Can you remember the first time you fell in love? That’s the feeling I first experienced when coming in contact with the Lean process and Business Model Canvas. Developed by Austrian business theorist, author and consultant Alexander Osterwalder, the Lean process and business model are often referred to as the business plan before the business plan. As an entrepreneur, I know first-hand what it feels like to spend lots of money and time creating a business plan, marketing plan, and three-year financial projections only to be completely wrong or ultimately end up with something that looks totally different.
Lean is a 10-week process designed to take a large part of the risk out of the business and product development approach by actually gathering first-hand experiences and information as opposed to relying purely on assumptions and third-party data (i.e., industry reports or white papers). Many large corporations are utilizing the model to accelerate internal innovation. The model is less known as a tool for Social Innovation. And we love the model so much, this will be our second time formally participating (the first time was for digital currency). If I had the time and resources, I would take every single one of our products through the Lean wash.
With the release of our Social Impact financing product, the Micro-Social Impact Bond (Micro-SIB), we honestly became overwhelmed with the following requests for such creative financing in varying sectors. And while in the current fast-track process of designing multiple Micro-SIB’s across the United States, we decided that the Lean process was the perfect thing to slow us down, because sometimes to slow down means to speed up. It is only through knowledge and true diligence that one can build something that lasts. We had to ask ourselves, are we building something that will trend? Are we building a house with sticks, or are we benchmarking the Pyramids of Giza? I hope you too said the latter.
The Lean Process was created for profit-driven businesses in a profit-driven market. However, as a low-profit limited liability Company (L3C), or hybrid between a for-profit and non-profit, we believe in utilizing the results-based for-profit culture to achieve maximum social impact. I remember in Undergrad at Howard University in Washington, DC, that Wall Street and high-paying industries often attracted many of my highest performing colleagues. I was always envious of the efficiency of the profit-driven sector, and always dreamed of applying such rigor to solving some of the world’s most dire problems. Growing up to become a Social Entrepreneur, and through the Lean process, we seek to bring the highest levels of efficiency, effectiveness, and impact to our existing services.
Over the next 10 weeks we will interview individuals in the philanthropic, public, private, and financial sectors through the world, to streamline a financial impact product that is uniform, transparent, investor friendly, and empowers the overlooked small to mid-size social impact organizations. This past week, we interviewed customers concerning the use of Micro-SIB’s to finance unemployment, low-income housing, and waste reduction efforts. We talked to banking institutions concerning the use of customer’s annual percentage yield (APY) and the use of the Community Reinvestment Act to fund profit-driven Micro-SIB projects. We talked with a public and charter school district, who would prefer private financing to the red tape of government.
We hope you will join us on our journey to as we seek to revolutionize the way the world finances impact.