Socap09: Takeaways and Key Questions on Social Enterprise From Day 1

Socap09The opening day of Socap09 brought many rich discussions, which left me with a few nuggets of advice and even more unresolved questions.

A few tidbits of wisdom from panelists and presenters:

1. The sustainability revolution is not on par with the dot com bubble, but rather on par with the industrial revolution. This will be great retrofit of our lives… Everything we’ve ever created was created wrong. We need those all those crazy ideas. ~ Steve Newcomb, Virgance, The Future of Social Innovation on the Web

2. If your idea isn’t twice as good as the next guy’s, contemplate joining another venture you really respect. ~ Premal Shah,, The Future of Social Innovation on the Web

3. Don’t give up on your venture. has been four years in the making. ~Ben Rattray,, The Future of Social Innovation on the Web

4. Impact measurement is critical, but difficult
– resist the temptation to track everything that can be measured. Focus on a few key impact metrics. ~Sara Olsen and Brett Galimidi, SVT Group, Impact Management Workshop

5. Invest in what works.
~Sonal Shah, White House Office of Social Innovation, Keynote

Today’s panels surfaced many fundamental questions that need to be addressed as we work to align financial, social, and environmental incentives.

1. What is government’s role in the social capital marketplace? How can every day citizens push forward the work of the government and more particularly the Office of Social Innovation?

2. Do we want to engage traditional investment firms in the social capital space or not? Steve Newcomb pointed out the absence of tier 1 venture capital firms at Socap, and proclaimed that we’ll have succeeded once we see those firms attending and investing in the space. A colleague of mine proclaimed exactly the opposite – we will have failed if traditional venture capital firms are investing in the space and expecting a 10x return, as we ought to be reinventing the meaning of investment.

3. Is it better to work together and come to consensus or work heads down and push forward your own idea or venture? Should we be running fast and alone or together and not so fast?

4. Are we producing too many entrepreneurs or do we need to generate as many entrepreneurs with good ideas (which may fail or succeed) as possible?

What’s your take?

Look for more from me tomorrow on Day 2 of Socap.

Amie runs Cobblestone Solutions, LLC, a consultancy focusing on business development, marketing, communications and strategy for mission driven companies. Previously, Amie served as Director of Business Development for Viv (a Bay Area environmental start-up), Program Manager for Social Venture Technology Group (a boutique consulting firm focused on measuring social and environmental impact), and Associate Consultant at Bain & Co (a global management consulting firm). She is particularly interested in innovations that reduce waste, altering consumer behavior for good, and leveraging the power of business to solve the climate crisis. You can read more from her on her blog, on, and on JustMeans.