Social enterprise combines the independence and creativity that starting a business allows with a passion for making a difference. The challenge is finding a viable business idea.
It was following this conundrum that I was interested to hear a presentation Matt Kepple, the founder of Makerble, a platform where people can donate money to charities of their choice. A lot of thought has gone into how to make the experience interactive and user friendly by using gamification. Donors get feedback on the impact their contribution has made and the site allows access to smaller charities who don’t have a big marketing budget. Income comes from a small percentage of the donations (4p in every pound).
It’s inspiring to see someone making an idea like this work. Listening to Matt talk, it’s clear there are a few reasons for this, here he shares his insights.
Start something you feel passionate about.
I wanted to sponsor a child when I was at university. I couldn’t afford the £15 a month and I came up with the idea ‘Sponsor-a-Kid-for-a- Quid’ where a group of people could chip in for the full sum. This gave me a lot of experience of starting something up.
Go for awards and competitions even if you don’t think you’ll get it.
I was persuaded to enter Sponsor-a-Kid-for-a-Quid for the Channel 4 IDEASFACTORY and we won! This helped establish credibility with funders and other stakeholders.
Be open to all connections and opportunities, put yourself out there.
I had a random set of collisions with different people. A chance meeting at a tech start-up event ended up as a business partnership. A comment in a Guardian article led to an approach from a marketing expert who liked the idea of Makerble and wanted to donate some of his time to get the business of the ground.
Be creative in sourcing funding and be prepared to put in some of your own cash if you can.
Money for Makerble came from a variety of places: savings, grants, an enterprise prize from the RSA and more recently a £10,000 government-backed start-up loan.
Things don’t have to be perfect to launch (especially with tech businesses).
A pre-launch or soft launch can provide some crucial feedback and iron out problems before the main event.
If you have an entrepreneurial spark, here are three key steps you can take this year.
- Go along to events where you can hear entrepreneurs talking about their experiences. This can get your creativity flowing.
- If you have an idea, you might be able to find some seed funding to trial it. UnLtd is good for social enterprise or start with this list from Queen Mary Careers.
- Start having conversations, making links with people. Who knows where these might lead in the future. www.meetup.com can widen your networks – search for ‘start-up’ or ‘enterprise’.
Like the Starting Your Own Business Facebook Page to hear of events and competitions.
Don’t forget that 17th -21st November is Global Entrepreneurship Week with lots of events taking place around the country.
With thanks to The Careers Group Entrepreneurship Group.