What is social entrepreneurship? What are its impacts? Why has it become such a dominant discussion topic? I asked myself these questions when I was first introduced to the term “social entrepreneurship” in junior high. Quite honestly, I was puzzled by the concept, because how do you reconcile the terms “Charity” and “Profit”?
In a corporate setting, the goal of most firms is to maximize shareholder’s value; in other words, firms want to drive up the return on investment (ROI) as much as possible. In the world of social finance, ROI does not stop there. Social finance takes an additional step and adds value from the “social dividends” the company receives.
Social entrepreneurship isn’t always about creating something new; it can be as simple as identifying solutions for common social problems. One example is Colalife, a UK based charity. The concept is simple, but not easily identifiable.
Top 5 ways to find a summer internship if you have no experience and no connections
Sick of applying on job boards and not getting a response? Need a summer internship (paid or otherwise) to boost your resume and earn some extra cash to pay for your student loans? Check out these alternative ways to finding a job!
So many things can go wrong in business. Companies with great products, services, and people can and do fail. This can be for a number of reasons: poor cashflow, poor marketing, or some external force. But in many cases failure can be attributed to a few simple things. Sometimes, it can be something as simple as lack of a clear message. This is why your pitch is critical.
Crowdfunding has created a permanent shift in the financing landscape. Nonprofits, businesses, Entrepreneurs, and
potato salad enthusiasts individuals are using this new channel to tap into a mass of investors to fund their ideas. Crowdfunding should be especially appealing for nonprofits, as it allows hundreds or even thousands of supporters to vote with their wallets and bring worthwhile projects or causes to life.
As we head into the end of the year, many entrepreneurs will take this as a time for reflecting on both business successes, as well as reflecting on new opportunities to engage with in the new year. We want to take this time to summarize some of the top trends that we have seen in social enterprise over the last year, and provide insight on which we consider to be the most successful.
As we take some time during the upcoming holiday season to slow down and enjoy our family and friends, undoubtedly we will begin to reflect on how we can develop our best selves, both professionally and personally. We wanted to take a moment to provide you with our list of Top 5 Recommended Reads for Social Enterprise.
Wearable Therapeutics (also known as Snug Vest) provides high quality, effective and safe solutions for rapid anxiety relief. Their first product, Snug Vest, uses proprietary technology to deliver Deep Pressure Therapy – a firm hugging sensation which has a proven calming and relaxing effect.
There is a massive, growing number of individuals suffering with autism, developmental, and mental health disorders. Symptoms result in anxiety leading to problem behaviors, not being able to participate and not completing daily tasks effectively. Medications for treating these conditions have harmful side-effects. For some, deep pressure is a necessity and current deep pressure tools available are not acceptable and unsafe, causing fatalities.
“It was 6 years ago that I decided to dedicate my career towards helping children with autism” says Snug Vest founder, Lisa Fraser. “As a designer, I applied my creative skills towards developing a tool that could help children on the spectrum function better in their daily lives. I had been working with children on the spectrum for several years in classrooms already when I had this realization.
Many of the kids I worked with loved firm hugs and calmed down when feeling anxious, from pressure. The application of pressure on the body activates the parasympathetic nervous system to regulate the sensory system and drive down cortisol, a stress indicator.
One day, one of the kiddos I was working with had his Occupational Therapist come by to put a weighted vest on him. I understood that pressure had a calming and relaxing effect, but intuitively didn’t feel that the weight was safe or user-friendly as it pushed down on the shoulders affecting posture and the musculoskeletal system. I wasn’t pleased with other products on the market for applying pressure and came up with the idea of using air, instead of weight to provide a squeezing, hugging sensation and so that pressure can be adjusted to the exact amount the child needs, controlling it themselves, thus fostering independence.
