The objective of this course is to study social innovation with a focus on the role of social entrepreneurship for developing and scaling innovative solutions to society’s problems.
Students (alone or in teams of two) will identify an opportunity for an innovative social venture, research the relevant academic literature, conduct extensive customer discovery, analyze the competitive landscape, validate and refine the product/service, propose a business model, go-to-market strategy, articulate the venture’s underlying theory of change, and identify an impact measurement/management strategy.
The purpose of the customer discovery process is to address the critical uncertainties of all entrepreneurial ventures – namely, can the problem be validated by the target users, customers, beneficiaries, and, is the proposed venture the best solution to address this problem. Identifying the best business model for a social venture can be very challenging. Teams must address the likely source of funding, whether or how much to charge beneficiaries, other revenue streams, identify initial target beneficiaries, and often work within complex private, public, and non-profit value networks.
In addition to learning how to accomplish each of these activities, there will be readings, case discussions, and lectures on topics including: the role of government, non-profits, businesses, and entrepreneurship in social innovation; incentives for social innovation; differences between social entrepreneurship and traditional entrepreneurship; the role of data, technology, behavioral science, and markets in social innovation; scaling social innovation; and funding social innovation and social ventures.
Although these ideas may not become real ventures after the course’s completion, the expectation is that many of the venture ideas will proceed to the John Edwardson Social New Venture Challenge in the spring quarter. In the SNVC, teams have the opportunity to build out their ventures, develop and refine a pitch for potential investors/philanthropists, and present their ideas to successful social entrepreneurs and, and potentially receive seed funding to support the launch of the new venture.
Non-Booth graduate students are encouraged to apply. Grading will be based on weekly project assignments and progress, student presentations, class participation.