Archive for the ‘Gratitude Awards’ Category

SOCAP15 Final Plenary and Gratitude Award Winners

October 10th, 2015

“I’ll reemphasize my three keywords: humility, relationship, and listening. We have to value the human element just as much as we value profit and, more importantly, understand that the two are so interrelated they can’t actually be detangled.” — Nikki Silvestri, Silvestri Strategies

As SOCAP15 came to a close, our final plenary reflected on how the conversations we have been having over the last three days are being influenced by the broader global context. What does it mean to build a marketplace at the intersection of money and meaning in a world facing growing economic inequality, racial injustice, ongoing humanitarian crises, and climate change? Our final plenary featured some inspiring and thought provoking discussions that spoke to that big question. The audience also joined in a celebration of some of the world’s most impactful social entrepreneurs as Randy Haykin and Paul Miller of the Gratitude Network announced the 2015 Gratitude Award winners.


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Gratitude Awards at SOCAP15: Winners Announced

2015 gratitude award winners


The Gratitude Awards recognizes and the most promising and innovative early-stage social ventures in education, community development, and the environment and sustainability. More than 500 companies representing more than 30 countries were nominated. Nine Gratitude Award finalists presented their ventures to the audience at SOCAP15 last Thursday and the judges and voters have spoken. Winners were selected in each of the following categories:
Education: The Reset Foundation
Community Development: Vendedy
Environment/Sustainability: Carbon Analytics
SOCAP People’s Choice Award: CASSA
All nine nominees will receive ongoing mentorship from the Gratitude Network over the next year, The four announced winners will receive an expense-paid trip to the Bay area meet one of the Gratitude Super Mentors: Ed Catmull, CEO of Pixar; Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO; George Zachary, VC at Charles River Ventures, Meg Garlinghouse with LinkedIn For Good and Super-angel Ron Conway. Congratulations to all of the Gratitude Awards finalists and winners!

Thank You!

We are so grateful to everyone who attended, presented, and spoke at SOCAP15. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, ideas, stories, and expertise. While the Blue Angels put on a spectacular show overhead, we appreciate the SOCAP15 community’s understanding and persevering on to have great conversations through the background noise. Thank you.

Let’s keep the conversations that started here at the Fort Mason Center going all year long! You can watch videos of content you may have missed at the SOCAP YouTube Channel or participate in SOCAP365 a new initiative from MissionHUB. We will also continue covering your stories through the SOCAP blog and on Facebook and Twitter.

Mark your calendar for SOCAP16, October 4 – 7, 2016 at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.


Day One Highlights

October 7th, 2015

Highlights from SOCAP15 Day One

Welcome to all those attending the world’s largest conference on impact investing! SOCAP15 has brought together an incredibly diverse crowd of impact investors and social entrepreneurs from around the globe, as well as some of the world’s leading figures in business, finance, technology, and philanthropy. For those of you who cannot be here with us at the Fort Mason Center, you can follow all the great programming happening on the main stage via SOCAP15 Live Stream on YouTube. We will also be updating you with highlights from the conference here on the blog and also through Facebook and Twitter.

Impact Bazaar, Gratitude Award Pitches, and More

Our opening night of programming reflected the wide range of voices within the SOCAP community. We heard inspiring stories from across the impact space: from Tae Yoo of Cisco, the nine Gratitude Award nominees, and from Becca Stevens of Thistle Farms. We also heard several moving and thought provoking songs from Musician Chuck Cannon. In one moment, SOCAP Co-Founder and Executive Producer Rosa Lee Harden told the assembled crowd, “SOCAP really is the meeting of our minds and our hearts.” This first evening of SOCAP15 celebrated entrepreneurs and shone a spotlight on some of the boldest changemakers in the impact space.

Gratitude Award Pitches


For the second year in a row, the Gratitude Award finalists pitched their ventures to the live SOCAP audience. Randy Haykin and Paul Miller of The Gratitude Network introduced the nine ventures that made it through multiple rounds of judging to make it to the main stage at SOCAP15. All of the nominated entrepreneurs inspired the crowd with stories of innovation and impact. Each of the finalists who pitched tonight will receive a year of mentoring from The Gratitude Network. Of those nine finalists, a panel of expert judges will select three Gratitude Award winners, one in each of three categories: Education, Community Development and Sustainability. The fourth and final winner will be selected by you, the SOCAP audience. The four chosen Gratitude Award Winners will be announced during the Friday Closing Plenary Session from 12:30 – 2:00 pm.

