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Conscious Venture Lab:
Building Companies That Matter

Conscious Venture Lab: Building Companies That Matter
By Monika Jansen

I had the  recent honor of attending the inaugural Conscious Venture Lab (CVLab) mixer as a mentor. The new accelerator, based at the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship in Columbia, is focused on building companies that create value for all stakeholders – employees, suppliers, partners, and the local community. It’s called conscious capitalism.

Before we jump into the CVLab and last night’s event, I want to talk about conscious capitalism for a second. If you look around, you can see the shift from every-man/woman-in-it-for-themself capitalism to conscious capitalism taking place. The philosophy is embraced by companies like Whole Foods, Costco, and Unilever, who know that doing good is good business.

Generally speaking, conscious companies pay their employees a living wage, they don’t squeeze their suppliers, they support local businesses, they work on reducing their carbon footprint, and they engage with the local community, all while growing, innovating, and turning a nice profit.

CVLab’s first class includes five startups and one non-profit. During their six month immersion program, each company will receive $25K – $50K in exchange for 5%-10% equity and access to mentors and investors.

Their first cohort is made up of:

    1. WominMedia: A digital lifestyle, PR and marketing platform that helps connect women consumers with women owned businesses.
    1. DoGoodBuyUs: A B2C e-commerce platform that connects causes with consumers through curated products.
    1. Spend Consciously: Offers a mobile application that empowers citizens to become more educated in their buying decisions.
    1. Just Good: Just Good is a marketplace that connects conscious products with consumers and influences buying behaviors to support a vision for a better world.
    1. SelfSpark: “Life Hacking” events that use science and technology to improve your life.
  1. Making Change: A nonprofit that develops and delivers financial education programs that empower individuals to achieve their own financial success stories through educational programs that encourage lasting behavioral change.
The mixer was held at the Motley Fool in Alexandria, Virginia, and Tom Gardner, co-founder of Motley Fool (and their Head Fool) had this to say about why all companies MUST practice conscious capitalism:

“There is no corporate privacy anymore. Your customers, your employees, your suppliers, and your community will talk about you online, whether you like it or not. The more transparent you can be, the more you show that you care about your stakeholders, the better.”

That’s a great lesson for all startup founders. Want to learn more? Check out CVLab here.

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Monika Jansen

Monika Jansen is passionate about sharing the stories and people behind startups. She’s a prolific copywriter and editor who can usually be found pounding out blog posts, website content, and other marketing materials for her clients, among them Groupon, Hargrove, Siteworx, Network Solutions, and GMAC.
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