Spotlight on Sarah Hernholm

We’re so proud of our Fellow Sarah Hernholm.

What is your best advice to a younger entrepreneur hoping to follow in your footsteps?

I remember when I was starting out, I felt the pressure to have the answers and know everything. It felt like I needed to overcompensate for being young and “green”. BUT this approach of acting like you know everything doesn’t serve you in the long run. You know what does? Humility, and the willingness to keep learning. Myself, and many of my peers, are more inclined to support, help, and even invest in, young entrepreneurs who have a great hustle, mixed with a big dose of humility. Plus, even those of us who are considered more experienced don’t know everything. We don’t have all the answers, but what I think a lot us do well is we listen and keep learning.
So my advice is to stay hungry, keep hustling, but above all else, express humility and curiosity … always, and in all ways.

 

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Fellows in the News: Dost

I wanted to share a new blog about Dost’s story with you. I hope it sheds some light on the beginning of my co-founder and my journey to change the early learning gap in India.

A month into my coaching relationship with Renee has already yielded actionable areas to work on. Can’t thank the Gratitude Network team enough in helping us deepen our impact at Dost Education.

 

The familiar Skype ringtone sounded, and Sneha Sheth and Sindhuja Jeyabal found themselves face to face. Between them lay a screen and 8,834 miles. They’d never spoken before, but a friend of a friend at Berkeley had recently introduced them due to their unique shared passion for education in India. “You both talk about education a lot,” he said, “you guys should meet.”

What started as an informal chat between two women who could not have been more different on paper quickly became an intense discussion about the power of education. Having seen inequity across the globe, the two were motivated to change how women could access high quality education.

The call was enough to convince Sneha to fly back from Mumbai to the bay area, where they were both in grad school at UC Berkeley, to determine if Sindhuja might be the right co-founder for her new venture, Dost.

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Gratitude Fellow Drinkwell Honored by Prime Minister

One of our Gratitude Fellows, DrinkWell, (CEO –Minhaj Chowdhury), was honored last week by the Prime Minister of Bangladesh for providing safe drinking water in capital city Dhaka. Way to go!

 

Fellow Achievements: Book Release

Gratitude Network Karim Abouelnaga’s new book is out. Here’s a description:

At 17, sitting overnight in a Queens jail cell on an overblown traffic violation, Karim Abouelnaga could not have imagined in his wildest dreams that six years later he would be numbered among Forbes’ “30 under 30.” Founder and CEO of Practice Makes Perfect, an education company dedicated to leveling the educational playing field for kids growing up in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, Karim discovered in his late teens the “up elevator” of education – a rocket ride that took him from living hand-to-mouth on the streets of Queens to graduation from Cornell. In BREAKING THROUGH: From Rough to Ready, Karim reflects on the principles and priorities that changed his life so dramatically. He aims in these pages to inspire young people to come along his journey – in effect, to follow his lead in transforming daily life and habits of living from “rough” to “ready” – prepared in every way to reach the top in financial, social, and personal goals.

Karim is a Gratitude Network Fellow and the CEO of Practice Makes Perfect, a Benefit Corporation that partners with K-12 schools to deliver high quality, academic summer programs. He founded Practice Makes Perfect at 18. He writes for Entrepreneur, Forbes, Linkedin, and is working on releasing three books during Summer 2018. Karim is a TED Fellow and Echoing Green Fellow. At 23, he was named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in Education, and at 24 was named to Magic Johnson’s 32 under 32 list. In 2016, he was ranked in the top 3 most powerful young entrepreneurs under 25 in the world by Richtopia. He graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor’s in Hotel Administration.

 

Harvard Alumni for Impact: SOCIAL ENTERPRISE SCALE-UPS: CREATING RIPPLES OF GLOBAL GOOD

Editor’s Note: The below post is part of our Alumni for Impact series, which features alumni who are making a difference in the social sector, specifically in K-12 education, impact investing, nonprofit supportive services and social entrepreneurship.  In this post, Randy Haykin (MBA 1988), explains how his organization, The Gratitude Network, is working to “scale-up” social enterprises.

My 30-year career after HBS started as a serial entrepreneur in the Silicon Valley, followed by 15 years building my own venture fund. Through it, I’ve been privileged to be a part of over 100 early- and growth- stage companies, as well as teach at UC Berkeley’s Haas School and University of Cambridge in the Entrepreneurship area.

