We are driven by Purpose
A purpose-driven company will not only be focused on mission, but above all will be directed by a ‘why’, the reason behind that mission. It is in this ‘why’ that the company’s purpose is rooted, it is the compass which guides the business forward, even through uncertain times. And, in the siuation of crisis caused by Covid-19, it is purpose-driven companies who are not only proving more resilient but also leading the way forward.
At Bridge, we found our purpose when we identified a key problem: a lack of access to the entrepreneur ecosystem. Then we made finding a solution to that problem our ‘why’, our reason for existing as a company. Once we had this clear, we created a business model that enabled us to keep solving this problem whilst being sustainable and thriving as a business. For us, that meant creating two business models that are synergic and build on each other, incorporating both a B2B and B2C approach.
We knew that it would take more than just a purpose-driven business model to compete in the market. Our core competencies would also have to be driven by this same purpose in order for us to thrive as a business and ultimately generate optimum social impact . That’s why we focused efforts on our core competencies of scalability, the online channel, facilitating connection, a disciplined methodology and building a community centred around our purpose.
These core competencies not only allow us to position ourselves as a strong competitor within the market, they also are strongly embedded in our values. We believe that it is these values of grit, resilience, courage and empathy that above all allow us to achieve our purpose. This of course, is also intrinsically linked with the Bridge team and team management. You will not find a Bridge team member who does not embrace these values on a personal and professional level. Identifying with these values has helped us to build a united and proactive team who go to work everyday motivated to achieve our purpose.
The result of being purpose focused? Greater impact. Maintaining purpose at every part of the Bridge’s structure ultimately allows us to optimize the impact we create and gets us closer to achieving our purpose. So far we have supported 1169 entrepreneurs in 67 different countries, worked with 57 different organizations including the United Nations, Santander, Ashoka and BMW and built a community of over 850 mentors. Read on if you want to know how you too can incorporate purpose into your company…
Top of the Pyramid: Purpose
Firstly, at the top of the pyramid you will find purpose. Our Purpose has been a part of Bridge for Billions since the day CEO Pablo Santaeufemia founded the company and it’s position at the top of the pyramid represents a meeting point for all the components that make up Bridge. Without it, the company simply would not exist. As mentioned earlier, our purpose is to make the entrepreneur ecosystem a more inclusive, meritocratic, and efficient space. This is important to us because currently many entrepreneurs do not have access to structured entrepreneurship training and personalised mentoring. There are a few reasons why this is the case. Firstly, due to the high cost of running these kinds of programs, they are either expensive or the programs themselves are only able to accept a small number of applicants being restricted by budgets, staff to manage the program and by space. In addition to this, the majority of these programs are based in large cities like London and New York, reducing accessibility for those living in smaller cities or rural areas.
This has created a bottleneck in relation to who can really connect with purpose-driven innovation and put it into practice. Entrepreneurs tend to create products and services for people similar to themselves because they understand the problem to be solved and can empathise with their customers or users. But, without access to the right tools and entrepreneurship education, it is far more difficult for entrepreneurs to create solutions to these problems. This is why at Bridge we care so much about making sure there is a strong connection between person and problem, we believe this is the key to unlocking purpose-driven innovation on a global level.
A Purpose-driven business model
For purpose driven innovation to equate to meaningful impact, the business model must also be rooted in the ‘why’ of the business. What makes the Bridge for Billions business model purpose-driven? On one hand, we offer The Leap which is our own B2C program, run 100% by Bridge for Billions, where entrepreneurs only pay a fraction of the price it costs us to run the program itself. We are able to do this since these costs are subsidized by our B2B model, where we offer our services to a variety of corporates, foundations, universities, and governments to build their own entrepreneurship and innovation programs using the same know-how and software platform that we have developed in The Leap. As a result of this 2-part business model, we have been able to develop a sustainable business which achieves its purpose.
Core competencies are the unique resources or skills a company has which allow it to be competitive within the market. At Bridge we have five core competencies strongly focused on our purpose which have allowed us to achieve this: scalability, the online channel, connecting people based on purpose and skills, a disciplined methodology and community.
