LFTCSF 2018: The positive impact of investment: are entrepreneurs changing the world?

This article is a summary of the second edition of La French Touch (un)Conference San Francisco, which took place on January, 16 2018.
Built around the Positive Impact theme, this event was dedicated to discussing how actors of entrepreneurial ecosystems could positively impact their environments and society through innovation.

The first panel discussed the growing influence of the private sector, with a focus on the leverage investments hold to positively change the global society.

The panel featured four speakers:

  • Reza Malekzadeh, General Partner of Partech Ventures
  • Melissa Blaustein, Founder & CEO of Allied for Startups
  • Carlos Diaz, General Partner & co-founder of The Refiners
  • Sheryl Chamberlain, Chief of Staff at the Linux Foundation and Board Chair of the Hult Prize Foundation Council

 

To start with, the panel highlighted the greater purpose of entrepreneurship, which is solving problems. Ultimately, generating profit and having a positive social impact are not mutually exclusive. The panelists affirmed that those two variables are key to launch a successful startup nowadays.

Indeed, changing society and bringing people together is no longer in the sole hands of political actors. Education, which was traditionally designed by governments, is today complementary and sometimes replaced by private schools and online courses.

If we assume that one mission of the State is to provide a safe and growing environment to the people, today tech companies are largely contributing to making society better: cyber-security, Artificial Intelligence, FoodTech, HealthTech among other fields are now impacting our daily lives.

Such development of the tech was also influenced by an evolution of social behaviors and consumption’s habits. The new generation – the so-called Millennials – do care about the sustainability of the production, the values of companies and the ethics behind reputations. They are the generation that grew up with social media and technology, therefore they eagerly engage in the conversation. More than participating, the Millennials aspire to have a (greater) impact every day. Thus, the trend of mindful consumption impacted the way companies produce, operate and design their models. The might of the people gave birth to social investments and sustainable projects.

From a business’ perspective, holding social values benefits companies in two ways. On the one hand, giving back to the community builds the reputation of the brand and the consumer’s loyalty. On the other hand, the ethically-conscious generation is and will be future employees. Therefore, the recruitment of mindful talents is another argument in favor of social investment.

Finally, the speakers all agree that the recipe to launch a successful business relies on the identification of a problem, the definition & respect of corporate values and the diversity of talents working on finding the solution. Statistically, the Silicon Valley counts 52% of entrepreneurs born outside the US, which stresses the necessity of converging talents from a great diversity of backgrounds and origins to launch a creative and innovative startup. Quoting Steve Jobs, “Think Global” stands for the diversity of the Silicon Valley, which has built its international reputation from its innovation hub.

 

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, watch the video of the panel discussion here.

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