What is Social Venturing?

Hosted By Matt DeCoursey

Full Scale

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Jim Erickson

Today's Guest: Jim Erickson

Director of Strategic Initiatives - LaunchKC

Kansas City, MO

Ep. #781 - What is Social Venturing?

In this episode of Startup Hustle, Matt DeCoursey and Jim Erickson, Economic Development Corporation (EDC) of Kansas City, MO, talk about LaunchKC and its dedication to connecting social entrepreneurs with the resources they need to succeed.

Covered In This Episode

What is social venturing? How can it help startups? How does it help the community?

Listen to Matt and Jim as they discuss social venturing and the efforts of KCEDC through LaunchKC to accelerate promising startups dedicated to growing their business in the greater Kansas City area.

Get Started with Full Scale

Tune in to their conversation in this Startup Hustle episode.

Learn How to Build and Scale Your Business


  • Jim Erickson and EDC’s background (1:55)
  • What is a social venture? (3:50)
  • Why Launch KC was established (5:16)
  • KeystoneDistrict.org (13:48)
  • Who qualifies for Launch KC (16:09)
  • EDC is committed to entrepreneurship (22:39)
  • Everyone, even entrepreneurs, needs guides and mentors (24:01)
  • Five Cohorts (29:48)
  • Benefits of being accepted in the Social Venture Studio (31:17)
  • The People behind the project (32:42)Wrapping up (35:16)

Key Quotes

We want to find companies that have simultaneously achieved profit and sustainability while also having that social mission and an equal playing field. So profit and purpose at the same level. And in our case, specifically, we’re looking for social ventures that address social, racial, and/or environmental issues in Kansas City.

Jim Erickson

It was Wayne Gretzky who is famous for saying you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. And you know, when it comes to funding or accelerators, or really any of that stuff, you got to take a shot and try to get in.

Matt DeCoursey

We really want to make certain that in the first year, we not only do something great for the so social ventures that go through the program but that we also stand up a program. We know this is going to be proof of concept and a lot of ways. And a lot of ways, this is a startup. So we can grow this and really establish something special here in Kansas City.

Jim Erickson

Sponsor Highlight

Are you looking at a development or revitalization opportunity in Kansas City, Missouri? Start with EDCKC – the economic development agency for the City of Kansas City, Missouri. The most centrally located major city in the U.S., Kansas City, Missouri, is ranked among the Top 25 Future-Ready U.S. Cities by economists on factors including human capital, infrastructure, and commerce, as reported in February 2016 in Convene magazine.

Rough Transcript

Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!

Matt DeCoursey 0:00

And we’re back! Back for another episode of Startup Hustle, Matt DeCoursey here to have another conversation that I’m hoping helps your business grow. So what is social venturing? I think a lot of you listening have probably heard about what it is. And you might have some idea, but that’s what we’re going to explore today. I’m really looking forward to the topic. And before we get too far into that, today’s episode of Startup Hustle is brought to you by the Economic Development Corporation of KCMO. That’s Kansas City, Missouri, if you’re not from my hometown, and they’re a great supporter of dreamers and doers. They’re doing great work through a variety of programs, including Launch KC, and several industry-focused accelerators based here in Kansas City. You know, what we’re talking about today is their new Social Venture Studio. You can learn more about how KC EDC supports growing businesses. You can visit edckc.com. To learn more, there’s a link in the show notes if you in case you’re wondering now, with me today, I’ve got Jim Erickson, and Jim is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Economic Development Corporation of KCMO. That’s what EDC stands for Economic Development Corporation. Most big cities have something similar, and they do some really amazing stuff here. Now, if you’re interested in applying for the social venture and studio that’s going on, you can go to Keystone district.org. Once again, don’t worry about trying to figure out how to spell that there’s a link in the show notes. It’s going to make that fast and easy. Wow. Without further ado, Jim, welcome to Startup Hustle,


Jim Erickson 1:33

Matt, thanks for having me on. Great to be here.


Matt DeCoursey 1:35

Yeah, I’d like to start a conversation today with a little bit of backstory about you. And also, you know, like, like I mentioned, most cities have an economic development. You know, something, and that looks different all around. And I know maybe what that looks like for us here in Kansas City.


