The Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework
In this section we’ll dig deeper into the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework and each of its stages and steps. Here is where we’ll share some our suggested approaches, outlines, and commentary in regards to howyou should work through each of these stages and steps as well as what we believe you need to keep in mind. The information we’ll share here is not intended to provide you with an exhaustive set of tools, processes, and strategies to support the entire start-up journey but instead a “starter kit” that we believe will serve as a guide rail to keep you from drifting too far off that start-up journey path. In addition, we encourage you to look for, and leverage, tools, processes, and strategies used by others (including the broader Social Venture Café community) to achieve success in their social venture start-up journeys. What’s important is that you follow the Framework’s recommended stage-by-stage, step-by-step, approach to not only discover, validate, and hone your new social venture start-up ideas, but also in terms of how to put those ideas in front of the critical sponsoring and funding stakeholders whose commitments will allow you to claim initial funding success; a critical milestone where you and your team can claim success in securing the initial sponsorship and resources needed to
At its center: YOU!
Approach Highlights, Outlines, & Commentary: Your Stage 1 work requires that you to take time to clarify such things as: 1) the central purpose behind your desire to set off on your social venture creation journey, 2) the destination you’d like to reach at the end of the journey , 3) the directions and routes you’d like to take to get there, 4) the people (and types of people) you need and want to be part of your journey, 5) the range and depth of the resources you’re willing to make available to support your journey, 6) the preferred approaches you’d like to take as you make daily decisions and trade-offs concerning alternative paths forward towards your destination, 7) the landmarks and milestones you’d like to see used to guide your journey and its progress, 8) the period of time you’d like to be on the journey or would like to spend on any one leg of the journey , and ultimately, 9) the outcomes you’d like to have achieved once you and your team have reached your final destination; securing the initial funding necessary to move into full development of your social venture solution as well as its launch into the community and community segments it is intended to serve. Clarity around this “Success” information provides you with an essential set of navigational reference points to ensure you stay focused on achieving the “Success” you want to achieve as a result of you and your team’s progress through your start-up efforts; “Success” as defined by YOU and not by others!
Heading North – The Right Start
Stage 2 : Step 1
Establishing Your Field Of Interest
Approach Highlights, Outlines, & Commentary: When we talk about community social challenges, needs, and problems, we (are specifically referring to “a range of challenges, needs, and problems that impact the ability of one or more community segments to access or take advantage of the community’s available social, political, legal, and economic, rights, privileges, resources, and opportunities”. In this step of the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework, your work will be on bringing further clarity and focus to your interest and how you’ll pursue that interest. (Note: Remember, the focus on social exclusion is a deep interest to the Social Venture Café’ organization, the focus of your social venture Start-up may differ from this and you should feel to adapt application of the Framework’s process, outlines, and tools to your unique area of interest.)
We suggest you begin this process by identifying your general “Area of Interest”. A sampling of these Areas of Interest include: Health problems, racism, spousal abuse, crime, civil rights, alcoholism, drug abuse, affordable healthcare, social exclusion-biases, literacy and educational advancement, life transitions-loss of job- loss of shelter- loss of support systems-sudden mental or physical challenges, age discrimination, gender discrimination, human rights, civil rights, homelessness, poverty, sexual abuse, child abuse, access to quality education, access to affordable housing, physical disabilities, bullying, public health, community engagement, access and appreciation of the arts, income opportunities, resource sustainability, digital divide-exclusion, STEM/STEAM education, etc. Feel free to identify your own generalarea of interest starting point if it was not touched on here. With this general “Area of Interest” starting point in hand, it’s now time to drive forward and fully flesh out and clarify your “Field of Interest”; a level of clarity that will help bring far greater focus to your new venture’s efforts.
From your identified generalArea of Interest starting point, we suggest you go through five additional layers of clarification and definitional work in order to bring your Field of Interest into full and complete focus.
In the first layer, determine your interest in regards to either, 1) improving access to the community’s available social, political, legal, and economic, rights, privileges, resources , and opportunities, or 2) increasing the amount of those social, political, legal, and economic, rights, privileges, resources , and opportunities, or 3) working to make sure that available social, political, legal, and economic, rights, privileges, resources , and opportunities can be efficiently and effectively taken advantage of by all Community’s members and groups.
The second layer of definitional work helps clarify where you want to focus in the social challenge, need, problem life-cycle. Do you want to focus on:
Prevention – identifyingand proactively helping people or groups avoid being impacted by a social challenge, need, or problem “cause”,
Cause – reducing or eliminating the root cause(s) of a recognized
challenge, need, or problem,
Symptoms – treating the negative effects these causes have created,
Intervention – helping people and/or groups permanently escape the
Solution Interface &/or Coordination –providing a direct interface to the people and/or groups being impacted to help them create a custom, integrated solution to address their needs, challenges, or problems; often working across providers of prevention, cause, symptom, or intervention services or products to do so. Also, may act to help guide people and/or groups to how to find and take advantage of services or products throughout the ecosystem system.
The third layer of definitional work is to clarify whether your Field of Interest is to have a specific “segment” focus. A sample of possible segment focus areas include:
- Age/Age groups,
- Ethnicity or Race,
The fourth layerof definitional work is aimed at identifying whether you want to have a direct or indirect relationship with the Community member (s) that are being impacted by the Community challenge, need, or problem.
The fifth and final layer of Field of Interest definitional work requires you to identify the nature of the solution ideas you’ll want to being to the Community. Quite simply, are you interested in creating and bringing products or services to the Community through your new venture solution. “Services” include retailing or distribution services where products created and manufactured by others are included as part of services delivered to impacted Community members or groups. It is also possible to define your Field of Interest to include both product creation as well as the related services required to have those products be acquired and utilized within the Community.
To bring closure to your Field of Interest definitional work, you can simply combine the insights and directional choices you made as part of the 5 layers of work you’ve just gone through into a final “Field of Interest” statement. This statement and the work you’ve done to create it, should have significantly helped you to clarify the intended focus and direction of your social venture start-up efforts. The insights you’ve gained (both of where you WILL focus as well as where you WILL NOT focus) will be help you to avoid costly missteps in you and your team’s work as you set of to discover, develop, and launch exciting new solutions to better serve your chosen Community Field of Interest.
With your Field of Interest securely in hand, it’s time to turn to the second step within “The Right Start” stage of the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework; the Winning Team.
2 : Step 2
Building Your Winning Team
Approach Highlights, Outlines, & Commentary: First, let’s talk about team size. There has been a lot of research around teams and team sizes when it comes to teams engaged in new venture start-up efforts. As a general guideline, team size should be approximately 5 plus or minus two (including yourself; the entrepreneurial leader). In addition to this, having mentors or outside advisors of 2 or 3 is typical and desirable. A core team size of 3 is considered about right to take a Social Venture start-up through the “Filter & Select” step of the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework. As an initial set of high potential concepts (e.g., 2 or 3) are validated in the community and with key stakeholders in terms of desirability and feasibility, the team might be expanded to 5 to further refine those Social Venture ideas and concepts into tighter designs, fully functioning/ working prototypes, and/or sustainable self-sufficient social venture operating models. This team would stay in place through the Funding/Sponsorship Review and related Go/No Go decision point steps of the Framework cycle. If the funding/sponsorship decision is favorable, the team might be increased to drive the full development of the Solution and its launch/implementation plan, etc. (i.e., the follow-on work as defined in the proposal that was funded and sponsored as part of the Funding/Sponsorship Review). While numbers help to size the team, what’s most critically important is the make-up of the team. In short, the primary consideration when filling these early team positions must be related to the team members ability to contribute positively to the overall team dynamics as well as to efficiently and effectively complete the tasks and work to be done in the period over which it must be done. Let’s take a look at the various factors to consider in selecting these team members. With the goal of optimizing overall efficiency and effectiveness of the team to collaboratively execute the work and tasks ahead of them. Considerations should include:
- Task/work capacity (e.g., ability to do tasks/work efficiently and effectively)
- Experience (e.g., in necessary functional area, in social innovation and start-up space, in community need/challenge area, in lifecycle stage of work activities, etc.)
