How Accelerators are using their position to Improve Communities
Social-consciousness may be the future of accelerators
Socially conscious startups may just be the next big thing. With many locations across the country, Impact Hub, initially formed in London in 2005, is a social-conscious accelerator and coworking space for groups who demonstrate interest and dedication towards furthering their environment, be it people or plants. The Hubs are generally privately owned, but their San Francisco branch has expanded to create MissionHub, with intentions to create places in Africa and other locations abroad for coworking and good deeds.
In February of 2013, Rob Spiro and Alon Salant launched Good Eggs as an online grocer, bringing locals and local suppliers together through food. Their mission is simple and homegrown: bring fresh, natural groceries from local suppliers during all seasons. They opened first in San Francisco, and subsequently opened branches in New Orleans, Brooklyn and Los Angeles.
In 2014, the company sealed a $8.5 million Round A funding round, making it on-par with some of the most profitable online groceries of the same caliber. What makes Good Eggs so novel is its approach to community: the day you order your bread, the baker down the street pulls it out of the oven; the moment your order for tomatoes is submitted, a farmer pulls them from the vine. Their social consciousness, in addition to the guaranteed freshness and quality, is what sets Good Eggs apart from other grocery delivery systems, such as Coborns Delivers.
Along with many coworking spaces, social innovation is creeping into the minds of startups and accelerators, creating cause for coworking hubs to offer incentives and to focus their genre of company to a specific area. The socially-conscious groups, be they environmentally minded or people activists, are drawing more and more support from coworking spaces.
In New Orleans, Propeller coworking space offers a fellowship program for those looking to become involved in social projects. Since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the city has slowly been rebuilding; part of Propeller’s mission is to aid in that community rebuild, from educating groups to fostering startups whose main mission is to support the community in a variety of ways.
Centre for Social Innovation
In 2013, Manhattan’s skyline took a turn for social entrepreneurship with the opening of the Centre for Social Innovation near the High Line, a newly famous NYC attraction. But this wasn’t their first building: the group that’s the brain behind the matter decided way back in 2003 that something wasn’t right about typical work-spaces.
They wanted a change, and they wanted social innovation to play a larger part. So in 2004, they opened the Centre for Social Innovation Spadina up in Toronto, welcoming 14 new coworkers into the 5,000 sq. feet space. That first location was a large success, adding an additional 14,000 sq. feet of space and being home to 180 socially driven groups by spring of 2007. The company encompasses four main foundations: work, connect, create, and transform. Their Manhattan location is their third location, and first statewide.
Down in D.C., Punchrock is yet another socially-minded coworking space for startups with social intentions. Their notion is much like those in favor of public education: that “by growing social entrepreneurship, we will increase the number of ethical, sustainable, community-focused businesses — thereby building a stronger economy and a better world.”
All across the nation, socially-minded startups are gathering in specific coworking spaces to further the world, one day at a time. With this immense trend towards specialization of coworking spaces, specifically in the social entrepreneurship sector, it’s safe to say that this may be the future of coworking.