As we are a social enterprise, mimycri hopes to serve as a model for other hopeful creative visionaries. Do you find yourself daydreaming about starting a social business but feel stuck with not knowing how to get started? Are you intimidated by lack of funding, support, or a network?
Wanting to share knowledge and reflections on how to successfully and healthily launch a social enterprise, Vera sat down with me to discuss the awards, programs, and competitions that have helped mimycri along the way.
Can you start by listing the awards, programs or competitions that mimycri has been part of?
We were then selected for a four month coaching scholarship with startsocial.
We were a finalist in the Google Impact Challenge 2018.
We were selected for the Green Product Award for 2018.
We participated in the Greiner Impact Initiative, an acceleration program for social entrepreneurs.
We were awarded the Kultur- und Kreativpiloten 2018 by the German government, ranking us in the top 32 creative industry companies in Germany in 2018.
And we are now in the current cohort of the Lead Academy Impactx Award Programme
How did you find these opportunities?
We learn about most of the programs through either invitation or recommendation. Otherwise, we do very lengthy internet research and complete long, detailed applications.
How important have they been in making mimycri what you are today?
Crazy important! We are the mimycri we are today because of these awards and programs. The crowdfunding campaign helped us turn an idea into a reality. ImpactHub, Greiner Impact Initiative, trained us on the crucial business aspects. We learned how to structure our processes to become a registered non-profit from startsocial. Programs like the Kultur- und Kreativpiloten provided us access to the most amazing creative and cultural network of other companies. They all have all increased our visibility and message, and have confirmed that what we are believing in and doing is worth it and that we are on the right path. Each opportunity has encouraged us to reflect on who we are and what we are working towards.
I cannot express how much these programs and awards have meant for mimycri. We are so grateful for all of them, and each served a unique role in- without them we would not be where we are now.
In what specific ways has mimycri benefitted from participating?
Some programs were explicit coaching programs. I would highlight the ImpactHub Vienna for having a very profound understanding of social businesses and encouraging participants in developing their businesses. The KreativKultur Piloten and Integrationspreis has also really taught us very useful skills and provided us with a fantastic network here in Germany. Even the processes for applying to the various competitions helped us structure our message and goals.
If these awards can be tools to develop social enterprise, what other tools or guidelines are there?
There are a hundred-million tools to develop a social enterprise--awards, funding, coaching, the list goes on! That’s a huge part of it. There is really valuable literature out there that can explain various business building methods and of course plenty of wonderful podcasts. You can spend all the time in the world reading, listening, and learning but what is even more important is to try out things, see if they work, improve them if they don’t, scale them if they do. Don’t be afraid of not knowing the solution but rather aim to develop a solution and gather a team of amazingly committed people.
Is there content that you think the programs missed? Was there an area or topic you needed more guidance in when starting your own business?
At the beginning of starting a social enterprise, the thing you’ll lack most is not the finances, but TIME. It’s connected to money, of course, but at the beginning you’re juggling so many different responsibilities and tasks that there simply isn’t enough time. If these programs were designed in a manner that provided a small amount of funding that could be used to hire an intern or a part-time team-member allowing program participants to focus all their energy on gaining as much insight and knowledge from the program, that would be ideal.
I also think setting very clear expectations for the program is a must. What is the program is focused on, what is the goal? I’m not so sure how beneficial it is to have more traditional, corporate lectures to social businesses but rather providing space and opportunity to try out things and to develop projects together.
What other hands boosted you up?
Of course, our lovely volunteers who are motivated to see mimycri grow, and make mimycri what it is. We have all of our friends and family who have encouraged and walked with us from the beginning. Even support from newspapers and media that love the mimycri story and vision, and lovely generous anonymous donors who believe in our goals. We feel very fortunate to have such a community and team of special people.
Now that you have all the answers, go try your idea! Apply for a program, meet fellow creatives in your community, and use your idea to lift someone else up. Feel free to reach out to us with your questions or if you’re seeking inspiration, we’d love to encourage you in your personal and professional adventures: firstname.lastname@example.org