A social enterprise to give away menstrual products won at the inaugural GiveBackHack - Generocity Philly

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Oct. 16, 2017 2:19 pm

A social enterprise to give away menstrual products won at the inaugural GiveBackHack

The hackathon for companies with both social impact and business potential just held its first Philly event. Organizers consider it a launchpad — "This weekend is really just the beginning."

GiveBackHack Philly.

(Photo via facebook.com/GBHPhiladelphia)

Call it the gamification of design thinking.

This weekend saw the inaugural Philly edition of GiveBackHack, a Columbus, Ohio-founded hackathon for entrepreneurial ideas that focused on both social impact and business potential. Eighty people formed nine teams to work on issues such as homelessness, sustainability and education during a marathon work weekend.

“It was phenomenal,” said bleary-eyed lead organizer Dillon Myers on Monday morning. “All nine ideas that came out of it were so well thought out. I’m really hoping [they all] move forward.”

There’s a solid reason for the winners to do so: They only receive their prize money if they incorporate and have some plan to use that funding to get their products in the hands of users. Myers said the organizers consider GiveBackHack to be a “launchpad.”

“This weekend is really just the beginning. Our goal is really to support the teams and help them move forward” — which several are planning to do, he said.

Here’s how the weekend flowed:

  • On Friday evening, participants gathered at Azavea in Callowhill and pitched an initial 32 ideas; nine groups formed
  • On Saturday, teams polled stakeholders and potential users about their ideas; mentors such as ROAR for Good cofounder Anthony Gold and Geek of the Year Marion Leary offered their opinions
  • On Sunday, teams were coached by communications consultant Mike Maney on crafting their messages; each group pitched their business to judges (including Rosa’s Fresh Pizza founder Mason Wartman and Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project cofounder Lauren Fine)

First prize — and $2,000 — went to Free Flow, which would offer free tampons in commercial spaces via ad-funded dispensers. The group plans to continue to develop and fund the business through Venture for America pitch competitions and hopefully launch a few test dispensers at local businesses to start, said teammate Sarah Bender, a VfA fellow who came up with the idea.

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Group members included Jack Feldman, founder of forthcoming North Philly makerspace Philly Makerhouse; Russell Suskind, cofounder of Doze Beds; and Seer Interactive’s Christina Blake and Rebecca Feinberg.

Second place went to Daisy, a disaster relief chatbot connecting those seeking aid to those offering it. (Reminds us of NeedsList — and indeed, Myers said cofounder Amanda Levinson served as a mentor.) The group won $3,500 of in-kind consulting services from Maney.

Two honorable mentions went to ethical clothing company Fashion Forward and digital donation app Lift. They each won $250 in credits for Fiverr.

Here are all the social enterprises formed at GiveBackHack:

1. Free Flow (first prize)

2. Daisy (second prize)

3. Fashion Forward (honorable mention)

4. Lift (honorable mention)

5. Gateway

6. Strike-A-Chord

7. Invest in You

8. Calistena

9. Green Lit Learning

Next up, GiveBackHack will host regular happy hours so participants can check up on each others’ progress in developing their businesses. The event will return annually.

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