Social Venture Institute (SVI) Toronto – A Great Launch

The Social Venture Institute, Hollyhock and Renewal version, hosted a very cool SVI at Kingbridge Centre near Toronto last weekend.

The speakers line up was pretty well perfect. Gary Hirshberg told some of his stories of building Stonyfield Yoghurt from the first cups of yoghurt up a muddy farm road in rural New Hampshire into a $350million market leader. All along the way, mission and quality carried them through a decade of losses and every hardship you can imagine. His new book, Stirring It Up, was eagerly bought by conference attendees and Gary signed them for a long time. Now Gary hosts every Democratic Presidential candidate, due to the location of a model employer in the nations' first primary state. Tantalizing tales by Gary on that topic Im sure!

Social Finance SVI Workshop
Photo by Anna Strom

Tzeporah Berman, Forest Ethics star, hosted Tom Katzenmeyer, SVP of Limited Brands, along with Nicole Rycroft, founder of Markets Initiative and Steven Forth from Indigo Books & Music. Inspiring stories were told about strategic methods for moving large companies towards ecological reforms, sometimes with the carrott and sometimes with the stick. All the time, being astute about how they work, what their needs are, and what can realistically be accomplished. This one also needs to be a book.

Tom Szaky of TerraCycle caused minds to go through paradigm shift before our eyes. I was on the edge of my seat and so excited to be able to share this stunning inspirational story of a 26 year old entrepreneur from Toronto who is rocking the world. Garbage rebuilt into consumer products has been a cottage industry for years. Now someone is taking it to scale in a powerful way. And Tom is such a great guy. We all liked meeting his fab fiance.

Lisa Lorimer of Vermont Bread Company fame closed the gathering with a modern day entrepreneur's fairy tale, helping unmask the intimidating face of "success" with an intimate and disarmingly honest portrayal of what it's really like all too often. A portion of Lisa's work now with Orchard Advisors, our good friend and Strategy Advisor Elizabeth Crook, Montana based social venture ceo, Dawn Magee and others, provides a dream team of business coaching.

The mingling across sectors, geographies, roles, and backgrounds once again made for unexpected learnings, resources and new friends.

Thanks to Citizens Bank, a Vancity company, for major sponsorship, and to MaRS Innovation Centre as our major Toronto based supporter, Tides Canada and Social Venture Network, event co hosts, along with all you others who continue making SVI the indescribable and high impact event that it is.

Pamela Chaloult, myself and our Toronto organizing team will determine over the next few months if, when, who, and how, as to next Toronto area SVI's.

Keep referring great entrepreneurs to us for the invite list. Think about sublime September days at Hollyhock on Cortes Island, sept 10-14, and sign up early.