In the past 15 years there has been enormous amount of focus on early stage entrepreneurship, “incubators”, and the birth of a new companies Hundreds of incubators exist to assist these “new-borns”. This is true in the social impact section as well as the technology for-profit sectors. Many angel groups and networks now exist to fund these entities as well.

In the technology (for-profit) sectors, as a company grows, it can obtain assistance and funding from venture funds, private equity and the public markets. This is not true in the social impact space.

Social enterprises who are in their adolescent (“scale-up” or growth) stage have fewer choices – there are very few entities focused on this stage of growth in the social sector. These social impact organizations are seeking ways to build upon a core product, market, or business model and “scale” to sustainability (with not-for-profits) or profitability (with for-profits).

Leaders of social impact scale-ups can become incredible levers of societal benefit.  A mid-size organization that is scaling up well can mean increased local job creation, dramatic regional social and economic benefit and even global impact – leveraged impact may be felt on thousands, or millions of end recipients. This is an area where a leader’s impact can send ripples worldwide for social good.

The Gratitude Network was founded in 2012, with the goal of assisting social impact “scale-ups” – and a few years into our journey we decided to focus on those enterprises affecting children and youth around the world – basically the “future” of our ever-challenging and complex world.

A recent interview on ABC News does a good job of describing the Gratitude Network.

Gratitude chooses top social impact entrepreneurs from around the world, following an award process that we run twice a year. This year we’ll work with 20+ social enterprises impacting children and youth.

Within the area of children & youth, we focus on education/learning, health/well-being and children’s rights/social justice. As an example, this past year we have been privileged to work with Dr. Nadine Burke Harris and Chris Padula at the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco. This non-profit, now in its growth stage, impacts children facing adverse childhood experiences and provides an early intervention program to help families impacted. We have worked on strategic planning and organizational issues with their team to help strengthen their ability to grow in the coming years.

Our model is a two-tiered approach to scaling: 1) introduce a (“Strategic Coach” to work alongside the entrepreneur. 2) engage the coach to bring in resources as needed to help scale the organization. We have over 50 coaches (many of them HBS alums!) with expertise in business modeling, leadership development, marketing, sales, recruiting,–basically all the issues with which a  scale-up is faced. This year, we’ll be rolling out a new feature to our program: a service to match our chosen non-profit entrepreneurs with for-profit funding. Please connect with us if you’d like to learn more.

We are relishing our work- and we invite you to connect with us if the topic of children, education or youth is your passion. We are always looking for strong partnerships, great social impact entrepreneurs, and team members (coaches, mentors, etc). Reach me at randy@gratitude-network.org.

Bay Area foundation ‘The Gratitude Network’ aims to help children locally, globally


Randy Haykin likes to dream big, but he also puts his dreams into action through his charitable foundation called The Gratitude Network, which helps children locally and globally.

Randy founded the Gratitude Network after a stunningly successful 25 year career in the Silicon Valley tech world.

The goal for the next five years for The Gratitude Network is to impact 50 million underprivileged children around the world.

He’s formed a trifecta of goodness.

He’s applying the lessons he learned as an entrepreneur, to engage other successful Fellows, to “mentor” Fellows involved in social change.

“We search for the most innovative, the most passionate, social Fellows, the ones focused on children, education and youth tend to be really passionate,” said Haykin.

Here’s how it works:

First, programs like the freedom story are carefully selected out of hundreds of applicants in an annual, international contest. The freedom story is working in Thailand, using education and tutoring to help at risk children avoid being sold into sexual slavery.

Then, the Fellows begin their intense partnership.

“We give them a yearlong program which includes coaching, mentoring, leadership development, becoming more operationally efficient, so they can grow and we remove the barriers to the growth,” Haykin said.

Chuck Fisher is benefiting from the Gratitude Network partnership. He’s the executive director of a program called “toolbox by dovetail learning” in Sonoma County.

It’s a program with 12 colorful visual tools to help kids learn to manage their emotions, their social interactions and their success in school.

“We are working with some of the poorest, most traumatized communities in the world. Inner city Richmond is a perfect example. One of the most traumatized communities in the nation and kids come into the class and they can’t control themselves. What we do is we give them the first tool which is the breathing tool and the breathing tool is simply accessing the breath,” said Fisher.

He says children are able to listen and learn more easily, when they can calm themselves with the toolbox skills.

“And when the kids start listening with their heart, they understand their friends better, they understand each other and they understand themselves better,” Fisher said. “We’ve been asked for this work from over 35 countries. People have found us on the internet and said we need your work in our country. And, we’re just this little non-profit learning how to scale.”

