Recyclebank Crowdsources Innovations to An Elite Group of Social Entrepreneurs – StartingBloc Fellows
The Fast Company article highlighted one of the central components of every StartingBloc Fellow’s journey towards a more enlightened state of social innovation – the case project.
by Auren Kaplan
From Fast Company CoExist:
Partnering with Purpose, an agency that helps move people to action, Recyclebank used itself as the annual test case for StartingBloc, a fellowship program that exposes emerging leaders to new methods of achieving social impact. The company offered the 103 fellows (all between 25 and 30) at this year’s Institute for Social Innovation–a five-day incubator for budding “social innovators,” as StartingBloc calls them–to formulate business plans that would quickly scale Recyclebank’s user base as it tries to expand its offerings beyond curbside recycling to a platform to incentivize all sorts of good behavior.
“We liked the work that StartingBloc was doing. The idea of creating this incubation period to help cultivate future leaders who are social entrepreneurs and want to refine their abilities, and people who both want to make a difference in the world and do it in way that’s financially viable. That really resonates with the purpose of Recyclebank,” says Ian Yolles, Recyclebank’s chief sustainability officer. “And there was the potential, in this open source kind of way, to access a group of smart, diverse, passionate, digitally savvy people who could generate ideas that would find real-world application in our business.”
The Fast Company article highlighted one of the central components of every StartingBloc Fellow’s journey towards a more enlightened state of social innovation – the case project, where teams of Fellows compete to present a usable, intelligently worded presentation to a company (in this case Recyclebank) that can improve the company in a short time span. The case project brings Fellows together, working under tight conditions to brainstorm successful socially innovative ideas and bring them to life in presentation format. Not only is the experience beneficial to those elite budding StartingBloc social entrepreneurs, oftentimes the presenters actually make a real-life impact on the business about whom the Fellows presented.
In Recyclebank’s case, the case presentations reassured the company that they were on the right track. From Fast Company:
And for Recyclebank, the results were exciting because this elite focus group had come up with ideas surprisingly in line with what the company is already discussing. Instead of coming out of the competition with a brilliant new idea “there was what I would describe in ‘value via affirmation,’” says Yolles. “[The winning] concept is remarkably similar to some concepts we are in the process of executing on. And it may be the case that as we are evolving this work in progress, we may reach out to that group. That would be of tremendous value.”
That StartingBloc Fellows are terrific value creators is not in question, but what is exciting is that these world-changing social entrepreneurs and innovators are creating real solutions that companys seek – creating important experience for the Fellows, and empowering lucky companies who get to be on the receiving end of their often priceless advice.
Learn more about the StartingBloc Institutes of Social Innovation at StartingBloc.org. Full disclosure, I am a StartingBloc Fellow, having attended the conference in February of 2010. I also served on the board of StartingBloc Los Angeles from April of 2010 until January of 2011. Thanks for reading and please share if you enjoyed this article!