Maria was a local innovator passionate about providing healthy food to children. She started a community garden on a small plot of land and soon realized it had multiple benefits for herself, her members, and the community. They formed a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) organization with members who purchased shares of the food grown to cover some of the maintenance costs of the garden.
However, Maria soon realized a few barriers she needed to overcome:
She was spending too much time trying to figure out the best way to organize their operations, get a bank account, create a website and a governance structure for liability and regulatory compliance. She needed some guidance on how to structure their operations.
Local bankers would not loan them funds because they were a new entity, did not have anyone to provide collateral and apparently needed a business plan.
The community foundation was not able to make them a grant but offered to help fund a community needs assessment to research food insecurity issues in the neighborhood. The research process helped them collect evidence their local children and families do not have enough food each day. However, it still was not enough to “need” to get a loan to scale up the product.
Fortunately Maria found out about Social Enterprise Labs Cohorts. She enrolled in the WVS Course and learned how to test her ideas, how to do customer discovery, how to write a business plan, and how to present to local bankers and the community foundation speaking their language.
Today, Maria has a business plan with three-year financial projections to present to funders and she is leading her community garden members in establishing a new business in the neighborhood that will employ community members. The city council has now recognized her leadership and is providing volunteers and other city services that they had never dreamed of before.
If you have an idea to solve a big problem but are lacking the resources and planning to get traction, keep reading to find out how this course will help you.
You present your idea to key leaders only to be dismissed because you don’t have a formal plan or can’t speak the language they use for business or social change.
You know a lot about your product or service, but don’t know how to market and sell it to the people who want or need it.
You apply for funds only to be rejected and nobody will tell you what you did wrong or how to fix it.
You're dismissed because you don’t look like the typical startup entrepreneur, don’t have a technology component, or can’t provide a 10X return on investment.
In this immersive learning experience, you will...
Cultivate customers and gain valuable feedback during the discovery activities and gain valuable feedback before you launch a new product or service. Then repeat what you’ve learned for a faster launch next time. Your research and projections will give you confidence to take risks in your business.
Grow your business knowledge and be able to communicate an impactful, sustainable business model with a clear plan of action, milestones, metrics, and goals.
Integrate lean startup principles to grow your business and lead your team with more intention, working together to provide value to your customers and community.
Develop the confidence to communicate your business plan to community leaders and impact investors.
Whether you are at the startup phase or you’re pivoting your business or program to be more impactful or sustainable, our team of trainers and coaches are here to help you grow your business for the common good.
Online learning platforms featuring high-quality curriculum
Downloadable templates and tools you can use right away
Live Zoom sessions facilitated by experts and guest entrepreneurs
Private peer exchange forums and access to one-on-one coaching.
You’ll be engaged into a robust discussion with our skilled master facilitators and interact with expert guest speakers who will share their stories of success and failures. We’ll use Zoom Breakout rooms for small group activities and support with your own business planning.
In between sessions, you’ll access a high-quality curriculum that is easy to read, listen and watch each week. Throughout the 14-weeks you’ll implement what you’ve learned and package a business plan that you can implement in your own community and markets. See the course outline below for more details.
Before each Live session, you will get reminders of assignments, discussion question prompts, and personalized videos from the facilitators to cheer you on. You’ll also have access to private chats with your peers and facilitators.
Core Curriculum - Kauffman FastTrac®
In between sessions you'll utilize the Kauffman FastTrac® online business planning curriculum (videos, checklists and templates) to put together your business plan and pitches.
You’ll also get customized curriculum (video lessons, case studies, tools and downloads from the WVS Courses platform. Throughout the 14-weeks you’ll implement what you’ve learned and package a business plan in your own community and markets. See the course outline below for more details.
Innovation Lab introduces you to social enterprise and helps you explore different paths towards building a social enterprise. This is a self-paced, prerequisite online course, but with a private discussion with the cohort.
Lab participants will:
Gain awareness of the social enterprise industry, definitions, and models
Hear real examples of different types of social enterprises
Be introduced to tools unique to social enterprises
Identify the skills, abilities, and mindsets needed to run a social enterprise
Apply learning towards their current enterprise and plan next steps
Explore how design thinking can solve a community problem
Design Lab helps turn your ideas into reality to validate your product or service before launching. This Lab has weekly instructor-led Zoom meetings.
Lab participants will:
Practice using lean startup design tools
Identify a problem within a targeted audience with surveys and interviews
Design and validate a Value Proposition to solve a customer problem
Determine cost and break-even points to be on track for sustainability
Utilize the Social Enterprise Business Model Canvas
Present concept models and receive feedback from mentors and peers.
Have access to additional bonus materials and activities added regularly.
Launch Lab takes you step-by-step through creating a comprehensive business plan with social or community benefits. This lab includes weekly lessons, discussions, and instructor-led Zoom meetings.
Lab participants will:
Document market size, competitors, and growth opportunities
Create detailed marketing, sales, and operations plans.
