Note: I owe this blog a few posts on Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, but wanted to start here. I’m committing to blogging more, inspired by friends and colleagues.
Within the first few minutes of conversation on an airplane or at social gatherings, I’m asked, “So, what do you do?” My usual reply over the last few years has been, “I co-founded a nonprofit.” I explain more if they’re curious, about 10% of the time. I’m now realizing that’s bad framing, for a few reasons.
1. Stop defining the venture by what it’s not.
“What does your venture do?”
“It doesn’t make a ton of money.”
“Okay, but what does it do?”
If we’re going to use one word to describe what we are, it shouldn’t include ‘non.’ ‘Nonprofit’ implies tax-exempt status, not a specific approach or goal.
2. We have a lot in common with Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
This first hit me when Medic Mobile was starting up and I was at Stanford and in the Bay Area. We approach social impact and growth the same way innovative companies approach revenue and growth. We move quickly, and expect to be the best at what we do. I’m fortunate to work alongside talented, committed individuals.
We plan for everything to go brilliantly, and learn quickly when it doesn’t. We are obsessed with scaling. (For impact ventures, sometimes scaling means reaching tremendous depth, serving a targeted community/population. In other cases, it means aggressively partnering and releasing innovation to replicate and implement broadly.)
Our goal? Create and implement mobile tools that help health workers save more lives, on a massive scale. We’re not just a nonprofit.