Vote for the SOCAP15 Gratitude Awards Audience Choice Winner Here

Here are the nine Gratitude Awards finalists that presented:

Community Development

    • CEO and Co-founder Shantanu Patak presented CareNXInnovations.
    • CFO Miranda Phua presented CityTaps.
    • CEO and Founder Christine Souffrant presented Vendedy.



    • Director of Business Development Isabel Sheinman presented Library For All.
    • Co-Founder and CEO Jane Mitchell presented The Reset Foundation.
    • Founder and CEO Megan Mukuria presented ZanaAfrica.


Environmental Sustainability

    • Michael Thornton could not attend but sent in a video presentation for Carbon Analytics
    • President Antonio Aguilar presented CASSA.
    • Founder Parag Gupta and Rob Whiting, Director of India Operations presented for Waste Ventures.


If you missed the pitches at today’s Impact Bazaar, you can visit the finalists in the innovation showcase in Herbst Pavilion, or read about them on the Gratitude Fund website. The four Gratitude Awardees will win the opportunity to meet with a Super Mentor. The 2015 panel of Super Mentors includes:

    • Ed Catmull, CEO of Pixar
    • Ron Conway, Co-Managing Partner of SV Angel
    • Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO
    • Meg Garlinghouse, LinkedIn For Good
    • George Zachary, VC at Charles River Ventures


When she retook the stage after the Gratitude Award presentations, Rosa Lee Harden said,  “That is the reason we do SOCAP” and then thanked the entrepreneurs for sharing their amazing stories.

Announcements From the Stage

Sam Utne of of Impact Hub New York announced Impact Bazaar, an exciting new program that will debut October 21st. Impact Bazaar will be a live marketplace for the impact innovation ecosystem in NYC. SOCAP15 attendees who live and work in NYC will get free access and the opportunity to host free workshops sharing their resources with other innovators.

Tae Yoo, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs at Cisco announced new research into Key Performance Indicators for social innovation entrepreneurs they will release in partnership with UBI Global. This is the first benchmark analysis of socially-focused incubators in the US. Wu said that they undertook this research to acknowledge that “we are all global problem solvers” now. For those in attendance at SOCAP15, Cisco and UBI Global will be holding a session on Thursday 10/08 to present their findings.

Entrepreneur Panel:

SOCAP Co-Founder Kevin Jones closed out tonight’s programming by moderating a panel focused on the challenges and triumphs of social entrepreneurs including personal stories from:

  • Alloysius Attah of Farmer Line
  • Matt Flannery of Branch
  • Becca Stevens of Thistle Farms
  • Xavier Helgesen of Off Grid Electric

Share Your #SOCAP15 Experience with the World!

We invite you to share your insights with the global SOCAP community. The world will be watching social media for commentary on the conversations at SOCAP15. Please use any of our themed hashtags to share your insights and observations with those that can’t be with us here in San Francisco.


​#ImpInv (for Impact Investing)

#NeighborEcon (for Neighborhood Economics)

​#DivInv (for Divest/Invest)

#FinInc (for Financial Inclusion)


Our attendees have broken all attendance records this year. You have made this the biggest SOCAP ever, again. Thank you! We are excited to begin our first full day of plenaries, panels, and workshops on Wednesday.

Gratitude Award Finalists for SOCAP15

September 17th, 2015

The Social Capital Markets Conference (SOCAP) and the Gratitude Network are excited to announce this year’s Gratitude Award finalists. These nine ventures were selected over three rounds of judging from a pool of 550 SOCAP entrepreneur scholarship applications. The final round of judging will take place at SOCAP15.

Watch the Gratitude Award Winners On Stage at SOCAP15 and Vote

All nine Gratitude Award finalists will pitch their ventures to the SOCAP community on the main stage at Fort Mason Center on Tuesday, October 6th at 4:30 pm. This session, Impact Bazaar: Celebrating Entrepreneurs, will highlight the grit and inspiration of social entrepreneurs. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to see pitches from some of the world’s most innovative social entrepreneurs! One winning venture will be selected for each category and the SOCAP audience will select one winner by vote. All winning ventures will be assigned a Gratitude Super Mentor and Facilitator and will receive a year of mentoring and introductions to influential business leaders by the Gratitude team.

