Start a Company, Change the World
Launched in 2014 by Chivas Brothers, The Venture is a global search to find, support and promote the world’s most aspiring social entrepreneurs. Until December 15th 2015, the search will be on for a Gulf representative to join over 25 other regional winners selected from around the world. They will be invited to a week-long training-camp in Silicon Valley, California, before having the chance to pitch their business in front of a panel of expert judges at the global final in July 2016. The prize is a portion of The Venture $1 million funding, which will allow them to take their business to the next level.
David Freeborn, managing director of Pernod Ricard Gulf, explains why Chivas supports the concept. “A social enterprise is defined as business created with a social purpose in mind, where that purpose outweighs the desire to make profit,” he says. “Each applicant will have to justify who their company will benefit, the product or service their company is providing, and what problem they are attempting to solve. They’ll also need to establish the social, ethical or environmental purpose of their particular enterprise”
Prize money aside, the opportunity to meet leading tech companies and be mentored by experts is a valuable learning curve.“It’s a showcase of the best of the best; the possibilities are endless.” says one of this year’s judges, Soushiant Zanganephour who joined the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Said Business School, Oxford University in April 2012.
With nearly 10 years’ experience in management, strategy consulting and policy, in Canada, Europe and the UAE, Zanganehpour has successfully invested, mentored and enabled multiple international start-ups through their growth phase and beyond. Ahead of the competition, he shares his tips for becoming a successful entrepreneur:
One of this year’s The Venture judges, Soushiant Zanganephour.
Go against the grain: Follow your convictions over what traditional industries push you to do. It’s a lonely process and the career path I chose was non-conventional, much like a lot of entrepreneurs. They’re trying to do things which people tell them are impossible, going against social, cultural and economic norms.
Don’t take liberties: There are ways of making money which aren’t to do with taking advantage of people, and if you believe in those ways and are willing to demonstrate them to people, that is success it itself.
Learn from adversity: The most powerful entrepreneurs I’ve ever met are people who have experienced some kind of problem, head on. They’ve live through the experience rather than it being a theoretical scenario. That real alignment with an issue creates an incredible resilience.
Don’t get too comfortable…ever:Frustration with the status quo is what drives people.There are people who believe they can find a solution for the future for something that the world needs. It’s a lot about not being comfortable and believing that something else is possible.
Know the differences: There’s a big difference between what makes an entrepreneur an incredible entrepreneur and what makes a business an incredible business. I think that business is a mix of purpose and practicality. People need to make sure they can manage cash flow and operate within margins. They may not be able to be as radical as they want, but it’s not an activist project – it has to be a self-sustaining engine.
Be sustainable: There’s real empirical data to support the idea that sustainability doesn’t hamper the financial success of a company. On the contrary, it can better it. Data benchmarking the performance of more ethically driven businesses against the S&P 500, the S&P provided 6-10 percent returns over a five year period, whereas the sustainable companies performed at 20 percent returns over the same period. These are economically better companies that resist the boom and bust markets, because they create unparalleled loyalty.
“Sustainable companies resist the boom and bust markets, because they create unparalleled loyalty”
And if you need some more help….
The world’s most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that generating as much awareness as you can about your business is paramount. Most social entrepreneurs see lack of consumer awareness as a significant barrier for scaling their ventures and solutions. Organisations like crowdfunding platforms, for example, are excellent resources for helping social entrepreneurs grow and establish themselves. Finally – don’t be afraid of partnering with big business, not only will established enterprises have great connection – they can include you in their supply chains, and you may in turn inspire them to adopt social entrepreneurial practices of their own.