- Technical knowledge (e.g. academic, industry practices, relevant research, etc.)
- Diversity (e.g., benefits to be achieved through gender, culture, ethnic, age, etc.)
- Interpersonal style and fit (e.g., assertiveness levels, communication openness/frequency, flexibility to other styles, ability to relate to team’s mental models, understandings and representations of the team’s environment and focus, etc.)
- Communication sills (e.g., verbal, written, listening, clarity of thought and thought expression, etc.)
- Outlook on life (e.g., positive/optimist, cautious/realist, skeptical/pessimistic, etc.)
- Team role preference s (e.g., clarifier, ideator, planner, implementer, Dreamer vs Doer, Leader vs Follower vs Utility Player etc.)
- Work pattern preferences (e.g., ready-aim-fire vs ready-fire-aim, agile vs waterfall, etc.)
- Emotional maturity (e.g., self-centered vs other-centered, emotional control & management, etc.)
- Personality fit to team and culture (e.g., relatedness, can add value to peers/colleagues/friends vs playing pure utility role, can bring balance and harmony to team, ability to build and sustain positive teamwork and relatedness, ability to bring out the best in self and others, shares a passion for the work and the outcomes the team is driving to achieve, is aligned to the required time, resource and emotional investments to the team and organization’s formal and informal reward structures; does the investment –reward structure fit the person’s “WIIFM-What’s In It For Me?” model, etc)
In forming your core team, it’s good to try and attract:
- people with deep domain knowledge in the community in regards to its need/challenge areas (i.e., in terms of their being effected or having worked to service that need/challenge area),
- people who have cultural anthropological sensitivities, storyteller skills & capabilities,
- people with deep community stakeholder relationships and understandings, technical product/service/solution designers and developers, Value Delivery System/Ecosystem designers and developers with an MBA or Social Entrepreneurship degree or equivalent, and people that have advanced business or operational management experiences.
These profiles often make small start-up teams especially effective and efficient. In addition to the direct core start-up team, consider recruiting individuals who can support your efforts on an advisory, mentorship, or service provider basis to help support your basic needs in area like: Finance/Accounting/Business Operations, Legal, HR, Sales, Service Delivery, Outbound Marketing, and early-stage IT Infrastructure support needs as might be necessary.
While it is as much an art as it is a science, we believe your overall goal in building a “Winning Team” should be threefold: First, to create a core team that is composed of the best combination of relevant skills, experiences, and capabilities possible in order to get the work that needs to be done , done in a highly efficient and effective manner, Second, to build a team of whose personal and collective motivations are consistent with yours, and lastly, to build a team whose interpersonal and teaming skills will support and sustain a positive and collaborative environment throughout the social venture start-up journey.
Heading West: The Right Goals To Guide Your Journey
Stage 3 : Step 1
A Common Orentation To Your Community And Your Community Field Of Interest
Approach Highlights, Outlines, & Commentary: Your primary objective in this step of the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework is to build a deeper understanding of the structure and dynamics around the Community and your Community Field of Interest area the your venture intends to address.
To do this, we recommend you’ll use a range of approaches including, but not limited to: web-based research, public document research, conversations with Community experts and members, observation, etc. As you go through this work, we recommend you capture the insights and learnings you’ll gain in a number of core documents that we believe enhance the team’s orientation process as well as helps the team generate important and valuable reference materials that they will tap many times throughout the social venture creation and its underlying solution innovation cycle. The documents we recommend you create and sustain throughout your work include:
Community Profile: Boundaries, description, segmentation, and directions (overall and related to its key segments)
Community Field of Interest: Impacted Community members, available services and solutions, key service and solution delivery partners alliances
Community Stakeholders: Essential, strategic, important, and other stakeholders; Identification, role, and primary interests
Community Ecosystem Map: A visual representation of above three areas of information, insights, and learnings. A creative tool used to summarize and help teams better understand and align around “contextually” rich information and Community relationship structures.
Community Glossary & Roster of Organizations: Community and Community Field of Interest terms, acronyms, organizational identities and roles, etc.
To jump-start your work in developing these useful documents as a means of deepening your team’s shared understanding of the Community, here’s a list of key questions we suggest you consider pursuing answer to:
- How have you specifically defined the physical boundaries (e.g., neighborhood, zip code, city, county, region, etc.) of the “Community” within which you’ll focus?
- What trends (e.g., demographic, economic, technological, legislative, public policy, Community engagement, public/ private/nonprofit institution sponsorship, etc.) might impact (directly or indirectly, positively or negatively) the Community? What are the key drivers (public or private) of those trends?
- How can the Community best be described relative to other communities across the region, the state, or the nation?
- How are the Community’s broader social challenges, needs, and problems currently being described and classified (i.e., segmented) by its members, groups, and/or support organizations?
- What attributes (both unique and common) help best describe each of these segments?
- Across these social challenges, need, problem segments, what is the estimated number of individuals and/or groups that are being directly or indirectly impacted by these various social challenges, needs, or problems?
- What trends (demographic, economic, technological, legislative, public policy, Community engagement, public/ private/nonprofit institution sponsorship, etc.) might impact (directly or indirectly, positively or negatively) these Community challenge, need, problem segments (e.g., either in changing the numbers, the nature of need/challenge/problem, or in better serving the need/challenge/problem areas, etc.)? When might those impacts be felt? What are the key drivers (public or private) of those trends?
- What priority and importance does the Community put on finding solutions to better serve or solve these various areas of social need, challenge, and problem? (i.e. Highest to lowest priority and importance).
- What current and planned level of time, talent, and resources (including $) is being invested to serve these various Community challenges, need, and problem areas? How does this jive with the relative importance the Community has placed each challenge, need, or problem?
- How much of the time, talent, and resource currently being applied to addressing these challenges, needs, and problems is publicly provided vs privately provided? How is this expected to evolve over time?
- What is the number and identity of public and/or private entities (including individuals, groups, or organizations) providing these resources today? How is this expected to change and evolve of time?
- What are the expected sources of newtime, talent, and resource (i.e., from individuals, groups, or organizations) that are anticipated to be secured and applied to address these Community social challenge, need, and problem areas?
- Who has publicly or privately communicated an interest in serving one or more of the Community’s challenge, need, or problem areas that aren’t currently doing so? Why haven’t they engaged or invested previously? If they are “planning” to significantly change their level of engagement or investment, what’s driving that plan?
- What Community policies and/or practices directly or indirectly impact (positively or negatively) its various social challenge, need, or problem areas?
- Which Community stakeholders support sustaining the status quo (i.e., in regards to how the Community’s challenge, need, and problem areas are being served). Why do they want to do this vs actively seeking to make changes r improvements to the status quo?
- Who are the Community stakeholders who are actively promoting change (specific or nonspecific) to the status quo? What interest do they have in doing so? What level of power (i.e., political, financial, etc.) can they put behind driving that change? How likely are they to exert such power? When would it be expected they will do so if it’s likely?
- Are there any current or emerging Community views on how its challenge, need, and problem area should be approached?
- How engaged is the Community’s members in regards to working together to solve and/or improve how its challenge, need, or problem areas are being addressed? (e.g., broad-based Community engagement, isolated Community group engagement, public service only engagement, etc.)
Community Field of Interest:
Within your Field of Interest Focus area:
- Where does your Field of Interest Focus area fit into the Community’s priorities?
- How many Community members are impacted directly and indirectly by the social challenges, needs, or problems falling within your Field of Interest focus?
- What Community services are currently available to address the identified Field of Interest challenge, need, and/or problem areas? What organizations or groups currently provide those services?
- What level of service delivery capacity does each of these organizations and groups have to serve the Community?
