Sep 24, 2020
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Island Creek Oysters- How to Succeed in a Social Venture and Make Money Too!

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Increasingly entrepreneurs want to launch a venture that not just makes money but also has a social purpose. This trend is evidenced by the fact that here at Babson College more than 1/2 our incoming MBA s expressed an interest in social entrepreneurship and social innovation. Data from the 2010 US Global Entrepreneurship Monitor also shows that roughly 30% of all new ventures have both social and economic goal with those in the age group 35-45 years old being most inclined to share both goals for their ventures

 

http://www. babson. edu/Academics/centers/blank-center/global-research/gem/Documents/GEM%20USA%20Executive%20Report%202010. pdf A study I co-authored with two of my colleagues Heidi Neck and Elaine Allen creates a typology of entrepreneurial ventures according to goals (economic or social) and impact (economic or social). http://www. sciencedirect. com/science/article/pii/S0007681308001328 Ventures with a mix of both social /economic goals and impact are what we talk to as hybrid ventures

 

I lately spent time with the founders of a hybrid venture Island Creek Oysters http://www. islandcreekoysters. com/ This business a vertically integrated company that farms wholesales and retails oysters in Massachusetts and notably committed to social responsibility from the beginning. The founder Skip Bennett notes that rather than just considering oysters as a luxury food it s important to consider oysters as vehicle for just food- or sustainability

 

Island Creek Oysters Foundation raises money through events to fund projects that promote aquaculture as a responsible means of solving the difficulty of global food production. In other words economic and social goals are mingled in this organization. From the beginning the business committed to social good in addition profitability with 10% in their net profit being donated to their foundation every year

 

In addition they sponsor a fundraiser Island Creek Oyster Festival to support local charities and support their Foundation. How does a company manage a commitment to benefit and social good at the same time? Island Creek offers 4 main lessons: 1. Create culture intentionally- ICO created the culture intentionally rather than letting it evolve

 

The founders created a company that they wanted to work for production of first class oysters and having a great time doing it. Values are discussed frequently in meetings as these relate to decisions problems and impact on customers. Each employee can explain the company s core values and understands the relationship between economic success of the company and responsible action every day

 

The philosophical issues concerning culture are observed not assumed. 2. Intense communication- at ICO every employee has an opinion and it’s sought. Those delivering oysters to top Boston Chefs actively seek the feedback and opinions in their customer every day and report to their President Shore Gregory. 3. Partner with your stakeholders- considering the fact that ICO exists on public land in Duxbury Bay Massachusetts it’s a partner with the Town fathers its neighbors (Duxbury Maritime School) and the whole community

 

The management of ICO actively participates and gives time to local community efforts guiding school children through their hatchery for free or donating free oyster dinners and tours for fundraisers. 4. Meet your economic goals daily- ICO has not lost sight of the fact that they are in business to make money- efficiency in operations managing costs and taking note of the base line are daily activities

 

Skip and Shore will say that if they aren t working to sell oysters and keep the trucks moving they will not meet their economic targets or social goals. I had the opportunity to wait a fundraiser for the Island Creek Oyster Foundation on Duxbury Beach- Despite driving wind and rain there were more than 400 people present enjoying donated food from more than 12 top New York and Boston Restaurants and actively contributing to both silent and live auction items for the benefit of Haiti

 

Every member of the ICO management staff circulated and greeted each guest personally. The culture the bright communication partnership with stakeholders and attention to goals was most obvious that night

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