Perhaps the most engaging and laid-back session (Well, for the audience at least!) at the 2011 Social Finance Forum was the Good Deals Pitch Presentations.
Good Deals involved a wide range of social ventures delivering their five-minute pitch to the audience of over 300 people. The lightheartedness of the session was exemplified by the voting system. Do you think the venture has the potential to take off? Or will the idea only work when pigs will fly? For your decision, either flash a space rocket or a flying pig. The five ventures that presented to the conference attendees in the afternoon were chosen out of a bigger group during the Pitch Clinic session in the morning part of the Social Finance Forum.
The idea, of course, stems from Good Deals UK, which is an impact investing conference in the UK. The conference marries investors with social entrepreneurs in order to spearhead innovative business models and change-making social ventures. And all the way from the UK came Good Deals chair and director at Matter&Co, Tim West, who spoke to the crowd about the social investment conference that took place on November 24 at London's Barbican Centre. Good Deals UK is also a big deal: This year, they were lucky enough to have Professor Muhammad Yunus as their featured keynote speaker.
In Toronto, the energy buzzed with excitement for the five socially minded start-ups that presented their pitches to the crowd of critical thinkers. First up was Unstash, which is a Toronto-based peer-to-peer platform stemming from the ever-popular idea of collaborative consumption. Second, The Eco Laundry Room took the stage and wowed the crowd with its laundry mat disguised as a café with WiFi and a child play area. Then, Talk2One explored its mission of providing basic communication services to at-risk Canadians. The fourth venture was one that perhaps most of the pitch participators were already familiar with: Engineers Without Borders. Last was New Found Network, an interactive educational platform that aims to transform digital literacy among youth.
Look out for an in-depth analysis of these innovative business models presented for Good Deals on SocialBusiness.org in the near future. One of the main goals of the conference was indeed to not only create relationships the day-of, but also nurture and sustain them. As Lon of Unstash said on Twitter, "It would've been great if cheques were written on the spot! But it was a great opportunity and start!"
Similarly, as @SocialFinance tweeted during the conference, an emerging theme at this year's Social Finance Forum was "going beyond just doing deals." Deals are important, yes, but good deals can be profound.
Good Deals UK website
Good Deals UK Brings Unconventional Voting to the 2011 Social Finance Forum
1. Impact Investing Conference - Businesses can look into organizing similar conferences to marry investors with social entrepreneurs and innovate change-making social ventures.
2. Collaborative Consumption - Businesses can adopt the peer-to-peer platform model to promote collaborative consumption.
3. Interactive Educational Platforms - Businesses can develop similar interactive educational platforms to transform digital literacy among youth.
1. Social Investment - The social investment industry can leverage the success of Good Deals UK to create more conferences and programs that encourage change-making social ventures.
2. Laundry Mat and Cafe Business - Businesses can adopt the concept of the Eco Laundry Room to provide a unique cafe and laundry mat experience in one location.
3. Communication Service Providers - Businesses can look into providing basic communication services to at-risk individuals in their respective communities.