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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.
290 Episodes
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: 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: Cohort 2 Criteria and Application: Glen Nelson Center: American Public Media: Knight Foundation: Lunar Startups on Twitter: Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs:  
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: Kathleen Kelly Janus website: Kathleen Kelly Janus on Facebook: Kathleen Kelly Janus on Twitter: Kathleen Kelly Janus on LinkedIn: Spark: Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs:  
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: All Square on Instagram: All Square on Facebook: All Square on Twitter: Film: The Atlanta Way: A Documentary Film on Gentrification: Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs:  
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: BackpackEMR: Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs:  
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: Coral Vita on Facebook: Coral Vita on Instagram: Coral Vita on Twitter: Movie: Chasing Coral: Short Film: Naomi Klein at the Great Barreir Reef: Ruth Gates: Dr David Vaughan: Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs:  
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 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: Matt Scott’s project, 180º of Impact: 180º of Impact podcast on iTunes: 180º of Impact podcast on Stitcher: 180º of Impact podcast on SoundCloud: 180º of Impact on Twitter: Matt Scott on Twitter: Matt Scott on LinkedIn: SecondMuse: SecondMuse on Twitter: Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs:  
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: Garden Merchant App: Garden on Facebook: Garden on Twitter: Garden on Instagram: iHub: Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs:  
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: Global Gaming Initiative on Facebook: Global Gaming Initiative on Twitter: Jukko: Jukko on Facebook: Jukko on Twitter: Free Bikes 4 Kids: Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs:  
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: Elisa Birnbaum’s previous interview on Social Entrepreneur: SEE Change Magazine: SEE Change Magazine on Facebook: SEE Change Magazine on Twitter: SEE Change Magazine on Instagram: In the Business of Change podcast: Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs:  
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: Shortiez: SafeSpace: Mondo Davison, The Black Tech Guy on Instagram: Mondo Davison, The Black Tech Guy on Twitter: Mondo Davison, The Black Tech Guy, on Facebook: Mondo Davison on LinkedIn: Graveti: Software for Good: Planet of the Apps CNBC series: Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs:  
Join Conscious Company Media’s World-Changing Women’s Summit and discover ways to take your leadership, your workplace, and your impact to the next level in a rejuvenating environment amid the redwoods of Santa Cruz County. Register today and save 10% when you use the code WCWS_TONY_10. Note: Between now and the end of the year, we’re counting down the top twelve popular podcast episodes of 2018. It is a people’s choice award, determined by the number of downloads. This interview originally aired on April 28, 2018. Meghan French Dunbar grew up in the mountains of Colorado. She saw early examples of how to run a business. “Both of my parents started and operated their own small businesses and were incredibly supportive of everything my brother and I did,” she explains. She was driven to succeed from an early age. “I was an achiever. I idolized my older brother and was obsessed with excelling in all sports, especially soccer and basketball. I was always driven to achieve academically as well and saw everything as a competition.” Meghan also saw the importance of making a difference in the lives of others. She says, “My mother is an occupational therapist and works with kids with severe disabilities. When I was young, my mom took me to work with her often and had me watch children my age who were struggling with very sincere challenges. It planted in me a deep desire to want to help.” Eventually, Meghan discovered the power of business to do good through her work at the Environmental Defense Fund. And she deepened her sense of purpose while attending Presidio Graduate School. After graduation, Meghan edited magazines. However, the work did not go well. One evening, Meghan and her friend Maren Keeley talked about an idea for a magazine that focused on purpose-driven businesses. It was a fateful conversation. Three hours after Meghan and Maren had this conversation, Meghan lost her job. Meghan and Maren decided to launch Conscious Company Magazine. But there was a lot to do. They cold-emailed a list of influencers and, to their surprise, most of the people they approached agreed to be interviewed. To fund their first run of the magazine, they launched a Kickstarter campaign. They hoped to raise $50,000. Unfortunately, they fell short of their goal. Because of Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing model, after all of Meghan and Maren’s efforts, they received none of the pledged money. Instead of giving up, they decided to try again on Indiegogo. This time, they succeeded in raising $20,000. Their first issue of the magazine was picked up by every Whole Foods in the US. “From there, we got the word out by hustling,” Meghan explains. “We sent magazines to every conference we could think of, we attended as many events as possible, we sought speaking opportunities, and did anything we could to tell people about our work.” Meghan admits that they did not get everything right. “The biggest thing right out of the gate was not focusing more on marketing and sales. We also totally overestimated our growth in the first two years, which threw off our projections.” Still, they kept moving forward. “We continued to push for distribution in more retail stores and added Kroger, Barnes and Noble, and many more. In 2017, we added events to our product line, and that helped us get the word out even further.” Conscious Company Magazine has firmly established itself as the authority in the conscious business movement. The brand has continued to grow beyond the magazine. Today, Conscious Company Media is the first multimedia organization in the United States that specifically focuses on purpose-driven business. In addition to the magazine, they produce the annual Conscious Company Leaders Forum and World-Changing Women’s Summit. The Conscious Company Leaders Forum will take place June 6 through 8 in Scotts Valley, CA. Social Entrepreneur Quotes by Meghan French Dunbar: “The path was insane.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag “This is what I was put here to do.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag “We didn’t have a lot of money, but we had a lot of love.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag “I always wanted to help.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag “They were telling us, don’t even think about going into magazines.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag “I saw this collaboration between environmental groups and companies.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag “I was hooked.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag “I went in open and curious.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag “It was one of those questions that change your life.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag “Things unfold if you start taking steps in the right direction.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag “At that moment, the sky was falling.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag “It was the gut-check moment for me.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag “I viscerally remember walking into Whole Foods and seeing our magazine.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag Social Entrepreneurship Resources: World-Changing Women’s Summit (Use code WCWS_TONY_10 for an extra 10% off): World-Changing Women’s Podcast:  Conscious Company Media: Conscious Company Magazine: Conscious Company Leaders Forum: Conscious Company Media on Twitter: Conscious Company on Facebook: Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs:  