- What other partnerships, alliances, and relationships exist to support or serve the targeted challenge, need, problem areas? How fragile or stable are these?
- How many of the affected Community members or groups are taking advantage of these services?
- What does a Community member have to go through to receive such supportive services?
- How efficiently are these services being provided (based on comparative regional /national performance standards or comparisons)?
- How effective are the various service providers in addressing the short vs intermediate vs long-term existence and/or effects of these challenges, needs, and problems?
- Do affected Community members see a better way the current solutions could be delivered? In what way?
- What new or improved solutions would affected Community members like to see?
- What impact do the affected Community members think these ideas might have? Why do they believe that? What do they see as critical to getting these ideas implemented? How realistic do they think it is to expect these things to happen? Why do they think that?
- Who are seen as “essential” stakeholders in your social venture start-up efforts? (e.g. Venture Founder/Entrepreneurial leader, affected Community members, funders and sponsors who support is essential to the team’s efforts and ability to create, launch, and sustain success)? What role does each play and what factors in your mind have driven their classification as “Essential”?
- Who are seen as “Strategic” Stakeholders? (i.e., Stakeholders who play a significant role within the Community ecosystem in terms of : 1) directly or indirectly serving the challenges, needs, and problems that are the focus of your work, 2) whose advocacy or dissent would have a significant positive or negative influence across the broader stakeholder population in terms of your new social venture’s creation, development, launch, expansion efforts, and/or 3) whose unique services, capabilities, or relationships within the Community ecosystem will likely play a significant sponsorship or value delivery partnership role in your eventual social venture solution set directions). In your view, what specific “Strategic” role does each play and what factors have driven you to classify them as “Strategic”?
- Who are seen as “Important” Stakeholders? (i.e., stakeholders whose positive advocacy and support relative to other ventures, would have a positive impact on the new social venture’s success but whose lack of support would not be seen as fatal to its ability to secure adequate levels of funding and/or sponsorship necessary to move it forward into the full development and implementation/ launch phases of work.) Generally, these stakeholders are seen (based on historic and current interests and behaviors across and within the Community ecosystem) as open and supportive of positive changes being brought to the Community and how the Community serves and addresses its most pressing social challenges, needs, and problems. What specific “Important” role does each play in the Community and/or in serving the Community’s challenges, needs, and problems? What factors have driven you to classify them as “Important”?
- Who are seen as “Other” Stakeholders? (i.e., Stakeholders who would be affected by changes to the status quo but are not expected to respond to such changes in a manner that would meaningfully impact the venture’s ability to gain funding, sponsorship necessary to move forward in fully developing and launching their ideas. On the other hand, these stakeholders represent a group that can be nurtured into becoming a positive support and/or advocacy group for your new social venture’s efforts.) Given you’ve identified these “Other” stakeholders, what factors drove you to see them as such? (i.e., are they seen as easily nurtured positive advocates? Are they a group that could become potential detractors if not consistently considered and thought about? etc.)
Community Ecosystem Map
- A Community Ecosystem Map is a visual representation of the insights and learnings you have accumulated as you and your team have worked the process of building a deeper shared understanding of your chosen Community and the Field of Interest focus. This visual tool/approach is aimed at helping you and your team create and capture a contextual/systems view of the Community and its varied elements. When teams work on jointly developing these visual ecosystems maps (a.k.a. Context maps or System View maps) it encourages meaningful team engagement, helps teams clarify and align on common mental reference models, improves team/group memory, stimulates team awareness and acknowledgement of complex system/community interconnections, and triggers individual and group creative thinking.
Below is simple, low tech template example of what this might contain and how it might be formatted. The goal is to contextually and graphically represent the information, learnings, and insights that have emerged from your work. If done well, the output here will be a document you and your team will often refer to in order to describe, highlight, and better understand the dynamics and relationships affecting the Community and Field of Interest that you have elected to focus on.
Community Glossary and Roster of Organizations
- What terms are commonly used to describe and/or discuss the Community’s social challenges, needs, and problems?
- Regionally and nationally, what terms are commonly used in referring to, or discussing your Field of Interest focus area?
- Within the Community, what organizations are commonly mentioned or referred to when discussing the Community’s social challenges, needs, and problems? (i.e. Format: Name, Role, primary interest, primary sponsor and funders)
- Regionally and nationally, what organizations are mentioned/referred to when discussing your Field of Interest focus area? (i.e., Format: Name, Role, primary interest, primary sponsor and funders)
As you move forward in your work, you will continue to build and expand your Community learnings and insights. As a result, we encourage you and your team to make time to regularly share these new learnings and insights and reintegrate them into your previously existing body of knowledge (and documents) as appropriate. Making this a team habit will help sustain its shared view and understanding of the Community and the context within which your Field of Interest social challenges, needs, and problems exist and are being served.
While building this common orientation to your Community and your Field of Interest is an important foundation element in getting you and your team grounded, it is only the first step within the “Right Goal” stage of the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework. To complete this stage and ensure you keep your journey on a path towards success, you and your team must now work to more fully and completely evaluate the Essential, Strategic, and Important stakeholders that will be critical to getting your new social venture proposal funded, sponsored, and ultimately, supported within the Community. Let’s take a deeper look into the StakeholderObjectives step of the “Right Goal” stage of the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework.
Stage 3 : Step 2
Understanding Your Stakeholders’ Objectives & Interests
Approach Highlights, Outlines, & Commentary: Let’s dig into the” Stakeholder Objectives” step by defining “stakeholder” and in characterizing the range of elements that should be assessed in identifying and clarifying their goals, objectives, priorities, and preferences.
Stakeholder: Is a person, group, or organization whose interests are impacted by sustaining or changing the status quo. Goals and Objectives: The outcomes the stakeholder wants to realize or sustain ( implied, stated, or yet to be determined). Often stated in financial, emotional, physical, intellectual, relational, political, time, or risk tolerance level terms.
Priorities: The importance of one goal or objective in relationship to another goal or objective (e.g., a stakeholder puts on achieving socially oriented community goals and objectives vs non-socially oriented community or personal goals and objectives, etc).
Preferences: It is not uncommon for stakeholders, funders, and sponsors to have unique preferences attached to their goals, objectives, and priorities. Preferences denote specific, “preferred”, conditions attached to how a goal and objective is achieved, pursued, or delivered. Preferences fall short of being mandatory (or else they would become specific goals or objectives) but can influence how stakeholders, funders, and sponsors assess and evaluate your work and proposals.
With definition highlights in mind, we recommend that you sort all the stakeholders you identified as part of your community ecosystem mapping exercise, into one of the following three categories:
- Essential Stakeholders: Stakeholders whose interests, if not satisfactorily met, will result in almost certain failure in terms of your new social venture proposal being funded or gaining the necessary sponsorship support to move it forward into the next phase of development and implementation/launch. These stakeholders always include: You (as the Social Venture Entrepreneurial leader), your targeted funders, investors, and sponsors, and the individuals, groups, and organizations most directly impacted by the community social challenges, needs, or problems you are addressing and that your new social venture will be directly or indirectly serving. The fundamental criteria to apply in identifying stakeholders who fall into this stakeholder classification is to evaluate whether or not their active, positive engagement and support (either direct or indirect) of you and your team’s proposal is essential to securing funding or any other necessary sponsorship required to move your social venture forward into the development and implementation/launch. (Note: In creating your new social venture, we recommend that you identify at least 6 to 12 targeted funders (people of organizations) here. These may include: co-founders, friends, family, city/ county/ state/ federal organizations, foundations, non-profits, corporations, community leaders, local businesses, community or regional philanthropists, etc. We suggest that you “qualify” these potential sources of funding in regards to the following three attributes: 1) their history of actively funding new social ventures of similar size and development maturity as the one you are creating, 2) their expressed interested in actively supporting community ventures with a Field of Interest focus and structure similar to yours, and, 3) their openness to evaluating proposals for funding and sponsorship in a fair and unbiased manner.) You should not move forward in your Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework journey if you have not identified a range of well qualified “essential” funding and sponsorship stakeholders; stakeholders that have the capacity and willingness to support the general level of funding and sponsorship you believe may ultimately be required.
