Home Strategy Roundtable For Entrepreneurs: Nonprofits And For-profits

Strategy Roundtable For Entrepreneurs: Nonprofits And For-profits

During today’s roundtable, we had a lot of discussion around nonprofits and for-profits.

Foundups: Michael Trout, from Fukui, Japan, pitched Foundups, which he claims will be a platform for open corporations. He talked about everything from raising funding for pre-seed entrepreneurs to get them to the seed stage, crowd funding, social media marketing and open source. It’s the kind of pitch that makes your mind spin. You can’t tell what the company does. And Michael said himself that he has a hard time explaining what he does in three minutes.

To me, this is symptomatic of a much larger problem. Michael does not have enough clarity on what he is doing with his venture. In the same breath, he said everything he offers is free, like open source in the mid-1990s. I reminded him that commercial open source is a classic freemium model, where the free software comes with paid customer support and training. Without that, the only other way open source companies can survive is by being non-profit and raising charity money, which some have done.

“So, which one are you,” I asked. We had a lot of back and forth, but to my satisfaction, Michael was unable to answer that question. All he could say was that if someone would give him $100,000, he could make it all work.

Folks, this is EXACTLY how NOT to try to raise money.


Soren Harrison, from Boston, Massachusetts, presented SolSolution, a solar electricity venture whereby his company places solar panels on the roofs of schools, generates electricity, sells it to the schools, as well as back to the grid, and takes advantage of the federal rebates, incentives, etc.

Again, the issue of for-profit versus nonprofit came up. Who funds the solar panels? Who funds the operating costs? Soren’s answer is ambiguous, even though his value proposition and business model are relatively clear and well thought through.

In general, it is difficult to make non-profits sustainable and scalable. It is certainly not my area of expertise. What is very clear to me, however, is that a lot of entrepreneurs seem to be caught in the FREE movement right now. Everything needs to be free. And as I said earlier, the only way you can sustain that is through foundation money.

If that’s the route, then Michael’s option is potentially working with the Kauffman Foundation or the Blackstone, two of the largest entrepreneurship focused philanthropic organizations out there. And Soren could work with the Google Foundation. Google certainly has a very significant clean energy agenda, and they may be willing to fund his project.

You can listen to the recording of today’s roundtable here. As always, I would very much like to hear about your business, so let me invite you to come and pitch at one of our free 1M/1M public roundtables. We will be holding future roundtables at 8:00 a.m. PDT on the following dates:

If you want a deeper relationship with me, you are very welcome to join the 1M/1M premium program. If you have any questions about the program, please, first study the website, especially the “What to expect from the 1M/1M premium program” section and the FAQs. If you have additional questions, please email me, and I would be very happy to respond. Please note that I work exclusively with 1M/1M entrepreneurs.

I also invite you to join the 1M/1M mailing list for the ease and convenience of getting updates. This way we can stay in touch and it will help you to decide if 1M/1M is a program for you.

Sramana Mitra is the founder of the One Million by One Million (1M/1M) initiative, an educational, business development and incubation program that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond. She is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant. She writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy and is author of the Entrepreneur Journeys book series and Vision India 2020. From 2008 to 2010, Mitra was a columnist for Forbes. As an entrepreneur CEO, she ran three companies: DAIS, Intarka, and Uuma. She has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Photo by svilen001

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.