Model 3-year financial projections, a launch guide, and package a business plan that is presentable to stakeholders
Gain constructive feedback from cohort peers and mentors.
Integrate social impact practices and values into operations
Build the skills, abilities, and mindsets needed to run a social enterprise.
For our next Cohort, we are offering the course for an upfront payment of $1,200. However, if you have a coupon code you can get discount (email us to see if you are eligible)
(Or pay $300/mo in 4 installments.)
If you purchased each of the three courses separately and hired a WVS coach to guide you individually each week, you would pay over $2,000.
However, as part of a cohort of learners, we are able to offer a bundled lower price, and add more value that includes peer-to-peer learning in your cohort.
Your satisfaction guaranteed
We know that your time is very valuable and that you require a good return on your investment. So we partner and make a good faith effort for you to get the most out of the course in the first month.
If you complete Innovation Lab (self-paced) and participate in the first three weeks of Live Zoom Sessions and are still not satisfied with your purchase, then we can refund up what you've paid so far.
Need more information?
Check out this recording to learn more and get a sense of one of the many learning topics. Scan through the Weekly Topics of learning and if you still have questions, email us directly and we can even set up a quick call to answer any questions directly.
Enroll Today If You Are...
- Tired of seeing big social problems that go unsolved in your community
- Excited to explore an idea or opportunity but are not sure where to start
- Stuck at the idea or concept stage of growth for your business
- Operate a start-up stage business and want to pivot to a social enterprise model
- Desire to build skills, abilities, and mindsets needed to run a social enterprise.
- Curious to learn new ways of thinking, experimenting, and taking action.
The Cohort is not an academic exercise. This program is designed to stretch your comfort zone, help you develop new skills, and take action. If you are an existing social entrepreneur and want to grow and raise capital we will offer Investment Lab this coming spring.
During those years, I saw two big problems:
1. Impact investors have trouble getting money out the door to the right projects.
2. Owners of social enterprises have trouble finding the right investors who understand their unique model.
This is why these courses were created: to help businesses learn more about social enterprise, to teach owners how to start or transition to a social enterprise, and for owners learn how and where to look for investors and position themselves to get the funding they need to grow (and is right there waiting for them).
I'd love to have you join us. See you in class!
What are the technology requirements?
You will need a computer or tablet with Internet access to complete the course lessons and participate in the online discussions.
What businesses are best suited to be in this program?
Almost any business and entrepreneur could benefit from this course. However, we recommend concept stage to early start-up stage of growth business with: less than two years of operations or plans to pivot existing enterprise to social impact model, or plans to start an enterprise within the next 6 months. So if you’ve been operating a “side-gig” or hobby initiative and want to grow into a sustainable enterprise, this is for you, or a desire to pivot your prior or existing business to a social enterprise model within next 6 months.
How will I interact with the course material and learn?
We will take you step-by-step through a proven process. But here are the three main ways you will engage, interact and learn. Course materials are accessed on WVS Courses learning platform and other online resources. These include short readings, videos and activities. Interactive peer discussions and guest speakers are on weekly Zoom meetings where you can get answers to your specific questions, hear how others are applying the concepts and get new insights from others. One-on-one coaching is available at a discounted rate by the WVS during the program when you feel you may be stuck or need some individual assistance or accountability.
How long will I have access to the course materials?
When you enroll in this course, you will have lifetime access to the online content. However, the live interactive forums will require you to stay connected to your peers, facilitators and coaches. WVS Courses will keep you informed on new courses and resources each month in a newsletter that you can choose to opt out from at any time.
What if I want to have my top managers take the course with me?
This price is for a one-course seat per person. Discounts for a company's team are available upon request. Please contact us with your request. You also may share all the materials and lessons with your team and teach them what you are learning along the way.
What curriculum do you use?
We use many different tools, templates and curriculum from: Kauffman FastTrac, Human Centered Design supplemental materials. We upload other training videos and lessons on the WVS Courses portal that you can access 24-hours a day. You will have lifetime access to the materials as long as you remember your password.
What is the instructor’s expertise in this area?
Paul Wright has been supporting community benefit projects and leaders for over 20 years. He has helped them access $20 million in capital to start and grow projects such as: community services facilities, affordable housing, main street businesses, entrepreneurship training. Wright Venture Services, LLC is trusted by agencies such as: Kauffman FastTrac, Catholic Charities USA, Social Enterprise Alliance and Appalachian Regional Commission.
WVS Courses has partnered in a special recovery-to-work program designed to spur small business development and employ West Virginians healing from addiction through the growth of social entrepreneurship. This 3-year program is funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission in the amount of $1,499,894 for the Creating Communities of Healing by Cultivating Businesses to Address the Opioid Crisis project.
When you enroll, you’ll join a cohort of WV Communities of Healing entrepreneurs and additional social entrepreneurs around the United States. All of us share a vision to create common good business.