Jim Erickson 1:55

Yeah, absolutely. Starting with me and moving on to EDC. You know, I graduated from the finest university in the land, University of Kansas, and you’re here, and Rock Chalk, along with my, my wife on and, you know, our careers really started out overseas, where we spent some time in Thailand, South Africa, and Egypt, myself working as a political-economic analyst, and also lecturing at various universities and my wife, working in economic research. And so when we move back now, I happened upon, you know, the opportunity at the EDC. And I’ve really been in economic development in Kansas City, really, ever since. And so that’s been seven years now. You know, about the EDC, you kind of mentioned it, that we are an entity that supports the dreamers and the doers. And, you know, historically, we’ve kind of done that through our two most notable phases, our land development side works with development. We’re working with developers to build buildings in our, in our city. And then also on the business development side, where we support existing businesses to make certain they’re happy and growing here in Kansas City, and also work with partners on the business attraction front, where we’re Strategic Initiatives come in. As you know, we’ve historically kind of relied on these naturally occurring pipelines for the business and land development sides of our house. And what we decided several years back as an organization is that we wanted to be proactive, and that’s why we set up a series of strategic initiatives like Launch KC, to facilitate a growing pipeline for those existing sides of our house business and land development. Also, EDC, Lone core as well, but that’s kind of the idea behind strategic initiatives. And so lately, EDC has been doing a lot of great work really in on the ground level, supporting these supporting development of Kansas City.


Matt DeCoursey 3:50

Yeah, I appreciate everything that you’re doing. And if you’re a longtime listener, this isn’t the first time you’ve heard about EDC, KC, if you’ve watched Startup, Hustle TV, you’ve seen them being a supporter of us. And you know, once again, if you’re a longtime listener, you’ve not only heard us talking about the different cohorts or industry-specific, you know, accelerators, essentially, you’ve launched, we’ve seen insurer tech, health tech. There’s more. We’ve had several of the companies on and, you know, also watched your organization evolve, because at one point, it was about giving out grant money, basically. And then you guys stepped that up in a way that I’ve been very vocally supportive of because you in the last cohort, so we mentioned you’ve also found corporate partners that have the ability to invest in support and the different companies that were involved. And I think that’s great, because, I mean, grant money is awesome, but having partners is answer money is even better. And, you know, I’m not sure if that’s the approach with social venturing now when we talk about a social venture, which is also known as social enterprise, it’s an understanding by a firm or organization established by a social entrepreneur that seeks to provide systematic solutions to achieve a sustainable social objective. Wow, man, what does that mean? And like, what does that mean and Kansas City?


Jim Erickson 5:16

Yeah, I think the answer starts by taking a quick step back at why Launch KC was created in the first place, you know? Yes, about seven years ago, we took an honest look around at our peer cities. And we had an entrepreneurship gap. We had a, we were absolutely trailing in the amount of promising startups that were being created in our community. And so we sought to find a space where we could intervene, we could stand up a program. And so Launch KC was designed to support promising entrepreneurs early on addressing needs such as, you know, access to early-stage capital, particularly non-dilutive capital, which is the case in our grants competition. And to help solve that, that need and now here we are a few years later, and this year, we should cross our 100th company 100 promising startups supported here in Kansas City. And so, you know, when you look at what launch Casey’s trying to do, we’re trying to stand up industry, we’re trying to provide as much support to startups as we possibly can. You know, you’re correct that early on, we did that through a Grants competition. We’ve since stood up several accelerator programs. And now our team is really asking, does it need to be in or does it need to be grants or accelerators? Or can it be grants and accelerators? And so that’s something that the Launch KC team and the EDC in the downtown Council are really exploring to see if we can do both. But particularly to your question. We have stood ups, accelerator programs and specific areas where Kansas City has a strategic advantage. You mentioned financial technology and syringe technology. What we were doing with social venturing is taking an honest look and seeing what is Kansas City good at Kansas City is known as a city with a heart, I think we’ve all seen the KC Heartland campaign over the last year plus and that wasn’t created in a vacuum that was created after a pretty enormous listening tour led by the Kansas City area Development Council and several regional partners to find out what Kansas Citians thought about themselves and to find out what the United States thought about Kansas City. And that’s where the KC heart really came in. And what better way to, to demonstrate that that’s real than standing up a program like Social Venture Studio, you know, social venturing, like you mentioned, it’s, it’s not, you know, a normal company with a good CSR fund, that’s great. It’s not just a company with a good marketing, focus on the good that they do. It’s a company that simultaneously prioritizes profit sustainability, and also social goods, social good, is baked into their, their cake. And you know, one prominent example that I always like to cite, partially because they’re very involved in the program is established kitchen, you know, they are putting up a sustainable model to help address food insecurity on Kansas City’s east side, it’s a path forward food concept. But the key here is, they aim to create profit for sustainability. And so that’s kind of the essence of what a social venture is, they have to run their business, they have to be sustainable and have those revenue streams. But also, the core mission has that social impact.