- Strategic Stakeholders: These are stakeholders who play a significant role within the comment ecosystem in terms of : 1) directly or indirectly serving the challenges, needs, and problems that are the focus of your work, 2) whose advocacy or dissent would have a significant positive or negative influence across the broader stakeholder population in terms of your new social venture’s creation, development, launch, expansion efforts, and/or 3) or whose unique services, capabilities, or relationships within the community ecosystem will likely play an important solution sponsorship or value delivery partnership role in you eventual social venture solution set directions. Achieving a neutral (i.e., no active advocacy or dissent) relationship with any of these stakeholders would not negatively impact the implementation or adoption success potential of your new social venture. Attracting visible and active dissent, or a non-supportive relationship with members in this stakeholder group, would require that you invest significant time and resources in order to neutralize and/or compensate for such dissent and/or lack of support but would not prove fatal to your new social venture’s ability to attract the necessary levels of funding and sponsorship to move into full development and eventual launch/implementation.
- Important Stakeholders:These are stakeholders whose positive advocacy (i.e., relative to other ventures), value delivery partnership support, or solution adoption support would have a positive impact on the new social venture’s success but whose lack of support (or their dissent) would not be seen as fatal to the new social venture’s ability ultimate to secure the funding and sponsorship likely necessary to move forward into full development and implementation/ launch phases of work. Generally, these stakeholders are seen (based on historic and current interests and behaviors across and within the community ecosystem) as open and supportive of positive changes to the community and in how the community serves and addresses its most pressing social challenges, needs, and problems. While these stakeholders might show resistance to changing the status quo (especially when those changes directly impact their personal interests), such resistance is not anticipated to have a significant impact to your new social venture start-up efforts. Any issues or concerns emerging from this set of stakeholders should be seen to be manageable.
- Other stakeholders:These stakeholders represent all others that reside within your community boundaries or its social support ecosystem that are not discretely categorized in the above three categories. These stakeholders are identifiable but are not expected to have any impact (positive or negative) to your proposal’s creation, or your efforts to successfully secure the funding and sponsorship necessary to move into full development and eventual launch/implementation. In the long-term, these stakeholders represent a group that can be nurtured into becoming a positive support and/or advocacy group for your new social venture’s efforts.
After you and your team have identified these various stakeholder groups, you must uncover and evaluate each of their key goals, objectives, priorities, and preferences. Most importantly, it’s critical that team develops a deep, common understanding of the key goal, objectives, priorities, and preferences of the “essential stakeholders” that have been identified. Lack of appreciating and embracing these critical stakeholders’ “truths” could quite literally be fatal to you and your team’s new social venture start-up efforts. To gather the necessary information about these essential stakeholders, you and your team should use both indirect (e.g., internet, newspaper & magazine articles, discussions with people and organizations that have current or previous interactions with the stakeholder, etc) and direct (e.g., interviews and discussions with the stakeholder themselves) approaches.
By being deeply aware of all of your stakeholders’ goals, objectives, priorities, and preferences early in the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework cycle (especially those of your essential stakeholders), you and your team will find that you will naturally use these insights (consciously and subconsciously) throughout the rest of your new social venture efforts.
With your community ecosystem and its range stakeholders more fully understood by the team, it’s now time to move forward to Stage 4 of the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework; “The Right Idea”.
Heading South – Discovering And Pursuing The Right Idea
Stage 4 : Step 1
Inspiration – An Empathic Understanding Of “A Day In The Life”
Approach Highlights, Outlines, & Commentary: Traditional empathic marketing work requires multi-disciplinary teams to engaged in direct unobtrusive observation of a targeted individual or group within those individuals’ or groups’ own environment. The Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework approach complements this approach by engaging in direct Community and Community member conversation (e.g., interviews, discussions, etc) as well as by doing some deep classification work (i.e. segmenting social challenges, needs, and problems into common attribute-based categories like gender, geographic location, age, sub-challenge, need, problem areas, etc). The learnings and insights coming out of this convergence of empathic marketing, conversation, and research work will enable your team to create contextually rich “Day In The Life; Today” stories and storyboards that accurately represent an empathic view of how a chosen Community challenge, need, and/or problem area is being experienced by its various members, groups, and organizations. This engaging story will provide the essential fuel to your team’s ideation “engine” out of which a wide variety of fresh ideas will be generated; ideas aimed at creating an exciting new “Day In The Life; Tomorrow” reality for the Community.
Within these stories, we recommend your frame them in terms of both “archetypes” (i.e., a “representative” profile of a person or group defined by their common behaviors and actions) as well as in terms of “Personas” (i.e., a fictional “representational” person described in details such as age, sex, occupation, education, interests and more). Develop Archetypes and Personas that you believe best represent the contextualized realities of the people and groups you around which you are focused on directly and/or indirectly serving. To build these contextually rich “Day In The Life; Today” stories will require that your entire team is engaged in the process because it is each and every member’s unique life’s experiences and personal perspectives that will allow the team to identify and capture a wide range of valuable insights into the “story” they will have all witnessed or discovered through their observation, conversation and classification work together. Remember that the goal in writing these contextually rich stories is to help develop deep emotional and intellectual insight into how these community challenges, needs, and problems are experienced. A good “Day in The Life; Today” story should uncover the “who, what, when, where, why, and how?” elements surrounding the social challenge, need, or problem and its effects on the Community and its various members, groups, and organizations.
Now, armed with these contextually rich, empathic stories of your Community’s challenges, needs, and problems, it’s time to unleash you and your team’s creative juices towards generating a broad array of fresh new solution ideas; ideas that offer up exciting new “Day In The Life; Tomorrow” possibilities for those Community members, group, and organizations around which you have committed yourself to serve.
Stage 4 : Step 2
Ideation Magic – Envisioning New “Day In The Life” Possibilities
Approach Highlights, Outlines, & Commentary: Armed with a contextually rich and intimate understanding of the Community, your Field of Interest , your Community’s Stakeholders, and the “Day In The Life; Today” realities of its at risk or impacted members, your goal in this step of the Breakaways Social Venture Start-up Framework is to generate a wide variety of fresh ideas aimed at fueling or supporting positive community ecosystem change that will help drive exciting new “Day in the life; Tomorrow” realities for its at risk or impacted members and/or supportive systems.
A wide array of processes, tools, and methodologies are available to support the ideation process. These include, but are not limited to: Brainstorming, Brainwriting;6-3-5 & card exchange technique, Pin card/Post-It Note technique, Story-boarding, idea-boarding, Magazine rip & collage, , Creating and developing a visual concept wall, Mind mapping, X-Y Axis Idea Direction – Attribute Extremes, simple Rapid Prototyping, etc. (note: feel free search the internet for “Ideation Techniques”; pick what suits your team and helps support and productive and highly engaging creative ideation process.)
A key to this ideation cycle is to use a variety of both individually-oriented and group-oriented processes, tools, and methodologies. In addition, it’s important to allow the brain’s natural problem solving and creative thinking processes to work. This means that you and your team must be careful not to force premature closure to the ideation process. We recommend you allow you and your team time (up to several weeks) to go through the complete ideation cycle. (Note: While you are encouraged to take time here, it’s important to keep in mind that these ideas will continue to evolve as you move further along in the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework cycle so we suggest you support an ideation cycle lasts no less than one week and no longer than four.). With a broad array of solution ideas generated and a sense of how each has the potential of creating a positive new “Day In The Life: Tomorrow” story for your targeted community member of group “personas”, it’s time to move forward.
