Making an Impact: Software for Good

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Software for Good is a team of do-gooders who believe your day job can be your dream job. Casey Helbing started his own consulting business in 2004 while taking on pro-bono nonprofit work on the side. When he realized he was rushing home to do the nonprofit work, Casey decided to shift his business to focus on ‘for-good’ work. Casey founded Software for Good in 2010 in order to bring people and technology together to solve complex world problems.

Software for Good was one of the first organizations in Minnesota to become a General Public Benefit Corporation. Certified B-Corporations meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. Casey and his team wanted Software for Good to be more than just a name. By becoming a B-Corp, they show proven dedication to people, profit and planet.

With a modest team of 16, Software for Good takes on a variety of important clients that include nonprofits, health care, government and more. Recently, they have been working with The Arc Minnesota to develop an online quiz to help teenagers with disabilities plan their future. The quiz includes a roadmap print-out that they can share with counselors and parents as they make important decisions that will impact their future. They also worked with the organization on strategic planning and stakeholder interviews, which will inform new online tools to help The Arc increase their reach throughout the state. This is an example of how Software for Good is shifting their own scope of work to include more in-depth research before jumping into coding.

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Software for Good continues to grow and develop. Last year, they launched an internship program to help increase diversity in the tech field, give students real world work experience and offer more services to their clients. Their core team is also growing as they are currently hiring for 3 new roles. Long term goals include developing products beyond what they do for their clients. The Software for Good staff is made up of passionate social good enthusiasts who have causes of their own they care deeply about. Eventually, the team would like to tackle some of these causes, such as affordable housing and education, with technology of their own.

Do you have a big idea, problem you are struggling with or change you want to see in the world? Software for Good can help you make it happen!

 

Impact Week Recap

“I am loving the warm, busy Hub vibes today,” said Susan Hammel, founder of Cogent Consulting and longtime Impact Hub member. The space was certainly buzzing as we celebrated an exciting Impact Week, August 20-25, which included an array of inspiring events highlighting the spirit of what Impact Hub and FINNOVATION Lab are creating together.

Monday kicked off with a Social Enterprise Leadership Breakfast, which was well attended despite the 7:20 am start! The group will continue to work together to achieve greater impact in our ecosystem. What a perfect model of collaboration in action!

 Tai Chi with Ayano Performance

Tai Chi with Ayano Performance

After a 7:20 am meeting, what could get you through the day better than a post-lunch session of Tai Chi, Yoga and Meditation? Ayano Performance led a stress-reducing Wellness Sampler for our members and guests.

Tuesday included the first ever FINNOVATION Lab Fellowship Pitch & Selection Day. Judges met with the 16 finalists individually before pitches took place. The final 5 have been chosen and will be announced soon! Visit us again on Monday, September 17th from 4-6pm to welcome the inaugural cohort of fellows. We are eager for you to meet these incredible social entrepreneurs as they begin their 9-month fellowship.

 FINNOVATION Lab 2018 Finalists & Judges

FINNOVATION Lab 2018 Finalists & Judges

We spent a well deserved afternoon in the Brewer’s Den on Wednesday, sharing a few pints and snacks together. Fellow members, friends, staff and board members gathered together to connect and celebrate this exciting new chapter for Impact Hub and FINNOVATION Lab.

Thursday featured an exclusive Social Entrepreneur Roundtable with special guest, David Press, Partner with Confluence Partners, a C-suite consultancy based in New York City. As a strategic, legal, marketing and communications expert, David shared his best tips on how to talk to investors. This marked the highest attended round table yet!

 Community Innovation Manager, Keith, kicking of MN Cup Impact Division Pitches

Community Innovation Manager, Keith, kicking of MN Cup Impact Division Pitches

The week ended with the Minnesota Cup’s Impact Division Semi-Finalist Pitches followed by the Good North Market. Judges gathered in our boardroom to painstakingly narrow down the 10 semi-finalists to 3. (Learn more about MN Cup and all of the 2018 finalists here.) Then, over 100 people gathered in our space to watch the pitches and venture throughout the rest of FINNEGANS House to visit amazing social purpose businesses, brands, and makers that are making a difference in the world with the products they sell and missions they live.