Jessica Jackley and Reza Aslan are exploring what it means to live in an interfaith family. Note: Between now and the end of the year, we’re counting down the top twelve popular podcast episodes of 2018. It is a people’s choice award, determined by the number of downloads. This interview originally aired on February 1, 2018. The first week of February is Interfaith Harmony Week. Given the heightened friction between religious groups, this celebration of interfaith harmony is crucial. Each year, religious leaders engage in a dialogue based on two common fundamental Commandments; Love of God, and Love of Neighbor. Jessica Jackley is best known for her role as a co-founder of Kiva is the first peer-to-peer microlending platform. Anyone who has an internet connection and a credit card or PayPal account, you can go to, browse the profiles of entrepreneurs who need a small loan. These loans are often just a few hundred dollars. You can chip in. You can lend $25 toward that loan need. Over time you get repaid. Since launched a little more than 12 years ago, the site has facilitated over $1 billion in loans.  Millions of people in developing countries run microenterprises, from a fisher, to a dressmaker, to someone running a kiosk in a small village. For those entrepreneurs, microloans can be an important source of capital to help them to grow and sustain their businesses. “It’s not as if a lot of folks don’t know how to lift themselves out of poverty,” Jessica explains. “They just don’t have access to the right resources to do so.” A Strained Relationship with Poverty and Business “I’d always had a fascination, and a little bit of a love-hate relationship with the idea of poverty and the poor, as it was presented to me by a lot of well-intentioned organizations,” Jessica says. Nonprofits, NGOs, and people who came to her church painted a picture of sadness, hopelessness, and desperation. These stories made Jessica feel guilty, shameful and panicked. “The role that I was supposed to play was to respond by giving money,” Jessica describes, “letting these organizations go do ‘the real work.’ And then they’d come back and ask for more. “That pattern of hearing the sad story, respond by feeling awful and freaked out, and then reaching into my pocket to give whatever spare change I had so that I could go on with my life…that wasn’t a cycle that I enjoyed. Unfortunately, it made me feel distanced from people who are living in poverty. It very much otherized them. So, this sort of separation happened early on in my life.”  When Jessica attended college, she studied philosophy, poetry, and political science. She avoided business classes. “I thought ‘business is bad. Business is about taking, and I want to be one of the givers’…I even thought, ‘entrepreneurs are the worst. They’re the gain leaders for starting businesses.’” In a moment of serendipity, Jessica’s first job after college was as a temporary employee at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. “I felt like I was sleeping with the enemy,” she jokes. However, she quickly realized that she was surrounded by people who wanted to use the power of business to solve the problems that mattered to her. In the Fall of 2003, Dr. Muhammad Yunus gave a guest lecture on campus. Dr. Yunus pioneered the idea of microloans. “It was this real ah-ha moment for me,” Jessica explains. “It shifted things. He talked about the poor in a way that didn’t make me feel terrible. It didn’t feel like there was an agenda to have me play this very limited and particular role in this story.” “It made me think that I could begin my great work in the world the way he had, by sitting down with people and listening to them very carefully.” Jessica reached out to several people, including Brian Lennon, who at the time was running Village Enterprise. Brian gave Jessica the opportunity to come to East Africa and to learn from local entrepreneurs. Village Enterprise provided small grants to people in poverty. Jessica saw first-hand how small amounts of capital could make a big difference. Many of the people who had received grants were ready to start and grow a business, but they needed microloans. Jessica returned to the US to share her idea about giving microcredit loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries. She spent many months shopping the idea and gaining feedback. She points to this time as her one small regret. “I took too long waiting for the world to give me permission,” she says. Finally, she partnered with co-founder Matt Flannery, built a website, and returned to East Africa to profile entrepreneurs. In April 2005, Kiva made it’s first seven loans for a total of $3,500. By September of that year, all the loans were repaid. was on its way. By 2010, Jessica left to launch a new company, ProFounder. ProFounder was a crowdfunding platform for small businesses in the US to raise investment capital. The company folded after a little more than two years. Jessica moved to the Collaborative Fund where she remains a Venture Advisor. Today, she is a Social Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business. The Role of Faith in Jessica Jackley’s Journey Recently, Jessica has been speaking out more on the role that her religious belief system has had on your life. “Some of the concepts, principles, and the practices that were embedded in me at an early age have allowed me to pursue the things that I believe in…I think of entrepreneurship as, you dream things up, you imagine them, and then you make that real. It’s very much a faith-building exercise.” “I have always felt like my life was tied to something bigger than me. I’ve always felt connected to a higher power.” However, Jessica worries a little about talking about her faith. “It can alienate some people,” she says. Nonetheless, when she looks back at her work with, she says, “I believe I was called to do that.” Rather than practicing religion as an exclusive system, Jessica and her husband, Reza Aslan, practice religious inclusion. Reza is a practicing Muslim. He is also a writer whose books include God: A Human History, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, and Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in the Age of Globalization. “We have an interfaith marriage and an interfaith family,” Jessica describes. They try to expose their children to a breadth of religious beliefs. “We try to do world religions 101 at home. Our little nickname for that is Home Church.” Jessica and Reza also try to instill a depth of spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, and community. Jessica admits that they don’t have their interfaith practice perfect yet. “We’re learning as we go,” she says. Jessica and Reza are documenting what they are learning on their interfaith journey, hoping to be helpful to other interfaith families. Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Jessica Jackley “It’s not as if a lot of folks don’t know how to lift themselves out of poverty.” @jessicajackley “It made me feel distanced from people who are living in poverty.” @jessicajackley “I thought ‘Business is bad. Business is about taking, and I want to be one of the givers.’” @jessicajackley “He talked about the poor in a way that didn’t make me feel terrible.” @jessicajackley “I took too long waiting for the world to give me permission.” @jessicajackley “I have always felt like my life was tied to something bigger than me.” @jessicajackley “We have an interfaith marriage and an interfaith family” @jessicajackley “We’re learning as we go.” @jessicajackley “The majority of new marriages are interfaith.” @jessicajackley “Start doing something. There’s always a step that you can take.” “Pay attention to what is speaking to you.” @jessicajackley “There are small things you can do every single day to start you on your journey.” @jessicajackley “Don’t be embarrassed about those small beginnings. Just start doing something.” @jessicajackley “Pick your thing and commit.” @jessicajackley Social Entrepreneurship Resources: Jessica Jackley: Jessica Jackley on Twitter: World Interfaith Harmony Week: Kiva: Village Enterprise: Reza Aslan: Book: Clay Water Brick: Finding Inspiration from Entrepreneurs Who Do the Most with the Least: Book: God: A Human History: Book: Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth: Book: Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in the Age of Globalization: Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs:  
LemonAID Warriors is a youth empowerment program that gives young people the tools they need to turn their compassion into action and raise funds and awareness for causes that they care about Note: Between now and the end of the year, we’re counting down the top twelve popular podcast episodes of 2018. It is a people’s choice award, determined by the number of downloads. This interview originally aired on March 3, 2018. Lulu Cerone was an entrepreneur from an early age. At the age of six, she opened her first lemonade stand. At first, she used the money to buy toys or candy. But her mom made a suggestion. Why not use the profits to help someone else? Lulu looked into it and found an animal shelter that needed the funds. “This crazy thing happened,” Lulu said. “This crazy thing I was doing with my friends took on this whole new meaning. It became a lot more fun. My friends and I became more engaged. We felt like what we were doing was meaningful.” Lulu became interested in community service. However, she had a hard time finding opportunities to serve at a young age. Most organizations require volunteers to be 16 to 18 years old. She found a few opportunities through her school. Her parents tried helping her to find opportunities. Lulu explains, “It’s hard to know how to raise effective global citizens as a parent.” In 2010, when an earthquake struck Haiti, Lulu was ten years old. She says, “That was the first time I was aware of a global tragedy. I remember being online with my mom and looking at pictures of kids whose lives had been completely changed by the earthquake. I had this strong urge to help.” When Lulu went to school, she challenged the boys to a Boys vs. Girls LemonAID fundraising competition. Her fifth-grade class raised just over $4,000 in two weeks. This early success has had a ripple effect. “I found it spinning out of my control quickly,” Lulu says. She looked back at what worked with the Lemonade stands and came up with the bigger idea – PhilanthroParties. A PhilanthroParty is any gathering with a social purpose behind it. Lulu started an organization, LemonAID Warriors to spread this idea of youth empowerment. She wrote a book, PhilanthroParties!: A Party-Planning Guide for Kids Who Want to Give Back. “This is such a simple idea, but people latched onto it,” Lulu says. “There is power in simplicity.” Lulu has attracted partnerships for her business. She partnered with Mattel and Forever 21. She was recognized as a L’Oréal Woman of Worth. She is currently a freshman in college as she continues to develop her nonprofit. Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Lulu Cerone “Growing up, I had a passion for community service.” @Lulucerone @lemonaidwarrior “Young people can get involved.” @Lulucerone @lemonaidwarrior “They can do it in fun and simple ways that integrate social action into their social life.” @Lulucerone @lemonaidwarrior “That’s when I had my first PhilanthroParty.” @Lulucerone @lemonaidwarrior “It was the first time my friends and I felt like we could be agents of change.” @Lulucerone @lemonaidwarrior “I did not set out to start a nonprofit organization.” @Lulucerone @lemonaidwarrior “This is such a simple idea, but people latched onto it.” @Lulucerone @lemonaidwarrior “There is power in simplicity.” @Lulucerone @lemonaidwarrior “LemonAID Warriors is youth-driven and community-based.” @Lulucerone @lemonaidwarrior “It was incredible being in eighth grade and having Mattel looking to me.” @Lulucerone @lemonaidwarrior “See yourself as an important agent of change.” @Lulucerone @lemonaidwarrior Social Entrepreneurship Resources: LemonAID Warriors: Book: PhilanthroParties!: A Party-Planning Guide for Kids Who Want to Give Back: L’Oréal Women of Worth: Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs:  
26 Letters helps organizations put data and action behind their equity initiatives. A recruiter for a Fortune 500 company once told me, “Minnesota is one of the hardest places to recruit people to. It’s also one of the hardest places to recruit people from.” Once people experience Minnesota, it’s hard to leave. And no wonder. Nineteen Fortune 500 companies call Minnesota home. The startup scene is strong. The annual Twin Cities Startup Week attracts thousands of people. Look at almost any ranking of states and cities, and you’ll find Minnesota near the top. The Trust for Public Land ranked Minneapolis first in large city park systems. And in second place, just across the river is St. Paul. Minneapolis was ranked by Redfin as the best city for cycling. US News & World Report has created a cottage industry of ranking lists. They rank Minnesota second overall among the 50 states. Minnesota is #2 in quality of life, #3 in opportunity, #6 in infrastructure, and #7 in Healthcare. Minnesota ranks #13 in education. 58 of America's best high schools are in Minnesota. And yet, women and people of color can have a much different experience in Minnesota. For example, the website 24/7 Wall Street produces an annual report on racial disparities. This year’s report ranked Minneapolis-St. Paul as the fourth worst metropolitan area for black people. According to the report: While the 6.0% white poverty rate in Minneapolis is far lower than the comparable 10.6% national figure, the 32.0% black poverty rate is above the 26.2% national figure. Additionally, the typical black household in the area earns $31,653 a year, just 41.5% of the white median household income of $76,208. Disparity in homeownership is even more stark. The 24.6% black homeownership rate in the Twin Cities metro area is less than a third of the 75.8% white homeownership rate. Closing the Equity Gap in Organizations Most Minnesota business leaders I meet seem to be aware of this problem and want to do something about it. They realize the importance of creating an equitable, inclusive, engaging, and productive workplace. But that requires three things: Measurement of the current status of equity in the organization. A set of goals. A plan to get there. That is where 26 Letters comes in. 26 Letters is a data insights and analytics startup that helps organizations recruit, retain, and grow top talent in today's workforce. They provide education and training with a data-driven approach. 26 Letters Co-Founder Caroline Karanja explains, “A lot of times, we have these great panels and discussions. What are we going to do to narrow the education gap? What are we going to do to retain more professionals of color and women? What we do is come in and help you figure out what that means for your organization. What we want to do is help organizations put data and action behind their equity initiatives.” “When we look at what our cities are going to look like in the next two years, and then the next twenty years, we’re talking about more people of color, more immigrant communities. More and more of those folks are walking into our workforce and our classrooms.” To help organizations understand their current state of equity, 26 Letters provides an assessment. This helps organizations to find the key areas for improvement. 26 Letters provides Software as a Service with consulting. 26 Letters is part of the inaugural cohort of Lunar Startups. Social Entrepreneur Live! This interview is one of four conducted on the evening of October 10, 2018. The event was called Social Entrepreneur Live! It was hosted by Acara, a program of the Institute on the Environment and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. The event was part of the Twin Cities Startup Week. Special thanks to our guests, Acara, the University of Minnesota, and those who came out to see us live. Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Caroline Karanja: “What we want to do is help organizations put data and action behind their equity initiatives.” @Caroline_Karanj @26LettersCo “At an organization level, we’re able to help put together initiatives to address the systematic challenges.” @Caroline_Karanj @26LettersCo “I have the weirdest journey.” @Caroline_Karanj @26LettersCo “I ended up teaching myself to code to help destress.” @Caroline_Karanj @26LettersCo “I’ve always been interested in technology.” @Caroline_Karanj @26LettersCo “I wanted to work in the social justice space.” @Caroline_Karanj @26LettersCo “I got my first consulting gig working around Girls in STEM.” @Caroline_Karanj @26LettersCo “I started getting more coffee dates talking about employee inclusion, hiring, and diversity.” @Caroline_Karanj @26LettersCo “I ran Geekettes for a while.” @Caroline_Karanj @26LettersCo “I did Hack the Gap.” @Caroline_Karanj @26LettersCo “I had one person who had a three-page job description in ten-point font.” @Caroline_Karanj @26LettersCo “One side of the plan is to help folks expand their network.” @Caroline_Karanj @26LettersCo “The data will always tell you where you’re at.” @Caroline_Karanj @26LettersCo “Those numbers don’t say anything positive, but then that gives you the opportunity to address it.” @Caroline_Karanj @26LettersCo “Technology makes things scalable.” @Caroline_Karanj @26LettersCo “I put myself in opportunities where I found myself trying new things and learning new things.” @Caroline_Karanj @26LettersCo “If you start something, then you’re running it, and you have to figure out how to run it.” @Caroline_Karanj @26LettersCo “It is 100% bootstrapped.” @Caroline_Karanj @26LettersCo Social Entrepreneurship Resources: 26 Letters: 26 Letters on Twitter: Lunar Startups: Geekettes Twin Cities: Hack the Gap: 24/7 Wall Street, “The Worst Cities for Black Americans”: Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs:  
HabitAware makes Keen, a smart bracelet to help manage Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs). For 20 years, Aneela Idnani Kumar had a secret. She spent her life in shame and embarrassment. One day, unexpectedly, her secret came to light. This moment transformed her life, and in the process, helped thousands of others. Aneela grew up in a somewhat atypical Indian American household. “My parents came to this country in the 1970s with $500 and one suitcase. They made their way to upper middle class. My mom broke away from tradition as a dentist with her professional practice. In contrast, my father worked primarily from a home office and was in charge of house cleaning. He also made a pretty mean chicken and rice. Both of my parents provided solid examples of making it together as self-made entrepreneurs.” As a child, Aneela was often described as soft-spoken or shy. “Now I recognize I had anxiety,” she explains. “We just didn't have the words for it back in the 80s.” Aneela loved math, science, and art. She had a few close friends. However, she says “I never really felt like I fit in. I spent my alone time with the TV as my babysitter. I preferred the sidelines to the limelight.” As an early teen, Aneela had a secret. She suffered from a debilitating mental health disorder that resulted in compulsive hair pulling. The condition is called trichotillomania. Trichotillomania is a mental condition that fits into the general category of Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs). BFRBs