Entrepreneurs Solving World’s Challenges

The room was filled with a tension so thick that movement came in quakes.

Ten companies were ready to stand: 13 modules complete, six weeks in the making, self-vetted and prepared with only five minutes to present.

About 80 investors, lawyers and guests had come to listen to the final ten showcase their businesses at an exclusive event; a night that was the final product of their passion and my new company, the Shift Group. It was Pitch Night.

These start ups had just finished an intense training program that was designed to incubate and accelerate a startup from concept to launch and fundraising ready. What they did in six weeks was a process that takes the average entrepreneurs about six months.

Then again, the founders that made it to the final round were not your regular entrepreneurs.

The men and women were visionaries committed to changing the world.

Our program is not just about launching successful, new businesses. It is about propagating triple bottom lines: increasing social viability, while establishing sustainable economic growth and maintaining a program of positive environmental impact.

Shift Group Entrepreneur Training Program

Here are some of the 14 cool, state-of-the-art concepts that graduated our training:

  • building the world’s largest rooftop farm… here in NYC,
  • launching a natural water filtration system on barges for waterways… again, here in NYC,
  • manufacturing organic cotton and all natural high-fashion lingerie… locally in NYC,
  • helping college graduates enter the work force by leveraging seniors exiting it, nationwide,
  • a new social e-commerce platform to radicalize online shopping,
  • an online project management system that breaks down barriers to organizational bureaucracy through flat and open design,
  • recognizing the powerful impact of women in the green and cleantech industries through radio,
  • empowering Latinos to pursue higher education with a revolutionary e-Consulting program, and
  • consulting cities on managing their waste down to zero!

And now on Pitch Night, ten of them had five minutes to convincingly present their business models to our panel of seasoned investors, entrepreneurs and experts on sustainability and business.

In the end, despite nerves and tension, the presentations blew everyone away.

The participants, judges and guests networked and we are happy to announce that more than a few of them are working with the companies today.

Why did I offer this program?

Because the fastest way we’ll not only stop destroying our planet and communities, but actually start restoring them, is by showing people how to make money doing it.

It is not going to happen by waiting for radical social change or our governments to get their acts together!   It isn’t even going to be because of science.

While these things may be helpful, ultimately it will be the entrepreneurs that make it happen. They are our thought leaders and our change-makers; they understand risk, building out structures from ideas and what it means to “do.”

That is why the world needs innovative, creative, ambitious and intense entrepreneurs.  We need you to dream and create kick-butt, sustainable business models.

Unfortunately, the challenge for these types of businesses and leaders is that it is much more difficult to change how society does things.

Changing habits is a pain in the $#!@ for one person, now imagine it en mass.  It’s possible but it takes us to become a global culture of doers.

So, here’s this week’s bit of advice: Task 1 in How to Become a Doer

Start small with managing and changing your own unnecessary habits:

  • Identify the habit you want to change
  • Create a powerful why to explain your choice for change (what is the purpose of it? what is your purpose for the change?)
  • Attract your ‘anchor’ (the person who adds instant credibility and connection)
  • Identify your target goal
  • Build out your message based on the why
  • Integrate a time line, or “what, by when” for your campaign, tied to specific and measurable results.

For example, in Sweden, an experiment on how to change people’s habits took only a few days to convert over 66% of escalator users into stair users at a subway station… using a strategy so simple that it was fun!

Click here to see the video

Yes, change is doable.  It takes amazing ideas and innovation sometimes, but it happens every day.

So I ask you, what are you innovating to make a serious difference in the world?


Action Steps for the Week

Have a business concept that is designed to really make a difference on the planet that is taking more effort that you bargained?

Well, then break it down.

Start with the core message that you are trying to instill on your target audience.  What are you asking them to do that might not be part of their normal routine?

Buy less?  Eat healthier?  Do something that requires attention and/or focus?

Next, decide on your “theme”—how you want to deliver this news / message to your target.  For example:  fun, fear, excitement, fashion, life-enhancer, etc.

Then build your brand around this theme.  Make sure it permeates everything you do.  From your website, to business cards, marketing materials, how you speak, write and so on.

Lastly, commit to reviewing how this campaign did for you.  Depending on your competition and the sales cycle of your product, this process can take from 2-3 months to a year.

Follow these steps and most likely you will be fixing some serious world problems quicker than you expect.