Social innovators to compete for $150,000 in prize money

Can you do well, by doing good? An upcoming event — hosted by Social Venture Partners — will highlight entrepreneurial ventures from both the non-profit and for-profit worlds. The goal is to feature products or services that attempt to solve a critical need of society. That can be anything from education to protecting the environment to new technologies in health care.

Social Innovation Fast Pitch — as the event is known — will allow entrepreneurs to compete for as much as $150,000 in investment capital and prize money. It is a first-of-its-kind competition in Seattle, with applications due on August 22 and the competition to be held October 3.

The event, led by former Microsoft senior vice president Will Poole, is expecting a good turnout. And what better place to host the event than Seattle.

The city has a long history of companies and organizations that develop businesses and ideas for the betterment of society, from the early origins of car-sharing service FlexCar and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to more recent services such as Walk Score and Vittana.

Jacob Colker, co-founder of Sparked.com, who won more than $425,000 in prize money for his online volunteer network, said contests such as these help early-stage ideas take root and bring more attention to ideas that may get overlooked by investors.

“Although our social innovation business ideas are becoming more attractive to VCs, we still aren’t on their radar early enough to make a difference in our own business evolution, Colker said.. “Competitions like this are essential.”

There’s certainly no shortage of startup pitch sessions, including the recently announced Start-Up Challenge competition for companies that use Amazon Web Services.

But focusing on social innovation is a unique niche, and it will be interesting to see who emerges at the October 3rd event. More details on the competition here, including specifics on how the grant and prize money will be distributed.

The competition is supported by Ashoka Seattle, the Bezos Family Foundation, Bill and Paula Clapp, The Microsoft Alumni Foundation and Social Venture Partners.

  • http://www.kooshable.com Kushal Chakrabarti

    Will is a fantastic guy and SIFP is really bringing together great folks in the (social) entrepreneurial community for this.

    Vittana was really lucky to have the support of some amazing entrepreneurs, organizations, and venture philanthropists early on, especially those with roots at Amazon. That’s one of the biggest reasons we were able to succeed.

    Unlike the startup community of investors, service providers, and entrepreneurs, there really isn’t much for up-and-coming social entrepreneurs. Put it another way, there isn’t a Hops and Chops or Seattle 2.0 for a guy with a big vision of how to change the world.

    It’s been great to see Will and SIFP bringing together folks from all around the community for the first time: social entrepreneurs who’ve been through the ringer once or twice, financial backers who’ll put their money behind an idea they believe in, mentors who can help nurture new ideas and social entrepreneurs. Vittana and I will be supporting SIFP all the way.

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