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UC Berkeley MBAs launch second annual social venture competition
20 Nov 2000

By Ute Frey, Haas School of Business

Berkeley - The Haas Social Venture Competition, the only nationwide business plan competition for ventures combining social and environmental impact with traditional financial profit goals, is gearing up for its second annual competition. It will be judged by a panel of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists experienced at building businesses with dual bottom lines.

The competition will hold a launch event at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, today (Monday, Nov. 20) from 6 to 8 p.m. Will Rosenzweig, founder of the Venture Strategies Group and the Republic of Tea and a judge at last year's competition, will speak. The launch event, in the Wells Fargo Room of Cheit Hall, is open to the public.

The social venture competition was initiated last year by a group of Haas School MBA students inspired by the potential of business to innovate solutions to complex social and environmental issues. The competition promotes the creation of profitable social ventures and strives to change the way businesses measure success.

Last year's inaugural competition succeeded to attract 66 teams from 23 of the nation's top business schools, including the Haas School, Harvard University's Graduate School of Business, Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, UCLA's Anderson School, and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. The top three winners received cash prizes and had their business plans circulated among 150 angel investors from the Investors' Circle, a group of individuals who make private equity investments based on social dividends and economic returns.

The winning team was UCLA's easyDiabetes, which streamlines the exchange of diabetes data and provides targeted diabetes information for patients online. In doing so, the team strives to reduce the number and severity of medical complications resulting from lack of current information available to diabetes patients. The easyDiabetes team projects revenues of $26 million and a cumulative social return - the savings from reduced medical complications in diabetes patients - of $95 million within five years.

Last year's second prize was shared by University of Washington's Ripple Effects, an interactive software program that helps troubled teenagers develop social skills, and by UC Davis's Xtracycle, which designs and manufactures sport utility bicycles with large cargo space.

Since last year's event, competition finalists have begun investment discussions with Bayer Pharmaceuticals, the Flatiron Fund, the Virginia Tobacco Commission and others. To date, one team has received over $500,000 in seed investment.

Competition organizers define a social venture as a business enterprise that:

* is profitable

* has a quantifiable social or environmental bottom line incorporated into its mission and objectives

* can demonstrate a significantly greater social or environmental impact than comparable firms in its industry

Judges of the competition will include Rosenzweig and Jed Emerson, president of the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund and a Harvard Business School Research Fellow. Both individuals judged the competition last year.



Haas Social Venture Competition