Focus on the Money and the Impact will Come

I’ve been meaning to get my thoughts down on this subject for a while and now that I have one month left at work and two months left in India, it seems like it’s now or never.

One of my biggest take aways from my experience in India and working at Unitus Seed Fund is the fallacy of the ‘social enterprise’. Through my work I’ve had the chance to look at a lot of ventures and I’ve been able to understand which of these ventures are winners and why.

The ventures that are really going to make it, that will scale, make money, and also impact the Base of the Economic Pyramid, are those that have found a legitimate market opportunity. Their founder wants and intends on making money. 

The problem today is that the concept of blending profit and purpose resonates with so many people that aspiring entrepreneurs are looking at social problems first and then trying to figure out how to make a for-profit business to solve said problem. I think this is inevitably going to build a crappy (read: unviable) business. If starting a for-profit venture is your objective, focus on the market opportunity (how you’re going to make money) first. If you want to start a business, figure out what your passionate about. What gets you excited. Be broad— education, technology, cleaning products.

For me, it’s food (literally everything about it). Are there a ton of social problems around food? Yes. Are there also a lot of market opportunities and ways to make money? Yes. I’m going to try to solve B before I solve for A. If you’re a person why gives a damn, I’m guessing the market opportunities you’re going to find, might just have some impact baked in. And those ventures are the most likely to actually make a profit and an impact. 

Ina Garten is practically a social entrepreneur. 

It’s like the old saying, “do what you love and the money will come”, except I’m changing it to “pursue your passion, look for market opportunities, and the impact will come”. Okay, that may not be written over an instagram’d picture anytime soon, but you catch my drift. 

If you are impact first, don’t for get about the good old nonprofits. That will be a blog post for another time, titled: “Why everyone be hatin’ on nonprofits?”

Why We Should Stop Talking About Changing the World | Education on GOOD

Why We Should Stop Talking About Changing the World | Education on GOOD:

The Need for a Daily Reality Check

I’m not entirely sure what my friends and family imagine is my day to day life here in India, but I’m guessing they think it’s vastly different than their’s in the US. It is in some ways, but to be honest, I spend 9-5 in an office, which is not that different than many of my friends in the US. 

Yesterday I was feeling a bit homesick. I was sitting in my nice, air conditioned office and wondering why I’m all the way in India. I could writing similar emails from an office by the beach in Venice. I could go home and have dinner with my boyfriend then grab drinks with my friends. What I was doing at the moment did not seem to necessitate India. 

In order to bring myself down to earth, when I left my office, I did a major reality check. I really looked around me and noticed everything that was strange and foreign. A women walked past balancing a basket on her head. I heard people speaking Kannada. More women passed in colorful saris. Then in my head, with a concerted effort, I said, “Holy shit… I’m in India”. Then I let that sink in. I’m literally on the other side of the world from my friends in family, in a place that is nothing like where I grew up. That’s pretty fricken cool. 

This is a practice I learned from a friend here and it really works. It’s something that I think you can use in any situation. If you’re feeling annoyed about paying an arm and a leg for a shoe box in New York, I suggest looking around and thinking, “Holy shit, I live in New York! A place where many people only dream of living”. Go on, try it. It will turn around your day. 

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