Social Entrepreneurship

I’m taking a class at Carnegie Mellon focused on creating successful socially focused business ventures. I’m a week in and it’s good. The first day our professor, Tim Zak said that all ventures, it could be argued, are social ventures. On average, an entrepreneurial team only captures 2% of the value it creates. The rest end up in the hands of the community, employees, local governments, and companies they have a business relationship with. This encouraged me on a project I’m working with my roommate on. We are focusing on making products that are rebuildable, reparable, and updateable. We believe that we can use design and engineering to fight planned obsolescence. While that is obviously a socially beneficial pursuit for a lot of reasons, we don’t really think that the best course of action (as a company) is to shout it from the rooftops. Paradigm shifts usually don’t start with shouting in the streets, but subtle changes that are only noticeable looking back. For all intents and purposes, we just want to be a company. The only difference is that we want to actively think about how to keep our products in peoples lives for as long as possible.

You might wonder why I’ve used a picture of a tan Porsche 912 as the image for this post. First and Second, it’s my favorite Porsche in my favorite color. I saw one in San Francisco a few years ago and loved how unassuming it was. A tan sports car? That is the epitome of beauty and fun without any of the flash. I imagined the driver saying “I love this car, and don’t even care if you notice.” Lastly: Someone recently said in a fairly public speech that over 60% of the Porches ever built are still on the road. Regardless of the accuracy of that statement, It perfectly sums up what we are trying to achieve with our project. If we can keep the product on the “road” and meet those numbers, then we should be able to sleep well at night.

I’m posting this because first, I am excited about the class. Secondly, though, my blogging time will be split between here and the required posts for class. If you would like to follow the progress of the class and read past student’s take aways, they can all be found here. My posts will start being mixed in closer to February.

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