As big business becomes ever more estranged from the aspirations of its’ customers and continues to ignore both the wider community and the impact of its’ actions on the environment, the realm of socially-conscious business continues to grow.
Fledge is a self described “conscious company incubator.” President’s Day saw the start of Fledge’s second round of “fledglings” gather at HUB Seattle and take their first steps in a ten-week journey that will take them from the the concept stage to functioning businesses. The goal, in the words of Michael “Luni” Libes, Fledge’s founder and Managing Director, is for them to:
“Seek an unmet need of conscious consumers, who in their consumption care about something important in the world, meet that need, and in doing so, do good, while creating a sustainable business.”
In order for the fledglings to achieve that goal, they will undergo an intensive program that begins with a focus on validating their idea, identifying customers and competitors and then moves on to prototyping, financial planning, pitch design and refinement, all with the intention that the seven participating companies will have customers at the end of the 10-week process. All of this is aided by the participation of over 50 mentors, each of whom brings a wealth of experience, talent and insight which will give the fledglings an enormous boost as they delve ever deeper into their projects.
In addition to outside mentors, the fledglings will also be able to call on their fellow teams’ experiences and problem solving skills during the daily 10-minute “stand up” meetings that start each day and allow them to share their progress and obstacles. This collaborative approach creates an environment where each team can draw upon the experience and intelligence of the whole group, to knock down obstacles, eliminate false starts, and further speed up the path from idea to paying customers.
With origins ranging from India to London to Canada, and all corners of the United States, this second batch of fledglings represent a diverse range of passions and approaches to the topic of creating a socially conscious business.
The seven start-ups and their ideas are:
- Brown Box: Turning human solid waste into energy.
- Serve Smart: Cultural intelligence training for difference making.
- Localista: A customer loyalty network for and by local businesses based around a technology platform for shopping rewards.
- Snohomish Soap: Employing “Stay at home Moms” in a dispersed network to make and sell soap.
- My Voice: Crowdsourcing local knowledge to create change by connecting funders with recipients to make the most effective use of every dollar.
- Übrlocal: Connecting local food producers and consumers through hyperlocal market places to decentralize buying choices.
- Shift Labs: Simple, inexpensive human-centered medical devices for global markets.
No doubt these ideas will change rapidly and often over the course of the program. Some may be unrecognizable by the end, but everyone involved in the program is very excited about all the fledglings and we look forward to them taking flight.