Stage 4 : Step 3
Narrowing The Possibilities To The Most Promising
Approach Highlights, Outlines, & Commentary: The good news about the first part of this step is that you can leverage the information you pulled together as you worked through the “At Its Center is YOU!”, “The Right Start”, and “The Right Goals” stages of your Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework. Your goal in this step of “the Right Idea” stage for the Framework is to pragmatically and thoughtfully evaluate the large volume and range of ideas you’ve generated in order to identify the top few (i.e., 1 or 2) that warrant being taken forward to the next stage of the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework cycle; Validation/Feedback – “Plussing” for successful adoption.
Here’s a sampling of evaluation approaches we recommend you consider using:
Success Factor Evaluation Matrix /Scorecard: Using Excel or another similar spreadsheet application, each solution idea is listed, one idea per row, and each column of the matrix reflects a specific stakeholder or sponsor/founder goal or success measure (e.g. financial, emotional, physical, intellectual, relational, political, time, risk etc.) interests). Columns start with those goals, objectives, priorities, and preferences associated with your identified “Essential” stakeholders, followed by those associated with each “Strategic Stakeholder”, followed by those for each “Important Stakeholder”, etc. If you feel that any of these stakeholder goals, objectives, priorities, or preferences are more critical than others, simply put them in priority order across your matrix columns or signify them with some sort of weighting notation (e.g., a goal or success factor attribute assigned a weight “8” and another a weight of “4” would mean one factor is twice as important as the other, etc.). When you have fully populated these column headings/descriptions, they should visually flow, left to right, from most important to least important. With the matrix/scorecard built and each solution idea listed, begin to rate each idea (row) against each goal/objective/priority/preference attribute (column). Use a simple scoring system to reflect just how well a goal or success attribute is supported by the solution idea. (e.g., a score of +5 means the idea significantly supports achieving the goal/critical success attribute, a +3 means it has a positive, but less significant, impact on supporting achievement of the goal/critical success attribute , a “0” means the idea/solution has no discernible positive or negative impact on helping achieve the goal or support the critical success attribute , a -3 means idea would have a negative impact to the goal or critical success attribute area, a -5 would signify that the idea would have a significant negative impact to the goal or critical success factor attribute area. To make your scoring matrix even more powerful, identify any goals or success attributes that are “WALKAWAY MUST” and score with only one of three values: +10, -10 or “0”. A +10 means the idea positively supports (at any level of significance) achieving that attribute requirement, a “0” means the idea has no discernible positive or negative impact to achieving the success factor attribute, and a -10 means the idea has a clear negative impact to achieving success factor attribute.
Each team member should present their ideas to the others and highlight how they believe their solution idea supports, could support, or doesn’t support achieving the various stakeholder groups’ goals or critical success factor attributes. Each member of the team independently scores the ideas on the matrix. When all ideas and scoring has been completed, the team compares their views and discusses areas of wide difference with the goal of coming to an aligned scoring view. Once done, you would immediately eliminate any solution ideas that have garnered a negative score of -10 against a WALKAWAY MUST goal or critical success attribute. Assessment scores for the remaining solution ideas are then totaled up and sorted to create an ordinal listing of solution ideas; from top rated/ranked to lowest rated/ranked. At this point we suggest you consider applying one or more of the following evaluation tools to drive towards identifying no more than 4 solution ideas to take into forward into a rapid prototyping phase where you’ll make a final push to isolate the top 2 ideas for further validation/feedback and “Plussing” in Stage 5 of your Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework journey.
Concept Screening : Comparing options against a baseline benchmark or set of metrics weighted by relative importance,
The Delphi Method: Where ideas are explored relative with some reference group in order to gain consensus,
Force-field Analysis: Where solution ideas are explored and evaluated in terms of forces working “for” and “against” that idea’s ultimate success,
The Hundred Dollar Test: With the Community’s Essential and Strategic stakeholders’ goals and attributes in mind, $100 is allocated to 6 ideas. The ideas being allocated the most are considered more attractive than others receiving less,
The Kipling Method: The 5W’s (Who, What, When, Where, and Why) and 1H (How) for each solution idea is put forward and the team the assesses/rates each solution idea in terms of its desirability, feasibility, and viability. This initial assessment/rating is then followed by a voting or consensus approach to narrow the solution idea list down to the top 3 or 4 ideas,
Negative Selection: The solution ideas are sorted out into the ‘definitely nots’ first and then for remaining solution ideas, the team compares he ideas in “pairs” to whittle them down to the top 3 or 4 most attractive ideas,
Desirability, Feasibility, Viability (DFV) Test: Each solution idea is scored and the full list eventually put into ranked order; top 3 or 4 ranked items considered most attractive,
New, Useful, Feasible (NUF) Test: Each solution idea is score in terms of their relative Newness, Usefulness, and Feasibility,
Pros and Cons Filter: Each solution idea’s pros and cons are evaluated in regards to their ability to meet Essential and Strategic stakeholder goals and critical success attributes as well as in how the solution idea makes a net positive impact to the Community in terms of addressing the targeted community challenge, need and/or problem,
Simple Voting: Simple democratic casting of votes by each team member to identify their top 3 or 4 ideas.
No matter what tools or approaches you choose to use to narrow your solution ideas down, ask yourself this final question: “Do the solution ideas being selected serve an URGENT and PERVASIVE challenge, need, or problem that we have identified in our Field Of Interest, and will the Community’s stakeholders and beneficiaries of these solution ideas readily ADOPT or SUPPORT them; including being willing to INVEST their time, talent, and resources to do so? Positive affirmation here, based on the best of your collective wisdom and insight, will help ensure you are moving forward with a promising set of 3 to 4 solution ideas.
Rapid Prototyping TO Drive Your Final Selection: With these 3 to 4 promising solution ideas in hand, it’s now time to launch the additional work necessary to boil them down to the top 2 ideas to take forward. The core effort here entails taking these 3 to 4 ideas through a Rapid Prototyping (i.e., low fidelity models made of inexpensive, accessible materials; paper, cardboard, videos, pictures/drawings ,foam board, wood, staged acting, etc.) cycle in order to clarify the solution idea concept, trigger fresh insights from expanded contextual impressions, to stimulate reactions and comments from others, to surface unarticulated needs from select Community partners or members , to solicit feedback and customization suggestions, and to surface or clarify the intangible effects and impressions around each idea. In addition to this rapid prototyping and simple validation activity, you and your team will focus on fleshing out the feasibility of each idea (i.e., the likelihood of being able to successfully develop the solution idea) as well as the viability of each solution idea in regards to its ability to achieve the financial (e.g., ROI and SROI) and operational sustainability/self-sufficiency necessary for the social venture to survive over time.
The team’s rapid prototyping work to validate reasonable levels of desirability, feasibility, and viability will also help drive new levels of understanding and insights. At this point, the team will turn to the task of boiling these 3 to 4 ideas down into 1 or 2 ideas to take forward. To do this, you and your team will once again apply one or more of the idea selection tools previously mentioned. These final 2 solution ideas will then be taken forward into Stage 5 of the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework journey; “The Right Proposal”. There, you’ll continue to: 1) fully develop and validate your concepts and designs within their intended use environments , 2) develop a comprehensive new venture , launch, and operational plans, 3) create a set of compelling solution stories to be used throughout all stakeholder/sponsor/funder communication and proposal materials, and 4) meet with key sponsor/funding stakeholders to tell your winning story and drive closure around the funding and sponsorship commitments needed to your plans forward.
Heading West – Validating , Tuning, And Selling Your Big Idea
Stage 5 : Step 1
Validating And Tuning Your Idea For Success
Approach Highlights, Outlines, & Commentary: The goal of this step is to actively engage Community members and key Stakeholder groups in: 1) perfecting (“Plussing”) your top idea/solution concepts and designs, 2) validating the desirability, feasibility and viability of those ideas/solutions, and 3) gaining insights into the most promising of those ideas/solutions; a SINGLE idea/solution around which you’ll solicit the sponsorship and funding necessary to fully develop and implement/launch.
