SOCAP - DAY 2 RECAP - socentlaw

SOCAP – DAY 2 RECAP

Day 2 at SOCAP… what a blur. We met so many amazing people and sat in on some of the best sessions of the conference. Below are some of the highlights from those sessions.

Seed Investing For Social EnterpriseRoss Baird, John Hardman, Kim Scheinberg, Tim Freundlich, Jessica Jackley

This panel was, by far, the most entertaining panel at SOCAP. I hate to say it, but you really had to be there to experience it… start saving your pennies for your ticket to SOCAP11 so you don’t miss out next year. Here are some of the best lines from the session in no particular order.

Village capital model uses the wisdom of a group of entrepreneurs to decide who to invest in. The HUB is launching a village capital fund called HUB Village Capital. It’s launching now with a cohort of 20 entrepreneurs at the HUB Bay Area. -Freundlich

Profounder is going live with 20 entrepreneurs looking to raise seed capital through private fundraising campings. The investors enter into a revenue sharing, not equity deal. Entrepreneurs looking to raise capital can do a private campaign for friends and family, or a campaign to the broader public. The unique twist on the public campaign is that once an investor makes his/her money back, the remaining proceeds go to a charity of his/her choosing.  – Jackley

I hate philanthropy.  – Scheinberg

Q: How does one get seed capital? A: Tell your story in a genuine way. -Jackley

If you are sitting in this room, you don’t need my money. -Scheinberg

Kiva was rejected twice by Echoing Green. I was rejected from Stanford Business School. You don’t need to be a part of any club to make it.  – Jackley

Not everyone thinks your kid is cute. Not everyone wants to steal your idea. – Scheinberg

Typically the relationship between the seed investor and the entrepreneur is like performing fellatio and having your hair grabbed. – Scheinberg (I think this was a comment on the power dynamics involved… but make of it what you will)

ReachScale Lunch Discussion – Corporations and Social Enterprises

David Wilcox curated a sharp group of people at this private lunch event. The topic was centered around the questions: How can large corporations and social enterprise work together? How can a partnership with between the two go beyond a transfer of money to assuage corporate guilt? Can real, equal partnerships exist? If so, what does that look like? This was by far the most engaging and intellectual discussion of the conference. I cannot do justice to the discussion here, but I will point you to a must read Harvard Business Review article on the Hybrid Value Chain by Ashoka.

The People Side of Triple Bottom Line – SJF Ventures, Endeavor, Better World Books

This panel discussed the bottom line that is all too often treated as an afterthought in triple bottom line accounting… people. The panelist discussed innovative ideas to engaging employees.

SJF Ventures presented highlights from an forthcoming report on the topic. One idea that caught my attention was Open Book Management.Open book management is a management stractegy based around transparency and accountablity from management to employees, whereby management discloses key financial metrics to the entire team so at they can rally around those goals and use them as a benchmark for success. For example, if your social enterprise needs to close $1.8 million of deals this year, that key metric is shared very publically with your employees. They use is as a goal and a constant benchmark for gauging success. Open book management is a simple, but often overlooked technique of creating employee buyin for the company’s goals. Combined with appropriate performance-based incentives, open book management can engage employees while motivating everybody to achieve stated goals.
Better World Books is the best example I’ve seen on employee engagement for two reasons: their approach to stock options and their response to the recession. Better World Books has instituted an incredibly generous stock option program: they give stock options to EVERY full time employee that has been there over a year. Currently 70% of their full time employees have options…. the other 30% are waiting to hit their one year anniversary. The fact that 30% of their full time work force has been employed less than a year shows that this type of employee engagement can lead to incredible growth in a social enterprise.

Better World Books was not immune to the recession, when it hit, their business suffered. Management had some difficult choices to make about how to cut costs in order to survive. like any business, they contemplated laying off employees, but in the end, they decided on a different approach. During the recession they cut everyone’s pay in order to avoid any layoffs, but they did this on a graduated basis, the highest paid managers took the biggest cut, and the lowest paid employees took the least cut. As business started picking back up, management decided to reinstate the lowest paid employees’ pay first, then gradually reinstate the better paid employees. The top levels of management didn’t reinstate their own pay until a year after the lowest employee’s pay was reinstated.  The outcome was a more loyal and engaged workforce.

These are but a few examples of some of the great ideas around fully engaging the most important resource any social enterprise has… its people. For more on employee engagement check out www.engageemployees.org

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