SeedSprouting

New social venture start-up program based in Pemberton gets ideas off the ground

Root Ventures NURTUREs entrepreneurs WITH FOOD OR ART-FOCUSED business CONCEPTs

At a kick off event last month, aspiring entrepreneurs crowded into the local coffee shop for a night of inspiration and networking with community members.  What brought them out for the evening was the prospect of putting their ideas into action. The Sea to Sky corridor has always been a draw for people who like to do things differently and make a living by their own set of rules so they can maximize their time in this beautiful place.  Based on the strong turn out, it is clear that there are plenty of good ideas buried in the fertile soils of the Pemberton Valley, and the time is ripe to get them off the ground.

In Canada, the start-up community has become a fast-growing movement from coast to coast. Incubators, design labs, catalyst programs and more have cultivated innovative and viable business ideas with the support from a network of mentors and fellow entrepreneurs.

The Whistler Centre for Sustainability is the champion for a unique program called Root Ventures that supports food and art-based start-up enterprises in the Pemberton Valley. In addition to having a focus on either food or art, the venture should generate some community benefit – whether it be for our environment or a social cause.  As a Certified BCorp, I’m thrilled to work with purpose-driven entrepreneurs and I’ll be teaching two learning sessions for the course.

Inspirational examples

At the kick-off event, the Whistler Centre hosted two successful entrepreneurs Dion Whyte and Jaye-Jay Berggen to share stories on how their businesses got off the ground and into a thriving and growing venture.

Persephone’s 11-acre farm-based brewery prides itself on producing the highest quality beer. It also grow hops, food and community at its farm just off the ferry terminal in Gibsons, BC. The company is a BCorp, a certification earned largely due to Persephone’s environmental initiatives and community partnerships. In addition to making really tasty craft beer, Persephone converts spent grain into compost, reuses waste water for irrigation, partners with locals growers and chefs to provide a hyper-local culinary experience and hosts numerous community fundraisers and events that brings its community together with visitors from afar.

Sea to Sky Soils supports local food production through cradle-to-cradle composting and closing the recycling loop. Its services help to remove organics from the landfill and this waste becomes nutrient-rich compost for area farms and landscaping projects.  Its founders have established many positive, long lasting relationships within the local First Nations communities who operate a highly efficient compost facility near Rutherford Creek just north of Pemberton. Its innovative system requires only a small infrastructure and is easily duplicated, so many other small communities across BC are consulting with Sea to Sky Soils to set up similar operations that divert waste from landfill.

Root Ventures Program Details

root-ventures-logo_sm-300x221Over the three-month program,  Root Ventures participants  will get assistance shaping their ideas into a business model canvas which maps out key elements for a viable enterprise. They will also receive one-on-one coaching with mentors and support to build capacity for their venture.

The program is open to entrepreneurs based in the Pemberton Valley.

The applicants must also be:

  • Solo entrepreneurs, non-profit organizations, cooperatives or small businesses
  • Aiming to create a community benefit through the enterprise
  • In the start-up phase of developing their business idea or concept
  • Committed to participating in the whole program starting in January through to March 2017

To apply for the program, eligible applicants need to complete an application and submit their idea to the Whistler Centre for Sustainability by January 8, 2017.

DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION FORM

Bike to Work

November 22 event: The New Economy Will Be Driven by a Millennial Mindset

Could your business do well by doing good?

Decades ago, the concept of The American Dream was to study, work hard get a job, buy a house, pay off your debt and build wealth. Not only would many agree that this was a lie,  a whole generation of our workforce just do not buy into it as their dream. “The Millennial Dream” is a feature length documentary that explores the values that may replace the cultural motif known as The American Dream.

As the Millennial generation becomes the most significant portion of the workforce, what will change about what we want from our education and jobs, what kinds of companies will succeed in the new economy? And with values and lifestyles shifting, what kinds of communities will be desired and what can cities and regions do to attract this new economy? The filmmaker’s interviews with experts such as best selling author Seth Godin and the personal reflections of young workers stir debate and encourage a dialogue around what might emerge as the Millennial Dream.

On November 22 BDC, Canada’s bank for entrepreneurs, will showcase The Millennial Dream documentary in Whistler followed by an empowering discussion on what kinds of companies will succeed in the new economy.

If the Millennial Dream is about doing well by doing good, how do business owners need to adapt?  

Some business owners may be struggling with the belief that Millennial workers are not as loyal as previous generations. But evidence shows they will work harder and be more committed if they believe in the higher purpose of the organization. In fact, according to a Deloitte survey of over 7,700 Millennials from 29 countries, Millennials are more likely to stick with an organization if they share its sense of purpose.

