October 14, 2008

How to pitch your social enterprise

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JD LasicaI‘m handicapped by not having my MacBook Air, which was stolen yesterday, but here are some notes from Day 2 of the first Social Capital Markets conference at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

At the Pitching in Action session, four organizations gave presentations on social enterprises they’re planning to launch. Each had a compelling story.

Kevin Starr of the Mulago Foundation said investors look at four things in deciding whether to invest in a social enterprise startup:

  • What is the compelling problem you want to solve?
  • Do you have a solution to connect the dots on a path to impact?
  • Do you have a plausible path to go to scale?
  • Do you have the right organization to deliver on your vision? 

BAVC

Ken Ikeda, executive director of the Bay Area Video Coalition here in SF, outlined the prospects for a new venture called FUSE, an online platform and portal to provide digital media training online.

The appeal of FUSE, Ikeda said, is that its short, intense classes last two to three days rather than the weeks or months in schools or other programs. "Most of us don’t want to go back to school," Ikeda said.

BAVC, which brings in $2 million a year in revenue, now serves 6,000 students a year, and it wants to move these training courses online and serve tens of thousands of students.

The current plan is to launch FUSE as a free-standing company and sell equity in it. (Ikeda said of BAVC, "We get buyout offers every year." Which is interesting, given that they’re a nonprofit.)

Change Agent

I was blown away by the presentation by Bob Cabeza, executive director of Change Agent, a startup in Long Beach, Calif, whose Native American ancestry informed his storytelling prowess.

Change Agent offers digital media training in such subjects as digital video production, graphic design, Web design, audio visual services, youth development and more. Their market includes nonprofits, community organizations, school districts, small companies and more.

Money quote: "If you need us after 6 months, we’ve failed you."

In 2007-08, they built the business from zero dollars to $110,000 in revenues from 19 new clients, and they’re on course to hit $200,000 in 2009. The staff includes high school interns ("these kids are digital media geniuses!" Cabeza said), an executive director, art director, two graphic artists and two digital media artists. They’re seeking $3.7 million in funding.

Their goal, in short, is to "get kids into jobs and into college through digital media training."

Youth Media

Lissa Soep, research director of Youth Media International, showed off the impressive track record of Youth Media/Youth Radio: distribution on such media outlets as NPR, BoingBoing, Jezebel, Slate, KQED, Yahoo! News, Current TV and the San Francisco Chronicle.

They’re all about creating relevant, quality content about, and of interest to, youths. YMI is positioning itself as "the gateway to the next-generation producer-citizen … through transformative content that helps shape the lives of young people," Soep said. They’re on track to bring in $350,000 in sponsorships and advertising in year two, and hope to break even on this new program in two years.

Kevin Weston of Youth Outlook Multimedia in San Francisco gave the fourth presentation but I had to leave for an interview. The organization’s goal is to "expand the news lens through ethnic media."

I’ll post video interviews of other Social Capital participants in the coming days.

Cross-posted to Socialmedia.biz
JD Lasica, founder and former editor of Socialbrite, is co-founder of Cruiseable. Contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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