Socialab, management and social innovation.

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Santiago, Chile, October 2016

So that’s the kind of place where you feel that great things happen. Not back in all corners of the warm open space, but between them all: thanks to collaboration, creativity and empathy, they solve humanitarian challenges.

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The Socialab was founded 10 years ago. But as World Centric (see previous article), it started as an NGO, and became a company only after 6 years.

So in only 4 years, 35 000 ideas were shared through the platform, from 94 countries, and 150 projects were incubated, receiving more than 4 million US$. Every week, 2 million of persons are impacted by the products, or services that Socialab have helped develop.

Those figures are impressive, but the great thing is that they give a change to projects that are at a very early stage. No matter if you have a business plan or not: if you want to change the world and have a great idea, you’ll have your chance. The new CEO was explaining us that they prefer a truly passionate person than a strong project. All

At the beginning, the purpose of the organization was to help extremely poor families. Today the challenges to which you can submit a business idea are wider, the purpose being to bring solutions to any social problem.

Concretely how does the lab work?

First of all, they identify a social problem that need to be solved. They transform it into a social challenge that will be posted on an open online platform. Then, everyone that has an idea can describe it in 1000 words in this platform. After a pre- selection, the chosen persons have to defend their idea in Face to Face.

As soon as your project is selected, it is incubated, around 20 Chilean experts (of several domains) will mentor the incubated team during a “route of acceleration” which will last 16 weeks.

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The incubator is not the only activity of the Lab. Indeed, companies can rent the online platform of the lab to organise challenges, where hundreds of projects will apply and only a few will be founded.  The Lab also offers consultancy for companies and governmental organisations.

In a near future, they also want to create a “social” social network, with the objective to gather 400 million people.

Optimism, collaboration, inspiration and humanity.

All this is organised by a very passionate and committed team of 22 individuals.

They have a very strong purpose, and we were told they are nearly “teal”. Judge by yourself:

Every collaborator has multiple roles that are clear and help his colleagues to overview his skills and areas of interests.

Teams are temporary and are made depending on the challenges. They discuss and assemble a more creative team if creativity is the project’s priority for example.

Most of them have outside projects (they dedicated 70% of their time to the SociaLab in average). So they have an open calendar where everyone puts what he’s planned to work on. They can work remotely f they want, and are not paid by the hour but by objectives.

They are paid around 30% less than the market but are happy to do what they like : one of the new collaborators makes 11 000 US$ less than his previous job for example, but is blooming at the Lab.

 Currently present in 5 countries (Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Urugay). Their objective is to be in 23 countries within 4 years. Anyone who wants to create a franchise of the lab in his country will be recommended to spend at least a week in the original lab in Santiago, to get to know the atmosphere, the people, how they work, how the party etc.

Every week 1,5 hour is dedicated to the issues resolution (on Thursdays) : anyone can propose a topic, and they solve 1 every week. One person is the conductor for the discussion and is neutral.

Before a meeting, they do a “check in”, which mean everyone share how they feel at this right moment. Therefore, the discussion and decisions are not impacted if someone is felling bad, is angry, or over ecstatic.

SociaLab is one of those company that has a strong business plan based on a positive social impact. They’re one of those that take concrete actions in order to make the world a better place!!

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