Do all entrepreneurs set out to try and change the world? It's a mission oft mocked in Mike Judge's excellent satire Silicon Valley. But Judge knows that "satire works best when it hews close to the line between the outlandish and the possible," and disrupting the status quo has become a mantra for a new influx of socially-conscious entrepreneurs. Making money isn't enough: they need to change the world, too.
A cynic might suggest that this is just a smart move on the part of entrepreneurs to acquire more customers, a well thought-out response to public perceptions of corporate greed. Regardless of motive, Charlotte Davidson of the law firm Mishcon de Reya is right to point out that even investors are showing a growing interest in what is known as the "double bottom line". "Entrepreneurs," she says, "have to demonstrate not only the financial efficacy of their business model but also the social impact they will deliver".
Davidson's comments were made during a Leap 100 Power Breakfast last week, whereOsper founder Alick Varma shared his experiences of building a profitable business with a social agenda. His story is an intriguing one: unlike most kids, the London-born entrepreneur was brought up managing his own money. At 11, he was given a monthly allowance that would make most parents' eyes water, but there was no additional pocket money, no loans from the Bank of Mum and Dad once that allowance was spent. By university, the benefits were clear: Varma felt like the only student at Warwick who knew how to set a budget.
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