Social Innovation Showcased in Babson Summer Startups
By Ryan Lupberger, Undergraduate Scholar at The Lewis Institute
One socially focused business is an outlier, two is a coincidence, and three makes it a trend. As a believer in supporting socially focused business, I’m encouraged to see three great social enterprises in this year’s Summer Venture Program at the Blank Center for Entrepreneurship here at Babson. The Summer Venture Program supports driven, passionate, and creative students Babson, Olin College of Engineering, and Wellesley College who have started a business during their time at school. Here are three businesses in the program that are changing the status quo and are a part of a new and growing trend in social entrepreneurship.
SuperHealos is a social enterprise dedicated to empowering children and their families facing life’s toughest challenges like illness, grieving, and social issues. With a focus on imagination and play, SuperHealos provides children with age appropriate stories, products, and information to help them bridge the gap between sickness and recovery, loss and acceptance, fear and courage. The company was founded by a current Babson MBA student Yuanyuan Yin and is supported by Dylan Murphy and Katheryn Jones. It was founded after an unexpected hospital stay and loss of a family member which renewed the family’s focus on what is most important in life. The SuperHealos family regrouped and decided to dedicate their attention to helping the most vulnerable, sensitive part of our population – our children. SuperHealos is an inspiring example of a company that combines purpose and profit and has the power to revolutionize the medical experience for our kids.
SaveOhno educates and drives legislative progress on climate change through gamification and social media. Ohno is a character that represents the site visitor’s great granddaughter, and she is living far in the future, in a time seriously affected by the climate change caused from today. When people visit SaveOhno.org, they see Ohno’s town get destroyed by extreme weather. Then, it’s up to them to rebuild it by taking action in the real world, through the platform. Ohno’s town improves every time users participate in any of 5 core activities. They can start and support local petitions to drive legislation on fossil fuel divestment or renewable energy implementations, launch or join online protests where people speak out against political inaction or corporate irresponsibility on Twitter and Facebook, contact political representatives to voice their opinions on legislation and climate change in general, or start a ‘Create Your Own’ campaign that allows them to create any climate change initiative they want. The company was started by Dylan Husted, a rising third year at the undergraduate level here at Babson, and he is bringing an entirely new approach to an extremely difficult challenge.
PiccPerfect is a PICC line protector that joins fashion with function for all medical conditions that require a PICC line. The founder and rising third year student, Emily Levy, wants every spoonie (Spoonies are people that live with chronic illness) to still feel fearless, and have that extra confidence boost while going through treatment. Emily tried the PICC line protectors available on the market, but she found they did not work as advertised or were unflattering. She was left to protect and cover her line with a sock. During that time, she attended college classes, social events, and even a Bar Mitzvah with a sock on her arm. Emily felt depressed, self-conscious, and worn down from worrying about her PICC line’s appearance and the risk of it being pulled on. Emily is determined to make a difference in the lives of other PICC line patients and those with chronic illnesses and is proving the concept of great design and functionality.
For me as an undergraduate student passionate about social enterprise, this is proof that there is a huge opportunity here at Babson to start a business that actively helps people while I‘m still a student here. It is not necessary to wait to start a business until after I graduate, until after I go to grad school, or until after I finish a stint in consulting and build up a network but instead, these businesses are proof that it is possible to start NOW. We can support this trend in social enterprise right now. There is no telling where these businesses will go and the big question is, just how many people will they impact? I, for one, am excited to see!