To achieve this, it’s important to keep in mind that this step requires the team to take an iterative approach to their work and engage with a broader set of community and stakeholder groups than it has been so far engaged with. This work is essential and the team should work hard to validate the desirability, feasibility, and viability of its ideas/solutions through an appropriate level of direct and active engagement with its targeted community members, groups, ecosystem support partners, and key stakeholders. The goal is to flesh out and test as many of the “leaps of faith” assumptions you’ve consciously or unconsciously made and then, through use of this feedback, tune and perfect these new social venture idea/solution concepts into well-tuned designs that have been validated and deemed to be highly desirable in the Community, feasible in terms of being able to be developed and implemented/launched, and viable in terms of being operationally and financially sustainable over time. You and your team are not “selling” these initial solution ideas but instead, you’re looking for unbiased direct feedback as well as feedback collected via simply observing how people, groups, organizations react to these ideas/solutions.
While engaging with these groups is critical, it’s important not to be “driven” to immediately implement or integrate such feedback into your new social venture’s idea/solutions. You should realize that these iterative interactions will surface many, many new observations, insights, and “possibilities”. You should embrace these inputs fully in terms of understanding person/ group’s point of view and then, and only then, thoughtfully blending them directly into your idea/solution and/or its end-to-end value delivery system design. The goal is to optimize (“Plus”) the integrated set of end-to-end design elements in ways that enhance the overall social venture’s ability meet (preferably exceed) the goals, objectives, priorities, and preferences of your Community’s essential, strategic, and important stakeholders. Throughout this process of optimizing your end-to-end idea/solution, you should balance your passionate desire to protect and preserve your unique creative entrepreneurial or innovator vision (i.e., how you see all the elements coming together to tell the unique social venture story you passionately believe in and see as essential to achieving the goals and objectives that you see as supporting your personal definition of “success”) with your equally important desire to making changes that support achieving that vision ( and the goals goals and objectives it is aimed at achieving) in a more meaningful and effective way when seen from the point of view of the Community and its key stakeholders.
As you prepare to exit this first step, you and your team should find that you have been able to identify the SINGLE best idea/solution to take forward and that you have significantly advanced your team’s understanding of: 1) the area of community challenge, need, or problem focus being addressed , 2) the current community ecosystem and how its various participants are currently engaged in serving those needs/challenges, including the range of solutions and approaches they are employing, 3) how your new social venture’s ideas/solutions create a desirable and positive new “day in the life” possibility for those that it is designed to serve , 4) the actionable and executable activities that will be necessary to fully develop, launch, the idea/solution and sustain the new social venture, 5) the short-term, medium-term, and long-term time, talent, resource investment & return models that will be required to ensure the new venture’s sustainability, and 6) how your plan supports achieving the goals, objectives, priorities, and preferences of the essential, strategic, and important stakeholders and funding organizations which you’ve previously identified as critical to the success of the new social venture (i.e., in terms of its ideas/solutions being adopted as well as the venture’s ability to secure the necessary funding and sponsorship required to transition from the early SEED stage of concept and design development work into the next phase of work; full development and launch/implementation.
Stage 5 : Step 2
Seeking Sponsorship & Funding; Telling A Winning Story
Approach Highlights, Outlines, & Commentary: Your goal in this step is to: 1) create an organized portfolio of information and materials for use in communicating your social venture’s ideas and proposals to potential sponsors and funders, and 2) to develop a plan for approaching, securing, and engaging potential sponsors and funders in evaluating your social venture proposal.
This portfolio is then used to support efficiently and effectively communicating your new social venture proposal to others in a way that is structured to be relatively familiar but yet stylistically designed to come across as fresh and visually engaging. Remember the fundamental purpose of this material is to support your ability to communicate how your social venture: 1) acts to help address a pervasive and urgent problem in the community, 2) will provide those products and services in a manner that has been proven to be desirable to those who will benefit from them, 3) is feasible in terms of being executable and actionable into value by you, you team, and your ecosystem partners and alliances, 4) is viable in terms of achieving a sustainable advantage versus other alternatives as well as in attracting a consistent flow of time, talent, and financial resources (preferably earned income) necessary to meet its ongoing investment and operational needs, and 5) meets or exceeds the goals and objectives of its essential and strategic stakeholders.
The Social Venture Plan
While there are many social venture plan (proposal) structures in circulation, we recommend you leverage the following outline as a guide.
Preface: Our team and our story
This section should introduce the new social venture start-up team, their backgrounds, expertise, and roles. It should also highlight the team’s advisors, partners, and sponsors who are actively engaged in supporting the new social venture’s work. Your goal here is to build confidence in the reader’s mind in regards to the team’s capacity, motivation, and capability to successfully take this work forward to fully develop, launch, grow, and sustain the social venture and achieve its community and stakeholder impact objectives.
- Executive Summary
A brief summary highlighting the most important information about the new social venture plan. This summary should allow the reader to: 1) empathically relate to the community challenges, needs, and problems being addressed ( through engaging “day in the life” story) , 2) the pervasiveness and urgency of those challenges, needs, and problems, 3) the community environment in which those challenges, needs , and problems exists, 4) the deficiencies of current solutions and solution alternatives, 5) the solution being proposed and its impact to the community, 6) the desirability, feasibility, and viability of that solution, 6) the time, talent, and financial investments required to fully build out and sustain those solutions, and 7) the stakeholders and community returns that are expected to be realized.
The Executive Summary should conclude with a clear “ask” in regards to what you are requesting from the reader/audience and what their positive support/fulfillment of that ask will allow the team to achieve in regards to fully developing, launching/implementing, growing and sustaining the social venture. Ideally, this summary can also be used as a basis for creating a stand-alone document of 3 to 4 pages.
- Mission, Vision, and Value Proposition
Every Social Venture start-up should have a clear mission, vision, and unique sustainable value proposition that brings focus to its work and the outcomes it is trying to achieve.
- Our Community’s Needs & Challenges
This section provides insight into the full range (scale and scope) of the community challenges, needs, and problems that exist; including the qualitative and quantitative impacts those challenges, needs, and problems are having on people and groups across the community. Information here should provide the backdrop against which to understand where and how your chosen area of focus fits in. You should conclude this section by bringing the reader’s attention to the challenges, needs, and/or problem’s you have chosen to focus and why those choices were made (i.e., why you and your team are drawn to this area of focus and why you believe you and your team are positioned to make a unique and sustainable difference in that area of focus).
- Our Chosen Area of Focus
Here is where you lay out the details surrounding your areas of focus. This includes highlighting the specific community challenge, need, problem segments that make up your areas of focus, the size of each, their composition (e.g., age, gender, ethnic, geographic, etc), and how each is being unfavorably impacted. This section should conclude by establishing a small set (e.g., 2 to 3) archetypal “personas” that represent the people or groups you are intending to on serving and the profile of the challenges, needs, and problems they share. For each, you should provide an engaging “Day in the life- today” story that helps your readers gain a deeper, more empathic understanding and appreciation of the challenges, needs, and problems these people and groups have and the impacts they are having on their lives and the community overall.
- The Current Solution Alternatives & the Community’s Support Ecosystem
Having establish a deeper and clearer understanding of the challenges, needs, and problems you are focused on serving, it’s useful to highlight how these are: 1) being currently addressed (i.e., what solution alternatives exist, who and/or what organizations are creating and delivering these solutions, 2) how narrow or wide are these solutions in regards to addressing the range of challenges, needs, and problems, etc, 3) the profile of the community ecosystem supporting the ongoing delivery of those solution alternatives, and 3) how well and how fully those solutions and ecosystem structures are serving the community challenges, needs, and problems you are focused on addressing.
This overview should provide insight into the “gaps and opportunities” that exist with the current solutions, why these gaps and opportunities exist, and why they can’t be easily be addressed by the current solution providers and their community support system. This overview should also provide an assessment of any significant competitive or community ecosystem support obstacles/challenges that would likely be encountered when introducing any new solution and/or solution delivery alternative.
