Tips and inspiration for changemakers from the social impact crowdfunding website, StartSomeGood

Grow Your Idea with Labs and Competitions

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All around the world incubators and accelerators are helping social entrepreneurs move from idea to start-up and scale-up. There are labs and competitions sewn into the infrastructure of building business for good. Think you might be ready to give your idea a boost? Check out the options below to see what’s possible and where you might find good advice and support to grow you, your idea and your social enterprise.


Singularity University

According to Singularity’s program leader Pascal Finette:

“The [SU Labs Accelerator] program is comprised of several two-week-long sprints and boot camps, is designed for early stage companies to quickly ramp up and prepare for the challenging but rewarding road ahead as entrepreneurs.”

Participants learn and develop using technologies rooted in biotech, artificial intelligence, hyperspectral imaging, and more. Each start-up works on the big — a big idea, a big global challenge, a big solution.  The program works with the teams, and the teams work with each other.

During the last program, one team was focusing on tracking pollution from our planet using hyperspectral imaging and satellites, with the goal of becoming Google Earth for global pollution. Called Hypercube, the team— Brian Yen Yang Lim, Fabio Teixeira Santos (Australia) — are using low-cost satellites and sensors capable of tracking pollution on the entire surface of the planet to help companies understand and reduce their waste output and ecological footprint.

Singularity U

Students work in the Innovations Lab on the Singularity University campus.


Socialab works with ideas and partners to solve problems.  They run competitions for technology-based business proposals and then taps their virtual community of 300,000+ users to identify and fine-tune the best ideas. Founded in Chile, this Latin American not-for-profit has brought in a range of financial partners to support initiatives.  In 2015, Socialab whittled down 15,000 proposals to 111 products that they supported based on $2.1 million in grants, incubating 35 companies.

One of their recent projects, Urban Reclaimers, seeks to develop the potential of the recycling industry and contribute to improving the quality of life of urban recyclers. They are gathering ideas that impact the productivity of the recycling chain to generate higher levels of material recovery, improved quality of work and significant environmental benefits for all.  Check out this project here (in Spanish).


What do a prison sentence and an innovative communications platform have in common? A man named Frederick Hutson and a tech accelerator called NewME. Hutson’s story (read it here!) is proof that great ideas can strike in the unlikeliest of places, and that those ideas can flourish with the right partner.

After serving a 51-month prison sentence, Hutson knew there must be a better way to facilitate prison communications. And so he turned to NewME, a Silicon Valley-based residential tech accelerator for startups founded by underrepresented groups. NewME pioneered diversity  in Silicon Valley, and they focus their efforts on “out-of-the-box” entrepreneurs.  Since 2011, they have helped hundreds of entrepreneurs build better businesses through their online platform, residential “boot-camp” accelerators, and equity portfolio.

With NewME, Hutson was able to launch an affordable communication platforms called Pigeonly to help inmates stay in contact with family and friends.


Frederick Hutson (right) and Alfonzo Brooks (left) at Pigeonly”s headquarters in Downtown Las Vegas. (Angel Canales/ABC News.)

Social Ventures Incubator

StartSomeGood is proud to be associated with a new initiative by capital city local council in Adelaide, South Australia.

The Social Ventures Incubator Program is a learning and development opportunity for early-stage social ventures, to develop their business models and impact to sustainably and improve community life. The program will work with up to 8 social ventures (individuals or teams of 2-3) to support the active development of their ventures through workshops, mentoring, peer-learning and digital platforms.

The unique program will give them the knowledge and practical skills to develop, test and launch their social venture.  Practical sessions with experienced social entrepreneurs and business professionals will cover areas such as social impact, pitching, business planning, legal obligations, and communications.

Applications are now open


Every learning journey will benefit from an intensive – this incubator program takes you on that intensive journey promises to bring your vocation on this planet to life and to the world! For the botanists among you, you will know that mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus, its a network of fine white filaments. In this program you will grow those networks,and get you and your idea popping up all over the place.  Their program is looking for registrants who are imagineers, hackers, and change agents with courage, willing to engage their hearts and minds and not interested in what society tells them they can and can’t do. You will get to protype your idea and strategy in your own customised learning journey, be connected with thought leaders, capital and others who can help you and most importantly find your tribe!

Applications for the next program starting in July are now open and there is a virtual option for those now who can’t make it to Asheville, North Carolina.


The Venture

Chivas is more than a scotch whisky brand.  They also host a competition called The Venture, a $1M fund to empower extraordinary start-ups to use business to create positive change. Aligning profit with purpose is at the heart of this competition that includes access to some of the world’s top thinkers and has media partners such as Fast Company. In the current competition, more than 2,500 applicants have been whittled down to the final 27.  They are now preparing for their chance to pitch for a share of the $1M fund, which will also open doors to mentors and acceleration.

Meet the finalists here, including Pollinate Energy, a 2013 StartSomeGood success story! Pollinate Energy was founded by a group of young Australians passionate about social change and renewable energy with the primary aim of providing affordable energy products to the urban poor. The project started in Bangalore and uses a microfinance business model to fund a group of young entrepreneurs, who create green energy products such as solar lights and mobile phone chargers.



Verb runs competitions to help their clients solve complex social and environmental issues by tapping into the power of social entrepreneurs around the world. They use competitions and prizes to attract, mobilize and strengthen social ventures, while providing their clients with tangible business benefits. Using competitions as a platform, Verb is creating a diverse and large social impact community to facilitate connections between innovators and brands committed to addressing the planet’s most pressing problems. Based in Austin, they are supporting change all around the world.

For example, India-based Gyan Lab  seeks to engage 30k+ school students in innovation and customised learning in the sciences, technology, and mathematics.  One platform they have developed is called Kidovators, and is designed to enable primary school  to showcase their leadership skills, intuitiveness, and preparedness for life ahead.

The Search

Not all competitions are for individuals or teams. In 2015 an Australian competition was established for communities. The Search was catalyzed by Collaboration for Impact,and included early adapters such as Centre for Social Impact, Westpac Foundation, Result Leadership Group USA, Social Solutions Group,  Blackbaud PacificSocial Ventures AustraliaAustralian Communities Foundation with support from Impact Collective sub fund and Results Leadership Group Australia.

The most promising collective impact initiative that won in 2015 was Burnie Works, tackling unemployment and underemployment caused by entrenched social disadvantage and poor educational attainment. Leaders from industry, government, and the community have come together to focus on improving the engagement of all young people in education and their transition to employment. Follow Burnie’s story here.

Author: Moira Were

Facilitating futures follow at @MDC_Aus

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