worth of mistakes, that’s a small price to pay. When you realize why you were put on this earth, you wake up every morning, and you have this drive because you have this North Star you want to accomplish, life is just different.” Shifting Business Models The first few apps that Mondo built were focused on a monetization strategy that depended on a million or more users. Today, he focuses on consumer pay business model. He is currently focusing on two new projects: Shortiez and SafeSpace. Shortiez is a digital library of culturally relevant content. Mondo’s goal is for kids of color to see themselves reflected in the stories they read. SafeSpace allows the user to notify anyone within three blocks to respond as a witness when interacting with law enforcement. SafeSpace was built in collaboration with Software for Good, whose goal is to make the world a better place by building great software for companies doing great things. Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Mondo Davison “I only own The Black Tech Guy shirts.” “You can get an MVP to market and just test, iterate.” “It was just a lot of crashing and burning.” “It’s not a mom-and-pop shop where you have to take down all the bricks.” “We built this brotherhood.” “We all met at a time when we needed each other.” “I call us this family of founders.” “I have domain expertise, working in that space for seven years.” “There are limited to no books that are culturally relevant in the classroom.” “I couldn’t find any book that had a person of color on the cover. Fast forward 25 years, and that’s still the case.” “So many schools have this problem.” Be innovative. Try something. Be risky.” Social Entrepreneurship Resources: Mondo Davison, The Black Tech Guy: https://www.theblacktechguy.com/ Shortiez: http://www.shortiez.us/ SafeSpace: https://www.safespaceapp.com/ Mondo Davison, The Black Tech Guy on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theblacktechguy/ Mondo Davison, The Black Tech Guy on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheBlackTechGuy Mondo Davison, The Black Tech Guy, on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheBlackTechGuy/ Mondo Davison on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mondodavison/ Graveti: http://www.graveti.com/ Software for Good: https://softwareforgood.com Planet of the Apps CNBC series: https://www.cnbc.com/planet-of-the-apps-a-handheld-revolution/ Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs: https://tonyloyd.com/book  
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Comments (3)

She Ra

Are there any podcasts in particular about disaster response or recovery? I've done a few keyword searches but nothing is coming up.

Feb 13th
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Trudi Lawrie

fantastic. glad to have found you. can't wait to learn more

Oct 10th
Reply

Tony Loyd

Trudi Lawrie Thanks, Trudi. I'm glad you found us too. :-)

Nov 19th
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