Q&A: 2014 UNC Social Entrepreneurship Conference
What’s different for the 2014 Social Entrepreneurship Conference?
The name has been changed slightly to reflect the variety of ways that students may innovate within the social sector – they may create new businesses or enterprises, or may be entrepreneurial within an existing nonprofit.
The time of year has been changed to enable students more time to develop their ideas.
And this time there will be two categories: one for undergraduate (including NCSSM) student teams and one for graduate student teams.
27 undergraduate student teams from all 17 campuses have been identified by campus representatives. They are creating business plans for a sustainable new venture that achieves a social objective important to North Carolina: (e.g. providing healthcare for the poor, financial services for the poor, nutrition for malnourished children, renewable energy, etc.)
A total of 15 graduate student teams have been working during the fall/early winter of 2013 with 13 nonprofits throughout North Carolina on projects that the nonprofit has identified – either developing a business plan to assist the nonprofit in developing a new product or service or to create a new revenue-generating product or service that provides support for the nonprofit enterprise.
What should undergraduate teams do to participate?
Each of these teams has outlined its preliminary ideas. Between now and the conference, these teams should refine their ideas by working with relevant faculty and administrative resources at their campus, interfacing with their local SBTDC representative, consulting with community stakeholders (to ensure they are not duplicating an already-addressed challenge and are taking full advantage of existing community resources). Rethink, refine, then submit a written version of their plan (available in PDF format) to UNC General Administration by January 24, 2014, so judges can review it, then be ready to present at the conference. Then, following the conference, take the ideas home and make them real.
What should graduate teams do to participate?
Participating teams have been working throughout the fall with their partner nonprofit to learn about the organization and develop ideas about the proposed new service/market the nonprofit is proposing. They should take advantage of the assistance offered by their local SBTDC office in refining their plan. In early January they should proactively schedule a time with their nonprofit to present their ideas (ideally face-to-face, but if not, using electronic means) to a group at the nonprofit and integrate suggested ideas and changes into their proposed strategies. January 24, 2014 they should submit their plan (available in pdf format) following the conference format to UNC General Administration. Come to the Social Entrepreneurship Conference. Listen. Get inspired. Present ideas. Take the ideas home and work with the nonprofit to make them real.
What “market” should the proposed business serve?
The proposed enterprise (for undergraduates) or enterprise extension (for graduate students) should meet “local social needs.”
Undergraduate teams should reach out to local stakeholders to determine those needs, gaps in service, etc. For purposes of this project, “local” may be defined as a campus’ immediate community, economic development region or North Carolina, though the business may eventually serve needs beyond that geography.
How should we develop ideas and plans?
Graduate school teams selected in September should be led by graduate students and should have no more than ten members.
Undergraduate teams selected in November should be led by undergraduate students and should have no more than ten members.
All plans must be based on a clearly-defined social problem or social issue. Plan submissions for the competition should follow the official format and length guidelines as explained in the sample undergraduate business plan and the sample graduate business plan. Nonstudents may be part of teams, but students must lead the teams and each presentation will be made by no more than two UNC-enrolled students. Plans should not exceed the maximum length specified in the criteria, and should be prepared with a minimum font size of 10 point and at least one inch margins.
How can we most effectively take advantage of the assistance offered by SBTDC?
The Small Business Technology Development Center has offices on each of your campuses, with staff highly skilled at helping entrepreneurs and small business owners develop and refine their business plans. They have generously made themselves available to teams participating in this competition. The most effective way to connect would be to have team members make an initial contact early on to outline their ideas. In early December, to give teams some grounding, SBTDC reps should be able to help in the preliminary stages. In the early weeks of January, once teams have completed a draft of their submission, SBTDC reps should be able to provide useful advice on how to focus and refine it.
How will the competition work?