During an interview with filmmaker Greg Hemmings, he mentioned a focus on relevancy as the biggest opportunity for business to seize the Millennial dream. Traditional institutions stuck in their ways are being sideswiped by companies like Uber and airbnb that are crowdsourcing solutions to systemic problems, effectively disrupting entire categories in their industries. Further, these companies lead with their values, openly sharing stories about their impact in the world.

If the Millennial Dream is about doing well by doing good, how do business owners adapt? #BCorp Click To Tweet

At the film screening in Whistler, business owners can learn how they need to adapt and aim to do well by doing good. After the film, examples of how business can be used as a force for good will be shared through a panel discussion with Greg Hemmings from New Brunswick-based ‪Hemmings House, along with Whistler-based Leah Garrad-Cle from ‪Love Child Organics and Diana Mulvey from Seeds Consulting.  The evening will wrap up with a chance to continue the conversation while mixing and mingling with entrepreneurs and representatives from BDC.

The Millennial Dream Documentary Film Screening in Whistler

Tuesday, November 22, 2016
5:00 p.m. Networking, Appitizers, Drinks
5:50 p.m. Introduction
6:00 p.m. The Millennial Dream
6:45 p.m. Panel Discussion moderated by Carla Heim, Senior Advisor Social Entrepreneurship at BDC
7:15 p.m. Networking (cash bar)

       Click here to reserve your seat today!    

View the Trailer

B the Change

A B C’s of becoming a B Corporation

Certifying businesses that take on social and environmental problems

More and more entrepreneurs are going into business and growing their enterprises with a broader focus than building shareholder returns. Instead, these purpose-driven leaders see the potential for a much broader impact, one that includes society and the environment.

Increasingly there are businesses that want to create value for all their stakeholders, not just their shareholders. These companies are competing not just to be best in the world, but best for the world.” B Lab Founder Andrew Kassoy

Certified B Corporations are leading a global movement to redefine success in business. Companies that achieve B Corp certification have agreed to voluntarily meet higher standards of transparency, accountability, and performance. They know that they can stand out in a cluttered marketplace through their higher purpose and a shared vision that businesses can create benefits for all stakeholders; not just shareholders.

What’s driving business owners to invest in the certification process? There is growing acceptance of brands doing well by doing good. Across the globe, 75% of consumers believe it is acceptable for brands to support causes and make money at the same time (up 33% since 2008). A full 80% of consumers feel it is important for companies to share their efforts to address societal issues. Edelman goodpurpose Study

“These companies are competing not just to be best in the world, but best for the world.” B Lab… Click To Tweet

How do companies earn B Corp certification

Starting with an online impact assessment, business owners can complete a questionnaire that summarizes their business as it relates to four categories: Workers, Governance, Community and the Environment.

Just the exercise of tackling 174 questions in the four categories above is time well spent by any organization. As a business grows, questions like these below can shape the future of the company:

  • What percent of non-executive, full-time employees participated in the company’s bonus plan in the last fiscal year?
  • What practices apply when evaluating the social and environmental performance of your suppliers?
  • Has your company gone through an environmental review or audit in the last 12 months?
  • Are there key performance indicators or metrics that your company tracks on at least an annual basis to determine if you are meeting or social or environmental objectives?

Some organizations may not be able to achieve the minimum 80 points required to earn the certification, but the impact assessment tool is an ideal way to focus resources toward next steps. Learn more about my journey toward certification.

A growing NETWORK with many benefits

Companies aiming for a passing grade have done the math for the business case and understand the ABCs of joining this fast-growing group of certified companies:

A – Affiliation: A B Corporation will join a community of like-minded businesses that want to change the status quo. Fellow businesses in related or complementary industries have a network of entrepreneurs they can rely on to help manage business challenges.

B – Baseline: Rather than re-inventing the framework, the impact assessment can shape a company’s commitment towards: Workers, Governance, Community and the Environment. There are ample opportunities to learn form other B Corporations on how they raised the bar in each category.

C – Credibility: Since the assessments are conducted by a third party, this helps ensure there’s no greenwashing or trying to look good with slick marketing. It is unbiased and based on a consistent approach that helps owners measure what matters and ultimately, build a better business.

About 150 businesses in Canada are currently certified, along with over 1,600 companies in 48 countries. BC-based Persephone, Salt Spring Coffee, Lunapads and Fairware are in good company with global brands like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s and Method. This movement is growing fast and Certified BCorps achieve brand lift from their affiliation, which also helps to attract employees, earn publicity an gain competitive advantages in their sector.

