Hello Dhaval! We met several years ago when you asked me in as an advisor for Cria, the first shared-value branding group in Brazil. Last year you implemented the first startup incubator in Brazil, Pipa. Did Pipa evolve out of Cria naturally?
Yes, Pipa came out of my experiences with Cria, but is much broader than that for good reason. Pipa has been founded by a group of individuals and companies with complimentary experience in a diverse range of fields, including social sciences and impact, futurism, technology, venture capital, strategy, consulting, branding, design, UX, and more. The founding companies are Engage, Tátil, and Cria. In addition, Pipa’s team consists of experienced entrepreneurs and venture capitalists that have managed some of Brazil’s leading funds, including IdeiasNet and Warehouse Investimentos. Google, Singularity University, and Endeavor also support Pipa, among other partners.
On the board are: Fabio Coelho, Country Director at Google, Brazil; Michael Nicklas, Managing Partner at IdeiasNet; Marcelo Cardoso, Founding Director at the Integral Institute of Brazil, ex-VP at Natura; José Cesar Martins, CEO at Paradoxa; and Ivo Godói, Executive Director at Grupo Promon.
The same thing that motivated me to start up and work with Cria motivates me to work with Pipa. It is no longer a mystery – the way we live, do business, consume, and organize is no longer sustaining our future world. It is an imperative to re-imagine our relationship to ourselves, to others, and to the living environment. A new awareness has emerged, principles and behaviors can be shared at massive scale through social media channels and new ways of doing things can be implemented through new global technologies. Cria created and supported Pipa to help accelerate this transition to a new way of doing business focused on shared-value branding and living.
How is this playing out in your teachings within the incubator?
We believe strongly that successful companies of the future are ones that create value by having relevance in the lives of people. As a result, we look for startups that are:
- Purpose driven and transformational, driven by entrepreneurs that want to make positive impact regenerating communities and the natural environment.
- Ambitious and huge, driven by entrepreneurs that have scalable ideas that can impact millions of people.
- Disruptive and innovative, driven by entrepreneurs who are making breakthroughs and solving problems in radically new ways.
These entrepreneurs and their companies might be focused on healthcare, education, bottom of the pyramid, sanitation, energy, solid waste, empowerment or other sectors; they are usually powered by digital and/or other technologies. More importantly, they are founded and led by visionary entrepreneurs with a strong commitment to building a better future using business as a vehicle.
What are the companies that Pipa is currently accelerating?
We have an amazing group of companies working with us with entrepreneurs from four different countries. Two of the companies were founded at Singularity University’s Graduate Studies Program, one was already invited to the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2012, another to TechCrunch Disrupt, and another is profitable already. Despite maintaining a very low profile, the first selection process at Pipa attracted 173 companies from more three continents, and the current class consists of entrepreneurs from France, Spain, Israel, and around Brazil. The businesses that Pipa has invested in include:
Nanopop: A microwork application based on photographs that allows users with cellular telephones to make money just by taking pictures. Think of a world in which Instagram would pay you for your pictures. This allows low-income populations to increase their monthly income by as much as 30 percent.
Simbio: An open-source management software for small and medium businesses that adds a social layer. Think Facebook for small businesses and micro entrepreneurs. Combining an educational focus with a simple user interface, Simbio seeks to help small businesses improve efficiency, create more jobs and increase the success rates of small businesses, which are the backbone of the local economy.
Nativoo: An artificial intelligence-based system that provides you with a customized and complete sustainable travel solution. Nativoo sources content from multiple partners such as Trip Advisor and understands user behavior through social networks and experience, providing customized itineraries that can be updated in real time and promote sustainable travel.
WPensar: An ERP software for schools to manage their operations, administration, resources, and people better. WPensar is already being used by more than 200 institutions and 16,000 students around Brazil.
We did a previous article on Pipa when you first began the accelerator. Can you tell us what Pipa is today and how you have evolved this unique Brazilian social innovation incubator?
After a successful test drive, Pipa is launching its first global selection process which runs through the 15th of May. Pipa is hoping to attract around 400 companies from more than 10 countries in this selection process — companies that dream big and want to pioneer a global transformation. Pipa was selected as part of Startup Brasil, a program of the Brazilian government to receive $1 million in funding to invest $100,000 in 10 startups this year. And we are proud to say that two of our startups already have seed funding, one of them from a leading impact investing fund in Brazil.
Pipa is unique due to its focus on impact- and equity-based business models. Accelerators around the world today either tend to focus on digital technology and take an equity stake in the companies they support (such as Y Combinator, Tech Stars, or 21212 in Brazil), or focus on social or environmental impact, but do not take an equity stake (such as the Unreasonable Institute or Artemisia in Brazil). In addition to our focus on creating impact, we believe that being business partners with the accelerated companies aligns our financial interest and propels our efforts to support them further.
We are interested not just in accelerating companies and entrepreneurs, but in helping the entrepreneurs grow spiritually and emotionally. Through our deep ties with the Integral Institute of Brazil, we deploy methodologies that are intended to promote lasting and holistic growth and development in the participants, as well as the companies and their outcomes. This is quite unique and is what Brazilians are known for.
Fantastic. You are always evolving. Do you have any thoughts for the future of Pipa or other groups/concepts you wish to ignite?
At Cria, we are looking to move more into shared-value corporate ventures and not just consulting. At Pipa, we talk loosely about raising more capital to make larger investments. The purpose is constant, but we are always evolving and adapting to the changing context, looking to create ever more impact at scale. This is our overriding focus.
Jody Turner is founder of Culture of Future, a brand anthropology consultancy. Client engagements include and have included IDEO, Nike Foundation, trendwatching.com London, BMW Europe, Baumann Foundation, and others.
Dhaval Chadha is a founding partner at two companies focused on creating shared-value business. The first is Cria, a strategy and innovation consultancy, and the second, Pipa, an accelerator program for entrepreneurs. Clients at Cria include Coke, Whirlpool, Natura, and the Olympic Games. Strategic partners at Pipa include Google, Singularity University, and Endeavor.