social good summit

The inaugural Social Good Summit kicked off the 2015 Forward Festival in Madison on Thursday.

PHOTO BY JON HAIN

Community responsibility and entrepreneurship meet at the third annual Social Good Summit this week as part of the Forward Festival.

On Thursday, Aug. 17, a diverse group of entrepreneurs will pitch their social enterprises that aim to give back to the greater Madison community. The Social Good Summit assembles an audience of successful local business people from multiple sectors who will offer advice to the emerging startups to help move their ventures from concept to reality.

The Social Good Summit kicks off Forward Fest, Wisconsin’s largest gathering dedicated to innovation and technology, which runs Aug. 17 - 24 in Madison.

In past years, the summit has focused on redefining entrepreneurship to be more inclusive of social needs and connecting with communities to determine what types of ventures will benefit them. Alnisa Allgood, founder and executive director at Collaboration for Good, said the goal of this year’s summit is to accelerate businesses from concept to action through mentorship and resources.

“There are a ton of people in Madison doing really good work who are out there by themselves without recognizing there is assistance,” Allgood said. “How do we move people from intent to action?”

Earlier this summer, several local groups — Doyenne, Horizon Coworking, Madison-area Urban Ministry, Sustain Dane, EQT by Design and Zendesk — designed a workshop series for participating entrepreneurs. Twenty-five projects at various phases of development took part in the Social Good Accelerator where participants learned how to pitch their ideas, receiving feedback on their pitches from their peers and successful entrepreneurs.

Seven teams will pitch their ideas at Thursday’s event. Ventures include food, arts, tech and health start-ups.

“Our goal is not that somebody pitches, they get voted on and everybody else loses. We will work with these projects until everyone is ready,” Allgood said.

The collaborative will continue to partner with all 25 projects into 2018.

In addition to bringing a diverse set of ideas to the table, participants represent a broad cross-section of Madison. Women, people of color and elders make up a substantial portion of this year’s Social Good Summit class. The summit intentionally focused on recruiting groups that are underrepresented in tech and the city’s entrepreneurship scene.

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“We intentionally focused on outreach,” Allgood said. “So many people are so used to some of these things being not about them.”

The collaborative partnered with organizations like The Urban League of Greater Madison and FEED Kitchens to connect with diverse entrepreneurs in the spaces that they occupy.

A portion of the Social Good Summit includes brainstorming sessions that connect established entrepreneurs with emerging start-ups to help the newbies tackle existing barriers. Allgood said she wants each participant to leave the summit with an actionable task to accelerate their business.

“I hope they walk away with at least one usable solution that they can start moving forward with,” Allgood said. “They can say ‘that’s done, I am ready to tackle the next thing.’”

The Social Good Summit will take place from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. at the Madison Central Library. More information about the Social Good Summit is available on their website.