Ready to measure what matters and understand your company’s impact in the world? We work with conscious brands that are ready to “B the change”. Let’s talk about how to build and share your stories.

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Doing Good Through Business

Social entrepreneurs create impact beyond the bottom line

Sharing economy, food security, social impact, community building, climate resilience – these are topics that I’ve seen trending in my network and into daily conversations. I learned from a visionary, risk-taking entrepreneur that when he heard people talk about a trend at least three times, he had to act on it. Are you an aspiring entrepreneur based in the Sea to Sky who is looking for a way to seize a trend and turn it into a business opportunity? Then attend the 2016 Social Venture Challenge kick off event in Whistler: Doing Good Through Business on Friday, March 18.

The essence of the Whistler Centre for Sustainability’s Social Venture Challenge is to get business ideas off the ground, particularly those that provide solutions to social and environmental challenges unique to the Sea to Sky corridor. The Canadian Social Entrepreneurship Foundation describes what sets these ventures apart: “Whereas a business entrepreneur typically measures performance in profit and return, a social entrepreneur focuses on creating social capital. Thus, the main aim of social entrepreneurship is to further social and environmental goals.”

Why are a growing number of entrepreneurs looking to create social ventures? There is plenty of evidence toward the shift in attitudes toward traditional, pure-capitalism based reasons for starting businesses. In the 2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study, the most comprehensive snapshot of how Millennials engage with Corporate Social Responsibility efforts in the U.S., revealed more than nine-in-10 Millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause (91% vs. 85% U.S. average). The research also showed that 80% of young workers want to work for a company that cares about how it impacts and contributes to society. They also are willing to take less compensation in exchange for greater meaning in their work.

Investments for start-ups and supporting growing businesses to scale up is also shifting. With a huge spike in the amount of crowdfunding capital in North America, along with new hybrid capital organizations and social impact bonds, this trend is likely to change the playing field in favour of social ventures over the three to five years, according to social finance experts writing for the Harvard Business Review.

Social Venture Challenge 2016

In British Columbia’s Sea to Sky corridor, the Social Venture Challenge is an opportunity for social entrepreneurs to encourage, support and grow new social ventures in the region. This Friday’s session will feature talk from Vancity’s Community Foundation, the Tofino Ucluelet Culinary Guild, Clean Start and Gibson-based Persephone Brewing Co., a Certified B-Corporation. The full day includes an Ideas Jam, Angel Den case study (where I’ll be part of a panel to help social ventures grow), plus lunch + beer tasting, and more. Tickets are still available but going fast.

Following the full-day session, budding social entrepreneurs can submit a one-page application by March 31 to participate in the 2016 Social Venture Challenge. The shortlisted entrepreneurs will learn how to flush out business ideas, get mentorship from experts in their field and receive coaching on how to pitch their venture idea to potential investors.

The final pitch in the Social Venture Challenge will be organized as a fun, fast-paced Dragons’ Den style event where participants will pitch their burgeoning business ideas to a panel of judges who will be award the winning social venture with $5,000 start up cash, courtesy of Squamish Savings. Learn more at www.whistlercentre.ca

The entrepreneur’s journey is never an easy one. Embedding a social or environmental problem in the business model is even more challenging. Being able to tell the story of that journey and how the business can make a difference in the world is often the best way to market the brand and build your tribe. Need some help packaging that story to share with the world? Contact me to get started. I love working with purpose-driven brands that are ready to build a movement.

B SCHOOL FOR SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS

Creating impact beyond the bottom line

Social EntrepreneurshipA growing number of entrepreneurs are starting ventures designed to create a positive social impact. They are looking for authentic ways for their businesses to become the best for the world, not just the best in the world. These are for-profit enterprises that solve some of the world’s most challenging problems, often with a relatively simple solution. It’s a movement that’s worth watching in your own community and across the world.

In British Columbia’s Sea to Sky corridor, the Social Venture Challenge is an opportunity for social entrepreneurs to encourage, support and grow new social ventures in the region. After submitting a one-page application, shortlisted entrepreneurs learned how to flush out business ideas, were mentored from experts in their field and were coached how to pitch their venture idea.

Around the world, businesses are not only looking for bottom line financial success, but bigger picture impact. A study at the recent New Metrics Conference hosted by Sustainable Brands revealed six types of capital that can drive the success (or failure) of a business: Financial, Physical, Social, Intellectual, Human and Natural. If any one of these areas is weak (e.g. high turnover at a company that does not invest in its human capital), the whole enterprise can suffer.

