Neetal Parekh oversees curriculum design and development at Thinktomi and also blogs about social innovation at Innov8Social.com.
Eric Rajasalu is a Co-founder & Chief Customer Officer at Thinktomi and has spent a decade in proprietary education.
Connect with Neetal and Eric on Twitter.
Consumers these days seem to want more from companies than the best products at the cheapest prices. A growing number of conscientious consumers are seeking out companies that are mission-driven, that champion transparency and that are guided by corporate social responsibility. How do we know this? Well, as they say, the proof is in the pudding.
Mission-aligned companies such as Whole Foods and Patagonia have reached remarkable scale, and in doing so, have impacted industries and expended the traditional notion of a ‘product market fit’. Instead of seeking simply to fit the function of the product or service to a cross-section of the total applicable market, companies are increasingly driven to look beyond the product or service itself to the means, processes, and byproducts of developing such products, in order to meet the new demands for sustainability and transparency demanded by consumers and employees.
In this way, core concepts of sustainability and social responsibility have fountained up from startup social entrepreneurs to mid-size companies seeking an edge to corporate initiatives that do more to foster a culture of impact that is not isolated to a single department.
And there are other tangible impacts of this expansive view on what business has been and what it can or should be. New legal structures such as benefit corporations, flexible purpose corporations (in CA), and low-profit limited liability companies have been passed in multiple jurisdictions. That there is even enough interest to pass legislation is a sign of changing times, and the fact that startups and even larger companies are electing to adopt these untested corporate forms validates a shift toward sustainability.
Thinktomi enters this scene with a mission to educate entrepreneurs. Essential to being a social entrepreneur is, well, being an entrepreneur. Understanding essentials of team-building, company formation, funding (including traditional VC and alternate forms), ways to ‘implement ‘lean’ tactics, and how to steer clear of common founder issues and intellectual property hurdles is all part of the 3.0 entrepreneurship education that Thinktomi teaches. Part of Thinktomi’s mission is to make essential education on Silicon Valley entrepreneurship accessible to broader and underserved populations. And with the renewed focus on responsibility, transparency, and sustainability—Thinktomi is in the unique position of empowering impact-driven entrepreneurs with core skills to help their ideas gain traction, deliver, scale, and repeat.