- Senior Fellow at Columbia University's Institute for Tele-Information at the Graduate School of Business and former Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Center for Technology, Innovation and Community Engagement (CTICE), Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.
- From 1998 through 2001, under the Clinton Administration, advised the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) on IT Policy. Nominated by Laurie Perrine, Counsel for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)
- Raised more than $13 million to provide a network for a consortium of 30 schools, 20 community-based cultural organizations and for-profit technology service providers - totaling 136 community technology centers - for the NYC CTC (Citywide Training Center) Bank Project.
- Rockeller Cultural Innovation Fund (2012-2014) - Grant received for developing a Mobile Augmented Reality System (MARS) for the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute that will digitally landmark key historical and cultural events in El Barrio.
- Apple New Media Center (1994) - grant received for the development of a consortium of universities and companies innovating the use of new media technologies in education.
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Social Entrepreneurship and Social Impact Investing
- Organizations don't know how to reconcile financial sustainability with environmental and social sustainability.
Most people don’t know how to make the triple-bottom-line work together. They hear the talk about it, but they don’t know how to put it into practice. The first thing they have to think about with sustainability is the financial part. Foundations especially don’t invest in non-profits if they can’t present a financial sustainability argument, but that carries over into how governments are funding projects, too. Because foundations and governments have a limited amount of funds, they have to hear a sustainability argument with the financial case made first.
- Social entrepreneurs have to figure out how to generate revenue streams.
Social enterprise start-ups have to come up with very clear business models. No one is investing in them like they did during the dot-com boom. And non-profits increasingly have to justify their funding with large private foundations by showing they have a sustainability model. They must show they can continue the work after the grant ends because they’ve thought of ways to generate other means of income.
- Social entrepreneurs must be able to prove they are worthy of funding from traditional investors.
Social investment lacks the metrics that traditional investing has been able to put together. Yet it's increasingly important to have the sort of metrics you can take to a traditional investor and persuade the investor at the outset that the organization is viable and fundable.
Whether you’re a nonprofit or for profit, the fundamental question to ask is, can this idea be funded? It's not just the product or the service; you also have to make sure you have a team investors will support. If not, you'll have to recruit new members to the team until you are able to say, “This is an executive management team with the combined expertise needed to solve the problem the product or service is aimed at.”
- Social enterprises have to determine what organizational structure is the right one of their mission.
Teams must determine upfront not only if they are for-profit or nonprofit, if they are an LLC or an LC3 or a benefit corporation. An LC3, for instance, is a nonprofit that flips to a for-profit in a few years when it becomes financially sustainable and achieves payback.
- Social entrepreneurs have to determine what technologies are appropriate for them and learn how to use them.
What is the right use of the Internet? Of course you are going to have a web site, but what’s the right way to use of it? Do you need a full-blown web site or maybe just a well-articulated social media strategy?
In addition, social entrepreneurs are increasingly looking at raising money through technologies such as crowdfunding, but they don't know how to even structure campaigns. They hear cool success stories, and they may think it's enough to send out an alert to Facebook friends and then craft a campaign for a certain period of time, but there's much more to it. Crowdfunding increasingly requires both traditional and non-traditional expertise, including identifying appropriate funders based on early-stage or mid-stage needs.