The four Gratitude Award Winners will be announced in the Friday Closing Plenary Session from 12:30 – 2:00 pm.

The Finalists

Three social enterprises have been nominated in each of three categories: community development, education, and environment/sustainability:

Community Development

logo_upload (1)Operating from India, CareNx is trying to solve a problem of improper healthcare access in the remote villages of India. They are working within the smartphone ecosystem to develop affordable, quick and mobile healthcare solutions. CareNX’s first product, CareMother is a smartphone application with a medical device kit that enables pregnant women to perform medical tests and report them to a doctor remotely. CEO and Co-founder Shantanu Patak will present for CareNXInnovations.


logo-ct-temp-horiz-color-printFocusing on the urban poor in Africa that do not have access to in-home water service, CityTaps has developed a prepaid smart water meter system that allows customers to spread out costs via micropayments with any mobile phone. Residents with irregular incomes cannot afford high upfront connection fees and monthly bills. Water utilities can access this new revenue with certainty while saving 15-20% on operating costs. CFO Miranda Phua will present for CityTaps.


VendedyLocated in New York with pilot projects in Haiti and Brazil, Vendedy is creating a mobile marketplace that connects travelers to street artisans of the developing world. Over two billion people live in poverty while working as street sellers. Vendedy’s mission is to alleviate global poverty by digitizing the street vending industry. CEO and Founder Christine Souffrant will present for Vendedy.



LibraryOperating in Haiti, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where books are difficult to find, outdated and expensive, Library For All is a digital library solution. They aim to serve those among the 250 million children in the developing world who have limited access to quality educational materials. Their mission is rooted in the belief that education is the key to unlocking the solutions to global poverty. Library For All bring together publishers, in-country advisors and technology companies to deliver high quality, relevant content to users in local languages. The platform is optimized for low-broadband environments and designed to operate on devices already available in the developing world, including low-cost tablets and mobile phones. Director of Business Development Isabel Sheinman will present for Library For All.


Reset Square LogoStarting in California, The Reset Foundation is launching a network of residential education campuses that will serve as an alternative to incarceration for young men ages 18-24. The Reset Foundation repurposes criminal justice dollars with a program designed to help the thousands of young people who are caught in the poverty-to-prison cycle in America today. They aim to enable high school graduation, enhance career readiness, and improve social-emotional wellness for a generation of young people who might otherwise face prison time. Co-Founder and CEO Jane Mitchell will present for The Reset Foundation.


ZanaLocated in Kenya, ZanaAfrica is a hybrid social enterprise that equips East African females with affordable, eco-responsible reusable and disposable sanitary pads and underwear and offers vital health education. Nearly 1 million Kenyan girls miss up to 6 weeks of school annually due to lack of pads and health education, 60% of girls drop out of secondary school, 22% of girls report their first sexual experience was coerced or forced with a partner 4 years older, 47% of teen mothers have unintended pregnancies, and HIV prevalence among girls is 4 times that of boys. ZanaAfrica has served over 20,000 girls and women with the vital feminine hygiene products and health education they need to live healthier, self-directed lives. Founder and CEO Megan Mukuria will present for ZanaAfrica.



PyKCkD1h6qo9GUA4JjVRFMTg9tel-99nb0QYnVkx_78,NfMFTIMWwwWGfwLETc45tInUqo-48FYl1tTdrztopgsLocated in England, Carbon Analytics is revolutionising business by bringing instant environmental impact assessment and management to every company. Small and medium businesses (SMEs) typically lack the resources and expertise needed to understand how to make their business more sustainable. Carbon Analytics develops tools for assessing company’s carbon and water footprint directly from companies’ accounting data. Right now the vast majority of businesses do not know the environmental impact their business has and without this knowledge cannot make many simple changes that could reduce it. Carbon Analytics aims to solve these problems by integrating environmental and financial measurement. CEO Michael Thornton will present for Carbon Analytics.


