For the second consecutive year, Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business served as host of the semifinal round (for the Eastern U.S. Region) of the Global Social Venture Competition.
The GSVC provides aspiring entrepreneurs with mentoring, exposure and $50,000 in prizes to grow businesses that will make a positive real-world impact.
“Being one of GSVC's nine global partners — along with the London School of Business, the Indian School of Business, ESSEC Business School, and others – and the host of the U.S. Eastern Region Semifinals reflects Scheller College’s increasing international prominence and Atlanta’s growing status as the social innovation hub of the Southeast,” says Dori Pap, assistant director of Tech’s Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship (ILE), who serves as faculty advisor for GSVC .
Second-year MBA student Mark Ladisch, who along first-year MBA Sarah Caulk co-organized the semifinal round on February 27 at Scheller College, notes that while most of the competing teams are for-profit organizations, “they also address important social issues. Being involved in the educational process that you can do both at the same time has been very rewarding.”
Of the 21 teams that made it to the semifinal round for the Eastern U.S. Region, four were from Georgia Tech.
The two top teams, Drinkwell from Lehigh University and Toilets for People from Columbia University, will advance to the finals on April 10 at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley (which where the winners from nine global regions will compete).
Drinkwell aims to ease the global water crisis through its filtration technology and a franchise business model, while Toilets for People is designing, producing and selling affordable composting toilets for people living in flood-prone areas of the developing world.
The Vayando team, which includes Georgia Tech MBA student Joshua Wine as chief financial officer, placed third. Vayando connects curious travelers with micro-entrepreneurs in emerging economies around the world – for example, coffee farmers in Costa Rica or basket weavers in Rwanda.
Competitors in the semifinal round (Eastern Region), who were selected from dozens of submissions, included teams from a variety of leading schools, including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Michigan. Worldwide, over 500 teams participated in the competition this year.
ILE’s Dori Pap says that Tech’s impressive showing in the semifinal round (four teams out of 21) reflects the effectiveness of local networking efforts as well as the strong entrepreneurial ecosystem at Georgia Tech where competitions such as Ideas to Serve and InVenture create a strong pipeline of student-led start-ups (potential candidates toward the GSVC).
Jasmine Burton, who earned her BS in industrial design from Georgia Tech in December 2014, participated in GSVC as founder and president of Wish for WASH LLC, which won last year’s InVenture competition for its toilet designs and educational efforts to meet sanitation needs in the developing world.
“For me the Global Social Venture Competition was a great opportunity,” Burton says. “As a designer, you can think a lot about the product itself and not necessarily about other details. This competition has really helped give me a holistic view of how products are delivered, shipped, and distributed, and how you can use funding to optimize processes.”
Ron Alston, senior vice president of SunTrust, was one of 20 GSVC judges, who included leaders from the corporate, impact investment, and social enterprise communities. “It was really amazing to see the diversity of ideas and range of problems that teams were trying to solve and the innovative approaches they were taking,” he says.
The founding partners of GSVC’s semifinal round included Scheller College’s Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship, Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business, and Gray Ghost Ventures. Sponsors included Mosley Ventures, Ronald Blue & Co., Full Circle Living, and Net Impact.