What a week! We are energized by the countless hard-working, innovative people in our community doing whatever they can to make an impact.

 

Making an Impact: ClipDifferent

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What seemingly simple tasks do you take for granted? Buttoning your shirt, tying your shoes, clipping your nails? When TJ McMullen’s mother’s health began to decline, his family was inspired to create innovative products that can leverage the power of how one small thing can make a huge difference, even a nail clipper.

ClipDifferent Pro, an automatic nail clipper, was specifically designed for individuals with one upper limb, limited hand dexterity or vision impairment. The safe fingernail slot prevents skin from coming into contact with the trimming mechanism. It also catches the nail clippings in a drawer, eliminating the mess of flying fingernails. Although the ClipDifferent Pro was designed for individuals with disabilities, any adult can use it! The smooth clipping device even eliminates the step of having to file your nails.

Mentoring and connections at the Impact Hub helped TJ and the whole team at ClipDifferent, a general benefit corporation, meet crucial community leaders to help develop and advise their entrepreneurial business plan.They are excited to participate in MN Cup this year because their major goal is to get these products into the hands of people who need them. In the next few years, the ClipDifferent team has more products being developed to address different niches.

“Seeing the face of someone using our product for the first time is so rewarding,” says TJ. The ClipDifferent Pro gives individuals independence and control. It’s important to the ClipDifferent group to do what they can to make life just a little bit easier.

Learn more about ClipDifferent

 

Immersive Computing for Impact

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On Tuesday, July 24, Impact Hub member Asante Simmons led an Intro to AR/VR presentation and demo for the public in our Training Lab. Asante spoke passionately about how Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and even 360 degree audio are creating a generational change. This technology has the power to inspire change, improve processes and efficiency, save money and even save lives!

After listening to Asante’s presentation, the ways virtual reality can be used seemed endless. It goes way beyond the typical gaming experience that may come to mind. For example, VR has the potential to transform the medical industry. It is being used to plan complex operations which increases the success rate. In 2017, VR played a vital role in the successful separation of conjoined twins at Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.

Virtual Reality is also being used to teach individuals in settings from elementary school classrooms to the military. VR offers an affordable and readily available way to bring virtual field trips, language immersion, and various skills training scenarios to life.

Asante’s presentation also taught the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality. Augmented reality enhances experiences by adding virtual components such as digital images, graphics, or sensations as a new layer of interaction with the real world. Contrastingly, virtual reality creates its own reality that is completely computer generated.

So what does this have to do with social impact? Asante shared how these immersive technologies are being used to inspire others to act when confronted with a social problem. AR/VR can be used as an empathy machine, helping to raise awareness, and further connect audiences to social causes. Examples of this include; a AR/VR series to create stronger appreciation for the planet and building AR/VR scenarios to address social interaction in individuals with autism.

After the presentation, attendees had the chance to interact with the technology. Asante had glasses and headsets available to demo. People of all ages were eager to try each item. Entrepreneurs from Snapspheres were also present to show off their 3D printed globes.

Thank you, Asante, for hosting an interactive and educational event. We can’t wait to see where immersive technologies will take us!

 

 

Making an Impact: Mobility 4 All

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Born in Vietnam, John Doan came to the United States at age 4 as a refugee. John’s mother, a single parent, worked hard to care for her two sons, however, much of what John remembers is being raised by his older brother, Roy. Roy walked John to school each day, taught him how to ride a bike and eventually how to drive.

When Roy and John entered their 30’s, their lives changed dramatically. Roy was diagnosed with Dementia and Multiple Sclerosis. John has now become Roy’s caregiver. Over the years, John realized that Roy’s greatest challenge was transportation. He looked for a solution to help his brother and when he couldn’t find one, he decided to create his own solution.