are a debilitating mental health disorder. Behaviors may also include skin picking (dermatillomania), and compulsive nail biting (onychophagia). These behaviors may result in baldness, skin lesions, and missing fingernails. Shame, guilt, and fear of judgment prevent people from discussing BFRBs. Therefore, BFRBs share the odd combination of being common yet very misunderstood. This was Aneela’s experience for 20 years. “I hid for a very long time,” Aneela says. “Some people think it’s a choice. It’s not. It’s automatic. It’s very trance-like.” In her third year of marriage, Aneela’s husband Sameer noticed that her eyebrows were missing. So, he asked her what had happened. “After what felt like hours of being like a deer in the headlights, I said, I have trichotillomania, which is the medical name for the hair-pulling disorder.” Sameer encouraged Aneela to see therapy, which she did. “It was super helpful,” she says. “One day I was sitting on the couch watching TV and started pulling in my moments of boredom. He grabbed my hand to gently take it away. I just wanted to punch him,” she laughs. She turned to her husband and said, “I wish I had something that notified me, that wasn’t you.” As she said this to Sameer, “I put my fingers around my wrist. That was the ah-ha moment for this idea.” Soon afterward, Aneela and Sameer connected with Kirk Klobe. “He tweeted about something,” Aneela says. “I looked at his profile, and it said Hopkins, MN.” Sameer and Aneela invited Kirk to join them at a hack-a-thon put on by IoTFuse. It was there that they met John Pritchard. Together, the team developed a prototype. This prototype eventually led to the formation of their company, HabitAware, and their first product, Keen. Keen allows users to retrain their brain by vibrating when it detects a specifically trained behavior. The vibration interrupts the behavior, brings the user into awareness, and allows them to make healthier choices. At first, the team used 3D Printers and hand-soldered circuits to build prototypes to test. They found testers among their families and friends. They found that the prototypes worked. “It gave us enough confidence, we decided to make a beta version,” Aneela says. As they were gaining confidence, they attended an event at the University of Minnesota. The speaker was the Managing Director of HAX, the world’s first and largest hardware accelerator, based in Shenzhen, China. The Managing Director encouraged the team to apply for HAX. They did and were accepted. “That’s when we said, it’s time to quit jobs, and it’s time to move to China.” They were in China for four months. “HAX provided us with mechanical engineering support, graphic design support, industrial design support…they were really an extension of the team.” In another moment of serendipity, Aneela attended the Graveti Summit where they keynote speaker happened to be Arlan Hamilton, the Founder and Managing Partner at BackStage Capital, a VC fund investing in underestimated founders. After meeting Aneela, Arlan decided to invest in HabitAware. More recently, HabitAware won a total of $100,000 in prizes at the MN Cup. They won $20,000 as the minority entrepreneur with an innovative business concept. This award was sponsored by the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA) and JP Morgan Chase. HabitAware also won $30,000 in the High-Tech division; and the $50,000 overall grand prize. To sell the first products, HabitAware ran a pre-order campaign. They advertised through Facebook. “When people find out they’re not alone, they go searching for people like them,” Aneela explains. “They go to Doctor Google and Facebook, and they find one another.” Today, people order the Keen device on the HabitAware website. They also have international distributors. HabitAware has been featured on TechCrunch, The Washington Post, Prevention Magazine and more. Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Aneela Idnani Kumar: “My parents moved to New York in 1975 with $500 and one suitcase.” @ak310i @HabitAware “I used to play office instead of house.” @ak310i @HabitAware “Now I recognize I had anxiety. We just didn't have the words for it back in the 80s.” @ak310i @HabitAware “I hid for a very long time. Some people think it’s a choice. It’s not. It’s automatic. It’s very trance-like.” @ak310i @HabitAware “After what felt like hours of being like a deer in the headlights, I said, I have trichotillomania, which is the medical name for the hair-pulling disorder.” @ak310i @HabitAware “I learned by doing.” @ak310i @HabitAware “We started nights and weekends. We invested in ourselves.” @ak310i @HabitAware “How can we leverage our brand voice to make a change?” @ak310i @HabitAware “If you have an opportunity to work at an advertising agency, it is entrepreneurship.” @ak310i @HabitAware “Mentorship is something that I don’t actually believe in. It’s about building relationships with people you trust.” @ak310i @HabitAware “Fundraising is about the dollars, but it’s also about the emotion. We have friends and family who believe in what we’re doing.” @ak310i @HabitAware “In Minneapolis and Minnesota, a lot of people have had a hand in it.” @ak310i @HabitAware “Be open to learning. Be open to failing. Be open to finding the lesson in the mistake.” @ak310i @HabitAware “Every closed chapter opens the next page.” @ak310i @HabitAware “Sometimes you have to choose, which is the greater problem?” @ak310i @HabitAware “I was running myself into the ground.” @ak310i @HabitAware “Look around and see what problems are in the world and try to solve it.” @ak310i @HabitAware Social Entrepreneurship Resources: HabitAware: HabitAware on Facebook: HabitAware on Instagram: HabitAware on Twitter: IoTFuse: HAX Accelerator: Graveti: Arlan Hamilton: BackStage Capital: MN Cup: Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs:  
The Feminine Revolution is a new book that boldly declares, feminine values are powerful. Run like a girl. Fight like a girl. Throw like a girl. Author Catherine Connors notes, “If you finish any sentence with ‘like a girl,’ it’s rarely a positive one.” And yet, as she and co-author Amy Stanton have discovered, in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world, feminine qualities can be superpowers. Connor and Stanton explore the gifts of femininity in their new book, The Feminine Revolution: 21 Ways to Ignite the Power of Your Femininity for a Brighter Life and a Better World. Chapter by chapter, they dare women to be emotional, own their intuition, and show their weaknesses. As the title implies, “Tapping into your femininity in a meaningful way can truly change your life,” says Stanton. This book guides women and men through an understanding of the power of feminine virtues. “It’s not just important for women and girls to be in touch with those values, but it is for boys and men as well,” explains Connors. “While writing this book, I had both my daughter and son in mind.” The Feminine Revolution is about more than women’s equality. Equality starts with women recognizing their unique strengths. According to Connors, “If we want to get to an equal world, we have to start with ourselves.” “Who thought that crying could be described as powerful?” Stanton adds. “Being mothering can be powerful.” Chapter by chapter the authors take on taboo topics such as being agreeable or being controlling. They show how, in a rapidly changing world, feminine traits are leadership traits. A Unique Femininity Amy Stanton’s journey to this book started several years ago. Stanton is a business leader who specializes in marketing to and building brand for women. She leads a woman-owned business. And yet, she was struggling with what it meant to be authentic and sensitive at work, while also being a powerful leader. As her thoughts formed, she gave a TEDx talk. “I wouldn’t encourage anyone to go and watch it,” she laughs. Still, the seed of an idea was there. She knew she was on to something and she knew she was not alone. A mutual friend introduced Stanton to Catherine Connors. Connors describes herself as a writer, an entrepreneur, an activist, and a mother. She blogs at the website Her Bad Mother. Her work includes leadership positions at Disney and Babble Media. She has also published academic research on the place of women and girls in the history of social thought. When Stanton and Connors met, “We ended up talking for three and a half hours,” Connors recalls. They each had a passion for the power of femininity. They each had a unique, sometimes opposite viewpoint. Instead of being discouraged by their different perspectives, they saw it as a gift. Stanton explains, “We want to spark a conversation among women about what authentic femininity means to each of us.” As they co-wrote the book, each author took a chapter that made them feel uncomfortable. They leaned hard into what it means to cry or to dance. It was in this discomfort that they learned the most. That is what they encourage the readers to do. They challenge the readers, “Find the chapter that makes you feel the most resistant and start there.” The Feminine Revolution is available today. Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Amy Stanton and Catherine Connors: “Tapping into your femininity in a meaningful way can truly change your life.” @amykstanton @femrevolutionbk “I had both my daughter and son in mind.” @herbadmother @femrevolutionbk “It’s not just important for women and girls to be in touch with those values, but it is for boys and men as well.” @herbadmother @femrevolutionbk “This is about celebrating our gifts.” @amykstanton @femrevolutionbk “If we want to get to a more equal world, we have to start with ourselves.” @herbadmother @femrevolutionbk “If you finish any sentence with ‘like a girl,’ it’s rarely a positive one.” @herbadmother @femrevolutionbk “We ended up talking for 3 ½ hours.” @herbadmother @femrevolutionbk “Feminine values are powerful.” @herbadmother @femrevolutionbk “Who thought that crying could be described as powerful?” @amykstanton @femrevolutionbk “Being mothering can be powerful.” @amykstanton @femrevolutionbk “Some people resist the idea of femininity because they think it’s a step backwards.” @amykstanton @femrevolutionbk “We want to spark a conversation among women about what authentic femininity means to each of us.” @amykstanton @femrevolutionbk “I’ve asked myself, what’s the feminine approach? How can I bring grace to this situation?” @amykstanton @femrevolutionbk “For me, it was me broadly understanding my own femininity.” @herbadmother @femrevolutionbk “Find the chapter that makes you feel the most resistant.” @herbadmother @femrevolutionbk Social Entrepreneurship Resources: Book: The Feminine Revolution: 21 Ways to Ignite the Power of Your Femininity for a Brighter Life and a Better World: The Feminine Revolution website: Instagram: Twitter: Facebook: Amy Stanton, Instagram: Amy Stanton, Facebook: Amy Stanton on Twitter: Catherine Connors, Instagram: Catherine Connors, Facebook: Catherine Connors, Twitter: Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs:  
Señoras de Salsa makes bold, authentic Mexican salsa that generates income for Latina women. Latina women suffer from the largest pay gap of any group. According to the latest report from the US Department of Labor, the average median weekly earnings for a white man is $1,004. In that same period, white women earned $825, or 82% of a white man’s earnings. Latino men earned $722, or 72%, while Latina women earned $612, or 62%. Danielle Wojdyla, Founder of Señoras de Salsa, cares deeply about this issue. “We don't all have the same opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” she says. “Women get messages all the time, direct and indirect, of not being enough. Not strong enough, not smart enough, not skinny enough, not pretty enough, not good enough, and on, and on.” To help close the wage gap and empower Latina women, Danielle launched Señoras de Salsa in 2017. Señoras de Salsa generates profit through their fresh refrigerated salsas. According to Danielle, “We created a sustainable business model that can support fair wages for the work done.” But their impact goes beyond wages. Danielle says “We foster a positive and safe work environment. We use mindful leadership, positive reinforcement, and team building to support each other.” Danielle’s Path to Purpose Danielle’s family history shaped her sense of purpose. “My grandparents on my mom's side moved to Minnesota after WWII. They came from Poland by way of Germany and concentration camps and forced labor camps. They survived some of the worst of humanity, only to come out with an amazing sense of compassion and love for their fellow human.” As a child, Danielle was immersed in a rich cultural experience. “I was born in Minneapolis. My dad joined the Navy after I was born, so we moved every three years. As a kid, I had the chance to live in Cuba, Texas, Chicago, and Puerto Rico. I learned to speak Spanish in Puerto Rico and certainly developed an affection for Latino culture. “My neighborhood and friends were very diverse. I lived with black, Hispanic, Asian, East Indian people. Part of our parents' jobs was being respectful to each person. If you or anyone in your family created problems, it could be directly reported to your parent’s job. It wasn't until coming back to the civilian world for college, I slowly recognized with disillusionment that the world is not this way. I know that humanity has the potential to behave differently.” Her experience in the Girl Scouts also influenced Danielle. “I am an only child. Without brothers or sisters to bond with and having to move every three years, Girl Scouts became a constant in my life. I think Girl Scouts strongly instilled in me a deep love for nature and the environment, respect for every living person, and a responsibility to make the world a better place than I found it.” Food Finds a Way As Danielle entered the University of Minnesota, her love of food led her to pursue an undergraduate degree in Agronomy and Food Science, followed by a master’s degree in Applied Plant Science. After graduation, she went to work for General Mills. “For seven years, I was a food scientist,” Danielle explains. Though she learned a great deal, she says, “That didn’t fill me up. At the end of the day, I was working for the shareholder.” She left her corporate job to go to work for a small nonprofit as their Director of Social Enterprise. “Being a new role, I had to help define what was in scope and out of scope. I developed some important relationships from my experience.” Danielle trained adults with barriers to employment. Through her work, she met Latina women who were struggling to make a living. When Danielle was laid off from her non-profit job, she wanted to continue to work with three Latina women she had met. “I had heard about a new opportunity called Maker to Market,” Danielle recalls. Maker to Market is sponsored by Lakewinds Food Co-op and The Good Acre kitchen and wholesaler. “I told the other women about the opportunity and asked them if they were interested in giving a salsa business a chance. They said yes. We applied and were accepted!” In the Maker to Market accelerator program, Danielle and her co-founders learned about the business of food from ingredient sourcing to sales forecasting. They learned from mentors and hands-on experience selling in stores. To launch Señoras de Salsa, Danielle had to finance the business. “I sat down and had a discussion with my financial partner, my husband, about what starting a business could mean for us. He was very supportive of leaning on his income and benefits so that I could fund this opportunity.” More Sales, More Impact Señoras de Salsa has an impact by how they staff, empowering Latina women. They also create an impact by how they source ethical, organic, local, sustainable food. Their impact is only limited by how much they sell. “Sales power reinvestment and growth, which is slowly built. This limits our team size,” Danielle explains. “We are working on growing our sales to be able to both grow our hours in the kitchen as well as pave the way for the potential to scale to larger methods of distribution and manufacturing.” Danielle sees another challenge to growth. She understands the importance of storytelling, especially in a social business. “The challenge is, how do you share the story of the business and the women in a way that is respectful of their lives and privacy?” Despite these challenges, Señoras de Salsa continues to grow in volume and recognition. This year they received a grant from the UN Global Shapers. Benefiting from the Ecosystem “The food ecosystem in Minnesota is awesome,” Danielle says. She received mentoring from Kelly McManus of Dumpling & Strand; Brenda Langton of SpoonRiver; Jill Holter at Lakewinds Co-op; and Emily Fortener at The Good Acre. She has also received coaching from other social entrepreneurs such as Amanda LaGrange of TechDump. Danielle has been inspired by social enterprises such as Women's Bean Project, Homeboy Industries, and Two Betty's Green Clean. She is also encouraged by the success of food companies such as Seven Sundays, Dumpling & Strand, Mazaah, and Sin Fronteras. And now, with the investment from Global Shapers, Danielle has discovered a new network of support. The Reward is in the Journey “On the days that we are all in the kitchen, making salsa together, this is pure enjoyment,” Danielle says. “Sure, it can be tough work. Picking up fifty-pound boxes of tomatillos, stirring big pots of simmering tomatoes, standing on our feet for hours at a time is not easy. But we get the chance to talk about our lives, to laugh, to feel the camaraderie. And at the end of the day, we feel proud of ourselves because we did all the hard work, a group of strong Señoras.” Social Entrepreneur Live! This interview is one of four conducted on the evening of October 10, 2018. The event was called Social Entrepreneur Live! It was hosted by Acara, a program of the Institute on the Environment and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. The event was part of the Twin Cities Startup Week. Special thanks to our guests, Acara, the University of Minnesota, and those who came out to see us live. Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Danielle Wojdyla: “The pay gap for Latina women is the largest of any group.” Danielle Wojdyla, Señoras de Salsa “We don't all have the same opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Danielle Wojdyla, Señoras de Salsa “Women get messages all the time, direct and indirect, of not being enough.” Danielle Wojdyla, Señoras de Salsa “I wanted to create a business model where we could make a product and it would be able to pay a fair income.” Danielle Wojdyla, Señoras de Salsa “I know that humanity has the potential to behave differently.” Danielle Wojdyla, Señoras de Salsa “Girl Scouts became a constant in my life.” Danielle Wojdyla, Señoras de Salsa “We are enough. It’s really important to have that reminder.” Danielle Wojdyla, Señoras de Salsa “It was a little bit of serendipity. The next week I heard about an incubator called Maker to Market.” Danielle Wojdyla, Señoras de Salsa “The salsa we make is awesome.” Danielle Wojdyla, Señoras de Salsa “Network, network, network.” Danielle Wojdyla, Señoras de Salsa “I walk around with a lot of privilege.” Danielle Wojdyla, Señoras de Salsa Social Entrepreneurship Resources: Señoras de Salsa: Señoras de Salsa on Facebook: Señoras de Salsa on Instagram: Maker to Market: Lakewood Food Co-op: The Good Acre: Global Shapers Minneapolis: Acara: Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs:  
