SOCAP 2011: The Convergence of Money and Meaning

The food was great and the company was inspiring.  SOCAP 2011, a conference at the intersection of money and meaning, might have been the best party you can legitimately expense this year.  Entrepreneurs, investors, futurists, filmmakers, programmers, catalysts and you-name-it are converging to solve our planet’s most pressing issues in land management, water, climate change, poverty and energy.

SOCAP convener Kevin Jones summarized the issue at hand: “The system is at risk.  It is time to make a lot of small bets on startups who are building a new system.  The way we can have the highest impact is to keep both money and meaning squarely on the table when we do our deals.”

Indeed, the air was full of positive meaning and action.  Real issues were being discussed here and entrepreneurs are actualizing real solutions. Day one included a panel with examples on the use of games to drive education and change, a panel on alleviating food deserts, a conversation on the role of government in social business, and a fireside chat with Van Jones, the former green jobs advisor to President Obama.  Entrepreneurs include both seasoned business owners and enterprising new grads.   In a process that attracted over 350 applications, over 80 entrepreneurs from 20 countries were awarded scholarships to attend SOCAP.  Their solutions range from solar solutions to indestructible soccer balls that build community to crowd-buying of media for messages that matter.  There is simply not enough time to cover them all, but the venture names suggest the range of entrepreneurs in attendance: BetterMeans, Mandela Foods and LoudSauce from the US,  EGG-energy from Tanzania, Wello Water from India, M-Prep from Kenya, One Earth Designs from China and Barefoot Power from Australia.

Connie Kwan and Heather King attended SOCAP 2011 last week – stay tuned for reports and reactions all week.  You can follow @ConnieMKwan on twitter to find out the latest, and check back for video interviews with innovators and articles about the conference.

Connie Kwan is a GreenTech Marketing professional based in Silicon Valley, CA.  She holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School.  Follow her on Twitter @ConnieMKwan.

Connie Kwan is a Product Manager and Entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley, CA. She builds teams to deliver products that benefit people, planet and profit. She holds an MBA in Sustainability at Presidio Graduate School and blogs about sustainability and business at Sustainable Thinking: Applied (