Archives For social entrepreneurs

First, let’s talk about the name and then describe Innové in a nutshell. Innové is the French word for “breaking new ground.”
Colonial Church invites proposals from idea-makers, 35-years-old and younger, residing in the greater Twin Cities region, to submit ideas for projects that “break new ground” for the sake of cultural betterment and human flourishing in accordance with gospel values of faith, service, grace, justice, love, redemption and reconciliation.

Innové offers $250,000 for project grants, along with human resources, expertise, time, networking, creative community and acceleration toward a successful launch.

As for our objectives, we’re looking for “the GOODS”:

  • GOOD for the Gospel: To heed with humility and by faith, God’s calling to be salt and light in the world, working toward the promised new creation where righteousness, justice and love fully reside. To promote Christian gospel values of faith, service, grace, justice, love, redemption and reconciliation.
  • GOOD for the World: To accelerate the successful launch of creative and faithful ideas that address major challenges in our world.
  • GOOD for the Idea-Makers: To enable faithful entrepreneurs to break new ground through identification, mentoring, creating, planning, funding, making, doing, growing, sustaining and celebrating.
  • GOOD for the Church: To excite and involve Colonial Church as incubators, innovators, accelerators and partners of new creative work in the world.

Let’s Grow Together!

Brian —  June 8, 2014

Does your idea have legs, but it doesn’t quite seem to run? It’s not easy to turn a dream into reality and young entrepreneurs can’t be expected to have a full set of skills necessary to launch their idea. Innové’s mission is to help you launch your world-changing idea successfully.

All semi-finalists will be paired with mentors who care about the person as much as they care about the project. We want this to be an encouraging, affirming, and fun experience! On top of that, our mentors – called Navigators – have expertise in mission, start-ups, finance, operations and more. These caring Navigators with a lifetime of experience can help to bring out the best from the idea and help shape it for a successful launch.

Semi-finalists will also gather for a one-day workshop to share ideas, and receive coaching toward success while building community together. The relationships you build will prepare you to launch your world-changing idea. Networking is important, and to be able to make connections with other young entrepreneurs who share your passion can be life-changing.

Finally, on top of our Navigators, we have dozens and dozens of Skills Coaches. Each of these Skills Coaches has a very practical area of expertise and each is available to you. Does launching your idea require legal help such as protection of IP? There are Skills Coaches available to you for that. Could you benefit from an hour with a financial wizard, or an expert in process or manufacturing? We have Skills Coaches for that. Skill Coaches can provide you with the practical tools to help you fill in the missing pieces of your idea, whatever that missing piece may be.

Our mission is to help you launch successful. Funding plays a large role in that, but so do practical skills. We are here to help you with both.

A Chipmunk on the Train Tracks

Brian —  March 12, 2014

Innové aims to help brand new initiatives launch or to help existing initiatives scale. Some Innové initiatives are nothing more than an idea from a great social entrepreneur working to get it going and off the ground. Others have recently launched or have been operating for a couple of years and they are looking to scale their initiative for broader reach.

The two types are very different in need and approach.

It’s been said that a new organization is like eight small children chasing a chipmunk. There is lots of noise and confusion, scrambling in every direction, and a lot of wasted energy. The earliest stage of life for a new initiative is both motion and commotion, but not yet very much locomotion.

At this point almost nothing is done in an orderly way. Records are mess, thoughts and ideas are scribbled everywhere, and budgeting procedures can be haphazard. But there is great flexibility, unlimited motivation, a willingness to try new things, and the capacity to respond quickly!

To contrast, an organization with a couple of years to mature is generally quite orderly. It knows where it has been and has a good sense of where it is going. Procedures have been defined, there is a pecking order, and there is a patient advance along a settled path. It reminds you of a locomotive steaming down the tracks with everything functioning predictably and energy being transformed into forward motion. But this can lead to a decrease in learning and motivation, a little possibility of going anywhere except where the tracks lead.

Innové steps in to corral the chipmunk, our Navigators (mentors) and skills coaches giving valuable insight in terms of direction, procedure, budgeting, and discipline. Our aim is to help those idea-makers get on the right track.

On the flip side, our Navigators bring a fresh set of eyes that can bring zest, fresh thought, and renewed energy that is critical for existing organizations to go to the next level. We’re not looking to drive an initiative “off the rails”, but we will look where we can provide some steam.

Completely different needs, but our Navigators have seen it all.

Learning Exchange on Strategy

Charlie —  October 1, 2013

One of our learning exchanges in our recent Innové Immersion Day was on Strategy, a thoughtful mindset that every young social entrepreneur needs. Here is Kevin Kickhaefer’s slide deck from the Immersion Day. Hope it is helpful and you seek to launch your venture!

Today, The New York Times launched a startup incubator. Many are asking why they would do this. They have a pretty good answer right on their site:

It is simple: The New York Times, and media in general, are in the midst of unprecedented change. Our core purpose remains to enhance society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news and information. We want to push ourselves and push others to find the best ways to do so, and we believe that timeSpace can be a part of that process.

Like the Times, we are looking for the best ideas. The ideas that will grow the Kingdom of God.



Acumen Fund

Brian —  November 14, 2012

The Acumen Fund‘s mission is to is to create a world beyond poverty by investing in social enterprises, emerging leaders, and breakthrough ideas. They’ve shared 10 things they’ve learned over the course of their history:

  1. Dignity is more important to the human spirit than wealth
  2. Neither grants nor markets alone will solve the problems of poverty
  3. Poverty is a description of someone’s economic situation, it does not…
  4. We won’t succeed in the long term without cultivating local leaders…
  5. Great people, every time, no exceptions
  6. Great technology alone is not the answer
  7. If failing is not an option, you’ve ruled out success as well
  8. Governments rarely invent solutions, but they can scale what works
  9. There is no currency like trust, and there are no shortcuts to earning it
  10. Patient capital investing is built upon a system of values; it is not a series…

It is worth your time to learn from their learnings. You can read more on each of the 10 above. Click through to learn more.

