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.
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.
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.”
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