Matt DeCoursey 8:27

Really, over the last seven years have seen a lot more evolution and the social venture and social entrepreneurship world, meaning like, you can make a profit and do good, you know, not just, you know, be the quote, not for profit that lives on incoming donations, grants and stuff like that. And there’s no problem with that kind of organization. In fact, thank you for so many of you that work at places that have that kind of social mission. Now, on the flip side of that, you talk about creating sustainability, and you know, sales, revenue, and different stuff. I mean, there’s a whole lot of things out there. I mean, I’ve seen everything from platforms that help you organize your not-for-profit business and stay compliant with a lot of stuff to organizations similar to my Startup Hustle, co-host, Lauren Conaway with InnovateHer, and you know, like, Lauren started out as it was a Facebook group, and you know, like, all of a sudden a bunch of people joins it, and she’s like, Hey, you know, now with that, you know, Lauren’s been pretty open about some of the challenges that come with that because you got it you have to create that that sustainability and you know, these things continuing to move on is a really good thing. Now, if you’re interested in getting involved in the Social Venturing Studio in the cohort, you have to March 30 to apply. Now, while these companies are primarily Kansas City and Midwest space, you can apply from anywhere they just want to see you come in to participate in our economy here in Kansas City, which by the way, you know, for, for being the like the almost the 30th biggest market, we have a remarkably sophisticated startup scene compared to other cities of our size. And I think that so much of that has to do with organizations like Launch KC talking about getting 100 startups moving forward. And there’s other stuff here too, you know, we’ve got the Kauffman Foundation, pipeline, entrepreneurs, Digital Sandbox, and you start putting these things together. And a lot of the entrepreneurs have the ability to kind of it’s kind of like, step to step to step and you know, there’s a lot of support. And really, in the end, that’s what entrepreneurs and startup founders need as is, you know, kind of basically, I don’t quote, the Catholic church often, but they say time, talent or treasure, all of which are very useful for startups, you know, and that’s the same thing. And you know, that’s kind of one of our missions here at Startup Hustle is to tell the, quote, real story of entrepreneurship. So, you know, what, before we get too far into this, because I know this is always a hot topic. So how are you ensuring or are looking at creating a diverse group of founders for this cohort?


Jim Erickson 11:21

Absolutely. And that is something that’s critical to the Launch KC mission. It’s critical to the Economic Development Corporation and the Downtown Council, to organizations that came together to create Launch KC, several years back, but, you know, I think I can answer that in a couple of ways. You know, one, you look back at what we’ve done. And right now, our portfolio sits at about 55% of our founders for the companies that have gone through launch are women or minority leader. And there’s a little nuance here. We’re proud of that number in that it greatly outpaces Kansas City business ownership in general. And so the needles absolutely moving. But at the same time, more than 55% of our community is women or minority, and so


Matt DeCoursey 12:02

probably outpaces most communities. Because that’s I mean, that’s been a topic we’ve discussed here on the show most recently, myself, and Donald Hawkins, the founder and CEO of Ken Lay, about some of the challenges. I mean, it’s, I mean, it’s not only a good friend of Launch KC. Yeah. And this is I mean. These are just stats, then you know, these are, I mean, this is more than half of the population when you put it together, and But yet, when it comes to a lot of access to capital, investment from VC, and stuff, like that is certainly not a half and half


Jim Erickson 12:37

100%. And yeah, what entrepreneurs in general faces is just overwhelming, we get to work close enough to entrepreneurs, but I am not personally worthy of that label. But I see what you know, they go through in the best of circumstances, and it’s tough. And, you know, what women of minority entrepreneurs go through is even a step further. For us, I think what we’ve done good at is historically, the selection process, we’ve been able to find talent, but what we are really working on moving forward, and how we can take that next step, ensuring that we have a portfolio of launch companies that adequately looks like the community we serve, is to make certain that we are investing in our pipeline, how are we reaching out to diverse entrepreneurs, you know, what are we doing, you know, before the application even opens. And I think that’s what our area of focus is. And you know, we know there’s a fairly large focus on that for our social venture studio. And we’re excited to start looking at some of these applications and see what we come up with for a cohort. But we’re very excited and very confident that we’re going to continue in that right direction.


Matt DeCoursey 13:48

So if I go to, if I go to KeystoneDistrict.org, once again, link in the show notes as well as a link to all the stuff that the gems organization works on. So if I if I’m applying as a founder, what first off what does that look like? And, you know, let’s let’s go through the whole process, you know, so obviously, I go to KeystoneDistrict.org right there on the homepage, I can begin to apply up till March 20. March 30, 2020, by the way, go to the site anyway, as well as the EDCKC, EDCKC, I will say that five times in a row really fast. So we’ve joked about that on air before but with that you guys are constantly doing things. So if this isn’t the right fit for you, I want you to still keep an eye on what’s going on here. Because there could be something else down the road. But so I go to the site, and I apply. What do I need to apply? Like, what is like what kind of companies are going to qualify?


