Ten social enterprises have been selected as 2021 finalists for What’s Next YYC, a biennial award created by the Trico Charitable Foundation in 2019 to celebrate and advance excellence in social entrepreneurship in Calgary. What’s Next YYC features two $25,000 jury prizes, a $25,000 audience choice, and $25,000 the finalists share amongst themselves. The awards will be handed out on Thursday, November 18, 2021, at the virtual Pivot on Purpose Summit (POP). POP is a three-day summit hosted by the Trico Foundation Social Entrepreneurship Centre at the Haskayne School of Business (more on POP at the bottom of this blog). To help the POP audience and others get to know these social enterprises better, this blog series will have each finalist answer ten questions – five basic questions and five from local funders. Registration is open now.
[box] Brief bio of Nicerr: Nicerr is a community mentorship platform that enables experienced professionals to give back – by mentoring people from under-represented communities. We partner with nonprofits, educational institutions and socially-responsible companies to make mentorship accessible to everyone. Features like context-based request and one-click scheduling make it super easy for mentors to connect with the right mentees. We also track mentoring time, and use it to fuel gamification elements such as community badges – to recognize mentors’ community contributions and keep them engaged. Programs & Awards: Accelerate AB 2020, one of the top 8 start-ups in Alberta, the A100; Launch Party 2020, one of the top 15 start-ups in Calgary, Start-up Calgary; Junction, Platform Calgary; The Accelerator. [/box]
Q & A with Robin Daultani, Founder of Nicerr:
Five Basic Questions:
- What is your social enterprise’s ‘origin story’?
“Once upon a time in 2019, I read an article about how Warren Buffett auctions a charity lunch every year. And that the winning bid was over $4.5 million!! “Why only Buffett?” was the question I asked myself. This question, combined with my passion for using technology to create positive impact, led to the birth of our social enterprise – Nicerr.
We launched the first version of the platform in September 2019 – where people seeking advice could book time with an expert – by donating to a charity of this expert’s choice. However, we realized that this was creating barriers for folks who couldn’t afford to donate. We now operate as a free mentorship platform, focused on helping people from under-represented groups.
Although the core idea has changed, what hasn’t changed is our focus on empowering people and communities through technology.”
- What are your current annual sales and annual social impact?
“Current annual sales stand at $2,000. Revenue took a hit this year as we transitioned into a free mentorship platform but a new product (and a new business model) is in the works! For our social impact, we have facilitated over 40 mentoring sessions in the year so far.”
- What are you most proud of regarding your social enterprise?
“Facilitating over 80 mentoring sessions. At least 5 of the mentees found these sessions to be a big help in finding their jobs. To see how mentoring has created a big tangible impact for our users has been very rewarding for us.”
- What’s the next step for your social enterprise?
“We are working on a new product – a SaaS offering for nonprofits and local communities – that helps them build and operate white-labeled community engagement platforms. We are currently piloting the offering with a few nonprofits, and hope to launch the product in the first quarter of next year.”
- What’s your ultimate dream for your social enterprise?
“Our ultimate dream is for Nicerr to become the platform of choice for purpose-driven organizations around the world – to connect, support and nurture the communities they serve. Our goal is to facilitate 1 million connections by 2025, with a strong focus on serving people from under-represented groups.”
Five Questions From Funders*:
- When was a time someone showed you compassion and empathy?
“Jyoti, my wife, feeds our family while I navigate the uncertainties of starting up. Heather, my advisor, listens and keeps me accountable without expecting anything in return. I feel blessed to be surrounded by an incredible group of family members, advisors and friends who display compassion and empathy – everyday.”
- When you look at your origin story, what are the small moments you look back on fondly?
“During the initial stages, I interviewed a lot of people. 56 to be precise. Each interview deepened my understanding of how people think, act and connect. Looking back at these interactions, I feel thankful that so many people – most of them were complete strangers –helped me bring Nicerr to life.”
- In what ways has your social enterprise been reshaped by community needs?
“User feedback has been a core driver of how we have evolved, and continue to do so. We launched as a paid platform (advice-in-lieu-of-donations) but made the platform free after realizing that it was creating barriers for folks who couldn’t afford to donate.”
- How has your social impact evolved from what you originally envisioned?
“We launched as a paid platform, where people could meet experts by donating to charities. We now operate as a free mentorship platform, focused on helping people, especially from under-represented groups. Our social impact has therefore evolved – from donations to number of people supported.”
- If you had to describe it in one sentence, what is the “why” behind your mission?
“Opportunities cannot be equal if they are not accessible. We want to make opportunities accessible to all – by helping people make meaningful connections.”
*The local funders that provided questions are:
More About the Pivot on Purpose Summit (POP): POP, occurring November 18-20, 2021, is a free, virtual gathering that aspires to be the next step in a movement to reimagine the power of business models to solve social problems. POP is held in collaboration with the Trico Charitable Foundation (TCF), the NU Community Board, and the Canadian Sustainable Finance Network. Registration is open now.
POP Highlights Include:
|Tariq Fancy, former CIO for sustainability investing at BlackRock
|Alex Edmans, author of Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver both Purpose and Profit
|R. Edward Freeman, the thought leader many regard as founder of stakeholder capitalism
|21 Canadian social entrepreneurs
|Spotlight on Scotland, a world-leader in nurturing social entrepreneurship with initiatives including a 30 million Third Sector Growth Fund
|And much more!