SoCap2013 brought together 1,600 of the world’s keenest and most inspirational social entrepreneurs, philanthropists and social investors for a week of ideas sharing and deal making. Founded in San Francisco, SoCap is an exploration of what its founder, Kevin Jones, calls the ‘intersection between money and meaning’. Attending for my sixth year, SoCap has evolved from its first steps of a few hundred social investment doers and diehards and is now confidently striding forward making its distinctive mark in the impact investing field.
Top of my list in the week is the ‘pre-event’ collaboration between The Hub, Halloran Philanthropies and the Transformative Action Institute which convenes 100 social entrepreneurs with 50 leaders from global ‘impact accelerators’ in an intense programme of training, discussion and mentoring. These ‘impact accelerators’ bring together leaders so that they can discuss their mutual capabilities and synergies and create deeper relationships that will allow them to work together in accelerating what can be readily summarized as the ‘good economy.’
In practice, this mean sessions with social entrepreneurs ranging from ‘elevator pitch practice’ on how to present to investors; advice on ‘successfully closing the equity fundraising process’; and ‘testing your business strategy as you grow’ through to ‘selling equity, not selling your soul – lessons for the early seed stage’. Youthful energy met with experienced wisdom, with sessions from groups such as HUB Ventures, the Unreasonable Institute and Echoing Green. Conversations and sessions were not set up to be one-way, rather recognizing that funders have much to learn from the diversity and insight of entrepreneurs. One session from Village Capital focused on ‘What Should Entrepreneurs think of Accelerators?’
A number of philanthropic organizations, including Halloran Philanthropies, are focused on how to ‘accelerate the accelerators’ – by which they mean, how to ensure that the advisory services and capital are most available to the entrepreneurs at the most critical time. With more later-stage capital being available from impact investors, often with a financial return goal, it is now recognized by many that incubator funds and business accelerators which focus on the hardest part of the business growth cycle are vital in ensuring the success of ventures addressing the needs of the base of the pyramid.
So where can readers find out more about this distinct community? SoCap saw the launch of a major new tool that brings together the impact funds and accelerator funds in one place
Mark Campanale is an adviser to Halloran Philanthropies.