Jim Erickson 14:44

Absolutely. And this is, I think, the biggest question of this is, what is a social venture? Different people define that differently. You can be for-profit or nonprofit. The key defining factor that sustainability is that you’re creating revenue streams to us support your, your mission. And companies need to have a thorough understanding of if they are a social venture. That’s not a term that is universal. Yet, that’s not something that a lot of existing social ventures even understand about themselves at times. And so what we’re doing is very innovative, it’s very nationally unique, which is great. But at the same time, when you’re starting something new like this, these are the types of issues that you run into. This isn’t something that has really taken off in the United States. You know, in my experience overseas, social venturing is a much bigger piece of the economy. And so we’re really hoping to really start that conversation here to apply, go to the website, and it kind of walks you through that there’s an application period. And we’re excited to announce them that cohort in the coming months, and you know, programming will begin, and everything will be finished within this calendar year. And what we’re really going to be excited about is that a demonstration day, where we get to show Kansas City and introduce Kansas City to this next generation of social ventures and really start showing Kansas City what the impact of social venturing can be on this community.


Matt DeCoursey 16:09

So there’s a lot of interesting buzzwords like, okay, social venturing, impact investment, cause capitalism, social venturing, like a lot of the stuff is that stuff, basically the same as it all in the same region. If we have to put it on the map, I know it’s not all the same, because I’m the first person to tell you that, regardless of what founder or company you look at, they’re all like snowflakes. They all have differences. They’re all unique in nature. But you know, there are things that are somewhat adjacent. So


Jim Erickson 16:45

I’ll start answering that by bragging about the group of people that we’ve assembled to execute this program. It’s such a niche industry. It’s, it’s highly technical. And I think that we have some of the best social mentoring experts in the United States in this program. And that’s an I don’t even feel like that’s a bold statement when you look at who’s on it. Within our own conversations, we struggled to answer that question from time to time. But ultimately, you know, what we’ve settled on is we want to find companies that have simultaneously achieved profit and sustainability while also having that social mission and an equal playing field. So profit and purpose, at the same level. And in our case, specifically, we’re looking for social ventures that address social, racial, and/or environmental issues in Kansas City.


Matt DeCoursey 17:35

And that was my next question is environmental. Social? Because I mean, it is it impacts society. If I would have to get what is that phonetic? Or is that different? I don’t know. I’m not that smart, folks. I just know how to make money. So I passed out. I’m not good at a whole lot. But yeah, so Alright, so environmental fall into it, obviously, things that work for the greater good of society. I mean, honestly, man, that’s for those of you who listen, this is a pretty broad door, like, come state your case. And I think that’s probably the most important thing, right? It takes your case, tell us why. You know, you should be involved and what you’re doing to change it. Now. Can a business at any stage apply? Because some of the, we talked a little bit about creating revenue and sustainability. If you haven’t created revenue yet, are you still a candidate?


Jim Erickson 18:29

Yes. If you have a compelling case that you’re well, on your way, to sustainable revenue streams, we are looking for early-stage companies. Yeah, I mean, you mentioned kind of those areas, it’s ambitious to address social, racial, or environmental issues. But there are different ways you can do that. It could be that your product itself, you have an invention that helps make the air cleaner, okay, that’s an environmental company, but also what if you are committed to hiring populations that have historically found it difficult to achieve jobs? You know, for example, there’s, an ice cream spot, I believe, in Prairie Village called the Golden Scoop. And they employ people with mental handicaps within our community. And that would, in some ways, qualify as a social venture there. They’re providing opportunity. There’s another one that’s been contemplated, and I won’t speak too far off and on this, because I don’t know how far along they are, if they want me speaking on it, but it’s a company that is really centered around this idea of hiring the unhearable finding folks that may have had their first job opportunity, or this may be their first job opportunity. They may be, you know, in some form of the correctional process or an ex-felon, folks that have historically, again, not been able to find jobs, and they want to create a for-profit business, hire these folks and also provide wraparound services on site. And so that that in and of itself, even though their core business might not be that social, racial or environmental, good, how they go about that. sickening it absolutely is. And so, again, social venturing, it’s kind of like you said, it’s state your case, you know, how are you a social venture? How is your business, whether through the product you’re delivering or through the way you’re delivering it? How are you addressing social, racial, and environmental change in Kansas City?


