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Who Cares? Class - The Acara Spring Institute

Date: 03/15/2014

Time: 8:00 AM - 4:30 PM

Location: R-380 Vocational-Technical Education

Cost: $80


Who should attend: If you have an idea for a social venture, or already have a venture, this is a class to help you determine the need and desires of the community you want to impact. Even if you think you know the needs very well, it’s good to reaffirm.

What we will do in this session: The focus of this day is to make sure you are focusing on the right problem. How can you use design thinking to understand your potential customer? Unless someone cares about the problem, and finding a solution, you can’t develop a viable venture. How can you begin to convert that understanding into a value proposition? What is a value proposition? What is a social value proposition?

This is a hands-on class; we will do a design thinking workshop and work on your idea. After this class you will be ready to go out and do customer research and get ready for the 2nd workshop in the series.

The Who Cares? Class will cover the following topics:

Introduction to design thinking and ethnography.
Introduction to business model canvas, social value proposition and customer segments.
Students will define a plan for doing research about their proposed customer needs before the next session.


About the Acara Spring Institute

Do you have an idea to solve a big problem but think a social venture is similar going out on a subzero night to party with your friends?

Have you heard the term business model but you think it sounds like Heidi Klum in a business suit?

Do you have an idea for an innovation but don’t consider yourself an entrepreneur?

Are you a potential intrapreneur in a big business or NGO?

Do you want to make a change in the world and make a living doing it?

The Acara Spring Institute is for you. This course is for anyone with an idea for social or environmental change, whether that idea is on the back of a napkin, in a detailed business plan or already running.

A social venture, sometimes referred to as an impact venture, could be a for profit, a nonprofit, a benefit corporation or a hybrid organization. The legal structure doesn’t matter. What matters is that the venture has a financial value proposition (can you sustain and grow the venture) and a social or environmental value proposition (what impact are you having on the world).

There are great classes in the Twin Cities on topics such as design thinking and entrepreneurship. This class, however, is uniquely positioned for social ventures, which are similar but distinctly different. How do you balance financial needs in a mission driven organization? How do impact investors evaluate a social venture versus a typical investment opportunity?

The instructors have worked with changemakers and entrepreneurs in a number of countries and have seen many impact business models. The Acara program, part of the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota, has been providing international and domestic courses for the past several years on developing social ventures. This experience is now being packaged into a series of workshops for people who are interested in understanding more about social entrepreneurship.

Past Acara students have been featured on the Today show, CNN and in BusinessWeek, in addition to numerous other publications, and have been selected to join prestigious incubators in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.

About the Instructors

Fred Rose and Brian Bell, both of IonE. In the last 18 months, they have taught more than 300 budding social entrepreneurs in 4 countries. Fred has two engineering degrees, spent 30 years in industry in various technical and innovation roles globally, and has started several nonprofits. Brian has degrees in Civil Engineering and Sustainable Development, and extensive on the ground experience in Uganda, Kenya, Nepal and India. Both have been involved in helping to launch a number of social ventures out of the Acara program. Guest speakers will also be featured each session.

About Registration

Registration to these classes is open to anyone. Attendance is limited so don't delay! The classes will not be webcasted and do not earn you credit at the University of Minnesota. We would strongly encourage you to take all three, but you may also sign up for individual sessions.

Scholarships available if the fee is not affordable. Please contact Fred Rose (rosex122@umn.edu).

Present at the April Acara Impact Review

Selected class participants will be invited to present their venture at the Acara Impact Venture Review on April 29, 2014 from 5-8 PM. At this review teams will pitch to an invited audience, including entrepreneurs, business owners, engineers and other professionals who will provide critiques and suggestions. No charge for this session.



  • Name: Molly Buss
  • E-mail: bussx057@umn.edu
  • Phone: 612-626-9553
  • Sponsored by: Institute on the Environment


Gortner Avenue Ramp

More information: http://www.eventbrite.com/o/acara-spring-institute-creating-change-3145712922

Disability Options:

To request disability accommodations, please contact Molly Buss, Institute on the Environment (bussx057@umn.edu, 612-626-9553).

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