We believe that scalability does not mean sacrifices should be made to the quality of the product. That’s why we have developed a product that prioritizes both quality and quantity and harnessing online technology with our purpose at its core has been a key part of this. By using this technology, we have been able to incorporate our high quality learning methodology in a product which is highly scalable.
The Online Channel
Not only does the online channel increase scalability, it means our users can access education anywhere and at any time. This builds flexibility into our product since it means users that are employed, for example, are able to fit the program around their timetable. It also removes the limitation of physical space. Users can access our program anywhere, as long as they have a good wifi connection.
Connecting based on purpose and skills
We believe in connecting people based on purpose and skills creates meaningful and effective relationships. In other words, purpose- driven matching unlocks greater potential. To incorporate this into our product we match mentors with entrepreneurs organically in our selection process. We believed that the ‘forced matching’ many programs try to implement is less effective and does not create meaningful connections. Many entrepreneurs have fears and insecurities about being ‘forcefully matched’ since they feel uncomfortable working with someone they do not understand and connect with.
This is not an effective matching system since it can make development of an idea counterproductive and fragmented. It does not create a meaningful connection because, in many cases, the mentor and entrepreneur are not aligned in a common purpose. On the other hand, organic matching is more likely to stem meaningful connection, allowing entrepreneurs and mentors to build on an idea in a fruitful and wholesome way.
We understand that connection doesn’t only come from the relationship between mentor and entrepreneur but the connection the entrepreneur feels to their purpose, the problem they are looking to solve. That’s why we focus both on a person-problem fit and also Problem-solution fit. The first means that an entrepreneur can show a strong emotional and historic connection with the customer’s problems and can develop a deep understanding of their users. To enable this, we always look closely at what meaningful problem the entrepreneur is trying to solve with their venture and make sure to ask their motivation. Then, we look at problem-solution fit to make sure that the entrepreneur’s solution has the potential to solve the problem previously identified.
We believe that the right process truly matters, that’s why we have developed our own disciplined methodology that enables us to achieve our purpose by providing the entrepreneur with a practical and meaningful entrepreneurship education experience. Our methodology is centred around learn-by-doing or active learning. This means that the entrepreneurs learn about how to build a business plan while building their own via our incubation platform.The result being that they leave the 3 month program with a presentable, well-structured business plan. We believe that passive learning is far less effective since it removes accountability and does not encourage a proactive approach.
One of our mottos here at Bridge is you don’t have to do it alone. The reason we pride ourselves on this is because we believe collaboration gets you further. Togetherness is a catalyst of serendipity, and by encouraging the meeting and development of meaningful relationships and communication, we can generate impactful outcomes at a much faster pace than through working alone. We have created our online community to facilitate this and also reduce the fear many entrepreneurs have of feeling isolated and alone in their projects. The community is a space for entrepreneurs and mentors to share ideas and projects and also encourage learning via regular masterclasses led by knowledgeable experts.
Teal for Team Management
A great team is one of the most important assets of any business and it’s no surprise that hiring with purpose in mind is the best way to achieve this. When hiring at Bridge, we do this by firstly understanding if the potential employee’s purpose matches with the company’s. How does the employee identify with increasing access to entrepreneurship on a global level and to what extent. As part of this, we also look at whether they fit our core values of resilience, grit, courage and empathy. We also make sure the candidate is aware of the teal model for use for team management here at Bridge and how they fit with that.
The teal management model sheds away from the parent-child relationships that tends to get created in a hierarchical workplace, and instead empowers everyone to be their own leader, a thinker and a doer at the same time. In teal we believe each individual can flourish through self-management, embrace wholeness, and align their personal purpose with the organization’s.
The management structure is centred around purpose. It works on the idea that within the company’s mission are teams contributing to the purpose and then individuals contributing to that same purpose within each team. This inevitably means that purpose is present as each stage of the team management model. We measure the contributions from teams and individuals to the company’s purpose with OKRs (objectives and key results). These allow us to set specific objectives which align with our purpose and see to what extent we are achieving them.
Purpose is key because it not only provides guidance to a business, even through the most turbulent times, but it is the driving force behind impact. Used in the right way, purpose-driven innovation is the key to the well-being and growth of your business and the effect it will have on the ecosystem surrounding it. We hope by explaining our purpose, we can help you find yours, unlocking your business’s potential and the impact it can generate.