Matt DeCoursey 20:18

Yard, folks, bring the heat, state your case, and let’s grow KCMO. This is the Economic Development Corporation of KCMO’s tagline. And a represents how they work with businesses large, small, just starting, ready to locate and grow in our great city; you can learn more at edckc.com. You know what, while you’re here, thanks for all the support. You several years in a row, you guys have partnered with us and Full Scale, the company that I work, that my day job is out. And we’ve done some cool stuff together. And I appreciate that. And you know, I think that a lot on a lot of days, entrepreneurs and the, quote, ecosystem that comes with it, don’t stop to say, thanks. Well, we don’t always thank the government and its institutions in some regard. But, you know, I think that that’s, you know, it’s important. And I think that you know, if you look, if you ask any entrepreneur, to look back at their own timeline, and there are marks and points in which they received help, input advice, mentoring, partnership, any of it and, you know, as I can look back at my own timeline, and say, you know, what, like, that really had a pretty significant impact on even if it was just a conversation with someone that said one thing to me like, I remember at one point, I’m, I’m in Times Square in New York, and I’m a guy from Kansas City. So um, this is my first time ever, in Times Square, stopping in office and talking to talking to a guy who, by the way, I said, What’s this business across the hall from you? So that’s some company called Snap. They’re new. Who knew Snapchat? I was like, what do they do? He’s like, I don’t know if I know yet. But anyway, so this guy said to me, he said something to me, his name was Kirk MacDonald, Kirk, thank you for sharing. He said, Matt, what’s easier, trying to climb the mountain by yourself or asking those on top to pull you up? And I left that conversation. And I’ve liked it, and I still quote that to this day. And some of you quote me saying that, that wasn’t my quote. But, like, it changed my perspective on things because you really should be looking up and yelling, Hey, can I get a hand? And that’s exactly what you guys are doing. And you know, in the whole thing, so


Jim Erickson 22:39

I’ll jump in right there and say there’s something we’re very passionate about. It’s it is a little bit unusual for EDCs nationwide to address entrepreneurship to the level that the EDC has. And it’s a very deliberate reason why, is we believe in the power of entrepreneurship. We believe that, you know, Kansas City does very well in business attraction, we absolutely punch above our weight, we do a great job of taking care of existing businesses and making certain that they have the tools to succeed. But when you talk about delivering the amount of jobs to the community that need to be delivered, entrepreneurship absolutely has to be front and center to that strategy, we know that we’re a lot more likely to grow our next centers and burns McDonald’s and economic engines in great Kansas City Stories through entrepreneurship than any other way. And so that’s why EDC has made a long-standing commitment to entrepreneurship. And that’s why that we’ve worked with the Downtown Council, the Keystone innovation district and others to make certain that Launch KC is at a level where it needs to be to support entrepreneurs because like I said earlier, I’m close enough to entrepreneurs to see the battles that they fight every day. It is just amazing what people can endure. And so if we can support these folks early on, we know that the ramifications on Kansas City in the long run are going to be huge and so that’s why we’re we’re proud to support Full Scale we’re proud to support Kansas City entrepreneurs in general.


Matt DeCoursey 24:01

One of the things that a lot of people are familiar with when it comes to marketing or storytelling is the quote story brand, and once you learn it, you ruin any movie for history for all of the time because you realize that all good stories that Hollywood puts out follow this and I’m not going to get into the whole thing, so no spoiler alert needed but it really does involve having a guide you know, and it’s fine. I’m not a Star Wars nerd. Sorry. If you are, don’t comment to me about how that was somehow the wrong thing to say, but you know, you look at it like I always use this as an example because it feels so universal. You know, Luke Skywalker has a guide and Obi-Wan and Yoda and like all these people that kind of show him the way and you know, that’s the I think that that’s just such a key thing for entrepreneurs. Like you can’t do it by yourself. I mean, you can try. But in the end, it’s once again it’s It’s what’s easier to climb, climb by yourself or ask people to pull you up. And that’s, I don’t know, there’s a lot of stuff out there, you know, regardless of where you’re listening to, you know, it’s kind of crazy when people listen to this show, and 181 countries in 2021. So, you know, you mentioned an international and an international thing. And while we’re mainly talking about Kansas City, if you’re not able to get here and participate in this one, I encourage everyone to look around because most, is it fair to say that most cities that are like at least like top 50, market sizes, have something going on in them that helps support entrepreneurs? I know some way more than others. But I mean, the idea of economic development is a pretty worldwide thing in general. Right?


Jim Erickson 25:51

Absolutely. And oftentimes, the private sector delivers. In 2015, we looked around and said that was not something that is marketed and delivered, which is why we stepped in, in the Kansas City context, but absolutely, in my experience overseas, and an understanding of other cities nationwide, absolutely. cities that are growing and thriving, the cities that, you know, get tossed around all the time as these ideal cities, they are all supporting entrepreneurs, almost universally.


