Difference between a Social start-up and commercial start-up ?

It was a proud moment for me for being one among the 100 attendees for the “ Action For India 2014”  event  held at IIT Delhi. I attended this event with little understanding of social venture space.

It was a privilege to get  my questions answered straight from the horse’s mouth!  Mr. Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande Founder and CEO of Sycamore Networks & advisor to Obama administration.

Difference between a Social start-up  and commercial  start-up ?

Difference between a Social start-up and commercial start-up ?

Where is the fine line between social & commercial venture ?

All entrepreneurs try to solve a problem . Social ventures primarily try to solve problems at the base of socio-economic  pyramid . However some of these solutions may be helpful for upper level of pyramid as well.

A commercial  venture  need not be addressing base of pyramid.

Profit and scale ?

Social or commercial if they are seeking funds from investors , they have to be  profitable and scalable. However in case of social venture profits are not market driven .Considering that the numbers are broad at the base of the pyramid , these ventures need have to be scalable quickly to bring about a significant impact.

Investors perceptive ?

Even social venture funds seek exit . However they usually have longer time line for exits as compared to commercial ventures.Most important point is they are not obsessed my return on investment but rather social impact investment brings in.

Should ventures with social intent take commercial money ?

Answer to this question rests with entrepreneur himself. If his primary intention is to create a social impact at the base of pyramid and not monetary gains.

One of the critical point brought out by Mr Desh Deshpande was that social venture capital gives an opportunity to cut cost of the solution to end-user and encourage larger adaptability. This is a very critical as base of pyramid is price sensitive.


Any hope for flipping the pyramid upside down ?

Well I was very much tempted to ask this question to the esteemed panel . However i am optimistic about the super social venture that will do this !


Bill Gates has predicted that there will be almost no poor countries left by 2035, thanks to advances in agriculture, medicine and the digital revolution.

The world’s richest philanthropist made the forecast in an optimistic annual letter published by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Poor countries are not doomed to stay poor,” he said. “I am optimistic enough to make a prediction. By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left.”

What am I  trying to achieve ?

Though base of the pyramid has fair access to primary health care they have difficulty to get access to the secondary and tertiary level health care. As this industry is highly fragmented inefficient leading to rise in cost .

My venture www.patient-help.com  aims to connect the secondary and tertiary level health care system which is mainly concentrated in urban areas to the community at the base of pyramid   . Bring efficiency in health care ,reduce cost and make secondary and tertiary level health care accessible to all.

Any views otherwise will help me understand better.

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