Saturday, January 14, 2012

Embracing Entrepreneurship @ The Intersection

More notes from #theXEvent12

Payam Zamani, CEO of (
Jacquelline Fuller, Director of Charitable Giving, Google (formerly of the Gates Foundation) (
Leila Janah, CEO of Samasource (

Jacquelline: "The business model at is to attack a problem from all angles--funding NGOs, funding companies, advocacy, lobbying. There are more companies that want to give back, but in a way that reflects their DNA, and in a serious way." Evidence-based giving.

Google takes a portfolio approach--sometimes giving is evidence-based, sometimes it bets on early innovators.

"We back the leader, and we give them the freedom to iterate."

"You have to understand the context in which the frontline is operating." To help understand global health, Jacquelline moved her entire family to India for a year.

"Launch early, fail fast, iterate, move on if you have to. Too much of philanthropy is afraid to take a risk. It should provide risk capital for innovation."

The future:
"One of the things that encourages people to give is social." Crowdsourcing. Direct to consumer.

Leila: Used a tobacco company scholarship to take a year and teach English to kids at a school for the blind in Ghana. Became obsessed with the idea of creating jobs in poor places. What if we could take work to places where poor people live?

"The fundamental thing that leads to innovation is not accepting the status quo." We are habit-forming, assumption-making creatures. Going to Africa challenged all my assumptions. We send our people out into the field every year to shake them up."

"All the people who were previously invisible are becoming visible to us. I met a Sudanese boy in a refugee camp. A month later, he friended me on Facebook." The power of rapid feedback.

Payam: Giving needs to be genuine and part of what you do or it won't have staying power. Make bets that are big enough to make a difference if they succeed, but not so big that they take down your business if they fail. "The best ideas that really changed our business came from outside, not from sitting in our own cocoon."

"Innovation without execution isn't innovation. It's just an idea."

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