Matt DeCoursey 26:17

Yeah. And I do always, you know, I’m such an advocate. So I, one of the five schools that I dropped out of was Kansas University, but it’s the one that I claim that I actually went to


Jim Erickson 26:29

an Ivy League school, I think, you know, very, very difficult.


Matt DeCoursey 26:34

Sad, and most almost no one, but, but no, but it’s, you know, there’s a sense of pride. My family has an entrepreneur store, entrepreneurship is several generations deep, dating back to 1870. You’re in Kansas City now. So for me, it’s kind of like I kind of grew up around that. And that was a dairy business and turned in some other things. But when you you know, when I mean, so what’s so special about Kansas City to you, you know, like, why focus on Kansas City’s entrepreneurs,


Jim Erickson 27:11

you know, I’ve always felt the Kansas City’s a mix between, you know, this is gonna sound cliche, but small town values, really a city with a heart. And also we punch above our weight in a lot of areas, which has always been exciting. I mean, and there’s, there’s community here that you don’t always find, I mean, I saw the other day when the chiefs were playing, and I think it was the divisional round 90% of TVs were on that is because Sure, it was because of football. But there’s, there’s a deeper sense of Kansas City Pride and people getting excited about something. And you know, in today’s day and age are a lot of division in our society, it’s it’s neat to see a place like Kansas City come together on these types of things. So that’s something that I’ve always seen from Kansas City, you know, really is that city with a heart. But for entrepreneurs, I think, you know, we have the same business advantages we have across the board, it’s relatively lower cost of doing business. It’s, I don’t know how to exactly say this, but it’s a lot easier to get access. I mean, if I’m in New York City, and I’m a entrepreneur with a small company, am I going to get in front of the top 20 CEOs in New York? Don’t know that I am in Kansas City, if you just emailed half, and they probably take your email and get a coffee with you. I mean, that’s their, that’s, that’s something special that I think we afford entrepreneurs. And


Matt DeCoursey 28:29

we refer to that as Midwest nice. Yes. Which, which, by the way, is a good thing, and sometimes not a good thing to cuz like, now, like, I love that part. But at the same time, like sometimes, if you’re candid with people


Jim Erickson 28:45

super excited about exactly,


Matt DeCoursey 28:48

so, but I’m just a firm believer that sometimes the best thing you can do is just tell someone the truth. You know, like sometimes the best move is to not do something but I get myself and I get myself in enough trouble.


Jim Erickson 28:59

I lived in the Middle East, so I can really appreciate direct communication.


Matt DeCoursey 29:04

Well, you know, some of that, for me was early, I worked for a company called rolling and rolling. So the world’s largest maker of electronic musical instruments with a Japanese company, and you want to talk about direct man? Like, I mean, it’s like, you know, it’s pretty, it’s a very interesting approach. Because if you’re going to be in a meeting and like the Japanese culture, like and you just say something dumb. It’s, you should maybe expect someone to literally say, Hey, that was a pretty dumb comment. So let’s move on. He did that here. Like people would be crying, you probably be apologizing for a week. Different stuff. So you know, one thing I didn’t ask is how many companies do you expect to bring into the Social Venture Studio?


Jim Erickson 29:48

And we’re targeting five for this first cohort. We really want to make certain that in the first year, we not only do something great for the so social ventures that go through the program but that we also stand up a program. We know this is going to be proof of concept and a lot of ways. And a lot of ways, this is a startup. So we can grow this and really establish something special here in Kansas City. You know, I’ll be honest about our ambitions. We hope that we can create a model where other cities take a look at the power of social venturing. And so it’s important to really deliver quality on this first cohort. You know, we think we have something very powerful here. Companies that go through this are not reliant on philanthropic or governmental dollars. Oftentimes, they’re creating a business model that can succeed sustainably, whereas other models within that same space have been relying on philanthropic or governmental dollars. And so think of the impact if we’re able to stand up 510 30 100 Social Ventures here in Kansas City, and all of a sudden, all these social, racial, or environmental issues that either weren’t being addressed or maybe we’re being addressed in a non-sustainable way completely relied on a limited pool of philanthropic or government dollars. Now, they break away from that. And now, other causes that do rely on philanthropic or government or knowledge can be part of a smaller playing field. I mean, just that piece alone can be very powerful with our social ventures.


Matt DeCoursey 31:17

So I should have asked this before the 32nd minute, but what do I get if my company is accepted into the Social Venture Studio? Like what does that mean, for me as a founder and for my company?


