Fostering Social Enterprises in Seattle
Fledge is a new social enterprise incubator in Seattle that aims to foster promising, socially-driven companies. The incubator is launched by Michael Libes, a mobile and tech veteran who believes that Seattle could turn into a center of social innovation and enterprise.
Libes is looking for socially conscious enterprises that are not non-profit organizations. He wants to work with social entrepreneurs who have a passion to create businesses that have a positive impact on the world. Fledge differentiates itself from a majority of other business incubator programs across the country that have emerged in recent years by not focusing on the tech companies alone.
Fledge is open to the idea of supporting start-ups that could be a part of any sector, as long as they have a larger societal goal to help improve key areas such as energy, environment, healthcare, education, food and community. Libes got inspired to support social enterprises after consulting budding entrepreneurs through Bainbridge Graduate Institute and the University of Washington.
Libes says: “Most of those ideas get dropped on ground. There’s no stepping stone from `I have a newly minted MBA’ to `I have an up and running company.’” Libes’ idea took further shape when he recently helped organize a Social Enterprise Weekend in Seattle.
Fledge is right now inviting applications for its initial group of proto-companies. A final group of seven companies will be chosen from among the applicants. The selected companies will work together for a two-month program in Seattle.
Fledge itself operates as a for-profit business. Libes has launched a company to run the incubator, but it is not an investment fund. However, he is looking for additional investors for the incubator. Fledge is a combination of the standard tech incubator model and revenue-based financing. It will keep a three percent stake in the companies involved, with a standard $7,000 cash stake. This cash amount will be treated as a loan to be paid back with revenue.
The money that comes back to Fledge as paid-back revenue financing will be recycled to finance new loans, which turning a profit at the same time.
Photo Credit: Juliaf