While developing this inflatable therapy vest idea, I met a special teen on the spectrum. He would get quite anxious and experienced meltdowns and self-injurious behaviors. I could see his pain and suffering he was experiencing and hoped the inflatable vest could perhaps alleviate some of that anguish he was experiencing in those tough times his dad called ‘episodes’. Danny’s dad would squeeze him to help him calm down but they both knew that the solution was only temporary and when Danny went to school, he would have no means of providing himself the pressure he needed to feel calm and secure. It was inappropriate for Danny’s teachers and caretakers to squeeze him tightly, so Danny hid in bathrooms to put inflatable blood pressure cuffs on to get some pressure. He even wore a tight women’s leather jacket to school one day and he was made fun of. I felt I needed to do something about this.
I am happy to say that Danny was the first teen to receive an inflatable Snug Vest! His dad says that “the results are phenomenal! It calms him down. It comforts him. It’s very fast-acting. He pumps it up and he feels good. And unlike medication, it doesn’t have any side effects. It’s wearable therapy.”
Snug Vest is an award-winning, patent-pending vest that inflates to put pressure on the torso for rapid anxiety relief. The pressure regulates the sensory system, driving down cortisol and adrenalin. Snug Vest promotes independence as the individual wearing it has full control to decide when they want pressure and how much. The vest is fashionable so it does not stigmatize the individual. It also increases focus and attention for improved learning and quality of life, without side-effects. For the cost of seeing a therapist for a few hours, Snug Vest lasts years and is worn at any time!
22+ million children in the US alone suffer with autism (1:68), ADHD, and a sensory disorder (1:6). Autism is the largest growing developmental disability in North America, costing the US $126 billion per year and with an annual growth rate of 17%. Snug Vest is initially focused on helping the autism community, and then will start to focus on depression ($23 mill adults + in US) and PTSD ($24 mill + adults in US).
Snug Vest has sold thousands of units worldwide to individuals with: autism, brain injury, sensory disorders, depression, traumatic brain injury, and many more conditions. Schools, clinics, and homes are enjoying the benefits of a calming hug!
Snug Vest is working on achieving endorsements and seals of approval from key influencers, and would like to create more partnerships with large organizations. They currently have partnerships with the Autism Society of America and Generation Rescue.
Wearable Therapeutics sells their therapy vests directly through their website at $400 CAD a unit, with a 60 day money-back guarantee. They are dedicated to making continuous improvements and new products that are safe and effective. For more information, you can go to www.snugvest.com
Lisa Fraser, Founder, Snugvest
After developing a therapy product using proprietary technology as her thesis, Lisa started her first venture, Wearable Therapeutics to commercialize Snug Vest in 2011. Previous to that, she worked in classrooms with children with special needs and used her design skills to develop tools that improve their quality of life and promote inclusion.
Lisa won numerous international awards for Snug Vest including Red Dot Product Design Award, Medical Design Excellence Award, and the Industrial Design Excellence Award. Lisa has also received BC Business’ Top 30 under 30 accolade, and the BC Creative Achievement Award presented by the premier. Lisa has appeared on CBC’s Dragons Den, Forbes Magazine, and national news television.
VeloMetro: Bringing the velomobile to mainstream
Before Tesla or Nissan put their electric cars in showrooms, engineers Kody Baker, Jon Faille, and Sean Boyd had already designed and built a commercial electric car and electric drives for other internal combustion vehicles. Chartered Accountant and business executive John Stonier, was also out front in the electric car field, converting a Porsche Boxster to 100% electric prior to the availability of showroom cars. The four founders first met at Rapid Electric Vehicle Technologies in 2012, a Vancouver company pioneering electric drive automobiles. That business ultimately pivoted in another direction. Being in the electric car business is tough, and costs big money.
A year later, Kody and John met up to revisit opportunities for electric vehicles. They realized that cars, even electric cars, were massively overbuilt for the most common case of a single driver traveling around town. Was there another approach to urban mobility that had been overlooked? Was there a better alternative for commuting around urban and community cores, but still have an affordable personal vehicle you can use in any weather, by anyone? What would be the best business model to reach the most people affordably and with the most value to their daily lives?
Velomobiles, sometimes called velocars or human powered vehicles, had been around for almost as long as the emergence of the bicycle in the 1890’s. It was Charles Mochet that brought it to prominence in France in the 1930’s as a more efficient vehicle for cycling races with better aerodynamics and cycling position. Ultimately banned from racing for those advantages, the velomobile has since evolved as the ultimate three wheel cycle machine for enthusiasts for longer distances and the greatest efficiency.