Jim Erickson 31:31

Absolutely. A few things. First and foremost, a non-dilutive capital, which every early-stage company needs, we’re well aware of that. And we have raised sufficient funds for that, that to occur, we have a great programmatic piece, we have some of the best social venturing Minds, Like I said, in the United States as part of this program, and they’re going to be intimately involved with the programmatic piece that will occur over the summer months and into the early fall. And also, you know, access, you know, it’s important, like I said, for early stage entrepreneurs to be connected with who they need to be connected with and through our programming and through our the folks that are involved in this program, we can deliver that.


Matt DeCoursey 32:14

So if you’re not familiar, non-dilutive capital means the money in the bank, no shares going out. So that’s like, I mean, that’s, you know, that’s, that’s a pretty strong type of support. When it comes to, you know, do you have some people that you’d like to do that we’d like to mention that are going to be involved? I, you know, just sounds like you’ve got some pretty interesting people involved. I don’t know if it’s too early for that. If it is, feel free to tell me but


Jim Erickson 32:42

Oh, absolutely. I think, um, you know, first and foremost mentioned, you know, two people that are very involved in the program, Father Justin Matthews of Reconciliation Services and


Matt DeCoursey 32:52

so before we call Him Father startup, yeah. The only priest to have been on the show at any point. So okay,


Jim Erickson 33:02

yeah, a priest at the same time, he is one of the better business minds that I’ve come across. Yeah. Good friend Drew Ian’s recently moved over to JE Dunn. He’s a big part of this as well. So launch Casey was is a joint initiative of the Economic Development Corporation in the downtown Council. But we’ve also brought on the Kison innovation district to help with programming and they played a huge role in making this possible as


Matt DeCoursey 33:29

Kevin Magana says Rana just twice I believe, yes, Kevin McGinnis formerly running the guy that ran the sprint accelerator. Yes. Yeah, for a long time to like, I believe over a decade for a while and, and is currently involved in building an innovation district here in Kansas City. And you talk about that, that’s a social venture on a lot of days, and many regards. He’s trying to change the shape of a neighborhood in many ways. And it’s been a lot been a lot of work. And a lot of work. I mean, all this is a lot of work. So, Father, Justin was, we might have to have him back. Maybe we’ll have founder confessions or something. So that might take hours. Like that I could take forever, like, you know, and I’m not sure I want to air mine actually, now that I think about it. Are you allowed to swear in front of priests? Is that Is that Is that okay? Is that allowed? I didn’t hear the question. We’ll just have father Justin back on we’ll do it we’ll we’ll run down a list of yes or no words that we can


Jim Erickson 34:37

say this. He’s a great guy to share whiskey with.


Matt DeCoursey 34:41

Most priests are but that’s okay. So all right. Well,


Jim Erickson 34:45

we got to mention a few others, please. Jacqueline Erickson. Russell is doing a great job. No relation to me, by the way. He’s doing a great job. Doing program management for a lot of what we’re doing. Downtown Council, Mike Hurd and Tommy well Wilson, Bill Dietrich and also EDCs. Jim Malley played a big role in so


Matt DeCoursey 35:06

Jim has been on the show before too. Oh, yeah. I believe that this is


Jim Erickson 35:10

well, I just need, you know, viewership to top his episodes while


Matt DeCoursey 35:16

the audience’s that’s kind of actually it’s funny because it’s always a popular topic. So you know, we get 135,000 150,000 downloads a month now, which, when Jim was on was about a third of that. So by default, the safety and numbers they just kind of they’ll consume it. More people to consume it when they first he doesn’t need to hear that part. Oh, I think we should totally tell him, I think we should actually maybe even like, do an episode about it. Just snow gems a good sport. And he’s, he’s been on with cash. Has he been on more than once? Yeah, it’s, it’s interesting, because it drives me nuts. Like I mentioned, before we started recording, I’ve probably done about at least 600 of these myself and tell you about it gets hard to kind of keep track of them. 600 of anything is kind of a lie up. So I try to, I’m intentionally not going to in-person events ever again, because I’m afraid I’m gonna just see like 50 people that might have been on the show. And they’d be like, good to see you. And I’ll be like, Okay, wait. But no, we’ve, you know, part of our mission with Startup Hustle, which has been interesting is, is kind of similar to yours. And in the regard that, you know, we want to tell the real story of entrepreneurship and try to be guides to those that want to follow in our footsteps. But, I mean, this whole show started with the first several 100 episodes, there were maybe two people that were on the show that weren’t from Kansas City. And then, you know, the pandemic forced us into a virtual world. And with that, we said, you know, what, like, this is this is, people are listening to the show everywhere. So we started, you know, throwing it out everywhere, and just, you never know when things are gonna go Well, folks, but thank you so much for the support, and once again, for the support of EDC, KC, so, you know, I like to end my episodes of Startup Hustle with what I call the founders freestyle. But we’ll take a little a little pivot from that, and I say my episodes because I want to make sure that you tune in to the weekly episodes that are by Lauren Conaway, who sometimes joins me for an episode here and there usually to talk about a new cities, top startups for Lauren is, has a weekly spot if you haven’t figured that out yet. And she’s the founder of innovate her go to innovate her kc.com or tune in weekly as Andrew Morgans, the founder of Mark Knology talks all about Amazon and E-commerce and a lot of stuff and our Startup Hustle family has grown much like the number of businesses that you’ve supported. And once again, today’s episode of Startup Hustle is brought to you by the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri, which we call KC Mo. If you’re in the KC boundaries, you can find out who is your business development officer at EDC kc.com. So, they encourage you to connect with these folks. And, you know, they’re making a big difference in the business community. Now, I mentioned the founders freestyle, this will be a little different. We’ll just change this to the social venturing studio freestylin kind of and episodes by I don’t know, what did we miss? Did we what did we not talk about? Or? Or what are some of the things that were really key from today’s conversation that we want to make sure people understand, again, along with the understanding that there are links to all of this in the show notes, people so scroll down, and by the way, while you’re down there hit that fifth star on the review because that’ll make me happy.