Perk: The Natural Beauty Lab upcycles fair-trade, used coffee grounds from local coffee shops to create natural skincare products. Precious Drew’s reserved, yet bubbly personality naturally attracts people to her. Yet, she has a bit of a contrarian streak. “I've always challenged the norm and enjoyed debates arguing the less-popular opinion, whether I agreed with it or not,” Precious says. “I liked the challenge of being able to fully understand and argue for opinions I don’t exactly agree with.” Precious likes to defy expectations. “I grew up in a household with seven siblings: six older brothers and one younger sister. I never really followed what my brothers did. From a young age, I knew that I had control over my destiny and that no one would do the work for me. I am the first of my siblings to attend and graduate from college.” Precious does not allow others to define her. “Growing up in low-income, inner-city environments, I witnessed many of my peers fall behind and get left behind by the educational system, community, family, and friends. People gave up hope and deemed them less than, unworthy, and unable. I heard the negative statistics about the communities I come from. I knew that I didn't want to be a part of those statistics.” She points to her mother as a positive role model. “My mother inspires me. Despite our circumstances living in poverty, she always made a way and kept a smile on her children's faces. Growing up, I would describe my family as highly mobile. Before moving back to Minnesota during the last two months of my freshmen year of high school, I had changed schools over 13 times. My single mother prioritized living in safer, less violent neighborhoods.” Precious knew she was more than her environment. “I wanted to show my family, friends, and community that we could accomplish so much in life despite our circumstances. It would take a lot of hard work, self-advocacy, support, and determination. But I knew it was possible. Society often forgets, dismisses, and downplays the true potential of low income, inner-city black, and brown kids.” Precious realized early on that others were looking to her to be an example. “With a younger sister looking up to me, I had no choice but to strive for nothing but the best. Between my hard working single mother, younger sister, and the negative statistics that indicate I shouldn't have accomplished half the things I've done at 22, I found a lot of purpose throughout life.” An Idea Begins to Percolate It seems that Precious always had a side hustle. “In middle school, I established a revenue-generating partnership with YouTube, making videos for my favorite young musicians,” she says. In high school, she was deeply involved in the National Black MBA Association and Junior Achievement. Her LinkedIn profile is littered with achievements from Upward Bound to Enactus to Hip Hop LDN. While she was a student at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University, Precious attended the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn, Germany. When she returned, she began spreading the message about climate change. She soon found that “Just talking about it was not enough.” She began to change her personal habits, but still, she wanted to do more. In her junior year of college, Precious participated in a highly-selective entrepreneurship program, the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship. It was there that she met her classmate, Lucy Cervino. “We wanted to identify things around campus impacting students that we thought we could make better,” Precious explains. “Being college students, the answer was easy: coffee, a product that a majority of students consume. There were many efforts to recycle the container or use a reusable cup. However, we found that no one was putting efforts toward minimizing wastes from their morning cups of latte.” Solving Two Big Problems Americans love their coffee. According to The National Coffee Association, we consume 400 million cups of coffee per day or 146 billion cups per year. But what happens to the spent coffee grounds? The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 260 million metric tons of coffee waste are added to landfills every year. As coffee breaks down, it releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is 35 times as potent as CO2 as a contributor to global warming. At the same time, Precious and Lucy worried about the disturbing number of chemicals used in skincare products. Reading the ingredients in beauty products was like a chemistry lesson. Ingredients like BHA, BHT, coal tar dyes, dibutyl phthalate, parabens, and triclosan were far too common. Precious and Lucy wanted to take on these two big issues at the same time. They came up with a natural skincare product utilizing coffee waste. In 2017, they co-launched the for-profit venture, PERK: The Natural Beauty Lab. “PERK aims to defer the amount of coffee grounds being sent to landfills while also addressing the growing concern among women about the alarming amount of chemicals in today's skincare products,” Precious explains. PERK now sells an all-natural coffee body scrub through e-commerce and pop-up shops. A Student-Led Startup With guidance from the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship, the two cofounders followed a systematic process, yet they were flexible in how they applied it. “Early on, we conducted a feasibility analysis, concept tests, and sampling sessions with potential consumers. Additionally, we participated in pitch competitions on-campus and in Denver to spread the word. From there, we partnered with on-campus coffee shops to spread the word about our company. Once we launched, we began pushing those interested in our products to follow us on social media.” As a Junior in college, it was not easy to launch a new venture. “As a college student, the biggest challenge was balancing schoolwork, an on-campus job, and dedicating the needed time, effort, and patience it takes to start a business. Each month, my co-founders and I would allocate a portion of our campus work-study paychecks to invest in starting the business. “The hardest part was creating a skincare product that met the needs of many skin types but also producing a product that each of the co-founders agreed on. With different ideas of what the final formula should be for our first product, a body scrub, it was a challenge to find the magic product we all agreed on. Ultimately, we decided that we probably wouldn’t all agree to one formula, but we needed to put something on the market and to see what happens. We did just that, took customer feedback, and adjusted where needed.” An Ecosystem of Support Precious recognizes that she had a lot of support along the way. “From mentorship to networking opportunities, and speaking opportunities,” she recalls. She points to “the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship, Wallin Education Partners, Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest, City of Minneapolis' Urban Scholars Program, Leaders of Tomorrow Program, and FINNOVATION Lab.” Precious received mentoring from Paul Marsnik, Steve Schwarz, and Margrette Newhouse of the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship at Saint John's University. She also says she had access to dozens of mentors the center provided. The Journey Continues Precious was recently selected as a FINNOVATION fellow. She received a living stipend, co-working space, and mentorship. She is using this time to explore the possibility of getting products into spas, retail location, and boutiques shops. When asked to pass along a piece of advice for early-stage entrepreneurs, Precious responded “Don't let your age be the obstacle that stops you from pursuing entrepreneurship. Whether you are 12 years old or 60, it's never too late nor too early to make a difference in your community.” Social Entrepreneur Live! This interview is one of four concuted on the evening of October 10, 2018. The event was called Social Entrepreneur Live! It was hosted by Acara, a program of the Institute on the Environment and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. The event was part of the Twin Cities Startup Week. Special thanks to our guests, Acara, the University of Minnesota, and those who came out to see us live. Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Precious Drew: “We bring that circular economic model from the beginning of the lifecycle of the coffee bean to the coffee grounds.” @OnlyOnePDrew @perkbeautylab “In America alone, we consume over 450 million cups of coffee in one given day.” @OnlyOnePDrew @perkbeautylab “You can only imagine how many coffee grounds are going to the landfill and contributing to global warming.” @OnlyOnePDrew @perkbeautylab “No one was paying attention to the waste that came from simply making that cup of coffee.” @OnlyOnePDrew @perkbeautylab “With my co-founder’s love for beauty and my passion for sustainability, we created PERK.” @OnlyOnePDrew @perkbeautylab “It’s a year-and-a-half program, and you’re expected to launch a business.” @OnlyOnePDrew @perkbeautylab “It started as four of us, but in the end, there were two.” @OnlyOnePDrew @perkbeautylab “We realized that no one was capitalizing from the waste from the coffee.” @OnlyOnePDrew @perkbeautylab “We’re getting ready to roll out new packaging and marketing.” @OnlyOnePDrew @perkbeautylab “We started from the ground up. We did it ourselves.” @OnlyOnePDrew @perkbeautylab “We have an all-natural face and body scrub on the market.” @OnlyOnePDrew @perkbeautylab “As the true millennial that I am, I went to YouTube.” @OnlyOnePDrew @perkbeautylab “Don’t let age deter you from pursuing entrepreneurship.” @OnlyOnePDrew @perkbeautylab Social Entrepreneurship Resources: Perk: The Natural Beauty Lab: Perk on Instagram: Perk on Facebook: Perk on Twitter: Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship: FINNOVATION Lab: Acara: Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs:  
Recovree’s technology-based platform is designed to increase engagement and improve outcomes for those with substance use disorder. When it comes to substance use disorder, it’s easy to focus on the negative. You’ve seen the headlines. Every day, more than 115 Americans die after overdosing on opioids. Nearly 21 million Americans have a substance use problem. And more than 30 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder. And, of course, the cost of abuse goes beyond the headlines. It is likely that you or someone in your extended family has suffered from the harmful effects of addiction. But this story is not about substance use disorder, addiction, and destruction. This is a story about recovery. There are 23.5 million American adults who are overcoming a problematic involvement with drugs or alcohol. While recovery can be an uneven path, it can also be an inspirational, heroic journey. Those who take on the task of recovery need all the support that they can get. One lesser known but highly effective roles in the recovery movement is the peer support specialist. According to Melissa Kjolsing Lynch of Recovree, “A peer support specialist is a certified behavioral health professional who is using their lived experience with substance use disorder to help other people find recovery.” Peer specialists are not prescriptive in their journey. Melissa says “They’re not looking at a specific pathway. They’re open to all recovery pathways, whether that be a 12-step program, something more spiritually-based, or SMART Recovery. It’s all about walking side-by-side. These people are the untapped potential, and the glue that can help people stay more engaged in their health and wellness.” Peer support specialists go through more than 40 hours of classroom training, as well as hands-on training. Treatment programs typically employ them. Recovree has developed software for peer support specialists, the fastest-growing service for people in recovery. Their software helps peer support specialists to track workflow, track time, and log notes. This helps peer support specialists to stay more engaged with the people they are serving. The person in recovery has an app that they use to log daily reflections and to catalog what they are doing for their recovery, health, and wellness. The information captured in the daily reflection is shared with the peer specialist. The peer specialist can access a web-based portal to see the journals that the clients are submitting. This might help the peer specialist to anticipate the resources and skills needed by the person in recovery. “This is about engagement,” Melissa explains. “We see that more people can find recovery and stay in the community if the peer specialist is on hand.” When people are more engaged in their treatment, they are much more likely to have better outcomes. Peer support specialists reduce costs on the system. They improve medication adherence. They reduce hospital admission rates. This is Personal Melissa’s journey to Recovree started almost two years ago when her brother Luke was in a treatment facility. “2016 was a tough year for me, for a variety of reasons,” Melissa says. “My brother’s disease was at its peak. He was at the verge of death. It was incredibly difficult to watch him go through this.” Melissa and Luke were close as children. But as his disease progressed from high school through his 20s, they became distant from one another. “But once he was in a place where he could get help,” Melissa explains, “something clicked. When I saw him in his in-patient program, I said, ‘This is someone I want to help.’” Through Luke, Melissa saw the treatment system. “I began to understand that this is a chronic disease. This was something he was going to need to manage for the rest of his life.” Melissa was shocked to see the lack of follow-up care. Luke was given a folder of resources and was encouraged to find a sponsor. “I was like, that’s it? You would never do that with someone who was just diagnosed with diabetes. You would never do that with somebody who has hypertension.” Luke moved to Minnesota to complete an out-patient program. “That’s when we started connecting once a week. And we just started wrestling with this problem.” Luke and Melissa began to meet with other people who were in recovery. “We discovered that tools are absent out there.” “All of these people we were connecting with, we heard themes. They were supposed to be journaling and looking at what was happening in their recovery. Those first few days are so important, and they’re so difficult.” Melissa and Luke found that almost everyone they talked to said that they don’t journal. So, in March 2017 they came up with a minimum viable product (MVP) using Google forms that asked them a series of questions. “Within a Google form, when you click through, on the other side, you can see graphs. They all liked that” 80% of those Melissa and Luke worked with journaled consistently for two weeks. They all reported that journaling had helped them in their recovery. They all said that they would continue to use the system. Melissa and Luke decided to make a more polished version of their solution. At the time, Melissa was the Director of the Minnesota Cup (MN Cup), the largest statewide startup competition in the country. Through her work at MN Cup, she was familiar with Prime Digital Academy. Prime Digital Academy teaches people how to code. “As a capstone project, they’re always looking to work with nonprofits and startups on prototypes,” Melissa says. “We presented our findings to them and said, ‘This is what we’re looking for.’” By June 2017, Prime came up with a prototype. Melissa and Luke began to think about a business model to sustain their solution. “We came from the perspective of; we have engagement. Now, how do we set up a business around it? Over the next couple of months, we spoke with anyone who would take a meeting with us.” It was through these meetings that they decided to focus on peer specialists. In August 2017, Melissa and Luke were invited to present their solution to a meeting of treatment program leaders. Melissa offered a free 30-day trial of their new platform, Recovree to the treatment programs. “There are treatment programs who are trying to distinguish themselves by being more innovative.” From that meeting, two treatment programs, one rural and urban, volunteered to try Recovree. They tested in November 2017. The pilot programs went well. With this experience, Melissa created a business model and began sharing their experience with angel investors. By April 2018, they received their first funding. By August 2018, the system went live. And, in a full-circle moment, Recovree represented the Impact Division at this year’s Minnesota Cup Final Awards Event and won the Top Woman-Led Startup award. Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Melissa Kjolsing Lynch: “It’s all about walking side-by-side.” @mkjolsing @Recovree “Because they’re in the behavioral health field, they cover every aspect of both chemical and mental health.” @mkjolsing @Recovree “The VA is one of the largest employers of peer specialists for PTSD.” @mkjolsing @Recovree “There’s a lot that goes on between those meetings.” @mkjolsing @Recovree “This is about engagement.” @mkjolsing @Recovree “We see peer specialists as this glue and untapped resource in the behavioral health field.” @mkjolsing @Recovree “The things the peer specialists are doing need to be amplified.” @mkjolsing @Recovree “We want these peers to feel confident, efficient, and effective in their roles.” @mkjolsing @Recovree “The value proposition is in working with the treatment centers.” @mkjolsing @Recovree “This is incredibly personal for me.” @mkjolsing @Recovree “2016 was a really tough year for a variety of reasons.” @mkjolsing @Recovree “We just started wrestling with this problem.” @mkjolsing @Recovree “We discovered that there is an absence of tools out there.” @mkjolsing @Recovree “Those first few days of recovery are so important, and they’re so difficult.” @mkjolsing @Recovree “We had never heard of a peer specialist.” @mkjolsing @Recovree “This is something that takes months and years, not days and weeks.” @mkjolsing @Recovree Social Entrepreneurship Resources: Recovree: Recovree App: Recovree on Instagram: Recovree on Twitter: Recovree on Facebook: Prime Digital Academy: MN Cup: Recovery Coach Academy: Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs:  