CASSA_logo finalLocated in Guatemala, CASSA designs and builds self-sufficient social housing that provides its residents with clean water, clean energy and sanitation. In Guatemala, the housing deficit currently exceeds 1.5 million homes. Close to 8 million people live without housing or in inadequate structures that lack basic services. The company builds customized and affordable homes out of natural building materials that integrate a suite of appropriate technologies to actively provide users with vital services. CASSA’s objective is to build as many houses as possible to directly help bring down the housing deficit in Guatemala and Central America. President Antonio Aguilar will present for CASSA.


wcp-logoOriginating in India, Waste Ventures works with city and state governments to revolutionize Integrated Solid Waste Management in India. Every week, urban India creates a mound of garbage that weighs 2 times the Empire State Building. Only 60% of the waste is collected leaving the rest to fester in the streets and neighborhood garbage piles that lead to 22 vector-borne illnesses through vermin and are often burned, releasing toxins in the air.  The company composts organic waste, turning it into soil conditioner to sell to farmers and at a city scale, recycles dry waste to sell to wholesalers. This table-to-farm approach averts 80% of waste from being dumped, employs waste pickers, reduces greenhouse gases, and creates much needed topsoil for farmers. Founder Parag Gupta will present for Waste Ventures.


Meet the Finalists

We offer congratulations to all selected finalists. SOCAP attendees will also have an opportunity to meet the entrepreneurs who represent these ventures in the Innovation Showcase on Wednesday and Thursday, located within Impact Hub@SOCAP, where Gratitude Award Finalists will be available to answer questions and share more about their ventures.

2015 Gratitude Award Judges

In the final round, a panel of Gratitude Award judges who are experts in the field of social impact reviewed the applications of 33 semi-finalists and selected three Finalists to represent their category.

The Gratitude panel of judges in 2015 included:







Shikha Uberoi Co-Founder of Indi


Cory Trenda Senior Director for World Vision


Paul Miller Vice President, Business Development, The Gratitude Network


Penelope Douglas Co-Founder & Partner at the Heritas Group & Chair at Mission Hub


Kevin Barenblat Founder & President of Fast Forward


Randy Haykin Founder & Partner at the Gratitude Network


Rick Moss Director and Founder of Better Ventures


Julie Trell Executive Director of Workday Foundation


How to Get the Most out of SOCAP: 4 Tips for Entrepreneurs

August 14th, 2015

rsz_1minhajBy: Minhaj Chowdhury, Co-Founder and CEO of Drinkwell


1. Spend some time getting to know your cohort members and other entrepreneurs.
Early on in the game, I would go to conferences like SOCAP with the sole goal of finding an investor. I’d work on perfecting my elevator pitch and networking with funders. Echoing Green helped me expand my tunnel vision approach. They place emphasis on expanding your borders beyond investors to other entrepreneurs. They helped me connect with other fellows, some of whom went to SOCAP.

I would really encourage you not to automatically move on when you encounter someone with an entrepreneur badge. Talking to other entrepreneurs has really changed our trajectory. We’ve met lot of our customers and our franchisees at conferences. I found a customer at SOCAP last year that allowed us to expand to Bihar. That wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t taken the time to talk to other entrepreneurs. I’ve actually learned more from other entrepreneurs than I have from investors because of the overlapping challenges that we have.


2. Build relationships with the right mentors.
Connecting with mentors can be super important to accessing the partnerships you need for scale. The Gratitude Network helped me really connect with mentors. Mentorship is in many respects more important than capital. Capital is actually easy to get nowadays if you prove that you have the willingness to execute. What is really difficult is finding the right people who can answer the right questions for you.

Here is a piece of advice I heard Vinod Khosla give: the biggest challenge you’ll have as an entrepreneur is knowing who to ask which question. Everyone will have an opinion but you should not follow everyone’s advice. Many funders have never been entrepreneurs. They may answer questions in a way that is completely out of touch. Building a strong sense of judgment on who to go to for answers is critical to success.


3. Keep building relationships with potential investors after the conference.
The number of entrepreneurs who do not follow-up after conferences is mind-boggling.

Know that investors are people who tend to invest in lines and not dots. I learned this hearing Adam Draper from Boost VC talk about entrepreneurship. Imagine a first interaction to be a dot on a graph charting your relationship with the investor. That dot involves a pitch where you mention who you are, why you are uniquely qualified to solving the social issue you are tackling, and also implies a certain trajectory when it comes to hitting milestones that de-risk your business. As great as your pitch may be, you must continue to build relationships with investors after the conference by providing periodic updates on your traction and ability to meet your pre-stated milestones. Following up shows that you are a credible entrepreneur who can really walk the walk. Fill out subsequent dots to create a line that trends upwards.

Your ability to stick to your work and show how you can execute on a plan can truly differentiate you from the pack. Before the conference, think about the overall trajectory you are signaling to investors. Take steps to ensure you will be able to deliver credible proof points on executing to that trajectory months after that initial conversation at SOCAP so you can get that much closer to not just a check, but also a credible reputation.