Mobility4All launched in February of this year. Described as the kinder, gentler Uber for seniors and people with disabilities, the program offers custom transportation services. What sets Mobility4All apart is their dedication to service, trust and respect. Unlike other transportation services, Mobility4All requires their drivers to go through background checks and complete the special transportation services certificate. Drivers are also expected to provide ‘door through door’ service, ensuring customers get safely from their home to the vehicle to their destination. There is also the option to select a favorite driver because John knows that the best way to build trust is to build a relationship. By allowing customers to select a favorite driver, they can get to know each other to ensure a safe and comfortable experience.

Being a member of Impact Hub has allowed John to build important connections to further the impact of his project. This year, Mobility4All is a semi-finalist for the MN Cup and his team also plans to apply for the FINNOVATION Lab fellowship program. In July, Mobility4All will launch a second iteration of their program, adding locations, partners and drivers. By 2021, John would like to integrate self-driving technologies into his fleet. “I want to make sure that seniors and vulnerable adults are not left out of this technology, because they will benefit the most.”

Learn more about Mobility4All.

 

The story behind Impact Hub & FINNOVATION Lab

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Impact Hub is the world’s largest network focused on building entrepreneurial communities for impact at scale. Established in London in 2005, Impact Hub is home to the innovators, dreamers and entrepreneurs who are creating tangible solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. Today, there are locations in over 50 countries, and although each Hub is unique, they all focus on creating a community of impact.

Impact Hub Minneapolis-Saint Paul began in 2014 as the Minnesota Social Impact Center, a nonprofit committed to increasing the depth of engagement, support and innovative connections among Minnesota’s social entrepreneurs. Two of Impact Hub’s Founders, Terri Barreiro and Katie Kalkman, were inspired to form a local Impact Hub when they visited San Francisco with entrepreneurship students from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. A survey of local needs and interests was completed in December of 2013 to frame what exactly the community needed. It was clear from the 110 respondents, that the Twin Cities was ready for an Impact Hub. In 2014 a Founding Board was formed including Fred Rose, Mary Rick, Ben Aase, Reynolds Anthony-Harris, Leah Goldstein Moses, Beth Parkhill, Terence Steinberg, and Tim Reardon. 

By May of 2015, MN Social Impact Center was accepted into the global Impact Hub network and rebranded as Impact Hub MSP. That fall, the Founding Team opened its doors with a proto-type space in the North Loop and Danielle Steer was hired as community and operations manager. 

What began as a small office, has now expanded into a 13,000 square foot space in Elliot Park. Along with a brand new space, Impact Hub MSP also formed an exciting new collaboration with FINNEGANS, a local beer company dedicated to turning beer into food. In 2017, Mary Rick was brought on as CEO of both the FINNOVATION Lab and the Impact Hub MSP in a new collaborative model to help build out the facility, recruit office partners, and launch new programming including the FINNOVATION Lab Fellowship.

When FINNEGANS was ready to open a taproom, they had a vision for something more than the typical brewery experience. Jacquie Berglund, founder of FINNEGANS Beer Company, wanted to create an inspiring environment within the whole building dedicated to launching the next generation of impact enterprises.  Since 2003, Finnegan’s Community Fund has donated $1.2 million dollars to nutrition programs since 2003.

This vision laid the groundwork for the FINNEGANS House, which includes the brewery and taproom on the first floor, an exclusive social club called the Brewer’s Den on the second floor, and the Impact Hub - FINNOVATION Lab on the fourth floor.

Today, the FINNOVATION Lab focuses on specialized trainings and offers venture services to support local entrepreneurs, while the Impact Hub acts as the community workspace offering private offices, open workspace and event rental opportunities.

