Open Seat Ventures
A social impact fund investing in the now.
Website or social media url(s) (optional):
We own the domain www.openseatventures.org but our site goes live in mid-July!
Officially incorporated 09/15/2017 but pre-planning since spring 2017.
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Start-Up (first few activities have happened)
1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."
I developed my first global higher education organization and scaled it to 40,000 people. Then, I learned that lack of education opportunity stems from improper access to healthcare and launch a social enterprise that worked to remove people from poverty. From this, I learned that young people have some of the most innovative solutions to address poverty but lack the support and capital needed to take their daring ideas and scale their impact, and so finally, I launch - and proudly share with you - Open Seat Ventures. At OSV, we want to make a change in how we view youth driven enterprises tackling some of the world’s most pressing sustainability issues by reversing the paradigm of traditional venture capital firms. By empowering young people through a pay-it-forward investment, coupled with resources and mentors, WE ARE STEPPING UP to CHANGE the future of sustainability - join us today!
We are stepping up to make change because there is no systemic outlet for young people to reach out to for capital, resources, and collateral to scale social enterprises domestically and internationally. Through our unique model, we empower young people to not only launch their social enterprises, but also lead them. Moreover, we are stepping up to make change because we've seen firsthand that global peace cannot be secured if we don't look at sustainable development problems circularly.
2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
For too long, solutions to some of the world's most pressing issues have been at in silo without a true interconnected perspective of sustainability. There is no cohesive umbrella organization out there that provides young people the capital and resources needed to launch and scale their own social enterprises in the same way adults have access too; this is why youth driven solutions are put on the back-burner. We are changing this paradigm.
3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
We recognize that talent is universal, but opportunity is not. Open Seat Ventures solves this problem by providing young social entrepreneurs under the age of 30 access to capital, resources, and the tangible assets needed to scale their idea into action through a pay-it-forward investment model. We invest in young social entrepreneurs specifically launching enterprises across clean tech, healthcare, poverty alleviation, and education empowerment among other issue areas the capital needed to take their initial idea beyond the prototype stage or to help scale already sustainable impact. For those companies we do invest equity or debt in, during a buyout, liquidity event, or profit sharing opportunity, the funds received from such a transaction will be used to fund the next generation of enterprises, with the help of the original investment founders, thus ensuring a sustainable investment model by which we have the ability to continually invest in emerging social impact companies and empower and reverse the traditional investor/investee relationships. We also go one step forward and provide our investments access to collateral resources, assets, and mentorship to further impact.
4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
Conducting due-diligence, we learn about an emerging healthcare company in Western Africa that employs and trains women to go to local communities and teach women and men about contraceptives and other community health issues. We make an initial investment of $10,000, for example, either through debt, equity, or residual stake for which the only purpose serves to create a sustainable investment model. Overtime, depending on the type of investment made, residuals earned will be used to put into the next enterprise we source, say for example a clean tech company in South Asia. In addition to this, to scale and maximize the social entrepreneur's work, we provide collateral resources like legal affairs, marketing, and new business development, in addition to pairing with a leading industry mentor to scale and amplify impact.
5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
We are positioned as one of the first, and perhaps only, youth driven non-profit social venture capital investing in young change makers. Specifically, we are catering to the impact investing market that has the need for initial capital that is often to little for traditional VC's but too large for grant opportunities. Additionally, we are reversing the traditional investor/investee relationship by empowering our initial portfolios to help us source our next enterprises to invest in. Through this unique model, we are reversing what it means to invest pragmatically in young people.
6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
We will measure outcomes in three variances over 1, 3, and 5 year intervals. First, we will measure the number of entrepreneurs we are able to fund (each entrepreneur's initial funding is dependent on their RFP). Ideally, we will invest in 3 social entrepreneurs within 1 year, 10-12 within 3 years, and 30 within 5 years. We will also be measuring the different fields we are able to invest in, keeping keen consideration for economic empowerment, women's and gender equality, and healthcare/climate tech as priority engagements. Second, we expect 10,000 lives to be positively impacted through the first year of investments, 30,000 within 3 years, and 100,000 within 5 years as measured through annual company reports. Lastly, we will measure the professional development schema of the entrepreneur prior to the initial investment and two years after as well as the number of exit opportunities.
7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
In August, we are officially launching our non-profit. We are having a team retreat in New York this July to go over launch details. We are already incorporated in the state of Delaware, and our first investment will be made within North America to test our model. We will also being working to source more formal partnerships across social innovation organizations like Ashoka as well as large impact tech companies like Google & Facebook to scale our resource pipeline for investments. Prior to 2019, we plan to have made our first investments and will begin expansion into New York, San Francisco, and our international program areas TBD.
8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?
We primarily need access and sponsorship for legal governance and helping to craft our legal structure. We have conducted due diligence, but due to our budget constrictions, we lack opportunity to prospect a lawyer to solidify our model. We genuinely need support in terms of legal structure. Additionally, we need help in terms of funding; we are actively designing our development pipeline with our Chief Development Officer, but also having structure from Ashoka & T-Mobile and being put in front of major companies to help provide grants or co-invest with us would maximize our global impact and scalability metrics.
9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Donations between $100-$1k
10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.
The nature of our open concept non-profit is that we are able to identify and collaborate with a variety of organizations, projects, and companies. We can collaborate with existing changemakers by investing directly in them or working with them to help us source our next batch of investments; we can directly make an impact and collaborate with leading youth driven enterprises out there through this method. We can also partner with existing changemakers and other young leaders to serve as outlets in providing services and collateral to our investees, at once amplifying the investment impact but also connecting other young leaders to join our cause. We've already worked with leaders like Peace First (though whom we received our initial grant from) and have extensive contacts at Ashoka, the United Nations, and other outlets - so we are actively sourcing out new partnerships as we begin to make our initial investments. Perhaps one of the biggest areas that we can involve other young people in whole making a difference is amplifying development efforts through launching fundraising campaigns.
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