How one KC startup studio helps feel-good ventures grow impact while actually making money

Social Venture Studio, powered by LaunchKC, serves as a vital resource for founders navigating the delicate balance between purpose and profit in the realm of social ventures. Jacqueline Erickson Russell, CEO of Social Impact Advisory Group and consultant for the program, emphasizes the need for multifaceted solutions to address complex community challenges. Social Venture Studio, launched in 2022, recently celebrated its second cohort’s completion with a demo day.

The 2023 cohort included Willie Apala Flaherty, CTO of AskSAMIE, a marketplace aiding aging in place; Craig Mason of Raise Health Innovations; Dr. Brandy Archie, another AskSAMIE founder; Dikshi of SenseGrass; Kevin McGinnis of Keystone Innovation District; Christian Hill, co-founder of Thrive Homes; Catina Taylor of Dreams KC; Jacqueline Erickson Russell; Jeff Blackwood of New Frontier Mobile Diagnostics; and Khalid Abdulqaadir of FaceKC.

Willie Apala Flaherty underscores the challenge of balancing meaningful, impactful work with profitability, and Social Venture Studio’s guidance in achieving this balance and enhancing entrepreneurial skills.

The four-month program, tailor-made for social entrepreneurs, offers grant funding, business mentoring, peer connections, a social impact-focused curriculum, and technical assistance. The cohort included a mix of for-profit and non-profit organizations, with many exploring hybrid models for financial sustainability and programmatic impact.

Christian Hill, co-founder of Thrive Homes, highlights the crucial support provided by Social Venture Studio for the next generation of social entrepreneurs in Kansas City. The program aided in leadership development and improved storytelling, fostering connections and collaborations with mentors and cohort members.

The diversity of thought and perspectives from industry leaders, featured as speakers and presenters, enriched participants’ understanding of their mission and processes. Hill and co-founder Logan Forbis plan to carry these lessons and connections as they scale Thrive Homes to meet the growing demand for accessible home modifications.

With only 9 percent of U.S. homes currently accessible, Thrive Homes aims to expand aggressively, driven by the development of custom software to manage billing and construction projects at a national scale.

Social Venture Studio plays a pivotal role in nurturing socially-conscious entrepreneurs and facilitating the positive transformation of their ventures in Kansas City.

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