Uncharted Insider - January 2018

Uncharted Insider - January 2018

Hey everyone,

Welcome to the January edition of the Uncharted Insider. The Uncharted Insider is a monthly email from me that provides an inside look into our organization and what we're thinking about.

Uncharted Update:*

  • Top-Secret: We're working on an undercover accelerator that will support organizations addressing hate and discrimination. More details coming soon.
  • We Want Problems: We're exploring potential partnerships with a number of corporations and foundations to address big social and environmental problems. We’re considering what an "External Innovation Unit" might look like with an organization supporting low-income elderly Americans. We're talking to another about running an accelerator around the future of employment for low-income workers. We’re starting to experiment with some collective-impact work.
  • Giving Power Away: We don't talk about this enough, but we ship out an "accelerator-in-a-box” curriculum to teams all over the world so they can run mini-accelerators for local social entrepreneurs. It's the profitable "startup" within Uncharted. This month we're starting to make investments in streamlining our licensing operation (systems, legal agreements, HQ management) so our support can be faster and simpler.

*Our team gets all the credit for everything we’re working on here. You can reach them at Team@uncharted.org.

Ideas on our mind:

  • Disrupt the Foundation: More and more foundations are expressing interest in working with us to bring innovation and acceleration to their existing portfolios of grantees/investments. It’s making us wonder what needs to change to build the next generation of the foundation and what the future of philanthropy will look like. We hosted a Jeffersonian Dinner in January with experts in philanthropy, foundations, and impact investing to explore these ideas.
  • Accelerators are experimenting - All of our organization’s work right now is powered by one underpinning curiosity: how can the DNA of an accelerator not only grow companies but also tackle social problems? So it’s been cool to see how other big-time accelerators like Y-combinator are using their power and network to create impact. Check out Y-combinator’s focus on experimenting with universal basic income.

Monthly rant:

Scale is not sexy: One of the industry buzz words I dislike the most is "scale" (even though I hear myself saying it all the time, and we work tirelessly to help our ventures scale). It's the holy grail of social entrepreneurship. Despite the glamour of scale as a concept, our experience trying to "scale" Uncharted is that it's unsexy and arduous work often spent deep in legal license agreements, software optimizations, and email chains ensuring consistency of message and outcome. You can tell someone has done the grueling work of scale when you can see in their eyes: “you don’t know the half of it.”

What I’m reading:

  • Patagonia has 100% of their mothers return to work after having a baby (National average is 79%). How they transcend.
  • In 1950, there were 17 American workers to support each retiree. When millennials retire, there will be just two. The WTF generation.
  • Of the 300 grantees that account for 1/3rd of the combined spending of the top 15 US foundations, 10% are insolvent. What to do about it.
  • In 2012, 4% of the biggest philanthropic donations came from people under 50 years old. In 2014, it was 25%. Next generation of philanthropists.

Something personal:

2018 is for dinner dates with my mom. She and I are exploring a new restaurant every month. Here we were in January for month one.


United in the common work,