Teams should prepare two different presentations:
· In the preliminary round, selected teams from each campus will have five minutes to submit their proposals to a panel of judges in a smaller room, followed by up to two minutes of questions; judges will then select finalists. Note that there is a built-in Q&A section this year. Members of each team’s delegation, as well as reps of the nonprofit, will be allowed in for that team’s presentation only if they wish to see it.
· In the final round, finalists will have three minutes to present to a second group of judges in front of everyone, followed by up to two minutes of questions from judges.
Three teams will be selected in both the undergraduate and graduate school categories and prized will be awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Campuses may choose to further recognize, encourage or support the teams from their individual campuses independent of the competition.
What will the room set up be for presentations?
Judges will be sitting on the front row during both the first round and final presentations, with audience members behind them. In the first round, presentations will be done in classrooms in front of an audience made up of only judges and spectators from the campus delegation. In the final round, presentations will be made in front of the entire audience (about 500 people). Up to two student speakers may present the team plan. There will be a lectern. No powerpoint; each team may have a visual aid no larger than 3’x5’ and sturdy enough to be mounted on an easel (might want to mount it on a foam board).
The oral presentation and Q&A will enable teams to “sell” the concept (and get experience “selling” face-to-face) and will assist judges in clarifying any points they were unclear about.
Who will the judges be?
Judges will have a wide range of expertise in all sectors. We have entrepreneurs, philanthropists, venture capitalists, business owners, journalists, nonprofit leaders. Their common link is deep experience listening to, evaluating and implementing ideas that show promise and a long-term interest in making North Carolina a better place to live and work.
Who is Tom Szaky and why is he a social entrepreneurship rock star?
Tom Szaky founded and runs Terracycle, a crowdsourcing waste recycling/upcycling firm that he began as a student at Princeton. In 2006 he was recognized by Inc. Magazine as the #1 CEO under age 30. Now 31, he is still young and energetic and wicked creative. He will be a living, accessible role model for students at the conference of just how far you can run with a great idea if you blend passion, creativity and good business sense.
Who should come from our campus to the conference?
UNC General Administration will support teams of 25 for each campus during their time at the conference. We would like to see five-person teams of administrators (chancellor, provost, three faculty/staff) from each campus, substantial student delegations and some community members. We want to see a strong delegation from each campus!
We ask that campus reps access the A&T website to register their entire delegation.
What if we have more people?
Contact Katy Lucci (email@example.com) and let her know if you would like to include more than 25 in your delegation. If we have excess space, we would love to accommodate more guests. We do ask that teams carpool as much as possible to ease the parking burden on NCATSU and reduce our carbon footprint.
How many people should attend from participating nonprofits?
We have suggested that nonprofits send 2-4 people, but this is their call. We would like to see at least one representative from each participating nonprofit, so that we can recognize them during the conference.
What about people who aren’t part of our delegation? Where should we send them?
Send them to the A&T registration website. We will let you know in January when the site is ready to begin accepting registrants.
We will not charge a registration fee this year, but we ask that those attending register in advance so that we can order the correct amount of food.
Who is sponsoring this year’s conference?
Our title sponsor is Wells Fargo. We have also received critical support from Jennifer and Kevin Trapani and the SBTDC. There is no requirement for you to kiss these people, but I would not discourage it either.
Whatever happened with last year’s teams?
A summary of the 2012 UNC Social Business Conference is available at http://www.northcarolina.edu/social_business_microcredit/index.htm. At least three ideas from last year’s conference are moving forward: NC State’s Pennies for Progress team has recently signed up the first corporate partner for its social donation strategy and competed this summer in an international innovation conference in Hong Kong; Fayetteville State’s biowaste energy conversion idea remains active, and UNC-CH’s Sanitation Creations’ innovative product, the “Dungaroo”(!), continues to attract interest and support through Kickstarter and other sources and is looking to build its prototype in early 2014. We will hear from all three of these teams at this year’s conference.
What’s the timeline?