- The Opportunity and Our Unique Solution
In this section, your goal is to describe your personas’ “Day in the life: Tomorrow” stories and how your new venture’s products, services, operating models, etc will support making those stories a reality. In addition to clearly highlighting the positive impacts (i.e., tangible and intangible) your venture and its product , service, operating model solutions will deliver vs the current community ecosystem alternatives, you should also describe the elements of those product, service, operating model solutions (including how they are delivered and/or sustained) that will allow you to create a sustainable and defendable long-term competitive advantage vs all other reasonable product, service, and/or operating model solution alternatives. While not of primary importance here, you should consider highlighting any reasonable mid to long-term diversification opportunities that might emerge from these competitively defendable set of capabilities, intellectual property, trade secrets, relationships, or competencies that underlie the new venture and its core product, service, or operating model solution advances.
- Our Development Plans
The goal of this section is to outline the timelines, key milestone deliverables, and time- talent- resource requirements to fully develop the product, service, operating model solution being proposed. In addition, it is here that you outline the same in regards to fully designing and building out the social venture’s product and/or service solution delivery capability and capacity. An overarching set of development and delivery strategies should be articulated here, including any make-buy-and partner decisions being proposed or considered.
- Our Product and/or Service Solution Adoption, Growth, and Sustainability Plans
Here you describe your new social venture ‘s marketing, sales, distribution, and product/service delivery operations plans. These should highlight: 1) the full range of product and/or service solutions to be offered by the venture, 2) the value proposition each is designed to deliver (i.e., targeted consuming community member or group, benefits delivered, price charged/total cost incurred), 3) how, and at what cost, each product and/or service solution will be made available to the impacted community members or groups, and 4) how the existence and availability of these products or services is planned to be communicated , offered/sold, and ultimately delivered to the people and/or groups you have identified as your target consumers (which could be the community person or group ultimately experiencing the problem or an ecosystem partner who you plan to provide products and/or service solutions to in order to significantly improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and/or cost structures of the current value delivery system focused on serving those targeted community challenge, need, and problem areas.)
Your plans should cover the period leading up to the new social venture’s public launch (“Launch” period being where a broad and deep awareness to, and availability of, the product and/or /service solution is established), the period focused on driving adoption and growth (i.e, approximately 18 months, starting at the end of the Launch cycle), and for the ongoing steady-state operating period thereafter. Over these periods, you should highlight key milestones, metrics, and critical success factors you’ll be monitoring to ensure you efforts are tracking towards success.
- Community Impact Assessment
All social ventures can be assessed in terms to their ability to achieve “triple bottom line” (i.e., People, Profit, Planet) results. This section should detail out the social, financial, and environmental outcomes to be generated and, how those outcomes will be, monitored/tracked, measured, and assessed. Qualitative and quantitative information is valuable and should be provided whenever possible in a structure deemed appropriate for the venture’s area of focus.
- Risks & Critical Success Factors
Detail out all the major risks associated with further development and execution of the new social venture start-up’s plans (i.e., cover Pre-launch, Launch, Growth and Adoption, Ongoing steady-state operational cycles; for SEED and Early Stage ventures, the primary focus is on the first three cycles). Clearly highlight each identified risk, your assessment of the probability of each happening, and, the impact that such an event would have on the social venture. Associated with these, outline how you have, or plan, to proactively mitigate those risks as well as the range of scenarios/responses/actions that may be triggered if such events occur.
- Financials and Key Performance Metrics
This section provides the historic, current , and projected views (e.g., up to 3 years into the future; by month for the next 6 months and quarterly thereafter) of the venture’s financial actuals/plans as well as broader set Key Performance Metrics (e.g., development cycle milestones, customer/client adoptions/adoption rates, customer/client/partner feedback, monthly/quarterly financial revenues/expenses/surplus/deficit performance metrics, targets, etc.) that are and/or will be used to monitor and guide the social venture’s focus. As part of creating and documenting these forward-looking plans, it’s important to establish a “base case” scenario plan along with reasonable upside and downside scenarios to help you and your team think though actions that may be necessary should the venture drift from its base plan scenario. Once established, this work can be used to establish a set of key performance metrics which will allow you to track the venture’s progress and to quickly identify when an alternative scenario is developing.
Appendix: (Include details as appropriate to support your proposal and your potential funders/sponsors due diligence requirements)
- Organization Background and Legal Structure
- Community Needs & Challenges: Segmentation Details
- Current Alternatives &Community Ecosystem Structure, Participants, and Relationship Details
- Solution Details & Future Diversification Opportunities
- Development Plan Details & Milestones
- Solution Adoption, Growth, and Sustainability Plan Details, Milestones, & Scenarios
- Risk and Critical Success Factor & Scenario Plan Analysis Details
- Forward-looking Talent Plan
- Prototypes: Concept and Design Storyboards, Prototypes, Models, Demos, etc.
In producing this written new social venture start-up plan, we recommend a stylistic approach that is highly visual in nature (e.g. low written text volume/density, use of rich and engaging images/illustrations, simple process diagrams, and summary data reference tables, etc.) and is supported by a rich story narrative purposely designed to engage the reader into the targets Community’s “Day in the life; Today and Tomorrow” and especially the stories of those that the venture’s solution offering is intended to serve. The new social venture plan should support and enhance the reader’s ability to quickly grasp the problems being addressed, how those problems are affecting community members, groups, and supporting organizations, and how, through their funding and sponsorship commitments, they can help your venture create an entirely new reality for the community and those most significantly impacted by the social challenges, needs, and problems the venture’s solutions are intended to address.
With your new social venture plan developed, it’s time to secure opportunities to present those plans and formally solicit funding and sponsorship support. In stage 3 of the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework, you and your team identified 6 to 12 “essential stakeholders” who represented reasonable funding partner candidates for your new social venture. It’s time to connect (or reconnect) with these people and/or organizations in order to secure an initial meeting with them where you’ll introduce yourself and your team as well as align on their preferred path forward in regards to engaging in a series of face-to-face discussions that will ultimately lead up to a formal funding and sponsorship proposal. While you should focus on those funders and funding organizations initially identified in your Stage 3 work, it’ good to revisit the full range of possible funding sources and to opportunistically pursue those that appear to be more well suited and supportive of the new social venture’s chosen directions.
Before making your initial contact with these target funders and funding organizations, you’ll need to develop an appropriate set of material that can be used to support these discussions. This material should include a compelling elevator pitch, an executive summary, a formal proposal presentation, and a formal written social venture plan/ proposal (i.e., Social venture start-up plan).
An elevator pitch is a 30 to 60 second pitch you can make to any potential funder or sponsor that immediately grabs their attention while providing answers to seven basic questions: 1) What is the pervasive and urgent problem and/or need you are serving and what’s the impact it’s having on community members and the community at large? (This is where you creatively anchor your “Day in the life: Today” story in an emotionally engaging manner!), 2) What’s your uniquely, superior product, service. and/or operating model solution?, 3) Who is the competition and what are their solutions weaknesses and/or advantages?, 4) Why is your social venture and its solutions uniquely designed and structured to be more significantly preferred vs the competitive alternatives?, 5) How will your social venture follow an earned income strategy to achieve a sustainable, self-sufficient, steady-state operational condition?, 6) Whose involved directly in the social venture and what is their background and past achievements?, and 7) What other advisors, mentors, sponsors are engaged and how are they contributing to your success?
Overall, your Elevator Pitch,
- opens with a “hook” to get the person’s attention; a statement or question that piques their interest to want to hear more,
- is about 150 to 250 words long (should go no longer than 60 seconds),
- is delivered with passion reflecting the dedication and energy you bring to the venture’s work and in making its vision a reality,
- concludes with an “ask”; Do you want a business card, a referral, an introduction, to schedule a full presentation, a referral, etc?
