Written by Andrea van Vugt
For more information and to get involved please contact Andrea at Andreavanv@gmail.com
As a student studying business and social innovation I am intrigued by social entrepreneurship. To me, social entrepreneurship can be described simply as the place where the business and social sectors meet to create meaningful change.
My interest in social entrepreneurship led me to an event presented by the TRICO Charitable Foundation called The World of Social Entrepreneurship. This event was part of the Beakerhead festival in Calgary that brings together disciplines including science, engineering, arts and entertainment in the context of social impact. The World of Social Entrepreneurship was a good example of this inclusive, multidisciplinary approach.
The event was held in the social enterprise event space in Inglewood called Venue 1008. Venue 1008 is a contemporary and artistic event facility and catering business that supports 100% of its proceeds going to the local charity Servants Anonymous Society of Calgary. It is a great space that allows you to “Party with a Purpose”!
The event was exciting business. Really, exactly that. Exciting and innovative people spoke about the businesses they’ve created and inspired the rest of us to use our own creative abilities to make social impact in the world. The speakers shared about topics ranging from how to develop and execute a plan in the social sector to how to create your own market. As an aspiring social entrepreneur, I found the event engaging and full of great information. Here are the ten most powerful points I took from the event:
- No product or service will be right for the customer the first time around. Listen to customer feedback.
- Understand who you are trying to help and measure your impact.
- Allow your product and/or service to fail. In fact, allow your product to fail fast so you can learn from your mistakes. Your product and/or services will only grow stronger with time.
- Tell people about your product and/or service. Tell your friends, family, colleagues and that person sitting beside you on the bus. Then act on the feedback you get from everyone and refine your product and/or service accordingly.
- The more you share about your project and your goals the more you are held accountable for their success.
- If you are designing something physical there is lots of technology you can use to make it visual. Show people! Then ask them for feedback and utilize the constructive criticism.
- Speak to a younger group of people. Target future generations. You will be amazed at the simple questions they will ask that you may not have considered yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to get a patent. Go in person to where you need to get it because when you show up in person you will get your patent 50% faster than you will using other venues.
- You can make money and do good at the same time. Helping people doesn’t mean you have to forget about making money.
- Have confidence. You have the ability to define and create positive impact in the world. Go for it!
After a day full of insights the event concluded with a Local Social Venture Pitch Contest where Calgary’s top entrepreneurs and innovators were given 3- 5 minutes each to pitch their social ventures to a panel of judges. The winner, Paul Shumlich, received $10,000 towards his social venture Deepwater Farms. The purpose of Deepwater Farms is to “Increase food security and reduce industrial agriculture environmental degradation by sustainably growing food year round, locally, in closed loop aquaponic systems that can be utilized by a wide range of communities inclusive to developments, marginalized populations, and the not for profit and for profit sector as well.” Way to go Paul!
Trico’s The World of Social Entrepreneurship event was testimony to the power we all have to create social change. For more information about Trico Charitable Foundation’s currents programs please visit: https://tricofoundation.ca/our-programs/