Billed as a “Party to Save the World,” the first annual Common Pitch took place Friday night in Boulder. The event was a culmination of planning and execution of Alex Bogusky’s new “collaborative brand” called Common. The event pitches entrepreneurs head to head in a format that was entertaining enough to be on reality TV, but with enough social impact around the ideas to be a part of this emerging niche of social ventures. At least–that was the premise.
It is worth asking, of course, what is a social venture? On their site Common defines it as “an undertaking by a firm or organization established by a social entrepreneur that seeks to provide systemic solutions to achieve a sustainable, social objective.” The definition’s a bit circuitous, but a few common themes emerged among the presenters. First, a willingness to use technology and disruption to create change. Second, an investment in a “collective good” as a measure of success. Third, a for-profit approach.I was most impressed by the simplest of all the ideas: BetaShower. The technology behind the product is simple and easy to understand. More importantly, the potential for positive social change is enormous, and more so than any other idea, the BetaShower truly focused on a community model first, with an economic model built around that community in such a way that the idea is sustainable for both the producer and consumer.
Meeting with the entrepreneurs after the event, one thing that became clear was that these social ventures were championed by a young, bright and ambitious group motivated not only by profit, but not exempt of it either. In fact several presenters were former colleagues of mine, burned out by untenable careers and projects in traditional advertising and PR spaces. Whatever the medium, a push for change and disruption was a core theme to them all.
Thanks to Common and their social entrepreneurs for helping define this new movement.