Investing in social entrepreneurs like Josh Shuckman from Social Change Nation

We are using blogger as a live draft sandbox for our medium account. Rather than just save drafts, we wanted to publish something live - before it is ready for medium. If you want to join this experiment let us know in the comments, either as an editor or as a publisher. 

Before we launched the milvalchal, we did indeed have a hypothesis about our customer (the segment for whom we believed we were solving a problem), after we launched of course, we learned more about reality. 

Josh was one of the first people to finish 100 interviews, he was one of the first people to run a proper experiment (to those of you who are thinking of accepting the challenge, a proper experiment has a deadline, a learning outcome, tests one thing at a time, etc), was the first person to run 4 experiments, was the first person to take our money, and - was the first person to voluntarily not take funding for a specific experiment until he was able to gain clearer insight into certain parts of his model.

It is no surprise that there is demand for our funding from social entrepreneurs. They, especially first time social entrepreneurs without huge traction (not financial traction but impact traction) are the ones who feel the most pain when it comes to funding. On a personal note they are also the folks most deserving of funding but also the most in need of "leanstartup". During my first lean for good workshop I said, "it takes more than good intentions to make an impact". I want to support these brilliant entrepreneurs - but we need a sustainable way to do so.

We challenged Josh to post the contents of 10 interviews, so we could all rally around the TRUE problem he is solving for his customers. After we publish 10, we will decide as a team how best to help more entrepreneurs like Josh. 

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Hypothesized problem: She, like many social entrepreneurs who wanted to take the leap, lacks a solid plan for incremental steps that will snowball into her ability to launch into business on her own.  

Findings during call: Jillian has tried a number of social ventures, all with limited success. She has a full time job currently, and would like to find something, even at greatly reduced income that would allow her to stop that job and grow a venture of her own. She's tried some contract roles in marketing and crowdfunding consulting, which have worked temporarily, but have not been enough for her to make the leap.

When asked what her biggest challenge was, she said: 'knowing which idea to focus on'.  With all the possible directions she could take to monetize, it is difficult for her to know which one stands the best chance of success.  

She also mentioned that she lacked a group of peers in social venturing to help support each other.  When asked, she indicated that the support group could be virtual.

Problem I'm solving: Uncertainty on where she should focus her efforts.  I believe this could be solved via coaching that pushed her to focus in one area and measure results incrementally. It would also encourage her to pivot quickly based on learnings from the field.  

#2:

I Interviewed David Fikes via phone: 

Hypothesis: He, like many social entrepreneurs who wants to take the leap, lacks a solid plan for incremental steps that will snowball into his ability to launch into business on his own.  

Findings during call:  In this case, my hypothesis was dis-proven.  David is a successful entrepreneur who has launched and sold a traditional business.  He now wants to take that entrepreneurial skill to create a social venture. He has the money, time, and freedom to do it, but he lacks the direction on what kind of social venture he should do.  He has a special interest in (and heart for) Asia, so he'd like to work there, but he also lacks the contacts and context for an understanding there.  

Biggest challenge (according to him): Finding a peer group of entrepreneurs in a similar position who he could bounce ideas off of, and grow with. 

Most surprising finding: That he did not perceive money and time as a barrier at all.  It was direction from like minded individuals that he indicated was his biggest need. 

Problem I'm Solving: In this case, if I could create a group of mentors that David viewed as peers that also provided tangible action steps and accountability.  I would create enough value to charge - especially if I had one person in the group who was a well known name/had a lot of credibility. 

#3

I interviewed Abby Chroman via phone.

Hypothesis: She, like many social entrepreneurs who wanted to take the leap, lacks a solid plan for incremental steps that will snowball into her ability to launch into business on her own.  

Findings During Call: While she has an idea for a venture, she actually really likes her full time job, and wants to be an 'intrapreneur' within that job. But, she's open to leading the start of a venture that empowers homeless individuals if she ends up being the only one for the job.  

Biggest Challenge: Linking together stakeholders for a project she has in mind to put homeless individuals in the positions of 'teachers' on disaster preparedness.

Most surprising finding: That she didn't actually want to be an entrepreneur.  

Problem I'm Solving: In this case, if I could give her a clear action plan for incrementally building out this program within the context of her current job, I think she'd be interested.  I'm not sure how I would do that though. 
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