A social entrepreneur and innovator, Amy Tucker co-founded Sparrow, a mobile phone company, with a central mission in mind: ending world digital poverty. Sparrow’s “buy one give one” innovative business model aims to bridge the digital divide through the donation of a smartphone or data plan to someone in need when a customer switches to Sparrow’s mobile service. As Tucker worked toward the launch of the company’s national marketing campaign last spring, she joined the Points of Light Civic Accelerator to help the up-and-coming venture manage its growth. Midway through the accelerator, Tucker also took an opportunity to participate in the Investor Café – and learned some surprising lessons. “Always bring someone with you,” Tucker now advises. “When you are in a pitch, it is so helpful to have someone there to listen for key information and help reinforce important moments.” Those important moments Amy refers to can create strategic partnerships and powerful shifts in a venture’s trajectory.
The Investor Café, hosted in partnership with Comcast NBCUniversal, was a fast-paced roundtable activity where 12 early stage startups including Sparrow moved from table to table to meet with investors and potential customers, and practice the art of the pitch.
At Table 2, the startups met with David Urbanowicz, who helps direct partnerships for Internet Essentials, Comcast’s signature digital inclusion initiative providing low-income families with affordable high-speed internet access at home. “We were excited to participate in the Investor Café to see the tech innovations and potentially discover new partners for the program,” says Urbanowicz. “These entrepreneurs all have incredible business propositions, especially a company like Sparrow.”
What Tucker and Urbanowicz experienced is that the Investor Café is quite different from a traditional startup demo day in which entrepreneurs present their solution and vision to a crowded audience which they literally often can’t see (thanks, stage lights). Rather, in the Investor Café, the flow of conversation (12 of them!) moves in both directions between the entrepreneur and a potential investor or customer. In seven minutes, the pairs can discern the potential for synergy. And the result? A much more productive networking experience for both parties.
To learn more about the Comcast’s work in the community, visit: https://corporate.comcast.com/values/community-impact
To learn more about the Points of Light Civic Accelerator, visit: www.cvcx.org
Megan is the Director of the Civic Accelerator at Points of Light. In this role, she is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Civic Accelerator, including venture recruitment, program and curriculum development, portfolio monitoring and evaluation, direct investments, and developing
strategic program and philanthropic partnerships.