If there’s one thing we have in abundance at Social Ventures for Sustainability, it’s energy — and there has definitely been positive momentum in the air this past week. Two things happened: we received formal commitments from our top choice advisory board members, and we established a promising relationship with the Small Business Law Center in Downtown San Diego.
On Monday afternoon, we took a trip to the MOGL offices (which might have the coolest startup atmosphere I’ve ever seen). If you’re not familiar with MOGL, they’ve revolutionized loyalty and rewards programs for restaurants and bars: they give you 10% cash back for dining at great, local places. And just last year, they raised $10M in venture funding. More recently, MOGL’s James Smith was named “CFO of the Year” finalist by San Diego Business Journal. And on Monday, James agreed to join the Social Ventures team. Mike and I are looking forward to his guidance — his experience with startups, gamification, and fiscal oversight is a huge value-add.
Mike and I met with another formal advisor on Friday — we had coffee with Julia Brown at the Renaissance Plaza in UTC. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Julia twice in-person, and each time I’ve been amazed at the projects she takes on for “fun.” Case-in-point: Julia is taking a class through Harvard Extension School towards a graduate degree in Sustainability and Environmental Management. Mind you, this is the same Julia Brown that is on the Board of Directors for a number of life science firms, on the Board of Trustees at UC San Diego, and on the board of CONNECT — an organization that fosters innovation, entrepreneurship and the formation of new companies. At Social Ventures for Sustainability, we feel honored to have Julia be a part of our foundation.
The Board is rounded out by Ayelet Gneezy — Assistant Professor of Marketing at UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management. Our first meeting with Ayelet could not have gone better: not only did she give us the nudge we needed to move forward with our “Fill the Car” campaign design (to encourage carpooling), but she expressed genuine belief in the effectiveness of our methods. Given that Ayelet received her Ph.D. in Marketing from the Booth School of Business (Chicago), and that her published research addresses the topics of consumer behavior and prosocial incentives, her confidence in Mike and me was a huge boost. We look forward to working with Ayelet to design our campaigns to produce scientifically valid data — so that we can publish our results and further the understanding of behavioral science.
Just yesterday, Mike and I had a productive first meeting at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law. The Small Business Law Center has agreed to add us to their waitlist for the Fall semester – at which point we hope to work with them in filing for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
We’ve still got a lot of work to do this summer, but it’s exciting to see some of the bigger pieces start to come together!