MCN Update: 6 July 2016

Overview of MCN’s 2016 Partnership with Bethesda GreenIn the Spring of 2016, Mentor Capital Network partnered with Bethesda Green for the third straight year to support ten for-profit, environmentally-focused social enterprises as they worked to grow their businesses.

These ten companies were included in the Spring cohort of the Mentor Capital Network’s Sustainable Business Plan Collaboration. After conducting one-on-one interviews with each entrepreneur, MCN paired each company with between 10 and 15 reviewers who provided a wide range of perspectives. Reviewers included clean energy engineers and investors, marketing professionals and accountants, as well as design and operations experts, among others. Each reviewer voluntarily shared pages of comments, questions, and recommendations for the entrepreneurs. A couple entrepreneurs shared their feedback: 
“I have refined and changed the biz. plan accordingly based on the feedback. For me that is immensely helpful. I really appreciated being a part of it.”
“The program was run very well. I was especially impressed with the quality of the reviewers and their backgrounds.”

In conjunction with Bethesda Green, MCN coordinated a series of workshops to help the teams strengthen their environmentally friendly position, prepare their teams and financial statements for growth and investment, and pitch effectively. These workshops were held at the Bethesda Green offices in Bethesda, Maryland. Special thanks to Dave Feldman, Jeremy Colville, Christian Bartley, and Allison Shapira for sharing your expertise with the group.

On June 20, we hosted an Investor Fishbowl at the Red Brick Courthouse in Rockville, MD. An Investor Fishbowl is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to pitch in front of real investors who share their honest reactions and concerns with one another – in front of the entrepreneurs and the audience. All participants received an incredible behind-the-scenes peek into the mind of an experienced investor.
If your organization would like to learn more about partnering with the Mentor Capital Network, please email us today
Manta Biofuel Receives $1M from the Department of Energy
The Energy Department announced $23 million in funding for 23 new projects led by small businesses to further develop clean energy technologies with a strong potential for commercialization and job creation. We’re thrilled to learn that Manta Biofuel, a participant in the 2016 Spring cohort of the Sustainable Business Plan Collaboration, is one of the recipients. 
These Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) awards for $1 million each over the next two years will help small businesses advance their promising concepts that improve manufacturing processes, boost the efficiency of buildings, increase transportation sustainability, and generate electricity from renewable sources.
(Source: Department of Energy)
Congratulations to Shivani Siroya from InVenture, an MCN Alumnus from 2011, for a great write-up in the Financial Times
“Finding there was no way to help these often poorly educated but careful business people obtain credit, Ms Siroya has created her own start-up, which is at the vanguard of a fintech revolution. It is transforming millions of Kenyans’ lives by using mobile phone technology to assess creditworthiness and issue uncollateralised loans.

InVenture, which is based in Santa Monica, California, but operates in Kenya, uses a mobile phone app to scrape data off a person’s mobile phone to give them a “financial identity”, as Ms Siroya puts it. The data range from mobile money spending patterns and calling and travel routines, to the way contacts are organised: for instance repayment of a loan is more likely by someone whose contacts are listed with both first and second names.”~ John Aglionby, Financial Times
Read more here.
Greenwashing is a Growing Problem
Fortunately, Kari Klaus, the founder and CEO of Viva Green Homes, is tackling this problem by listing only “eco-friendly” homes in her national real estate platform. We love to see MCN Alumni shaking things up! 
“Her website (at carries free listings for homes certified by HERS, LEED, Energy Star, Built Green, NetZero and other programs as well as for noncertified homes that have some green features such as solar panels, geothermal systems, energy-efficient windows and doors, water conservation devices, etc.”  ~ Kenneth R. Harney, The Washington Post

Read the article here.
Have you see our new website?

There have been a lot of changes over the years. First we changed our name from the William James Foundation to the Mentor Capital Network. Then we tested out a more mobile-friendly site on Strikingly (which worked great, but did not quite meet our needs).

Now we’ve (mostly) settled into our new site at, and invite you take a look! (psst – if there’s a in the URL, it’s not the right one.) We’ll continue to make improvements and welcome your feedback.

A few highlights: 
*** A list of Conferences and Convenings around the globe that focus on launching, managing, or investing in socially responsible businesses: 

*** Interviews with MCN Companies. Over the years, we’ve conducted interviews with many of our participating companies to gather their stories and share their successes. Together we can learn how best to overcome the many challenges facing a social enterprise startup, and better support each other along the way.

*** Our list of mentors and reviewers (please note that not all reviewers choose to be included on this public list). 

*** Our Alumni Companies. This amazing list includes companies that are still in business as for-profit social enterprises. We’re constantly updating this list, but if we’ve missed something, please let us know! 
Don’t miss your chance to get a discounted ticket!  Early bird tickets for MCN’s 13th Annual Gathering are available through July 15, 2016. 
During this event, we will hear from many of the top performers of our Sustainable Business Plan Collaboration and the mentors who are helping to support these teams address the world’s biggest challenges. Join us for two days of intimate networking opportunities, focused small-group conversations, and behind-the-scenes views into the minds of investors. 
August 3rd: Deadline for Applications
Apply to the Mentor Capital Network Sustainable Business Plan Collaboration! 
The Mentor Capital Network is actively seeking outstanding for-profit social enterprise start-ups and growing companies who are using their mission to drive their financial margin. 
Are you developing ways to combat the world’s dependence on fossil fuels with Clean Energy projects? Are you changing the way people in your community handle waste? What about finding new ways to meet the problems of food and water scarcity that impacts so much of the planet?
Learn more and apply today. 
Deadline: August 3, 2016
We count on you. 
Mentor Capital Network is a trade name of the William James Foundation, a 501(c)3 Public Charity. By donating today, you are helping us to provide the world’s social entrepreneurs with the support they need bring their innovative ideas to market.
The Mentor Capital Network is a trade name of the William James Foundation, a registered 501(c)3 organization. All donations are tax-deductible.