The Root Collective sells comfortable, handmade shoes and accessories that create jobs for people who need them. Bethany Tran, founder of The Root Collective, knows how hard it can be to start up a business. “Most businesses fail in the first 18 months,” she says. “I think it’s less about money, and more about how much it’s going to rip your guts out.” Bethany knows something about perseverance. Five years ago, she started a business working with artisans in the poor neighborhood of Colonia La Limonada in Guatemala City. Starting out, she didn’t get it quite right. “When I first launched the business, I tried to do way too much way too soon,” she explains. “I launched with shoes, bags, scarves, jewelry... I was working in Guatemala and Africa.” It was a painful experience. The first 100 pairs of shoes she received did not meet her quality standards. She had to get on a flight and go to Guatemala to confront the artisans she was working with. “The first 18 months in business showed me the value of the advice I received early on: Do one thing and do it well. I ended up scaling back on the products we sold and stuck with shoes because that's what was working well for us.” She continues to persevere through challenges even today. “We have struggled through the challenges of working with small artisan workshops. We've had the same quality issues over and over. We've had to let go of relationships that couldn't grow. We've had an empty bank account. I've wanted to quit regularly. Setbacks are a part of growing a business, and I've learned so much about the value of perseverance. Remembering why you started, and why you're struggling through every day is so important to be able to get out of bed each morning and keep going.” Bethany shares the biggest insight from her business. “Hard is normal. Being able to perceiver through that, that’s how the world changes.” “Hard is normal. Being able to perceiver through that, that’s how the world changes.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC A Heart for Service Bethany grew up in a lower-middle-class family in eastern Pennsylvania. “My parents instilled a strong Christian faith, where loving our neighbor was a key part of that,” she says. “I was very conscious of right and wrong from an early age. Ethics and morals were something that were instilled in me from birth. I equate my desire for justice in the world to that early sense that wrongs needed to be made right.” Around the time Bethany was 30 years old, she had what she calls “my second quarter-life crisis.” She was a successful marketing executive working on the 40th floor of a building in downtown Philadelphia. “I was miserable,” she admits. When a friend of hers moved to Guatemala to work in La Limonada, Bethany spontaneously volunteered to visit her. “I’m a person who has to sit and process things,” she says. “I’m a processor. I don’t make snap decisions. And the second she told me she was moving to Guatemala, I said, ‘I’m coming to visit.’ It was immediate. I was supposed to go.” This trip would change her “It was my first time to come face-to-face with extreme poverty,” she says. “When I made my first trip to La Limonada, I realized very quickly that the traditional model of focusing on education was only a part of the solution to poverty. You could educate a kid all day long, but if there was no job for them, nothing would change. The cycle of poverty continues over and over, from generation to generation, simply because if there's no job... the problem hasn't been solved.” She decided to create jobs by employing artisans and selling products online. She admits that she did not know what she was doing. “I had no background in product development, product design, international development, business administration, or cross-cultural differences. 97% of what I needed to know I learned through doing. It's still a struggle every day.” To fund her business, Bethany and her husband drained their savings account. “I have a very supportive husband who allowed me to drain our savings account to get this business started. We've managed to stay self-funded for our entire existence, turning a profit every year.” To get the word out for her new business, she turned to social media. “I looked for existing groups of people who I knew would be interested in our mission and want to be involved and I targeted them on social media through hashtags. This is still a key tactic for us.” Conscious Consumers Lead the Way Bethany has tapped into a growing trend in conscious consumption. “We gave a simple story for our customers to tell and share with their friends. Our family of customers LOVE being able to talk about their shoes. They love having that story. They love inspiring other women to be world-changers. Our customers are the only reason we are still here.” Bethany finds inspiration from her customers. “Watching the light bulb go on for so many women when they realize how much impact they can have with how they spend their money…I've watched families change their entire spending habits to be more conscious of where their money is going. I've watched women change the world. And that is incredible.” Watching her customers gives her the inspiration she needs to persevere. “The world needs you to solve that problem that keeps you up at night. It won't be easy, but it will be so worth it.” Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Bethany Tran: “We are a footwear company that is dedicated to providing jobs to people who need them.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “It was 10 years ago this fall when the wheels started turning.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “The gangs were trying to recruit these kids because they were on their own.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “If there are no jobs for these kids after they graduate, nothing has changed.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “There’s this big hole, and it’s jobs.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “I came back from that week, a very different person.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “I had left so much of my heart there and just had to be there.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “I had made it, according to America’s standards. And I was miserable.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “I was sitting in my bed, bawling my eyes out, and thinking ‘I have no excuses anymore.’” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “I started working on the things I knew I could do from here.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “One of my biggest rookie mistakes was, I tried to do everything at the beginning.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “Social enterprise wasn’t a common term at the time.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “The shoes took off because they were unique.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “I had no idea how technically complicated shoes are.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “As consumers, we’re controlling the world.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “Trillions of dollars are controlled by women.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “Humanizing the fashion industry is so important.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “It’s easy to know how much something costs you, but do you know how much it cost the person who made it?” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “It’s less about money and more about how much it’s going to rip your guts out.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “For a year and a half, I went through my dark night of the soul.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “I’ve learned a lot about what it means to walk through hardship.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “In our age of Pinterest perfect, Instagram perfect, everything has to look beautiful and shiny all the time.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC “Nobody talks about how hard it is.” Bethany Tran, @IHeartTRC Social Entrepreneurship Resources: The Root Collective: The Root Collective on Facebook: The Root Collective on Instagram: The Root Collective on Pinterest: The Root Collective on Twitter: Film: Half the Sky: Book: Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs:  
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

Trudi Lawrie

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

Oct 10th
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