Big banks, investors and global brands are also paying attention to the social venture movement. Speaking at the World Economic Forum this year, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, stated that

“Social entrepreneurs are role models, not only for young entrepreneurs, but, more importantly, for businesses like us. We can’t address in our business model many important societal issues if we don’t link up firmly with the creativity and passion and purpose-driven models of social entrepreneurs.”

More and more, we’re seeing that a company’s higher purpose is what gets people fired up to become loyal advocates for certain brands. This is evident not only for core customers, but a growing workforce that is looking for more than a paycheque. Research conducted by the Cone Millennial Cause group showed that 80% of young workers want to work for a company that cares about how it impacts and contributes to society. They also are willing to take less compensation in exchange for greater meaning in their work.

young workers willing to take less compensation in exchange for greater meaning in their work Click To Tweet

But passion and purpose are just some of the many elements that make up a successful venture. As a judge at a recent ‘Angel Den’ for the Social Venture Challenge in Whistler, I was able to help the cohort test their plan and perfect their pitch. Their enthusiasm makes it easy to love these ideas, but the business fundamentals surrounding the value proposition, revenue model and marketing approach are all essential to build a sound foundation and platform for a successful launch.

Their big event, the final pitch in the challenge, is coming up September 30 in Whistler. It’s being organized as a fun, fast-paced Dragons’ Den style event where participants in The Social Venture Challenge will pitch their burgeoning business ideas. Judges will be awarding the winning social venture with $3,000 start up cash, courtesy of Squamish Savings. Learn more at www.whistlercentre.ca

The entrepreneur’s journey is never an easy one. Embedding a social or environmental problem in the business model is even more challenging. Being able to tell the story of that journey and how the business can make a difference in the world is often the best way to market the brand and build your tribe. Need some help packaging that story to share with the world? Contact us to get started. We love working with purpose-driven brands that are ready to build a movement.

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WANT TO CREATE A MARKETING BUZZ? LINK PROFITS TO PURPOSE.

How social ventures can build a movement

According to Social Enterprise Canada, social enterprises are businesses that create positive community impacts and social value. They do not have a distribution of profits and assets to individuals or shareholders. These are companies that want to be the best for the world; businesses that have a positive impact on society or the environment, where their bottom line is a combination of financial return and a social return on investment. But how can social ventures stand out from the competition and stay relevant? With effective marketing to the right audience, they can build a movement with momentum to grow.

A wave of new entrepreneurs are creating a flood of awesome, buzz-worthy businesses. Social ventures designed around sustainable food systems, knowledge sharing, waste minimization, affordable housing and sustainable transportation which may have been niche co-operative models back in the day are now becoming mainstream.

These entrepreneurs are evolving traditional modes of capitalism where the only purpose was to make profit for shareholders. In the world of social ventures, the stakeholders might include community members, collaborative partners, cooperative suppliers, and investors; a more holistic group who all have a stake in the success of the venture.

BUILD A MOVEMENT

Entrepreneurs who create a social venture see a future where consumers can get behind a change for the better. They see evidence of a rising movement of conscious consumers. They know there is market potential and that there are like-minded consumers out there who will support a business with a cause they believe in. According to the Edelman 2015 Trust Barometer, 81% of 33,000 consumers surveyed believe that a company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the social conditions in the community where it operates. Further, a recent survey from CONE Communications showed that 74% of Americans want brands to explain how purchases impact the environment.

81% of 33,000 consumers surveyed believe that a company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the social conditions in the community where it operates

MARKET WITH A PURPOSE

Even the best ideas might have a hard time getting off the ground. Successful social ventures don’t just hide behind product features and benefits when marketing their brand; they are proud of and vocal about their higher purpose and vision for a better future. They understand how to package their story and use an emotive approach to communicate with targets, aiming to reach and build a strong tribe. HAVAS Media & Accenture conducted a survey of 30,000 people arose twenty countries in five continents and learned that a strong brand proposition linked to purpose can reach influential consumer demographics. Their study shared: “Communication is critical and should be integrated into the brand proposition to influence this high value audience: 70% of mothers say they would buy more of a specific brand if they were aware of its positive impacts.”

