Last week I had the pleasure of moderating the first “Workshop for Social Startups”in the AppHaus in Heidelberg a one day event for budding social entrepreneurs.

As usual for such events, we invited 10 potential social entrepreneurs and teams from many varied backgrounds to present their ideas for social businesses and to work together with them on the next steps toward a running business and creating real social impact.

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When I started the discussions about the agenda with Ian MacDonald for SAP´s Corporate Social Responsibility department, we decided to run the event along interdisciplinary lines – an aspect which is often considered important, but often neglected.

First, we looked for really varied and interesting startup ideas for areas like education, health, or manufacturing. Second, we enhanced this interesting mixture of founders and ideas with around 50 people to support the founders in 10 teams. We invited SAP colleagues and design thinking coaches, students from different universities and backgrounds, the startup managers from the University of Heidelberg and also from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, real and successful business starters and even some people from the dynamic startup scene from Berlin.

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Third, we invited some experts to give short and crisp inputs on relevant topics: a team coach talked about the importance of diversity within a team, an ethnologist gave insights into his work on empathy. A street artist talked about creativity and how to start new projects, an architect described his approach to prototyping and a voice trainer emphasized the important of voice and body language for the next startup pitch.

With this really unique cocktail of people, perspectives, and opinions we worked throughout the day on the three relevant questions: WHO is your user? WHAT does she or he need? And HOW can you meet this need?

Interestingly, Sesame Street has been advocating this approach for years as you can hear in its title song:

wer wie was
der die das
wieso weshalb warum
wer nicht fragt bleibt dumm!

wer wie was
der die das
wieso weshalb warum
wer nicht fragt bleibt dumm!

tausend tolle sachen
die gibt es überall zu sehen,
manchmal muss man fragen,
um sie zu verstehen!

To sum up: everybody learned a lot, got new insights and opinions, extended his or her network and had a lot of fun. As a result, I strongly recommend you invest in finding a really mixed, interdisciplinary group of people – it’s worth the extra effort!

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  • Anonym  6 years ago

    This was a great workshop! Lots of great ideas, plenty of inspiration, and some interesting prototypes followed in the days after the workshop.