Funding, incentives and the 'difficulty' of doing the right thing


This will be a short blog. I’m writing it to serve as a conversation starter. I’m writing it because we need all the help we can get.

Let’s jump in.

Impact, money or both?

Often commercial success and positive social impact are pitted against one another. Capitalism versus Socialism. Right Wing versus Left Wing. All the usual crap.

There’s a growing movement to suggest many are changing their views on this topic. ‘Pessimists, Move Over: Impact Founders Are Pragmatists By Definition’, was published earlier this year by Founders Institute.

Greater Than Learning is, by definition, an impact focused startup. We have a bold vision. We’re practicing what we preach. We’re working to close a gap that is quite literally plaguing our society.

This is a challenge.

Doing anything big or new takes time

Rather than waffling, let me provide an explicit example of why our challenges are different.

Many companies use Pirate Metrics and other ‘growth hacking’ approaches to attract, nurture, convert, retain and entrench customers. They all use the same sort of methods. They all take advantage of the same sort of tools and approaches.

Although everything is up for debate, we can’t do a lot of this stuff. We can’t  (by “can’t” I mean we cannot ethically justify doing this stuff. We’ve also locked ourself into specific governance practices that inhibit us from doing such things) engage in AdTech. It’s being referred to as the biggest data breach in history. We can’t use manipulative tactics to encourage adoption, social sharing etc. These common approaches to growth go against our values. They contradict the models and methods we’ve been developing on how to do this stuff better for years.

Although we’re a somewhat unique type of business, by design, we still have to build a business. And we have to find ways to fund it quickly enough that we can positively contribute when, frankly speaking, society needs it most.

Which brings us to the topic of fundraising. A big thing for us right now as a completely self funded venture.

To raise or not?

This isn’t the ‘right’ question. The question we’re asking is, how do we give ourselves enough time and flexibility to build the right type of platform ecosystem, community and social movement?

In most cases, early stage ventures will opt for external funding. After all, a startup is a temporary organisational structure. It’s purpose is to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. 

We too are strongly considering this as an option. But we are very clear about who and on what terms we raise.

A call for ideas, insights and guidance

This brings me to the real reason I’m writing this blog. By now you may well know that we are building an inclusive and participatory governance structure. We have a distinct process for proposing, making and documenting key decisions. This is one of those decisions we have already proposed to our community. And we’d like to propose it to you too.

If you’re willing, please comment on or share this post. We need all the support we can get.