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I stumbled across this draft post, which I had originally written in June 2011 for my Be Openionated blog (which I rarely update, btw).  I can’t tell if I had published it or not.  It makes for fun reading and is worthy of updating.  2012 Mid-Year Predictions to follow in a separate post!


2011 Mid-Year Predictions for Socent & Investment

You know when you get a rumble in your tummy when you’re hungry? Well these are the “rumbles in my tummy” when it comes to business and investment opportunities for social enterprises and/or high impact businesses for the next 6-12 months. These rumbles are based on things I’ve been hearing from people in the socent community and are things for which I’m working towards investment solutions. Here are my mid-year predictions:

– Breaking $1m in sales can be like leaping over a magical hurdle. There may be a practical barrier or a psychological one. Planning for growth beyond $1m in sales may be a bit like taking that first leap to start up a business in the first place. In addition to good business planning, a confidence boost, and taking a deep breath, an injection of new investment to help a business make the step change over $1m is a striking opportunity.

– Finding a way to do more small deals faster. This requires faster and better decision making. I asked myself what conditions exist when I’m able to make decisions faster and better. It happens when I know what I’m looking for and/or have a strong instinct about it. So to do small deals faster does not mean a longer, more detailed due diligence checklist. It means a shorter checklist with the pivotal key things on it and a well-honed intuition.

– Digital/ IT/ tech in the socent space.  This warrants a whole separate post unto itself – me and my relationship with tech.  In the meantime, social entrepreneurs interested in using digital/ IT/ tech in their social solution need to devise something that is vitally useful and improves how information is processed or accessed.  A truly disruptive and innovative tech solution isn’t so much about what the tech is, but rather who uses it and how it helps them.  Facebook isn’t successful because of its rather bland, monochrome user interface – it is successful because Mark Zuckerberg developed accessible internet real estate, where everyone could have a patch, justifiably snoop on their friends and acquaintances, and through this vanity and very human qualities have now become the largest audience on the internet for advertisers and game developers.  Google has value also because of internet real estate, but more importantly because of its analytics and algorithms.  On the face of it, they provide a search engine, but think about all the tools Google develops to help people share (gmail and groups), store (docs), and analyse (analytics) information.  Underneath the advertising model of Google Ads are analytical tools and SEO algorithms.  Other interesting businesses to examine that use tech to improve access to resources are Moo and Threadless.  I would love to see a social tech solution that improves collaboration.  This idea had been bandied about when I was in the UK and I haven’t probed further to see how it could be developed.  I sense a digital solution would require some thoughtful anthropo-mimicry to be a successful collaboration tool.

So those are my three mid-year predictions for social enterprise and investment opportunities.  They are three areas I continue to explore.  If you have any comments, suggestions, or thoughts on these or other interesting areas to key an eye on, do share a comment.