The Only Way to Fail is Not To Try

Brian —  November 6, 2012

Innové is all about helping you get your idea to work. The last time I was part of a social entrepreneurial enterprise like this, we were able to start Sinapis, an organization devoted to funding enterprises in the developing world.

Sinapis seeks to support entrepreneurs with innovative, scalable business ideas by providing the business training and financing to help them succeed and exposing them to Christ-centered business principles to help them develop the spiritual strength to triumph over ethical challenges. Once these entrepreneurs become successful in business, they will not only create sustainable jobs and help alleviate poverty but also gain societal influence as business leaders.

With this societal influence, the hope is that they will transform the business culture and society around them and mentor more young entrepreneurs to do the same.

Because the risk of investing in innovative start-up enterprises in developing countries is significant and that success often relies heavily on the ability of the entrepreneur, Sinapis uses a highly competitive selection and training process that simultaneously assesses the viability of each business idea and ensures the entrepreneur has the skill set necessary to successfully manage their business.

Sinapis grantees are required to attend 6 hours of classes per week in the evenings and spend an additional 9 hours per week on assignments. The assignments are not theoretical in nature but rather require the entrepreneur to apply the concepts learned in class to their own business. Roughly half of the time is spent in the classroom and half is spent in the field with a dedicated trainer. Grantees are evaluated by our local investment advisory council which is made up of successful local investors and entrepreneurs and are also given a dedicated trainer during the program. The highest performing entrepreneurs in our program receive seed capital for their businesses of between $10-$100,000 in low cost financing. Our pilot country is Kenya due to its readiness for SME investment and enormous importance as the “linchpin country” for the development of East Africa. Once proof of concept has been achieved, we plan to expand to other countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

Sinapsis is well on its way to expanding to the next step. It was beautiful to watch it launch and continue to grow.

Launch Your Idea

Brian —  October 9, 2012

Throughout the process of Innové participants will have access to mentors called Navigators. These Navigators’ purpose is to support and encourage the participants, helping to bring the ideas closer to reality.

Along the way, participants will also have access to Skills Coaches. These Skills Coaches have very specific areas of expertise and are available to provide one on one coaching in a variety of skill sets. This helps bring the idea even closer to reality, having helped flesh it out and providing expertise in areas where questions still abound.

In addition, participants will have the opportunity to network and share their passions with each other. This sharing and networking brings the ideas even closer to launch.

Now armed with finely-tuned proposals, finals will receive financial funding to launch their ideas, or take their existing non-profit to the next level.

Desiring to ensure that every launch is a successful one, finalists also will be office space (depending on the needs) and further access to coaches during and incubation period.

We want to partner, support, care and encourage you in the coming years to ensure that your launch is successful and that your project flourishes and thrives.

We’re committed to help you achieve a successful launch. Where else are you going to get that kind of cheerleading and support?

Simply, Innové’s connection with Colonial Church is financial and in mentoring and skills sharing.

  1. Through the sale of a piece of land, Colonial Church was blessed with a sum of money and we didn’t want to hid the money under a “bushel basket”, so to speak. We saw it as a gift and wanted to maximize it. From this was birthed to idea to support young social entrepreneurs with $250,000 in support.
  2. Second, Colonial Church has a great tradition of innovation and is made up of a wide collection of caring, generous and intelligent people. There are highly successful and skilled people who want their faith to be lived out in real ways and to have the opportunity to share their experience in ways that mentor and support others. They’ll serve as mentors and skills coaches, pouring into our applicants.

This does not mean that participation with Innové is limited to current attenders of Colonial Church. Quite the opposite. Innové is an effort to reach outside our walls and draw in young entrepreneurs, supporting and mentoring them so they can can then be turned loose to serve the world.

Have a great idea?

Brian —  October 9, 2012

Innové exists to help young social entrepreneurs grow their ideas. If you have an idea that could change the world and are under 35 years old and live in the greater Twin Cities metro area, then we invite you to submit your proposal. We are putting up $250,000 to fund and launch ideas.

All ideas should for for the purpose of social and cultural betterment. In other words, they should seek to make the world a better place. Whether they seek justice, clothe the naked, feed the starving, help the widowed and orphaned in their distress, or loose the chains of bondage, we want to hear about it. Speak from you passion.

The idea can be from an individual or a team of entrepreneurs working together. It can be a pure start-up or an existing non-profit that is looking for help to scale to the next level.

Again, speak from your passion and the God-given creativity within you. We aim to support, strengthen, and launch your idea, turning it into a reality.

The word entrepreneur comes from the old French word entreprendre, which means to undertakeThe old joke is that it actually was French for unemployed. That to say we know it’s difficult to be an entrepreneur, someone with a great idea but not necessarily all you need for a successful launch.

There are particular challenges for a social entrepreneur, someone with an idea to better the world:

  • a lack of funds
  • a lack of networks
  • a lack of support
  • a lack of skills coaching

Innové provides all of the above. Our finalists will receive funding to launch their idea. They will be connected to broad networks that understand and can further their ideas. Social entrepreneurs will receive support through knowledgable and caring mentors. And they will receive practical skills coaching in a variety of areas that will help hone and improve their idea from all angles.

You provide the passion and creativity as a social entrepreneur and Innové will help with the rest.