Interested in starting a social enterprise but not sure where to start? Possibly you have a great idea but are missing the connections to launch. Or, maybe entrepreneurship isn’t for you, but you want to leverage your skills to support social change. GiveBackHack (GBH) is your launchpad to success!
Leading events in different regions throughout the year, GBH puts the call out for participants and gathers interested entrepreneurs, mentors and volunteers with diverse skills who dedicate a week to helping a social enterprise launch.
I had the good fortune of being a mentor with the Columbus GBH October 1-7, and was inspired by the transformative work of everyone involved, bringing together diverse talent to create businesses that advance solutions to social problems.
Kick-off is filled with energy and anticipation as people gather with ideas to change the world. First, there’s an ideation stage followed by team formation. Then, newly-formed GBH teams dedicate a week employing Design Thinking and Lean Start Up principles, conducting user validation, developing a business model, and creating a minimally viable product.
Throughout the event there’s a continuous stream of communication via a vivacious Slack channel that keeps everyone on track and motivated. Nightly events include meetings with mentors, customer surveys and pitch practice. At the end of the week, teams pitch what they built to the community and judges, and judges decide which ideas receive funding and in-kind resources to move forward. Honestly, it was one of the best weeks this year – the genuine sense of belonging and collectively working toward the greater good uplit all involved.
After the Columbus GBH 2021 wrapped, I caught up with the ever-inspiring Emily Stuhldreher, who is GiveBackHack’s Program Manager and community-builder extraordinaire, as well as with two of the teams awarded.
Emily, you’re always leading innovative initiatives. Can you give us an overview of the latest?
Emily Stuhldreher: This year has been a big one for GiveBackHack. On top of holding two events in Columbus to support and launch incredible social enterprises, we also expanded our partnerships into exciting new areas. We formed new partnerships with Denison University, Can’t Stop Columbus, Veale Youth Entrepreneurship Forum, and have more announcements coming soon.
I am so inspired by the entrepreneurs that go through our programming. At GiveBackHack, we believe that we all have everything we need within ourselves to create the change we wish to see in our communities. We see proof of this at every event we hold. Our iterative process allows aspiring social entrepreneurs of all backgrounds to explore business ideas with a strong, human-centered foundation.
With our new partnerships, we have the opportunity to bring our engaging and inspiring programming to new arenas, equipping the social entrepreneurs of the future.
We are currently seeking partnerships for 2022. If you want to bring GiveBackHack to your community, school, or workplace contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks Emily — excited for what’s next!
Here are highlights on two teams that were awarded funding by judges:
Social Enterprise: DigiDoula
DigiDoula empowers people who are pregnant and new parents, connecting them with a global village of support to navigate challenges and access care.
Social Problem Addressed
DigiDoula is an app that’s easily accessible on any phone, tablet or computer. One in five birthing individuals will suffer from a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder, such as postpartum depression; suicide is the top killer of new moms. DigiDoula solves this through its app that connects pregnant individuals to their local village of support (including birth workers such as doulas, mental health professionals, and more) as well as a global network of birth and parenting professionals and influencers who help parents understand how to take care of themselves and their newborns and know that they are not alone.
Team: Marie McCausland (founder), Maria Khoroshilova, Dwayne Harmon, Gary Bartos, Mystique Hargrove, Brandi Jordan
GBH21 Highlights from the DigiDoula Team
“The best part was getting to collaborate with amazing people doing great work all around the country, who are focused on helping people right here in Ohio! We are so excited to continue to work to make our idea better and are committed to making a positive and lasting impact on families in Ohio. Marie and Maria are both working on the project from Ohio (Cleveland and Columbus) and were able to meet up at the Festival for Good with GBH. They are both excited to continue collaborating online and in person to make DigiDoula a successful social venture!”
Social Enterprise: Legal Side
Legal Side focuses on the confounding legal filings that can hold entrepreneurs back from making progress and potentially put them at risk in the future.
Social Problem Addressed
New entrepreneurs, specifically, economically disadvantaged, minority-owned and woman-owned businesses oftentimes start with very little capital. As a result, they almost always bypass legal counseling by an attorney and instead elect to ignore the legal side of their business or do it themselves without actually understanding how to. This inaction opens them up to costly legal pitfalls down the road, decreases their company’s valuation, and makes them unattractive to future investors. Working in the legal profession already, the Legal Side team realizes they can share the information, resources, and knowledge they have accumulated over the years. Through their easily accessible interactive platform, entrepreneurs will be able to follow a suggested path in order to properly structure, operate, and grow their businesses with a solid legal foundation.
Team: Gaea Kassatly, Martina Klingerman, Senay Daniel, George Zarebski
GBH21 Highlights from the Legal Side Team
“The collaboration. Working with like-minded people really brought the energy needed to reach that next level of our social enterprise while learning new ways of thinking. “
There’s always something transformative incubating in our regional social enterprise ecosystem. If you want to help found the next successful team, follow GiveBackHack on social media @GiveBackHack or visit their website at givebackhack.com and come out to one of their 2022 events!