Monday, April 4, 2011
Insights: Turning Soft on Social Entrepreneurship
In our Insights and Opinions section today, we have an article from Frank Peters, angel investor and podcaster at the Frank Peters Show, who talks about how he's suddenly taking another look at social entrepreneurship and ventures in a new light.
"It's another social entrepreneurship deal; I'll never get my money back." That's what I thought 3 years ago when the Tech Coast Angels screened BikeStation. I was impressed nonetheless; the deal had attracted a couple of distinguished members, people I knew well; I thought, there must be more here than meets the eye, but I passed on the deal. Maybe at the time I was thinking I had to get tougher with my investment decisions; I hadn't made any money investing in high-tech startups, how could I invest in a company focused on society's transportation challenges with an emphasis on bicycles, of all things? Maybe if I applied more discretion to my investments I'd see better results; so I thought at the time. Today 3 years later, I have a much greater appreciation of BikeStation and the work they do.
Then I remember another data point, 2 years ago when I sponsored the UC Irvine Entrepreneurship Conference; the keynote was given by a woman who's company delivered school lunches to kids. This was no fly-by-night operation; she had real venture capital, too, but I continued to think that this infusion of cash must've come from the fruits of more technological investments, because what's the big exit here? How could her VCs even make their money back, let alone earn some multiple? But I remember her dedication and something more I could sense: she was enjoying a supreme sense of satisfaction as she fulfilled her ambitious dreams....
We need the best and the brightest working on some of today's challenges; that's not Pollyanna, it's real. I often tell my kids of the screwed up messes in this world they're inheriting. But what's really sinking the hook, turning me into a softie for social causes, is a simple look in the mirror - outside my angel investing life I spend most of my time on matters I can loosely lump into 'trying-to-make-the-world-a-better-place', whether it's scholarships, supporting the arts, or my new found advocacy for cycling. What do they all have in common? It was obvious. As I voted with my time and energy it was crystal clear what mattered most to me. (Continued...)
Read the rest of Frank's article, Turning Soft on Social Entrepreneurship.