An Executive Summary document is used to provide deeper insight into the new venture’s work and plans prior to any formal face to face presentations or due diligence reviews. They are typically 2 to 4 pages max and leverage the core information contained in your new social venture start-up plan /proposal document.
Presentation materials include such things as PowerPoint slides, videos, prototype mock-ups, Product/ Service/Operating Model Solution demos or working prototype models, concept/design storyboards, etc. You’ll use this customized material to support the discussions you anticipate having with potential funders, sponsors, community members, and/or community partners. Many funders and funding organizations have defined requirements for both written proposal and face-to-face proposal reviews. Be sure to follow these requirements closely as they are more than likely designed to help them efficiently and effectively evaluate your social venture proposal. This DOES NOT mean that you shouldn’t continue, within their requirements structure, to tell a rich and deeply engaging story about the community challenges, needs, and problems you are focused on and the exciting new solutions you are working to develop in order to address.
Ultimately, you and your team must engage directly with your prospective funders and sponsors. For this we recommend following a four-step approach.
First , there’s no better advice than to remind you that you MUST make every effort to get to know and understand the person (s) and organizations you will want to meet with; BEFORE you ever have your first exchange. You should seek to understand such things as: What their specific role and responsibility is and how that relates to the proposal review and evaluation cycle? What is their background? What have they accomplished and experienced in their career and life and how might this affect the way they desire to interact with you and your team? What are their likes and dislikes when it comes to hearing new proposals? Do they have any “hot buttons” that need to be avoided? What communication format do they prefer and/or feel most comfortable with; face-to-face in their offices?, at a neutral location?, at your office?, Do they prefer visually oriented communications vs, text & data-rich reports? Do they like Slide shows? Do they appreciate demonstration-oriented sessions?, etc.
Your goal is to understand the person and/or group you will be meeting with as fully and completely as possible so you can most efficiently and effectively share your new social venture plans in a way that can be clearly heard and understood. Simply stated, by knowing your audience, you can better ensure the information and stories you share are communicated in manner that is uniquely tuned to their life’s experiences and communication preferences. As a result of your research here, you’ll be well prepared to share your social venture plans in a manner that can be more fully understood and appreciated.
Second, you have your first face-to-face meeting (usually an introductory meeting where your “Elevator Pitch” and “Executive Summary” information will be share with the goal of securing a follow-on opportunity to make a formal presentation for funding and sponsorship commitment. Before you ever present anything in detail, your goal is to build a professional and friendly rapport, to surface and clarify the person’s role and responsibilities, to understand their general or specific interests in your area of focus, and gain a sense of what they believe to be critical success criteria for any new social venture being launched today. Gaining this insight during a period of rapport building conversation allows you to: 1) get a better sense of the person’s personality and interpersonal communication preferences, 2) assess how closely aligned your knowledge and understanding of the person (based on the work you did in step one) is to the person in a face-to- face situation, and 3),gain key insights into the specific proposal evaluation filters that the person may already plan to apply in evaluating your proposal. Knowing these views allows you better plan how you’ll structure and present your proposal. This approach to engaging with a prospective funder and sponsor is simply a reasonable communication planning strategy to ensure that what you share appropriately emphasizes those things that support deeply held beliefs about what it takes to be “successful” and avoids inappropriately raising nonessential elements of the plan/ proposal that might trigger unwarranted concerns.
Third, following your introductory meeting and conversation, it’s time to build out your formal proposal presentation. Again, you’ll need to make sure to follow the funder’s specific requirements but the core of your presentation should be aimed at anchoring your audience around an emotionally engaging “day in the life: today” story of a challenge, need, and/or problem being experienced by members or groups within the community and then sharing your vision of how a new “Day in the life: Tomorrow” story can be created through the proposed social venture you are soliciting funding and sponsorship for. Around these stories, you’ll share the fundamental social venture plan (i.e. The community context in which the need/challenge/problem exists. The scale and scope of the need/challenge/problem and its impact on community members, groups, and the community at large. The current solution alternatives being brought to bear (or not) on these needs/challenges/problems. How your social venture product/service/operating model solutions are unique, compelling, and competitively differentiated. Results you have seen to date from your preliminary community test and validation efforts. How you see your social venture’s product/service/operating model solutions being adopted, growing, and reaching steady-state operational self-sufficiency. How your solutions will be distributed, delivered, and/or made operationally repeatable and reasonable cost and effort. The community impact expected-SROI. The critical success factors of the social venture and associated risks and risk mitigation plans? Insight into the forward-looking development, implementation/launch, and scale-up plans and key milestones (i.e., to complete development of product/service/operating model infrastructure). and follow that with a succinct summary & specific funding and sponsorship “Ask”.
Throughout this third step, you should stay focused on the specific “Day in the life” stories and how everything you are doing is designed to address them in an innovative, compelling, and sustainable manner. It is here that many people make an unfortunate take a major misstep; they “stretch” their social venture’s solution and suggest (real-time during the presentation) that other derivatives around the base idea “could” be created to drive even greater opportunity/success. Unfortunately, these ideas often introduce new elements into what the solution requirements and community support/partnership ecosystem would need to address that you are unfamiliar with (or not fully ready to discuss) but around which the audience is familiar. Many times, the audience senses/recognizes you are now simply speculating and so they mentally pull back from their level of alignment and engagement. This presenter misstep generally undermines their credibility and weakens the entire proposal. It is ok for the audience to ask or suggest your social venture or its solutions could be extended into new areas and applications over time but you and your team should simply agree that those new areas or applications could be areas to consider over time BUT quickly reemphasize that your immediate focus is to complete development, implementation/launch, and scale-up/ramp-up around the “day in the life” problems and solutions you have identified, and where you believe you are uniquely positioned to succeed. Your presentation should be supported by your written social venture executive summary (and/or detailed plan) which can be made available to the audience before or following the presentation itself (based on their preference). Following the presentation (which we suggest be between 20 and 30 minutes in length), you should plan for an additional 20 to 30 minutes of conversational and Q&A. At the end of this, it is important that you close the session through a direct ask of the audience aimed at clarifying the next steps and actions you and your team can take to help the funder (s) and sponsor (s) reach a final decision about your proposal. Your goal is to have clarity around the timeline, actions, and ownership to get to a “go” or “no go” decision.
Fourth, is the final lead up to the actual presentation; PRACTICE-PRACTICE-PRACTICE. Your simple objective here is to prepare and rehearse so that you can fully engage with potential funders and sponsors while presenting your proposal to them in a manner and structure that sets you and your team up for the best outcomes. This includes being capable of having efficient and effective conversations with your potential funders and sponsors as well as being able to present your proposal with passion, energy, while demonstrating a command of the materials and associated supporting information and data.
Now, go out and secure those proposal conversations and review sessions! They are the essential to getting your new social venture funded and sponsored so that you and your team can move to the next step of making you and your team’s vision and plans a reality!!
As we’ve mentioned before, the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework is designed to be used as a “compass” by all social venture entrepreneurs who are truly interested in achieving greater success from their efforts. The approach highlights, outlines, and commentary provided in this section represent a “starter kit” that you can quickly tap to help more efficiently and effectively navigate your journey towards “Success”. It represents an approach and a set of fundamental tools, process, and practices that we believe will serve you well. We encourage you to continually add to these tools, processes, and strategies as you believe appropriate and beneficial to your start-up efforts. Whatever final set of tools, processes, and strategies you end up with in your entrepreneurial leadership tool chest, remember to diligently and thoughtfully use them to support each and every stage and step of the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework. We believe that the Breakaway Social Venture Start-up Framework is truly an entrepreneurial leadership compass that can be used by all social entrepreneurs to help navigate their start-up’s journey towards greater success.
We look forward to continuing to help support your social venture start-up journey and its efforts to achieve success in discovering, validating, and launching new social ventures aimed at better serving the community in which you live. In return, we hope you’ll share your personal insights and experiences with other members of the Social Venture Café community in order to help them achieve greater success as well.