Jim Erickson 38:45

You know, I don’t think we missed anything other than the power of this is, is enormous. You know, we run accelerator programs, for industries that we really want to enhance here in Kansas City. It enhances that space in our economy. And how cool would it be if Kansas City became known as a city as a hub as the single national leader for social venturing that’s, that’s really what our ambitious goal is, but with the people that we have involved in this program that’s inside and, you know, I probably also should have said this before the 39th minute of the episode, but you know, we have incredible partners all around. None of this is possible without the generosity of the Sunderland foundation. They’ve just been tremendous. They’ve been supportive and really helped us as a partner. And so we certainly are appreciative of them and, and everyone involved.


Matt DeCoursey 39:41

So for me, I think when I look back at this episode, you know, I first off just say thanks. You know, I’ve been here in my hometown, I just want to support anybody or anything that supports entrepreneurs, you know, like whether it’s social venturing, or insurance technology or anything else, like as I mentioned, You know, if you can get a hand, and you can get input, you can accelerate your path to getting to where you need to be. And I talk to people occasionally that seem resistant that stuff, and you shouldn’t be, you know, like there’s, if you ever at any point think that you haven’t learned or you’ve learned, all you need to learn, then you’ve learned to not be that smart to be. So I’m just being honest, like, so there’s always like, these kinds of programs, just in general accelerators, all of that they’re here for the greater good of entrepreneurship, and the trickle-down effect of that is as good for local economies. And you know, as an entrepreneur, and if you’re an entrepreneur, you want to be one, I don’t need to spend much time, you know, going over the importance of that, I think a couple of other things that, you know, stand out, as you know, Jim left a pretty broad door open for those of you like state case, you know, take a shot. And it was Wayne Gretzky who is famous for saying you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. And you know, when it comes to funding or accelerators, or really any of that stuff, you got to take a shot and try to get in. I talked to people all the time that have gotten into X, Y, or Z program, and they’ll tell me, you know, I’ll reach out because I take a little time each day to other way I find out other people’s accomplishments really motivating, so I often find myself thanking them for accomplishing stuff. I did that to Sandy Kemper yesterday. I was like, thank you so much for raising all that capital. It’s really inspiring. They probably read it. They’re like, what, what is this guy talking about? But you know, with that, I mean, there’s, you know, as I will often congratulate many of my peers or past guests on their accomplishments, they’ll say, Well, yeah, I’m excited to have just have gotten in because this is the fourth year that I’ve tried and you know, but with that, you got to keep after it. This is I think entrepreneurship and startups are incredibly Darwinistic in that regard, you know, like they’re almost built to weed out people that don’t have the passion that doesn’t really want it that bad. And the thing is, is you’ll find on the other side of that the people that are emerging, and in doing it, there’s honestly there’s success demands payment in advance to start writing checks people.


Jim Erickson 42:25

I mean, you guys are crazy, but they’re the right kind of crazy to grow our economy and really shape our city. So who wants to invest in them and support them?


Matt DeCoursey 42:32

Right, and you know, that’s the thing is that that stuff’s out there. So take a shot at it, people. Jim, thanks again for, you know, joining me today and giving us a better education on social venturing and the program, so I look forward to everyone that’s going to apply after listening to this.


Jim Erickson 42:50

Thanks for having me.