>The Man Behind the 60-Minute Startup

>In preparation for the 2010 Social Enterprise Summit and World Forum (#SocEnt10) Tristan talks with Mike Del Ponte, founder of social startup incubator Sparkseed. They discuss how to build a venture in 60 minutes, current trends in the social enterprise market, the must-see speakers at SocEnt10 and more.

The Man Behind the 60-Minute Startup
by Tristan Pollock

Tristan: What are you presenting at SocEnt10?
Mike: How to build a venture in 60 minutes. The point is to give people an idea of everything that goes into a venture. For entrepreneurs, they will see how the people in the room can help. For everyone else, they will understand that not everyone needs to be a social entrepreneur to be part of this movement. We need supporters – lawyers, investors, marketers, designers, and so on.

Tristan: What trends do you see unfolding in social enterprise today?
Mike: I’m most interested in the investment side of things. In the past do-gooders would be focusing on one thing: grant money. Today, young social entrepreneurs are becoming well versed in the world of social venture capital. More social VCs are popping up, as are angel investors. The idea of scaled impact alongside growing returns makes sense. I’m excited to see the role that private equity plays in the social space over the next 10 years.

Tristan: How are the opportunities different for social entrepreneurs in 2010?
Mike: First off, exponentially more people know what social entrepreneurship is, so there is more validation for social entrepreneurs. Secondly, there is a better community. As a young social entrepreneur I feel like I’m part of a strong network that builds online, at conferences, and in incubators like Sparkseed and the Unreasonable Institute.

Tristan: What do you hope to get out of the conference?
Mike: Like every conference, my priority is to meet great people: other social entrepreneurs, funders and investors, people who will inspire me and become life-long friends.

Tristan: Who are the must-see speakers?
Mike: Leila Chirayath Jana is certainly up there for me. I think Samasource represents so much of what is exciting about social entrepreneurship: leveraging technology and earned income strategies, connecting innovative ideas with the people who will benefit, and entrepreneurial principles. I saw Leila speak last year and found her to be incredibly sharp and admirably humble. I think she’ll be a hit.

Tristan: Sparkseed just won a Financial Times Social Innovation Award, how did that feel?
Mike: It was a huge honor for Sparkseed to win a Social Innovation Award from the Financial Times and Justmeans. I started my acceptance speech off with a joke; that Sparkseed invests in the highest risk and highest potential assets in the world: college students. People loved it because it’s true. Young social entrepreneurs have been seen as too risky for serious investment, and yet they will be the ones to develop some of the most innovative and effective solutions to global problems. Sparkseed won the Best Social Investment Strategy award, which was a clear vote of confidence for Sparkseed’s pioneering work in the social venture capital space.

To end, I’d like to ask the readers a question: 
Who do you think will be the most interesting speaker at #SocEnt10? (See the 2010 speaker list here.)

One Response to “>The Man Behind the 60-Minute Startup”
  1. Corinne Gray says:

    >I'm with Mike. I'm really looking forward to TED Fellow Leila Chirayath Jana of Samasource. Her model is so inspiring. The other speaker I'm looking forward to hearing from is Chid Liberty of the Liberian Women's Sewing Project.

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