Our 1st Social Innovation Hack: Wow!

Our 1st Social Innovation Hack: Wow!

WOW! – That’s the most popular opinion, or reaction, we heard from everyone at the end of the 3-day sensational event on Sunday night.

Our Social Innovation Hack this past weekend was a great success, and it wouldn’t have been possible without all of our sponsors, mentors, speakers, and participants! From Friday night to Sunday night, hackers (from designers, engineers to marketers) got to network with like-minded peers, pitch awesome ideas, form teams, flex their creativity, learn from insightful mentors, and develop solutions to global issues into a social enterprise – and most importantly, have fun while doing so!

Thanks to LMHQ for hosting the event at their collaborative space, which allowed hackers to get creative and develop their ideas. Huge thanks to Bard MBA in Sustainability for their tremendous support and for bringing their entrepreneurial spirit to the event.

What happened at the 2016 Social Innovation Hack


  • Alejandro Crawford of Acceleration Group and Bard MBA kicked off the event with an inspiring and action-provoking talk on Ideation. At the beginning of his talk, only two participants shyly raised their hand expressing the intention to pitch an idea.
  • After Alejandro had stepped off the stage, we ended up with pitches from 8 brave individuals!
  • Participants proceeded to network and discuss the ideas shared.
  • The night ended with the formation of 5 teams of 3 to 6 team members. 


  • Karen Schlesinger of Founder Therapy started off the day with a session on Customer Discovery and Development. Her actionable presentation motivated participants to get to know their prospective customers and partners before diving into the details of their business ideas.
  • The teams proceeded to spend the rest of the morning on further developing their business idea including secondary and primary research.
  • After lunch, Lee Kim of AKRF, Inc and Cornell University, facilitated a workshop on Prototyping. The workshop included inspiring examples of prototyping done right as well as a hands-on 20 minute prototyping session by the teams!
  • The teams then proceeded to work on further developing their business models. Some inspiring and talented mentors from a variety of fields were available in-person and via Slack to assist the teams.


  • The morning started off with more team work and support from mentors.
  • Cynthia Hellen of SMPLCT Lab provided a timely and helpful presentation on Storytelling as participants worked on their pitch decks for the night.
  • Teams then practiced their pitches and received feedback in preparation of their presentation in just a matter of hours.
  • The evening ended with presentations from each of the 5 teams to an impressive panel of judges.

The impressive of panel of judges included:

  • Lyle CasrielSenior Vice President – Wealth Management and Private Wealth Advisor at UBS
  • Alex Hanken, Strategy & Operations Associate at Inspiring Capital
  • Alejandro Crawford, Senior Consultant, Acceleration Group and Professor of Entrepreneurship, Bard MBA

The helpful mentors included: 


First place went to Waste for Good

Prize: $1,500 from The Center for Social Impact Strategy at UPenn and Inspiring Capital‘s Pitch for People – Fast Tracked

Waste For Good is on a mission to reduce waste sent to landfills or oceans and use it for something good, specifically for the local community. Their pilot initiative, E-to-E, Eateries-to-Energy, will divert NYC restaurant food scraps from landfills into community energy hubs where containerized anaerobic digesters will convert the food scraps into heat and electricity. The team consisted of four individuals from diverse fields – David Chee, Sweta Govani, Benson Lee and Janet Ng. They came together on Friday night with the common goal of building a social enterprise that uses environmental pollutants to address a global issue, having dual impact at the core of their vision. The team plans to use their prizes to further pursue this business. For more information or to join the revolution, contact Sweta Govani at sweta.govani@gmail.com

Second place went to Cause Connect

Prize: Business consultation with SMPLCT Lab and a pass to the Social Venture Institute Hudson Valley Retreat

Everyday, nonprofits from around the world are in need of various items and resources to support their missions. Meanwhile, brands and retailers discard millions of dollars worth of products from excess inventory and spend even more to engage their target audience. This team intends to solve such inefficiency through Cause Connect, an online platform that matches nonprofits to the resources they need to support operations, fundraising efforts, events, and other initiatives. By collecting information from companies such as available resources and products, target market and charitable cause preferences, the database matches the brands to nonprofits that meet their criteria. When both parties accept a match, they make the connection! Brands also benefit from engaging with supporters of nonprofits through gift bags, event sponsorship, and campaigns. This dynamic team consists of individuals from various backgrounds including data science and engineering, brand marketing, business management, entrepreneurship, finance, strategic partnerships, and nonprofits. 


Check out some photos from the Social Innovation Hack, and stay tuned to our events page for upcoming Net Impact NYC events.