70% of mothers say they would buy more of a brand if they were aware of its positive impacts Click To Tweet

TARGET INFLUENCERS, BUILD ADVOCATES

An effective marketing strategy and carefully thought out plan will ensure that the right influencers are engaged and advocates are nurtured as the social venture launches and grows. To amplify marketing goals, consider the target market carefully to generate word-of-mouth promotion. A joint study conducted by BBMG & Globe Scan & SustainAbility explains further: “Driven by young, optimistic consumers in emerging markets and amplified by technology and social media’s influence, Aspirationals represent a powerful shift in sustainable consumption from obligation to desire. Aspirationals are influencers – 95% encourage others to buy from socially and environmentally responsible companies.”

95% of Aspirationals encourage others to buy from socially and enviro responsible companies. Click To Tweet

SHARE TRANSPARENTLY

The Edelman Trust Barometer also revealed that in 2015, trust across government, business, media and NGOs have all declined, evaporating the gains that had been made post recession. Social ventures have a unique obligation and opportunity to communicate openly and transparently with their customers and stakeholders. Whether the enterprise creates jobs with fair wages, diverts waste out of landfills, improves air quality or keeps chemicals out of the soil, these metrics are as important as profits and may even be more relevant to stakeholder. Being able to quantify and measure outcomes will be important to build meaningful messages that engage their community and give them something to talk about.

Could your business learn more and gain inspiration from these social ventures? Looking for ideas to implement these lessons learned to grow your business consciously? Contact Seeds Consulting to get started.

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5 INSPIRATIONAL MARKETING LESSONS FROM SOCIAL VENTURES

Brands that aim to create social good

Propelling Social Ventures is a one day event hosted by UBC’s Sauder School of Business that uncovers innovative ways to combine business with positive impact. The 2015 conference put the spotlight on social ventures that are re-imagining business for impact and mature businesses that are redefining models and strategies to integrate positive change on a large scale into their organizations.

The event featured start up social entrepreneurs along with more seasoned experts and business leaders, each of whom have found a niche where their business can make a positive impact in the world. While there was plenty of food for thought packed throughout the day, these were the five key marketing lessons that could apply to any type of business:

HONE YOUR TARGET MARKET

Brands for the Heart, an online branding and graphic design agency that brings together a virtual team, chose to focus only on a small niche of entrepreneurs and changemakers that are bootstrapping to build a business that makes a positive impact in the world. While the founders have experience working with global brands, they have developed a platform to help only new social ventures access talented branding and design professionals at a fraction of the agency rate.

BUILD YOUR TRIBE

Janie Hoffman, founder of Mamma Chia vitality drinks and snacks, started her business by building authentic relationships that had the potential to grow even before she had a product. When she wanted to bring energy-packed chia seeds to the mainstream and when she realized that the supply of chia seeds were only conventionally grown, she met directly with farmers in central America and enrolled them in the opportunity to switch to organic. She then surrounded herself with like-minded people who choose healthy lifestyles and believe in organic agriculture; a tribe who then became her first loyal customers and vocal brand advocates.

DISRUPT INDUSTRY NORMS

The entrepreneurs behind Wize Monkey identified a big gap in the coffee and tea industries. While most coffee plantations only operate a few months of the year to harvest ripe beans, they saw some low hanging fruit that would help keep employees working year-round. Instead of just harvesting the beans, they introduced a revolutionary new tea brand that is actually made by the coffee leaf itself. Not only does the tea have less caffeine, it is tasty, full of antioxidants, and it helps farmers operate more profitable plantations while providing stable job opportunities for pickers.

ELEVATE YOUR IMPACT

Social venture entrepreneurs are not just looking to build followers, generate likes or sell trendy widgets. They are looking for authentic ways for their businesses to become the best for the world, not just the best in the world. These are for-profit businesses that solve some of the world’s most challenging problems, often with a relatively simple solution. Arbutus Medical developed a $400 alternative to $30,000 surgical drills to enable safe and effective treatments of patients in the developing world. Time Auction designed a website portal that allows you to trade volunteer hours to meet inspiring people. Wize Monkey and Mamma Chia are helping farmers in some of the poorest countries to build more profitable and sustainable businesses.

GROW CONSCIOUSLY

Each of the businesses featured at Propelling Social Ventures shared great stories about their challenges to scale up. Finding the right partners who share your core values is essential for any social venture to grow and thrive. Janie Hoffman of Mamma Chia summed it up by sharing that “money is energy”; cautioning business founders to be conscious of the partners they attract, who will ultimately shape the future of the business.

Finding partners who share your core values is essential for any social venture to grow +… Click To Tweet

Could your business learn more and gain inspiration from these social ventures? Looking for ideas to implement these lessons learned to grow your business consciously?  Contact Seeds Consulting to get started.

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