Today, velomobiles are available with lightweight composite designs, and electric assist, but they all share the same characteristic: they are built for speed and efficiency, and not for ease of access or personal comfort. Essentially not practical for ordinary use as personal transportation.
In the fall of 2013, given the experience and passion for electric drive lines and vehicle design the Velometro founding team took the design challenge to make velomobiles mainstream. But it was the last question that filled the imagination of the founders. How do we reach the most people with our mainstream velomobile? In fact, the founders saw a solution that could potentially realize an even more audacious goal of the founders. Could we bring more people to electric vehicles, than any other company?
Since 1996 Vancouver has had a long standing car sharing program with Modo being the first car sharing cooperative in the English speaking world. Zipcar had arrived in 2006, but it was the arrival of car2go in 2011 that had put carsharing on the map. One-way carsharing provides the most value, and flexibility for users. The Vancouver car2go fleet outperformed any other North American city that Daimler had entered and the benefits of access to vehicles, over ownership became clear to the thousands of users.
Carsharing, was the answer Stonier, Baker, Faille and Boyd were looking for to leverage the value of each velomobile they would create. Enabling sharing of each and every vehicle became a key design consideration, and thus VeloMetro had its vision, design criteria, and its business model.
In order to keep the velomobile a power assisted cycle it was designed after an extensive survey of North American power assisted cycle regulations. With the completion of an alpha prototype in the summer of 2014, an open test platform to prove the functional drive capabilities, VeloMetro had its first feedback from users: they had never experienced such a sophisticated, fully suspended and stable ride like this.
This enthusiastic feedback is a result of the unique features and scrupulous design as created by VeloMetro engineers. An intelligent pedal drive system that takes away the exertion required for a cycle vehicle. Superior maneuverability with a tighter turning radius, better braking power, and good visibility with an upright seating position. Cadence (the speed of pedalling) automatically adjusts as you travel to a maximum speed of 32kmh (20mph) per regulation. In December 2014 VeloMetro registered a patent on its sophisticated drive system designed for cycled vehicles.
Communities and cities everywhere are building cycling infrastructure and making it less attractive to drive cars in urban cores. Some strategies include reducing the number of road lanes and increasing parking fees. Timing for the arrival of a new urban vehicle that is zero emission, energy efficient, and engaging to riders couldn’t be better. It coincides not only with increasing interest in cycling but also with the building of cycling lanes and bike ways in cities and communities everywhere.
Combining carsharing capability to the velomobile made this a powerful combination. The result will be VeemoTM a one-way, free floating sharing service that will debut in Vancouver later in 2016. VeloMetro’s velomobile and VeemoTM have had a warm reception from any civic governments that they’ve presented their idea to. Home City of Vancouver will be the company’s first third party pilot fleet as part of the Green Digital Demonstration Program. City staff will use the vehicles within various departments and provide feedback directly back to the company. Later in the year, a major university will be the location for a first public pilot for VeemoTM prior to commercial launch in the city of Vancouver.
Cascadian sister cities of Seattle and Portland are naturals for the expansion of VeemoTM. Both have strong cycling and carsharing followings. The prospect of true ‘modal shift’ is alluring to civic governments everywhere.
VeloMetro has ten staff members and is located in Strathcona, a vibrant neighbourhood just east of the downtown core of Vancouver, British Columbia.
Bio John Stonier, CPA, CA
John is an entrepreneur, CPA/Chartered Accountant and business builder who has provided leadership to a wide spectrum of high tech Canadian companies over the last 30 years including leading edge companies in telecom, satellite communications, internet, renewable energy and SaaS software. He was an early electric car enthusiast long before they arrived in showrooms without waiting converted a Porsche to electric. Combining business strategy with his passion for applying technology to sustainable applications is what John loves to do, whether that be with advanced communications, solar energy, electric cars, or … velomobiles. Twitter @fullonelectric