Friday, April 04, 2008

April Pinata: Random News and Notes

Early April Musings from the Optimist World:

More from the realm of MBA Business Plan competitions: Wake Forest's Babcock School expanded the field of its 2008 Elevator Competition to include Social Entrepreneurship after the 2007 contest featured about 30% social entrepreneur contestants. This year the field was slanted even more- 14 socially-motivated entrants and 12 strictly for-profit. Ever curious in how anyone defines "social entrepreneurship" (because my definition is at least inclusive of for-profits!) I'm wondering whether the new category was by strictly for non-profit; the WSJ suggests that criteria was entrants whose goals were "non-financial." Anyone know more about the WFU competition last weekend?

Its 2008 and Smart Cars are coming (in fact, I've already seen several on the road out here in Southern Cal and even know of a friend of a friend of a friend who rumoredly has one). Here's the Smart USA site that helps you find a dealership and even make a reservation for your own "Smart fortwo" for only $99.

March roundup of recent fundings for cellulosic ethanol biofuel start-ups from Red Herring - including $100M for Range Biofuels of Broomfield, CO.

In the ever-confusing realm of alternative transport, GoodCleanTech reports that a diesel BMW 5 Series outperformed in MPG a Prius during a 545 mile European test. Status symbol status aside, I love the Prius and was inspired to see a co-worker driving one as a rental yesterday; but is this an eye opener or just part of the backlash?

SANGONeT- a development portal for NGO's in South Africa - offers a manifesto on Social Entrepreneurs and leading change. An interesting read, if abstract. The author differentiates between "First Order Change," or "Shuffling the Deck Chairs on the Titanic" and "Second Order." But the gist is that First Order Change is changing the content of an existing system, while Second Order Changes (and real Social Entrepreneurs) transform the way people live- changing the system entirely. The point is well taken, although I don't see it so black and white; I've been convinced by enough modern change agents that there is room for (and a market for) incremental change and that even sinking Titanics can be kept afloat by what this author would call First Order Change. Then again, I'm sure the task of spurring development in South Africa tends to put one into a more dire frame of mind.

Check out this unique franchising opportunity with Enigin; the site is glossy and slick and of course doesn't cut right to the chase of what the EnergyMaps business opportunity actually is, but it appears to be a B2B energy-saving system.

Here's The Mount Airy News' preview of an apparently smash hit local TV show, Simple Living with Wanda Urbanska. Aside from the topic - and to hear the hostess' quotes, she's apparently quite passionate about showing residents creative ways to live well while being "Frugal" AND increasingly conscious consumers and environmental stewards - I think this highlights a fascinating business opportunity to produce intelligent and timely media content in a local market. I don't know what else Urbanska's production company does, but she appears to have carved out a loyal audience.

Finally, an nothing particularly Optimist about this, other than that it's always fun to revisit past prognostication: Treehugger's Wayback Machine on 1968 predictions for 2008

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