Matias Rojas Inspires Me

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Matias Rojas made my body feel tingly during our chat in a cozy corner at Starbucks the other day.

I am serious – tingly.

Matias, as the general manager of Social Lab in Santiago, has an infectious optimism and joy around social innovation that moved and touched my own passion. And I am super excited about his commitment to bring social entrepreneurship to Chile with founding partner Julian Ugarte.

The Social Lab model?

Social Lab (www.socialab.com) believes you need to hear a gazillion ideas in order to find the one great one.  So they work with companies and organizations to sponsor competitions for cool ideas that solve a particular concern in a particular community. Think Open Ideo.  The first round is open to all and generates a bunch of amazing (and not so amazing) ideas. The second round is tougher. Ideas are narrowed down to the top 25 or so, and put through a co-creation/mentoring process, which includes validating users and confirming technical and commercial viability. The 10 companies make it to the next and final stage, the pitch, after which the winners are announced.

Social Lab struggled to find the right business model for almost five years.

Matias is bright-eyed and happy – anything and everything is possible, and he’s transparent. He tells me how Social Lab struggled to find the right business model for almost five years. But they hit gold with competitions and then got a huge investment of $2.4 million to execute on the idea. Nice.

Made me feel better about the length of time it is taking girltank to ramp up in the world. We are moving into year three and just beginning to pilot out our on-the-ground initiatives. I hate that it is taking so long. I feel like I am constantly on the edge, constantly pushing, teetering on unsteady ground. I don’t really know how to run a business in the traditional way, quite honestly. I didn’t go to business school or spend years working in sales or finance.  All I have is my passion – I still get the same feeling in my tummy that I had speaking to Matias when I think about the possibilities of girltank for women in the world. And you know what? Maybe that energy and passion matters most. Maybe it’s the tenacity to not give up and to keep searching for solutions that ultimately allows you to make a difference for those you care about.

No entrepreneur knows exactly how things are going to go.

Great entrepreneurs fail. They go down the wrong paths, but….they don’t know those are the wrong paths until they start.

Thank you Matias and Julian (and the rest of the Social Lab team) for struggling until you got it right.

You’ve confirmed for me that I am okay. My team is okay. girltank is okay. We won’t give up until we get it right too.

I am in a great mood today! :)