4. Invest the time to “live” the problem before advocating a solution.
Avoid being an “advocate.” Too often I meet people who have a specific mousetrap they wish to peddle to an unassuming community. Such force-fitting rarely results in an enduring solution. I’d recommend first removing all biases and spending time getting to know a community, and understanding where they prioritize a certain problem, such as lack of access to healthcare or clean water, in the larger context of issues they face.

Meaningfully connect with them and get to know the rhythm of their life, what makes them tick, what their aspirations are, and how current challenges are being dealt with. Only after establishing a deep connection will you have a fact pattern with “mentions” of certain problems. If say, after one week, there has been more mention of a lack of quality education over safe water, it’s safe to assume that there isn’t much will to engage in behavior change for a clean water solution as opposed to an educational initiative. These insights are critical to designing a solution that will actually be adopted.


About the Author: Minhaj Chowdhury is the co-founder and CEO of DrinkWell, a venture that is working to solve the global water crisis. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University, Minhaj won a Fulbright Fellowship and spent the next year in Dhaka, Bangladesh developing and testing three potential market-based solutions to the arsenic water crisis. He presented his findings to heads of Bangladesh Ministry of Health, UNICEF, WaterAid Bangladesh, Dhaka WASA, and the US Ambassador to Bangladesh. After his Fulbright, Minhaj spent two years helping public sector organizations design and deploy health insurance exchanges and data systems via Salesforce as a technology consultant. In 2014 Minhaj was named a 2014 Echoing Green Global Fellow, and won a scholarship to SOCAP and a Gratitude Award. In 2015 he was named one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs.


To hear more from Minhaj, read: SOCAP Conversations: Minhaj Chowdhury on Overcoming Challenges in Social Impact Work

Entrepreneurs: Scholarship & Gratitude Award Applications Due June 30th

June 23rd, 2015

Connect with Peers, Mentors, and Investors at SOCAP15

group at table

This October over 150 innovative social entrepreneurs from around the world will be selected for a scholarship to SOCAP15 and the chance to win a Gratitude Award. This outstanding group of entrepreneurs will be given the opportunity to take advantage of all of the networking opportunities and learning experiences available at the conference and within the SOCAP community. Do you want to be among them? The deadline to apply is coming up soon!


If you are an entrepreneur who has built an innovative venture designed to solve problems in the fields of education, community development, and environment/sustainability, when you apply to SOCAP’s Social Entrepreneur Scholarship program you will also be considered in the running for a Gratitude Award. Nine eligible entrepreneurs will be chosen from the pool of SOCAP scholarship recipients to vie for Gratitude Awards. Of those finalists, four entrepreneurs will be selected to receive a full year of dedicated mentorship and other benefits that can help their ventures thrive.

Top 3 Ways Gratitude Awards Help Winning Ventures Grow

Randy Haykin is the Silicon Valley angel investor, entrepreneur, educator and venture capitalist who founded The Gratitude Network. We asked Randy to list some of the ways that his organization helps Gratitude Award winning entrepreneurs achieve greater impact. Here are his top three:

  1. Connections to other people that can help. The Gratitude Network connects Gratitude Award winners with an expansive global network of mentors that offer expertise and guidance on issues such as market entry, business models, team development, fundraising and more. They help entrepreneurs identify the top three challenges their ventures are facing, and then make strategic connections with mentors who focus on finding solutions to those problems.
  2. Valuable feedback. Over the year that they work with winning ventures, Gratitude Network Mentors offer reflections that help entrepreneurs get a clearer view of what they are doing, where to focus, and how to go about achieving their goals. In essence, their mentors serve award winning ventures as a virtual board member. Mentors know how to ask the right questions at the right time.
  3. Funding opportunities. Money is the lifeblood of a startup. Introducing entrepreneurs to angels, institutions, nonprofits and foundations that provide funding is critical. The Gratitude Network has established a syndicate of angels, families, and investors who take the time to look at Gratitude Award winning ventures, and in many cases assist with funding and introductions to other potential funding sources.


If you are an innovative entrepreneur who could benefit from the the mentorship and support offered by the Gratitude Network, apply for the SOCAP entrepreneur scholarship and your opportunity to be selected as a Gratitude Award winner.

To learn more, read Your Guide to The Gratitude Awards at SOCAP15