Whiteboard Party

03Apr09

Whiteboard Brainstorming

Whiteboard Brainstorming

A group of young professionals came together for a phenomenal brainstorming session aka. whiteboard party.  The group comprised of bankers, entrepreneurs AND social entrepreneurs, marketers, communications specialists, carbon traders, accountants, tech experts, and microfinanciers. Lively discussion, laughter and excitement rang into the night. 

 

Part I: Gates Ventures

Part II: TED.com and Ideation Conference/Catalyst Watch this space… pow! 

Part I – Why not have a Gates Venture Arm?

Follow-on discussion from the prior post we came up with a list of obstacles v. questions that a social venture arm should consider:

Questions:

– What is the “Exit Strategy” for a social VC? Is it the traditional trade sale / IPO route? Potential answer: if a large company currently focused on the Western world sees acquisition of this developing world company as a entry strategy into a market on the cusp of developing market –> emerging market –> commercially competitive market on the global stage 

– How to evaluate and distinguish opportunities that qualify for social VC investment v. traditional grant money? 

– It’s a known fact that VCs like syndicate investments. Diversifies risk if other experts are validating the technology and acting (ie. investing) on what they say. If you were a traditional VC, would you be comfortable co-investing with a social fund VC which aim is NOT maximum financial return? 

Potential Obstacles:

– What are the potential tax implications and legislation rules surrounding a NPO foundation funding for-profit entities?

– Staff competency in project management. VCs have board seats – operational advice to help portfolio companies. This talent needs to be recruited. Top VCs to work in this social fund must also have personal buy-in in the double-bottom line

– Transparency for the $$$ invested because the sole investor in the fund is the Gates Foundation and has responsibility to its mandate and mission 

– Along with transparency, the NEED to develop metrics to measure social impact of projects invested / in development . How to measure the “other ” bottom line? 

– Where is the Gates Foundation dollars best focused? Does it make sense to plow into a Venture arm focused on fulfilling the product development funding gap? Is it better used in early stage research or end product delivery? We think the answer is YES – the funding gap in product development is critical. Biggest fear: enabling technology sitting on a shelf collecting dust or waiting 10 years for grad student time to get developed. 

Thanks to daktaridx.com for being the inspiration to start this conversation.

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2 Responses to “Whiteboard Party”

  1. Juls, you bring up a good point about Gates and a venture arm. I think it is a clever idea.

    The exit strategy for “social ventures” will begin to evolve- I believe. One thing I have realized is with the changing environment and social dynamics, today’s social ventures that address i.e. Dengue Fever or Malaria nets, may begin to go beyond traditional regions and into the West where temperature climates may change to foster some of the tropical or neglected diseases. Thus creating different exit strategies.

    -ali


  1. 1 Social Venture Capital for Health.. Two Years On (Mar2009-Mar2011) « BioBuzz Blog

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