Engaging Start-ups: An ABA Good Works Competition Entry
Mission Statement: To provide a foundation upon which would-be entrepreneurs of limited means can responsibly build businesses which service our communities
On responsibility and the times:
The responsibility that comes with learning the law is sharing that knowledge with those who do not possess it. Knowledge of contracts, tax, negotiations, and property is the advantage that is leveraged by businessmen and women of means every day. Sadly, the lack of knowledge in underprivileged communities contributes negatively to our economy, our legal system, and our communities with the same regularity.
In an age where social responsibility is becoming more and more valued, social entrepreneurship projects like the proposed ‘Engaging Start-ups’ can provide incentives to both the mentors and the mentees as we work to build a system that will benefit everyone. Participants on the facilitation/education side are able to make a difference and attach their name to a positive venture, while competitors are able shake the hand that helps them up as they advance from student to service provider. It is time to harness this goodwill capital and put it towards an end that will benefit our economy as well as our society.
On the problem:
Would-be business owners, confronted with imposing legal complexities involved with starting and running a business are either so overcome by them that they never start the business, or move forward in spite of the complexities but are later brought down by them. With the record number of unemployment faced by our nation, there is no question that there is a huge amount of human work capital that simply is not being used. What Engaging Start-ups seeks to accomplish is to help allocate these resources into a positive use by making it easier to understand and account for the laws and practices involved in doing business responsibly.
AREAS WHERE SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP CAN SERVE IMMEDIATE NEEDS
• assisting the elderly
• after-school programs
• repair refurbishment of electronics or other hardware frequently thrown out
• other affordable services
• affordable goods
• protecting/improving the environment (recycling, energy saving product installation)
• promoting healthy living (cookbooks, cooking classes, outdoor events)
The project itself will leverage its assets to expand its scope as it moves forward. In the first phase, we will build out (with the help of paid or volunteer legal counsel) a list of major considerations that must be understood by a business owner. This list will then be broken down in manageable sections, and assigned to lawyer bloggers who are active in the field. These lawyers will received acknowledgment from the contest as compensation for their contribution and provide a general list of concerns related to their topic (i.e business planning, 1099 forms, business agreements, etc).
Phase two of the project involves a national competition (for which the first prize is $2,000) in which competitors are asked to promote the content generated in phase one. The competitors must re-purpose this useful information in a way that is easily accessible, useful, and is passed along to many people.
Phase three of project will start concurrently with phase two, and is essentially a regional competition which is focused on using rather than promoting the content in phase one towards the end of creating and promoting a business plan/model which accounts for all the important lessons taught in phase one. More details on the logistics involved in these phases can be found in the “National and Regional Competitions” section below.
Goal 1 - develop a sample process which a business can follow
Part 1 - creating an economically viable plan
Part 2 - identifying needs that your company can meet (demand)
a) due diligence to substantiate that need (i.e. another company already doing it?)
Part 3 - identifying assets (information resources)
Part 4 – identifying financial requirements to start-up and sustain
Part 5 - understanding the laws and responsibilities (taxes, how to liquidate if a business fails, where to get legal support, etc)
Goal 2 - create a contest which will self-promote as it is conducted
Part 1 - identify what types of contests have the most social value, and best potential for a learning experience
Part 2 - conduct research on what resources for information, access to free computers, and seminar/webinar options are available and optimal
a) contact basecamphq.com and other similarly situated companies to see about sponsorship opportunities to obtain discounts/free trials
b) obtain a list of free cloud-based software systems (like google docs, etc) which competitors can access and use to organize their project for themselves and collaborate with others
Part 3 – create an infrastructure upon which the contest, information hosting and open discussions can take place on.
This proposed project is not to be presented as a legal resource but rather an informational skeleton upon which a business can begin to develop. It is a structure upon which a businessman can understand what they need to know in order to responsibly start, sustain and grow a business. Designed to be a robust checklist of sorts, Engaging Start-ups will be the first stepping stone into the real world of business.
Regional and National Competitions
All roles and duties will be assumed by the Competition Director (writer of this proposal).
The National Competition will be focused on educational processes for entrepreneurs/ business skill development. Competitors will create text and/or video based informational tutorials on the legal or practical concerns of starting a business. If the subject matter is legal in nature the competitors will be restricted to information provided by the competition, and will be reviewed by an attorney who must approve the piece and its disclaimer.
Proposed legal categories related to business law and advised best practices:
partnerships - strategic, between companies, within company
property ownership (intellectual property, paintings, trademarks, music, systems)
The National Competition will be tasked with finding a sponsoring lawyer for each legal category it seeks to provide education on. The lawyer (collaborating with myself) will provide an educational outline and script(s) for their respective topic which can then be used by the competitors in creating their tutorials. All submissions must strictly follow the rules dictated by the competition.
Lawyers will be sourced through recommendations (from the ABA and/or personal contacts), from prominent lawyer bloggers who have previously written on the topics or a combination of the two sources.
Competitors will be required to complete a self-guided educational workshop on the requirements relating to submissions, and later will be tested on that information to qualify them as competitors. Because we can not allow any of the submissions to be construed as the giving of legal advice, or presenting misleading legal information, all submissions must conform to previously approved scripts, and must be processed (approved by the sponsoring lawyer) prior to being published.
Regional Competitions: Must have 5 roles filled, and raise $2,000 (probably through kiva.org or kickstarter.com) for the prize pool to be an eligible franchisee.
sponsor coordinator – in charge of first acquiring sponsor(s) and then in charge of nurturing the relationship (ensuring that promises are kept on both sides and creating a successful model partnership which can be shared with the competitors)
PR manager – in charge of pursuing PR agenda as dictated by national office (promoting events, fund raising, increasing participation and awareness)
operations officer – in charge of making sure timeline is kept to and duties of other officers are being fulfilled
event coordinator – Finding physical venues and virtual meeting spaces to conduct lead-up events and the award ceremonies
mentor coordinator/education director – in charge of connecting and engaging the competitors with useful media, references and mentors who can be of use in pursuing the stated goals of the competition.
$1,000 – website development
$1,000 – web hosting, domain purchase, and pay-per-click advertising on Google/Facebook/Yahoo/YouTube to promote various initiatives and agendas within the campaign to recruit and promote
$2,500 – reserved as a prize for the national competition
$2,500 – reserved as supplement for the regional competitions who need assistance in raising their $2,000 prize fund
$3,000 – legal fees in generating releases, and other legal documents and disclaimers for use in the campaign. Fees also reserved for the setting up of a non-profit and franchise agreements, if appropriate.
If the fund-raising initiatives are successful at raising some or all of the prize amounts for the national and regional competitions then the amount reserved (plus the excess if application) will be spent on the closing ceremony/prize presentation for the respective contests. Expected fees relating to the ceremony are food/beverage, venue rental, audio visual rental, photographer/videographer, etc.