Startups for Good: The New Breed of Social Impact Incubators
Friday, November 11, 2011
It takes a village to raise a child, but it takes an ecosystem to scale a business that will transform the world. For many industries, support networks already exist in the form of business incubators, accelerators, venture capital, and other tools that will help grow an organization. For businesses designed with social and environmental impact in mind, there are far fewer resources to nurture them to world-class status.
That’s the niche Mission Markets hopes to fill. So far, the company-essentially an integrated platform providing access to investment capital, technology, markets, and advice-has reported success turning around (or resurrecting) some of the best ideas from corporate R&D labs, university departments, and failed startups out in the wild. It then gives them what they need to survive and, hopefully, return a profit. Usually, this means business infrastructure, services, and consulting. “We view ourselves as the only fully integrated firm that can handle any major development from early stage technologies all the way to sophisticated companies that are developing a project,” says Sam Salman, president and CEO of MissionMarkets, which is also a B Corp.
Other groups are getting into the game as well, although these are typically scaled as incubators rather than ecosystems: New Ventures (with an environmental focus), GoodCompany Ventures, the Skoll Foundation’s Social Edge, Hub Ventures in the Bay Area and Portland State University’s Social Innovation Incubator.