Social impact business & Oakland’s tech scene

As the technology industry grows in Oakland, locals are hoping that local entrepreneurs will be leaders in innovation and that the culture of Oakland’s tech scene will reflect the community’s values. The nonprofit sector is a significant part of the Oakland economy and should be involved in producing software solutions for problems within that industry. Oakland is positioned to become a hub for innovative software companies creating social impact and using technology to solve social problems

Here at Devlabs Venture Capital were are invested in a seeing an Oakland tech ecosystem that will fill our pipeline for investment five to ten years in the future. We are getting our hands dirty now by acting as technology partner with large foundations, national organizing networks, legal advocacy experts and prominent leaders in international social justice work. We have collaborated on timely and innovative projects and have helped these groups understand how to translate their expertise into software solutions.

The video below highlights some of our experience as a technology parter with nonprofit organizations that have created software platforms:

Nonprofit organizations generate earned income to be more self-sustaining in the face of competition for funding. Some of the most common strategies for revenue generation are consulting services, leasing event or office space, and selling merchandise related to population they work with. The most innovative organizations are using their expertise to create software solutions to problems in their field. They are creating products that provide value in their industry and create jobs for the communities they serve.

Nonprofits that are creating for profit businesses should follow the lean methodology and agile development principles like other startup entrepreneurs. They are at an advantage because they can use the organization’s resources to get the platform going, but this can also be a crutch. Like all entrepreneurs, they need to develop a product quickly so that they can validate their solution by attracting paying customers.

Many nonprofits have earned income revenue streams, but few are sustainable. If nonprofits are serious about creating a successful solution they need to reallocate or hire talent to work on it full time. They will need to find people who are aligned with the mission of the organization but also focused on starting up a successful business.