How startups can have a social impact

Mitos Suson · May 27, 2015 · Short URL:

Bart Garrett's Breakout talk at Vator Splash Oakland 2015

This year's Vator Splash Oakland 2015 had three Breakout Session tracks. Track 1 was on "Entrepreneurship - tips on scaling, fundraising, assessing risk, etc." Track 2 was on Investors - tips on how to strategies. Track 2 was the "Startup Toolkit" track, with speakers giving advice on legal, accounting, workspace, marketing and more technical questions most every entrepreneur faces.

Here's one of six Breakout Session Talks in Track 1 - the Entrepreneur track.  

In this segment, Bart Garrett, Founder and Pastor of Christ Church, encourages and teaches us to explore our uncommon idea that serves the common good; how an entrepreneur imagines, creates, and innovates around an extraordinary idea and learning how that idea can have a social impact from the start.  

Garrett asked the audience to ask themselves: "What will my life be like if I give the next 10 years to this uncommon idea?" The uncommon idea being that the startup is not only a vehicle to make money and improve the lives of customers, but a vehicle to have impact on society and the founder as well. 

If you think long term, he said, you'll be a better person. You will create a healty culture. You will be able to serve the common good and have social impact.  

Highlight of those points [slightly edited].

1) Better person. How do you build yourself as a better person in the context of your startup? I would contend that basically all of us are on a quest to maximize our happiness and alleviate our sadness. If you're going to be a better person, don't put the pressure on your startup to make you happy or not make you sad. Your startup is too fragile to handle the gravity of your immense regard. If you're trying to maximize your happiness from your startup, it will crush you. And, don't look at your startup to alleviate sadness. 

2) Creating a culture. You create the culture. When you hire one to 50 people, you've built an ecosystem, and what flows into the culture is either living water of integrity, justice or it's pollutants. You choose. Think about this: You can get work done through people or you can get your people done through work. With respect to building your culture, what would it be like when hiring someone, you don't just think about how this person can build your cmopany, but think about how a person can become a better person by being part of your company.

3) Social impact. You cannot make money from people, unless you're willing to let people make money from you. Look at Guiness Beer, which started in 1750. This company paid great attention to its employees. They gave full penchants, low-interest loans, doctors, etc. Part of pursuing cultural impact is exceptional care of your employees. Today this product is enjoyed 10 million times a day. 

Thank you KPMG, Kapor CenterWendel RosenJavelin, Rackspace, The Port Workspaces, Alaska, Gensler, Parelius, and Bread & Butter for sponsoring! 

Splash LA 2015 is around the corner. We already have a great lineup. Check it out here. Register early for Super Early Bird tickets. And if you want to apply to present in the startup competition, apply here.

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Mitos Suson

I produce Vator Events and enjoy the challenge. I am learning and growing a lot, being involved with Vator and loving every moment of it!

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Bart Garrett

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Bart is the Lead Pastor at Christ Church ( and the founder and now board member of Project Peace (

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