If you are launching or growing a for-profit company where your social, environmental, and/or cultural mission strengthens your financial margins, then our Sustainable Business Plan Collaboration is for you.
In the past ten years we have engaged more than 1,000 volunteer mentors who have donated more than $6 million worth of their time, which we refer to as ” mentor capital.” The result: 600 for-profit enterprises have launched, creating thousands of jobs and impacting millions of people.
Benefits of Participating
- Joining the Mentor Capital Network. We customize a team of mentors to read your business plan and provide you their expertise and perspectives. As a mentor reads your plan, and provides you feedback, they can opt-in and provide you their contact information. Once you have their contact information, and their mentor feedback, you have the opportunity to reach out and continue to get advice, coaching or mentoring from these industry leaders. Our program is the tool we use to connect the right entrepreneurs to the right mentors.
- Investor Capital. Participation in our programs also gives you an opportunity to be part of our Investor Fishbowl and Green Grab events where we put companies in front of accredited investors to pitch for professional debt or equity investment. Many of our mentors are investors, and use our program as a chance to review potential investments, as well as to use the feedback of the other mentors to help qualify their pipelines.
- Prizes. We offer cash prizes worth $8,500 and professional service prizes worth more than $25,000. Our finalists pick from the prize pool in order of finish, to better match you to a prize you can use. We know that our prize pool is small compared to other programs — that is deliberate. Our primary benefit is feedback, mentors, and networking.
How do we decide who to accept?
- Applicants should complete online application form. There is no fee to apply, and we will accept many applications that may have already created for other programs. (See our application for a specific list.)
- Your leadership team can be any age. Your company can be based anywhere in the world. We have worked with entrepreneurs in more than 90 countries. You can be pre- or post- revenue, You must be open to changing your business model, otherwise we can not really help you. You may submit plans for hybrids, or for-profits that are owned by non-profits. But the entity itself must be for-profit.
- The MCN team will perform an initial review, and remove applications that do meet the four criteria listed above.
- The remaining applications are put in an online directory for our pool of reviewing mentors.
- The mentors (alongside the MCN Team) are asked to look for companies that the MCN can most help — that is, companies that look viable and that the MCN has the mentors and other resources to help. There are certain countries and/or industries where we are better able to help you than others, but we always want to be open to working with a few people from new regions and industries each year.
- Each year, there is also a particular set of industries and/or attributes that we focus on, based on our funding sources and other interests. See the discount categories under the processing fee for our current list. Your company doesn’t have to fit into those categories, but your chances of acceptance will be increased if you are.
- The full program timeline is here.
“For social enterprises that are in that early stage prior taking on investment, I really think that all [of those] companies should be involved with the [MCN] competition because it provides immediate feedback on your plan, even if you only get through the first round. The feedback helped build our team focus. It should be in the entrepreneur handbook – you’ve got to do [MCN].” ~ Tricia Compas-Markman, founder and CEO, Day One Response
“We’ve won now about 20 awards. Of all those 20 awards, the [MCN] was the only one where we actually had access to a lot of the feedback from the judges and it was fantastic in helping us to adapt the model. We just put together our business plan for this next fundraising round and I went back to all the judges’ comments to see whether or not we had addressed some of the issues that were raised there. That’s been really helpful for us, even two, three years after we won the award.”
~ Sameer Hajee, Founder and CEO of Nuru Energy
“The [MCN] feedback by far is the most comprehensive, detailed feedback we’ve had, and we have participated in a lot of competitions. And the fact that judges are willing to have you follow up with them is great.” ~ Salif Romano Niang, Co-Founder, Malô
“I think the feedback is AMAZING & really appreciate all the time you guys have put into giving us genuine & most importantly, actionable and constructive criticism.” ~ Alejandro Velez, Back to the Roots
“The amount of feedback we got on our business plan was pretty incredible – nearly 75 pages all told from expert judges. And winning the prize of co-working space at the Affinity Lab has been so valuable. I’m now surrounded by a great community here.” ~ Alex Budak, co-founder of StartSomeGood
“The feedback of this competition is what makes it so valuable, and I was also pleased that so many of the judges were willing to share their email addresses and receive more questions from us. The pitch sessions where the investors were critiquing the presentations were so interesting. I don’t know how I would have otherwise gotten an experience like that, just seeing how that all worked gave me a better idea that if I do want to present to investors, what exactly they’re thinking and what they’re looking for.” ~ Rachel Faller, Founder of Tonlé