This year’s SVP Fast Pitch Final Showdown was a night to remember. It was inspiring to lift my head from the day to day to see the next generation of social entrepreneurs pitch their businesses and organizations literally changing the fabric of our society’s most pressing issues. I was impressed with all the pitches, and particularly, by the selection of entrepreneurs. Nine out of eleven were women, representing diverse cultures and communities. Both nonprofit and for-profit organizations demonstrated how there are tackling key issues in the housing industry, as well as education, healthcare and food & services.
As a longtime member of Impact Hub Seattle and social entrepreneur myself, this was the third SVP Fast Pitch event I’ve attended. This year marked a bit of nostalgia because the event was held at Kane Hall, where I used to sit for hour long lectures more than a decade ago. A bonus of the night for me was to see the Intellectual House, a longhouse-style facility that was recently constructed a few years ago.
Dignity for Divas was among the most passionate pitches. Its founder, Nikki Gane, closed her pitch announcing she was a diva herself, a woman who survived homelessness and is today providing support services to other women who are going through the same issues she suffered first hand.
It was a breath of fresh air, while at the same time, extremely humbling to see college sophomore, Marium Raza, founder from Elixir, building an app to connect uninsured and undocumented individuals to community healthcare facilities and free clinics that can provide the care they can’t afford anywhere else. I don’t know the first thing about healthcare, but a goal to help the 750,000 uninsured access healthcare is as impactful a mission as they come.
Kara Martin, Director of Food Innovation Network delivered a strong pitch that highlighted the new food hall being developed in an upcoming multi-family development (Tukwila Village) offering commercial kitchen access to entrepreneurs from underserved immigrant communities–as well as access to customers. From the tenant perspective, I can only imagine how amazing it will be to have a wide range of food options available right downstairs. What a great amenity that plays in the popup trend I’ve long been bullish on. Of course, the entrepreneurs get access to a hard-to-reach and potentially costly customer base.
One of my personal favorites was Rebuilding Together Seattle, probably due to having worked in the real estate industry for my whole career. I’m always fan of real estate projects with missions deeply rooted in community and giving back. Executive Director, Caleb Marshall, addressed RT’s focus on rebuilding and repairing existing houses rather than building new ones, while revitalizing local communities.
The winner of the night was Seattle Against Slavery. Executive Director, Robert Beiser, blew me away with the uniqueness of their approach tackling such a delicate, unspoken, yet, horrific issue happening in our own neighborhoods. You can’t help but be awed by the impact that their work is having, combating the largely unknown sex trafficking industry. I’m grateful that SVP Fast Pitch provides the local community a chance to see new ideas and passionate social entrepreneurs, on full display. I honestly can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday evening in November than learning about the most socially progressive organizations solving such challenging problems. Of course, a cocktail reception to mingle with other socially conscious Seattleites doesn’t hurt either. I’ll be sure to come back next year for another breath of fresh social impact air.
You can learn more about all of the evening’s participants on the SVP Seattle blog here.
Author Bio: Drew Meyers is a Seattle based social entrepreneur, writer, and community builder. He’s been writing about real estate technology for over a decade as the Founder of Geek Estate Blog. A longtime travel addict, he founded Horizon to unlock the ability for travelers to experience the world using the power of community. That journey led to the Stay a Night, Give a Night campaign to allocate tourism dollars otherwise spent on expensive hotels or vacation rentals to help those who need it most: families and children experiencing homelessness. A former Zillowite and a huge fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Photo credit: Lisa Bontje