Together, their mission is to provide a state-of-the art destination to work, meet, learn and connect, provide resources, training and capital for entrepreneurial leaders, curate peer-to-peer impact practice groups and share global best practices, and to spearhead initiatives within the Elliot Park neighborhood.

Making an Impact: Ecotone

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Ecotone Analytics was selected as a semi-finalist for the 2018 MN Cup for their new project called “StartSocial.si,” an online platform for impact business accelerators to onboard the innovative ideas of social entrepreneurs.

Co-Founders Tim Roman & Ted Carling launched Ecotone Analytics out of the Impact Hub MSP in 2015, to help social enterprises scale their impact by clearly communicating their value to stakeholders and investors. Ecotone creates simple, eye-catching and effective summaries for their clients that can fit onto a single page.

It is important to Tim and Ted that the impact value reports they create are easily digestible. “Our team is passionate about making change in the world and scaling impact, and we love being a part of our clients’ important work.”

They help organizations through research, cost-benefit analysis, data visualizations, and by categorizing client impact according to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and developing compelling narrative that funders look for when deciding where to put their dollars.

Tim and Ted met at a “Social Innovation Deep Dive” event back in 2014 where they discovered their shared interest in using business tools to scale social & environmental impact. “We decided pretty quickly that we needed to get some beers and wings together and take the conversation further,” said Tim. A year later, Ecotone was born.

StartSocial.si will help impact accelerators and social entrepreneurs accurately and effectively communicate the impact value they create, ultimately to secure more funding and support.

Ted says, “Our goal is to use best-practice analysis tools that change the way impact investors measure outcomes and create roadmaps for directed investments in organizations creating the greatest impact.” They believe a new era of Impact Investing has the potential to fundamentally change how capital is mobilized to solve the world’s challenges.

Making an Impact: Footprint Project

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When the purpose of your work is saving lives, it’s hard to think about anything else. But that’s not the case for Will Heegaard. He is also dedicated to improving the long-term sustainability of emergency and disaster response practices.

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Will is a nationally registered paramedic working for North Memorial Ambulance Service. He has responded with the International Medical Corps to Typhoon Haiyan, the ebola outbreak in West Africa, and has been on the ground with Team Rubicon after disasters in Louisiana, Minnesota and Puerto Rico. It was during these deployments that Will saw some big spaces for improvement in how energy and environmental sustainability are implemented in the field.

In 2016, Will participated in a national Hackathon with the goal of tackling environmental degradation in humanitarian interventions, and the Footprint Project was born. Footprint's service model combines sustainability consulting with clean energy deployment so every humanitarian organization can fulfill their commitment to first do no harm, and every affected community can build back better. They have already accomplished several successful projects.

  • Caguas- Spring 2018, Partnered with Solar Libre to support the installation of a 4kw array with 12kwj of storage for a community kitchen in Puerto Rico.

  • Rampart, Fall 2017, Developed a 3kw array with 10kwh of storage to power a health clinic in Nevada.

Will is connected to Impact Hub MSP through John Goeppinger, Footprint’s CDO. John has acted as a "grant mercenary" for a number of nonprofits throughout Minnesota. To date, John has successfully secured more than $10 million in philanthropic, governmental, corporate, and individual gifts.

Will and The Footprint Project is currently a semi-finalist for MN Cup and Will also plans to apply for the FINNOVATION Lab Fellowship Program. In the meantime, Footprint will continue to follow their plans to green the international aid system by:

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  1. Prototyping: Integrating environmental impact calculators with humanitarian logistics software to build a simple, effective platform for evaluating energy use in humanitarian response.

  2. Partnering: Working with humanitarian organizations to test our service model by developing sustainability metrics, deploying renewable energy systems and reporting progress to donors.

  3. Developing: Making Footprint the go-to platform to track and transition humanitarian response off diesel, so that every organization can improve their operational efficiency, and every affected community can develop through disaster.


Learn more at https://www.footprintproject.org