The Social Venture Commons – in development

Things have been moving quickly in the last few weeks and I’m happy to say that we’re in development on the Social Venture Commons. I’ve created a more descriptive presentation below and have also included a brief primer on peer production of organizations (a quick snapshot of the #hohoto holiday party in Toronto).

I’m working on initial partnerships for the commons and am getting ready to reach out for seed investment for one of the for-profit properties (

In the spirit of peer-producing this as we go below are some specific items we’d love to have taken up. Just post in the comments below or ping me directly.

  • Identity design
  • Interface design
  • Research on venture media and group collaboration property acquisitions
Peer Production Primer

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The Social Venture Commons: Primer Presentation

Building on my previous posts about the Social Venture Commons here’s a draft overview of what’s been brewing. This venture is one part of my trio to support the ventures working from the new mode of organizing I see emerging. The two other pieces are the micro-funds (presentation coming soon) which is a modified version of early-stage venture/angel investing and a social capital learning project (in development for a trio of venture networks) based in part on the thinking here.

Ping me directly if you are interested in learning more – and if you have comments on the presentation below please add them to this post.

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Expanding on the Social Venture Commons

Expanding on my previous post on micro-funds and the social venture commons, here are few more pieces on what I see being the core elements of the Social Venture Commons.

First, I see the commons containing three interdependent realms:

  • conversations
  • connections
  • accomplishments

Accomplishments are the product and desired outcomes of every venture. They are also a great catalyst of conversation. Conversation, in turn, is a great catalyst of connections – connections to ideas, resources, people etc. And connections, in turn, catalyze accomplishments – new resources to help get things done better, faster, etc. Of course it’s not that linear but I do sense a compelling interrelationship and even flow there.

From the participant perspective I see the main players are:

  • ventures (those tackling issues directly, those that invest in those ventures, and those that serve them)
  • individuals (those that are directly involved in the ventures, and those that are individually engaged or interested in ventures or their accomplishments)

A the center of this is this idea of portfolios. Ultimately, whether you are a venture or individual in any of the above category, you are building a portfolio of accomplishments. These can be accomplishments that you are interested in and those that are you are contributing to. It’s much more granular than the organizational level and if the connections and conversations link back to the accomplishments it could be a very interesting ‘portfolio’ incredibly rich with meaning and relevance to the ‘owner’.

The pracitcality of how this will unfold will emerge over time – from doing more than anything – but this seems like a good starting point.  There are also a couple of other core components that are operationally important to engage or nurture the connection between key players in the community. These include things like facilitating the creation of ‘forum groups’ – a central component of the Entrepreneur Commons and other networks like Enterpreneur’s Organization, Young President’s Organization, and World President’s Organization. And for investors (of all kinds) there is the ‘transaction commons’ with resources to support efficient and cost-effective investment transactions. While important I think they seem to be subsets of this overarching rationale – a rationale that seems new but comfortable for me.

Micro-funds and the Social Venture Commons

Working with the building blocks for a new kind of venture capital I’ve been shaping a couple of core components – micro funds, and the social venture commons.

Micro-funds: making small, flexible, intuitive, low-cost, high-leverage investments. Features:

  • Short life: fully invested within 3 years or less
  • Small, high-leverage investments: invest financial (e.g. $25-50k) and social capital in high-leverage ways – core capacity, incremental engagement, financial seeding
  • Low or no fee: offset with performance based incentives for financial and impact returns appropriate to the fund
  • Light-weight and dynamic operations: led by individuals or organizations that have a unique position or perspective on the ‘frontiers’ – run as a ‘side-car’ to existing occupation
  • Commons interdependent: fund and individual investments must spark and support a conversation and generally contribute to and engage community to mitigate risk, improve success, and demonstrate returns
To what extent do participants in joint activi...
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Social venture commons: convening and catalyzing capital, community, conversation. Features:

  • co-created infrastructre: enable self-service deal support, reporting, and portfolio tracking for micro-funds and their investees
  • nurture conversations: technical and financial support for stimulating micro-fund and investee conversations
  • harness social capital: help develop, weave, and harness social capital among funds and investees
  • strengthen community: seed and support unique, focused community gatherings and capacity supports including ‘forum’ style monthly entrepreneur groups

The key in this lies in the interdependence between the micro-funds and the commons. The commons nutures and convenes community. Funds add some fuel and spark by investing and catlyzing conversations. The ventures serve themselves through supporting each other and participating in the commons.

I’m continuing to refine this as I move toward a working example and will continue to think out loud as I go. And if you haven’t checked it out – take a look at the Entrepreneur Commons being led by Marc Dangeard. He’s farther along and is tackling similar issues as he goes. The similarities and even more so, the differences, are interesting and good fodder for conversation.

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