COMMON PITCH: Enterprises that Consume Less and Share More

Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Entrepreneurship, Funding, North America

Brooklyn, NY – Over 500 tickets were sold at the Brooklyn Bowl for COMMON PITCH, a platform for  eight hand-picked entrepreneurs to pitch their business in five minutes in front of 8 judges for a chance to win free services and cash prizes.

The pitches which ranged from everything including a “Kickstarter for Food Parties” called Zoko, to the possibility of giving everyone wifi access by sharing your own (Key Wifi), all were themed around the question “what if there’s already enough to go around? ”

The event was a partnership between COMMON and Social Media Week  which this year is focusing on Empowering Change through Collaboration.  For the most part all of the businesses focused on consuming less and sharing more through their business model. Entrepreneurs found creative ways to determining how their business not only can tap into a large market (with numbers in the 100s of millions for customers) but also the social impact they would have on people and the planet (i.e. lower energy consumption, and minimizing waste).  However, many of the entrepreneurs were clearly creative thinkers more than entrepreneurial leaders, which became a determining factor in deciding who the winner would be. It was clear that businesses had to be more than a cool sounding name (although many judges were picky on that) or innovative idea, but must also be feasible which lead to an understanding of their target market and being able to clearly communicate a business model in less than 5 minutes.

Judges included prominent thinkers and doers of the design and progressive fields such as Stefan Sagmeister and Umair Haque, as well as other prominent business writers and fund managers. Many of the judges were able to provide feedback to participants on how to best get their message across and what they should focus on to communicate their brand more clearly.

The message delivered that night was that consumers need to unite to bring forward enterprises that were both progressive in their way of operating, and  disruptive to the status quo. During the night a video was aired on Sir Richard’s Condom Company which demonstrated the impact a branding condom company can have on a country like Haiti. The founders came out to provide words of wisdom  to aspiring social entrepreneurs which focused on perseverance, referring to their 2-year start-up phase for launching, and the need to create a mission that everyone on the team can own. Indeed, social entrepreneurship must hold as principles, the supply and demand a for-profit venture holds, while upholding a mission and community ownership that is usually found in a non-profit. Furthermore, a brand can provide leverage to a business to gain recognition and momentum, but business fundamentals and entrepreneurial leadership remain essential for the business to succeed.

The winner of the competition was Sharon Schneider of Good Karma Clothing for Kids, a subscription based service that provides busy parents with  clothes for their baby in the sizes they need. “Think of Netflix, but for Baby Clothes” said Schneider. Indeed Schneider presented a good understanding of her target market, LOHAS mothers like herself, and a business model that made sense and was clearly explained. Good Karma walked away with $30,000 and additional free brand consulting services from COMMON.

The emcee for the night was COMMON co-founder Alex Bogusky. COMMON is described as part community, part business prototyper, and part collaborative brand; a network of creative people prototyping progressive ventures designed to solve social problems. Cheers to all of the Social Entrepreneurs who have the guts to create niche businesses that are forward thinking.

Franklin

Franklin is the Director of Business Services for the Queens Economic Development Corporation and assists start-up businesses with business plan development and access to capital. He has worked with business advisory service companies and domestic microfinance institutions in helping small businesses get off the ground

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