That’s where The Gratitude Network is making a difference.

“They helped us with our first business plan. They helped us with executive coaching. I wasn’t trained as an executive director. I’m a psychologist and so I have an executive coach that’s provided for free by the gratitude network,” Fisher said.

Chuck’s coach, Renee Cooper, lives on the east coast. So, some of her mentoring is done by Skype. And, it’s already having an impact on the future of the toolbox project.

“Our plan is to take this to children everywhere. The scaling of that and the funding of that is really the key piece,” Fisher said.

Gratitude’s founder has big plans to help with funding. Randy is creating a data base of angel investors who are willing to take a call from gratitude social change makers, looking for financial resources.

Because Randy loves wine, he started a new wine brand called Entrepreneur.

“So, that winery is 100 percent philanthropic,” Haykin said. “The wine becomes a great excuse for getting couples and individuals and even companies together. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

The Gratitude Network is holding its annual fundraiser November 5 in Redwood City. Click here to learn more about the charity’s work.


Originally posted: http://abc7news.com/education/the-gratitude-network-aims-to-help-children-locally-globally/2489466/

The Hidden Power Of A Nonprofit Business Model

Michelle Brown, CEO of CommonLit, with students

When I first started my organization, CommonLit, a free platform for literacy resources and progress tracking tools for grades 5-12, one of the most important decisions I had to make was whether to incorporate as a nonprofit or a for-profit. Many smart people discouraged me from starting a nonprofit. The established tech startup community seemed to view nonprofit corporations as outmoded and foolish.

In retrospect, I’m glad I ignored these people and trusted my gut. In the end, my goal wasn’t to make money; it was to do good in the world.

For starters, goodwill is an unexpectedly powerful asset. Incorporating as a nonprofit can significantly lower startup costs. Lawyers are expensive, and it costs money to start a business. In the early stages of CommonLit, a pro bono legal clinic helped me write and file our articles of incorporation, set up a board of directors, and file a trademark application. They gave me a comprehensive checklist of everything I needed to do to get my organizational ducks in a row. Using this clinic allowed me to focus my time on actually building and piloting my product, which is where a lot of early-stage Fellows get tripped up.

When my organization was in its nascent stages, fifteen graduate students volunteered their free time to amass a library of educational lessons – something that would have been nearly impossible with a for-profit model. Instead of asking about equity stakes or intellectual property ownership, people asked what they could do to advance our mission of helping teachers in low-income schools. Finding volunteers isn’t too difficult. There are a number of websites like Catchafire that match nonprofit organizations with executive level experts in marketing or design who complete projects completely for free. You can also tap your own network. Have you ever looked on LinkedIn? Basically everyone wants to do skills-based volunteering or join a nonprofit board. Fast Forward even launched a Job Board specifically for jobs, volunteer roles, and board positions in the tech nonprofit sector. Doing good unambiguously opens doors.

There is a clear trend in the job market as well. Increasingly, people want to work for companies that make a difference. The UCLA Higher Education Research Institute reported that 2005 marked a 25-year high in students’ belief that it is “essential or important to help others.” Three years into scaling my tech nonprofit, we’ve been able to lure away some of the best engineers and designers from for-profit companies. The bigger we grow our impact, the easier it has been to attract talent.

The freebies nonprofits can get are extraordinarily valuable, and most companies have offered us a nonprofit discount when we asked. The benefits range from software as a service, to Google Adwords, to discounted copyright permissions from authors and publishers. You can use your nonprofit status to get a Salesforce CRM, or offset your hosting costs with Amazon Web Services credits. Our nonprofit status even enabled us to form a partnership with TextHelp, which provides a game-changing assistive technology toolbar for struggling readers. TextHelp, which has developed the single best accessibility toolbar on the market, even wrote custom code so we could embed it in our site. Put simply, for every dollar we have raised, we have received multiples of that value in the form of free products and services. And it’s only possible because we are a mission-focused nonprofit.

I also receive a ton of incredible advice. I’ve been fortunate in that nearly everyone I meet is willing to help me think about how to move my business forward. Highly-paid engineers at some of the largest tech companies have helped us think through how to migrate our servers to meet increased data needs, financial analysts have built fancy powerpoint models to help us chart our future growth, and experienced lawyers have offered us continuing, pro bono legal advice on student data privacy statutes. Beyond that, I have received more introductions to helpful people in the field than I can count.