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Pitch Practice Startups

Rise of the Social Entrepreneur

Steve Case, founder of AOL back in the day, is coming to Atlanta on his “Rise of the Rest” tour. From my understanding, Case is all about spreading startup fever in places that are not New York, Austin, Boulder, and San Francisco, so Atlanta matches up nicely.

Through Atlanta Tech Village, the organizers asked me to offer some individual Pitch Practice to the startups who will be pitching tomorrow afternoon. I gladly obliged since I love hearing great pitches, and I really love to see huge progress in a short amount of time as an entrepreneur learns how to tell their story in a crisp, concise manner.

The three teams that I helped out are on to great things, all having to do with crowd-something. I say crowd “something” because there are several types of crowd-something gaining popularity right now. The most well known, especially in Georgia, is crowd funding. Two of the three startups I worked with are about crowd funding. The other is about local crowd sourcing. Also, two of the three are built on, or offer at least one aspect of social entrepreneurship.

That’s the trend I am starting to see more and more of lately. I’m sure it was around before, but Tom’s Shoes was the first social enterprise that I became aware of. Tom’s gives away one pair of shoes for every pair you purchase. Their business model is built on this mission of putting shoes on children around the world who simply don’t have shoes. Since Tom’s started that trend (at least in my mind) many have joined the fray. It’s great to see charitable giving baked right into the company’s mission, culture, and business model.

That said, Tom’s and others are still in business to make a profit. Please don’t forget that. The No. 1 responsibility of management is shareholder wealth. Without capitalism – someone willing to invest their own money, put that money at 100% risk, and wait perhaps years for a return on that money – there would be no charitable giving. Broke people don’t give their money, because they’re broke.

I like this trend, and now I’ve got it buzzing through my head how I can create a business that utilizes my gifts, makes money, and provides an economic service to someone in need. Any ideas? I have a few, and I’m always white-boarding them out to a reasonable codification of the idea, but nothing firm yet.

How could you build charitable missions and giving into your business model? How do you see today’s startups making money, but then never forgetting where they came from and building giving right into their business models? While it’s a trend, I don’t see it that often.

Good luck to all the teams pitching to Steve Case tomorrow, and especially to GroundFloor, LocalRoots, and Village Microfund.

What do you think about that?

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