We here at RADIUS, with our partners Vancity Credit Union, have just launched the second cohort of the SFU Social Venture Accelerator. We’ll be having each team share their journey with you here as they refine their models, talk to customers, and get their ideas into the market this summer. First posts will be up next week, with teams asked to talk about their ideas and goals in the program, and their lessons learned from week 1.
More on the program below:
Presented by RADIUS, in partnership with Vancity, the SFU Social Venture Accelerator acts as a bridge between university and the real world, working with students to build and test high impact social venture ideas. The initiative helps entrepreneurially-minded students move their concepts towards reality and develop projects that will help address social, environmental, and economic challenges.
Students either enter as individuals or teams with an idea in place, or join a team with an idea before the class starts. They work to generate a feasible business model, spend lots of time with customers to make sure they build something people will actually pay for, and understand their impact so they create something that matters.
Objectives
1. Learn what it takes to build and launch a social venture start-up. We cover business design and modelling skills, customer development, social impact considerations, and develop the start-up skills required to launch.
2. Grow entrepreneurs, not just ventures. Participants gain skills, knowledge and experience to help them in this and future ventures. Workshops, case studies, models, mentors and guest speakers help students learn how to waste less time and money in figuring out if their idea can really work.
Course Organization
Sessions have a lab-like feel, with a mix of “master class” guest lectures, case studies, mentor sessions and significant class time to work on ventures. Each team has at least one dedicated mentor, and exposure to experts, investors and entrepreneurs who will provide feedback and guidance. Each week pushes teams out of the classroom to talk to customers, partners and experts – teams don’t just think about business model components, but test assumptions about them and evolve their ideas week to week. They report on their lessons learned each week, and wrap up the program with a pitch event in front of students, community members, and potential funders.
Each team receives $300 in funding on day one, and the final week includes pitches where the top 3 teams are eligible for funding up to $3000.
“SVA is a valuable initiative,” says Andy Broderick, vice president of community investment with Vancity. “Vancity invests in social enterprise and social venture because it supports our vision of redefining wealth, blending financial, social and environmental returns for our members and their communities. Supporting students who have an appetite for turning social ideas into social enterprises is in line with how we are trying to use credit to accelerate community impact.”
Teams
EnabledLife
EnabledLife is an online community for people with disabilities, their families and their care providers to learn, share and collaborate with each other to solve day-to-day problems. The online community is targeted towards people with any disability, and members can post questions and provide answers to posts by other members. This will allow people with disabilities to have a central platform to find the relevant information they need, which will help save  time and effort, therefore increasing their productivity and independence.
Optima Institute
Optima Institute is an alternative education model for grade 11&12 students. It gives students technical knowledge in a particular field over 2 years while they finish their high school curriculum online or through correspondence. They will also have industry mentors who will help them develop soft skills such as communication, leadership, creative thinking etc. As they learn the technical skills, they will also receive entrepreneurial training by creating projects based on the technical learning.
Trekkr
Trekkr is a web and mobile platform that incentivizes physical activity by allowing users to engage in activities that they may not be able to participate in otherwise due to potential time, locale, and monetary limitations; users will be able to tangibly map a goal (such as running from Vancouver to Calgary or climbing Mount Everest), track their daily progress, and receive visual updates/feedback throughout the journey. It also acts as fundraising platform that allows users (or larger groups) to organize events and accept pledges or donations. The goal is to create a social platform that connects donors and fundraisers by allowing them to join together on a virtual journey.
Dragonfly Project
The Dragonfly Project is building a community of women through an innovative, accessible learning platform. Our program encourages dialogue on issues faced by women around the globe, while inspiring confidence and empowerment in our teachers and learners.
Refilamer
Refilamer is concerned with the utilization of the plastic waste, accumulated due to a rapid prototyping with 3D printing technology. Our solution allows users to recycle bad prototypes and other plastic waste back into valuable filament for 3D printer. The service will bring down costs of the filament and reduce environmental impact from 3D printing.
Daycarepedia
Daycarepedia is building a daycare rating and discovery app for families, that also allows them to keep better tabs on their children throughout the day in a premium model.

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