After stopping in Austin, Texas and the 67th Ward, GoodCompany Ventures has finally come home.
Last week, like they did in New York City, the socially-minded incubator gathered some of the sharpest local minds in venture capital to discuss the future of “social entrepreneurship” and to drum up attention for the incubator’s 2010 class, now accepting members until April 28.
Packed into the Blank Rome Conference Center, just off of Logan Square, journalists, students, investors, CEOs and entrepreneurs listened closely as the whirlwind presentations culminated into panel debate.
The result was an analysis of the local venture capital community and a spirited discussion about the merits of “social” investing.
After a presentation of portfolio companies Couchange, CalendarFly, Blox, Public Stuff as well as a quick talk by Blake Jannelle of Missioneurs the panel took center stage. Jacob Gray of Murex Investments moderated a discussion between Wharton’s Len Lodish, Genacast Ventures’ Gil Beyda, Nate Lentz of Osage Ventures, Tom Balderson of Investors Circle Philly and Josh Kopelman of First Round Capital.
The room was divided on the value of creating companies strictly for social good, as venture capitalists are traditionally viewed as strictly interested in return on investment, something GoodCompany Founder Garrett Melby often illustrates with a picture of a businessman lighting a cigar with a 20 dollar bill.
“This is no longer what venture capital is,” he said.
Most of the panelists, however generally agreed that a successful company is the one that best benefits society.
“Whatever happened to the notion of creating jobs as being good for society,” Genacast’s Bayada asked.
As organizations like GoodCompany, Murex Investments and Missioneurs sprout up in the city, part of the gorwing pains of the new social investment sector is finding a role within the larger investment ecosystem.
“Twitter didn’t raise money to change the world, but there they are,” Kopelman said.
STILL SEEKING COMPANIES
GCV is still seeking more applications by its April 28th deadline, even going as far as to waive the application fee to help speed up the process and prevent its office from being inundated with phone calls.