Today I had the the privilege to attend SXSW V2V in Las Vegas. I was invited to sit as a mentor during one of the V2V mentoring sessions and I met some really great people with exciting business pursuits that are both traditional for-profit startups and also non-profit ones. The kicker, though was the afternoon keynote by Lauren Bush Lauren about her company FEED. The company is an LLC that gives away most of its profits while keeping some to continue to grow and thrive.
To me, it’s such a refreshing idea. I kind of have a bad taste about “non-profits”. I’m not sure why – maybe it’s because of the few cases of obvious abuses by shady “non-profits” I’ve heard about, yet if an organization is legitimate and they do really exist for a non-profit purpose, why wouldn’t the organization take the non-profit status and its benefits? It seems counter-intuitive, but it is also incredibly inspiring.
What is “profit”? It takes a lot to step out and say “profit is more than money” which is what I think these types of organizations are doing. For FEED, or TOMS or similar types of companies profit is feeding a or putting shoes on their feet, as well as generating income. As I once heard Jeff VanDuzer at Seattle Pacific University (where I went to college) put it: “profit is the necessary ingredient to attract the capital required to do something good.”
So, what’d your angle? What is your company doing? Are you a non-profit masquerading as a for-profit, or vice-versa? Where does your mission lead you – to helping an investment bank or a food bank, or both?
For us at Analytics Pros, I’m challenged that we need to do more. We have a history of pro-bono work and volunteering, yet I’m challenged today to think about what more we could be doing. Something like fostering technology adoption in Haiti? I’ll think on this…