Tumml is an urban venture accelerator in downtown San Francisco. It is a nonprofit, with the mission of empowering entrepreneurs to solve urban problems. Tumml is looking for companies which are really looking to tackle problems in their community.
Tumml offers entrepreneurs a few tangible things to help them grow. The first is seed funding in the form of $20 000 investments. The second is free office space in a co-working space downtown. The third is mentorship which comes from their mentorship board. The final thing that Tumml does is provide an education curriculum to help entrepreneurs with their different needs.
We sat down with Julie Lein, President of Tumml, to ask her a few questions on the social incubator:
When the companies come, what happens?
The program is over 3.5 months, and will be running from January to April in 2014. They will be here with us for that period, but many choose to stay in the co-working space. We have a very active alumni engagement community, and most of the companies which have gone through our program have opted to stay in our office space.
How would you define innovation at Tumml?
When we think of innovation, we really want to focus on the people who want to make a tangible impact in their community. There are solving some of the problems that they see in their community, and are trying to grow in scale to help solve these problems in the entire country.
For example, one of the companies which was with us over the summer is Workhands, a blue collar LinkedIn service. They help connect construction workers, welders, and mechanics, to help them find job opportunities. By doing that, they also help provide a forum to put their certifications online and be a third-party validator to help the workers showcase their skills. They are looking to expand their workforce development to the entire country.
What is a social entrepreneur to you?
When we think about social entrepreneurs, we think about scalable ways to make a social impact. That can be through a product, a service, a technology platform… Having a creative approach to thinking about some of the problems that they have in their own communities is what we think of when we think of social entrepreneurs.
You took part in the PRIME Open Innovation Initiative. What was your motivation behind that?
The PRIME Open Innovation Initiative was awesome. What was really great about it is the fact that there are a lot of really great companies that are trying to think innovatively, but are not familiar with the startup landscape. It was a great connection of greater companies with some of the smaller earlier stage startups. There is so much potential for partnerships, overlap, opportunities for the future… I love that there was a great open forum to introduce everybody to those startup companies. I loved introducing Tumml because I was able to show all of these great smart city startups that may be relevant to the work done by those big companies.
Do you feel that there is a difference between social entrepreneurship in France and the US?
What I’ve seen with my interactions with people is that people are very excited to bring startups to the French community, and the Paris Region. The fact that PRIME is here advocating for these startups shows how important social entrepreneurship is in France. It is great that you are trying to build and foster that ecosystem, and we are very excited in being helpful in any way we can.
For more information on Tumml, please visit http://tumml.org/
For more information on PRIME, please visit http://www.innovation-prime.com/
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