The Hybrid Movement…

As you know, I have been teaching the idea of Hybrid Entrepreneurship at Clemson and it is amazing how the class is evolving. What are we finding, that it is hard to define exactly what a hybrid entrepreneur and how it is applied to a business.

Here is our basic definition: A hybrid entrepreneur is an entrepreneur that has identified a social cause and using an entrepreneurial business idea to solve this social problem and will generate a profit.

The most common example is Tom’s Shoes. For each pair of shoes Tom’s Shoes sales, they donate a pair of shoes to a child in need. Solving the social problem of children in need, yet generating a profit from the enterprise.

The biggest debate in the class, does this business model have to start with the social cause as the main focus; or can the business have a great product/service and searches for a social case to solve as a way to meet the criteria. There is an in-class debate either way…but it is my opinion that it comes to the social cause as the main initiative. I think there is a hierarchy in this definition:

1) Entrepreneurial
2) Solving Social Problem
3) Generating A Profit

There are so many organizations in the latest “Green” movement to “Save The Earth.” There is a whole class of individuals that have the social desire to solve social problems, but they do not want to create non-profits…they want to generate a profit. They want their cake and eat it too! I do not blame them.

So for the rest of the semester, the students of this class have two months to identify a social problem, create and start a entrepreneurial business model, document the process, and present their business. Yes…two months. They have lots of work to do and they have some cool social business ideas. Bottom-line, they have to find something that is micro enough to get it up and running and find a way generate a profit.

We are in the process of reading a book called “Starting from Scratch” by Wes Moss. It is a book full of case studies of entrepreneurs that have found their passion, started a business, and succeeded against the odds. This book has a few that might fit the hybrid business model. So why am I telling you this…because I want this class to be able to write the book on hybrid entrepreneurship. I want this class to be the first to really talk and explain this model, research and find case studies of examples, and put the model to work.

It is my hope this class comes closer to helping us all define what hybrid entrepreneurship is all about.