Limited by tick boxes

I mentioned earlier that at the iGenius conference that I was approached by Cliff Prior, the CEO of UnLtd UK and offered an assessment for their Level 1 grant (uptp £5k) for social entrepreneurs. I was both touched and hugely encouraged. However at the time I had no plan for using the money so requested we put it on hold til I got back.

After thinking about it I realised that this type of award could really make a difference to help me start. My immediate costs are

  • Expert technical input on architecture, dev team structure, timeframe etc to help create a sensible cost model
  • Visual branding and marketing development costs
  • Set up a formal company
  • Run some events to get user feedback
  • Professional designer input... not least to help convert all my scribbles into something visual that I can use to engage larger scale funders. Too many startups skimp on stuff like this and wonder why they struggle to engage investors
  • General fundraising expenses for networking events, travel, materials etc - iGenius 2008 alone wiped me out
  • And moving forward, some office space to work out of because there's just too much going on for my bedroom and collaborating with others in coffee shops only goes so far

Last week I attended the first step in the assessment process.

Unfortunately it seems that what I need is not a valid use of the award because although I ticked all the boxes around social impact, these expenses don't directly contribute to the running of the project. Not to suggest that the staff weren't helpful or accommodating. They tried. Not their fault they have to follow guidelines. There's fraud and probably a whole host of other risks and accountability to manage.

My question is, shouldn't a foundation to support social entrepreneurs also leave scope to support the big ideas to get started? The ones that are looking to change the world rather than their local community? As more and more of us look to leverage the power of the web to create national and global solutions, isn't this scale of enterprise going to become more common? Could this now be time to consider allowing the use of the awards to help the bigger ideas develop far enough to raise more funding?

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