Here are some key dates:
Graduate student teams work with nonprofits; undergraduates develop ideas; both vet ideas with community, business volunteers
November 22, 2013
Campus undergraduate teams are selected
SBTDC representatives available to work with student teams to refine plans
Early January, 2014
Presentation of graduate student ideas to nonprofits
January 24, 2014
Final undergraduate and graduate plans submitted to judges
February 3, 2014
Campus Reps “Check In” video conference
February 14, 2014
Delegation lists due; registration closes
February 28, 2014
UNC Social Entrepreneurship Conference
Great things happen
Conference Day-Of Logistics:
· Registration: Will open in January. We ask each campus’ designated campus representative to register delegations using a specially-created web portal. We will send out later a step-by-step outline to help you through that process.
· Carpooling: NCA&T has freed up an impressive number of parking spaces, but we can’t afford to have 600 cars there. Carpooling/vans, etc. will enable you to feed off each other’s energy for the event and reduce your carbon footprint. We will send out directions for where to park prior to the event and there will be good signage on the A&T campus. Please carpool!
· Food and food for thought: For those not participating directly in the presentations between 11:30 and 300 that afternoon, we will have a delightful lunch and a series of interesting panels on social entrepreneurship in North Carolina.
· Presentations: During the first round of business plan presentations, only members of the presenting campus delegation will be allowed in the room, and only two students will be able to present. We’d encourage you not to try to squeegee your entire delegation into the room – we need to do a one minute turnaround between each presentation and the more people trying to get in and out of the room, the more tricky it will be logistically. Presentations by the selected finalists will be done in open session.
· Theme grouping: At the event, we anticipate having 5-6 groups of judges evaluating the first round of presentations. To the extent possible, we will group teams thematically based on the broad “problem area” your proposals are addressing (i.e. health-related proposals), and attempt to align expertise of judges with that. A separate group of judges will evaluate the undergraduate and graduate finalists.
· Media/buzz: The work over the next few two months will be on getting teams together and plans ready. Following that, in addition to the work on the presentations, there should be time to get the word out about your great ideas. We encourage you to talk the conference up in your hometown before you leave and after you get back. Regardless of the results your teams have, folks will be interested in the ideas, may provide some support for them, and it will generate some positive buzz about engagement by your campus on community challenges. You could….
o Get the team on a campus talk show or a local radio or TV station.
o Invite a local reporter to travel with your delegation to the conference
o Put your teams on the front page of your website
o Encourage alumni communication vehicles (magazines, email pushouts) to feature the ideas, or let your development folks know about it
o Use this exercise as an excuse to open up deeper dialogue between your “social entrepreneurship” side and your “regular entrepreneurship” side, or between your “public service/community engagement” side and your “economic development/business school” side.
o Recognize winning teams during an athletic contest
o Have one of your teams replicate its presentation at a future meeting of your next board of trustees meeting
o Help the team organize a campus event to raise awareness or gather resources or kickstart fundraising to move the idea along
o Ask your chancellor or someone to write an oped describing the team’s ideas, perhaps linking it to larger community-minded or entrepreneurship work you are doing
o Visit the Rotary or Kiwanis club (yes, they still exist) or Chamber or a local adult fraternity or sorority meeting to talk about the competition
o Get one of the community groups working in the same topic space as your team to bring in your students to talk with their board
o Make sure your chancellor/provost has a pithy description of the ideas your teams came up with to drop in to speeches as examples of the kinds of thinking students at your school do
o Use the idea as a starting point of a discussion for how the community might address a big challenge, and use that to launch a “XXX and Big Community Challenges” series.
Bottom line: there are some not-too-difficult ways to showcase your students’ energy and ingenuity that could help, not just with their specific ideas, but in reminding people about your school’s innovation or entrepreneurship or public service orientation.
2013 Social Business Competition Winners
Congratulations to NCSU’s Pennies 4 Progress, winners of the 2012 UNC Social Business Competition!
Spotlight: Sanitation Creations
See Todd Cohen's WRAL Techwire story: 'Social business:' Taking care of business by caring, not taking