On the first day of summer last week, 300 attendees filled the Gerding Theater for PSU’s Elevating Impact Summit, a daylong event (June 21, 2013) dedicated to social entrepreneurship.
The day kicked off with remarks from Carolyn McKnight, executive director of PSU Impact Entrepreneurs, whose mission, she said is “unleash the power of business for social impact.” McKnight explained that the non-profit is passionate about using business models to solve social problems and focuses its programs in three primary ways: inspiration, incubation and acceleration.
Six fledgling startups got the chance to pitch their ideas to a panel of seasoned social entrepreneurs during the event’s social innovation pitch fest, with one, Consano, taking home audience favorite honors and a prize package of startup services. Here is OEN’s recap of the “rapid-fire pitch fest” and the local companies that are looking to positively impact the world:
- Rewear – a manufacturer of “upcycled” children’s clothing and household wares, Rewear was founded by two Portland moms who wanted to save materials from the landfill while at the same time creating apparel that looks good and is unique in the marketplace. The company makes its products at two Portland-based factories and is now looking to scale after a year of developing a strong following through local trunk sales.
- Incited – a crowdfunding platform for education causes, Incited helps educators, schools and other organizations raise money for worthy projects. Incited has helped raise more than $25,000 to date for projects such as saving a school music program and funding a GED program within a non-profit that helps youth. The company hopes to expand by developing an online community space to collaborate & replicate successful education models.
- Pacific Green Development – Imagine if buildings were like trees & could harvest energy for reuse? That’s what Pacific Green Development aims to do. With the building industry contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, Pacific Green Development has come up with a hemp-based insulation material that helps process and reduce carbon dioxide. The company is building a model home in the Lents neighborhood in 2014.
- Simple Wheel – an online tool that lets philanthropic donors track and measure the impact of their giving. With most charitable contributions based on emotion, the founders of Simple Wheel wondered what would happen if philanthropy embraced the era of big data, allowing philanthropists and non-profits to manage giving like a financial portfolio. Simple Wheel has created framework to measure impact. “Like BankSimple for philanthropy.”
- Flagto – allows informal businesses in the developing world, such as those based in an apartment or home, to plant their flag on their business using geo-location technology. The digital flag would help small businesses and logistics companies manage shipments & deliveries and reduce logistics losses. The company was founded just a few weeks ago to serve informal businesses by improving connections to other businesses and the world.
- Consano – a crowdfunding platform that is designed to fuel medical research in new, innovative way. Founded by a breast cancer survivor, Consano (which means “to heal” in Latin) gives individuals the ability to help fund research that is near and dear to their hearts.So far, Consano has partnered with research organizations at OHSU, University of Washington and University of San Francisco, among others, and helped raise $38,000 for various medical research projects so far.