A Look Inside Pipa, Brazil’s First Start-Up Incubator

—This post is co-written by Dhaval Chadha, a founding partner at Cria, an innovation consultancy and corporate venture incubator, and one of the cofounders of Pipa.

Pipa (Portuguese for “kite”) is an incubator, or to be more specific an accelerator, focused on supporting entrepreneurs looking to create long-term sustainable value through business. We aim to support these entrepreneurs in their quest to create positive social, environmental and financial impact, something Brazil is engaging with more and more.

While we strongly believe current paradigms of business and capitalism are losing relevance in the context of rising populations, inequality, environmental degradation and exponentially advancing technology, we also believe that business is one of the best forms of creating lasting social impact. This is because it is self-sustaining and thereby scalable.

Reaching For New Sources For Innovation

The average life span of Fortune 500 companies fell from 75 years in 1937 to 15 years in 2011. This is a trend showing every sign of continuing. Much of the innovation we see around us today is coming from the bottom up, be it in garages in Silicon Valley where high-tech companies are born, or villages in Africa that are hacking cellular phones to serve as banks.

In a search to reinvent business, the founding partners at Pipa have been working with some of the largest companies in the world including Coca-Cola, Whirlpool, P&G, Phillips, and Natura. At Pipa we are looking to create a space and process to be able to work with entrepreneurs that may not have the scale of giant companies, but do have a degree of innovative agility that is hard to match.

The People and The Selection Process

Pipa was co-founded by four companies—Cria, an innovation consultancy and corporate venture incubator, Tátil, one of Brazil's leading design and branding firms, Engage, a software and social mobilization boutique, and Perestroika, a creative education school with courses ranging from food experience to biomedicine and professional poker.

The partners at the four companies were already friends and sporadically worked on projects together. Almost everyone in the group had thought about something along these lines and things finally came together in the last couple of months Combined experience in branding, design, innovation, creativity, technology, social impact, mobilization, investing and management give the Pipa crew something to share with entrepreneurs right off the bat.

The Program, The Experience

Over the course of the program, the entrepreneurs will have weekly talks and workshops covering topics such as macro-trends, shared-value business, integral theory, lean startup, business model generation, branding, design-thinking, agile development and basics of finance. The program will also include office-hours with the founders and with a portfolio manager. Finally, there will be a series of networking evenings and special talks. We will offer an inspiring work environment to the entrepreneurs and will work largely through an office-hours style interaction with the companies selected.

Business Relations, Entrepreneurs, and Pipa

In financial terms and in exchange for what the program offers, a variable equity stake between 10% and 20% in the companies based on their existing and potential revenue will be required to enter the program. This will start off as a stock option that can be later converted into shares.

Finding the right entrepreneurs who share Pipa’s values will be crucial to creating a relationship that will go well beyond a business interaction. The Pipa collective will not only be co-founders but will engage as co-conspirators helping establish different paths to a similar destination.

The Unreasonable Institute and Y Combinator

While Pipa is getting off the ground, they look to the success of The Unreasonable Institute and Y Combinator as extreme inspiration.

If we can get to where either of these programs are in the coming years, it would mean a great deal. We like the Unreasonable Institute for their strong focus on social and environmental impact and Y Combinator for the business and equity model. We hope to combine those two forces into our own version at Pipa.

At the end of the day, Brazil is a very different market when compared with the US. The Pipa collective will be learning from models like these but are looking forward to learning from the experience a Brazilian incubator will bring.

Initial Engagement

Pipa recently kicked off the selection process to identify 5 entrepreneurs for the beta program they will work with through early 2013. In addition to the core program, they will also be opening the talks and workshops as a free course to 15 entrepreneurs (selected through the same process) and 20 others as paid seats. The selection process is live at www.pipa.vc. Spread the word!

The Ultimate Outcome

Pipa believes it is possible, desirable and inevitable that the businesses of tomorrow will combine profitability and scale with positive impact. Our hope is to play our part in accelerating the process of creating success cases companies making a step-change in how we do business today. This is a way for us to increase the scale of our impact and to inspire other people. If they are able to accomplish and succeed with Pipa, it can be done elsewhere.

—Co-author and guest contributor Dhaval Chadha is a Founding Partner at Cria, an innovation consultancy and corporate venture incubator focused on creating shared value businesses. Dhaval was previously the Manager of Innovation and Enterprise at CDI, was the curator at TEDxSudeste and a mentor at TechoLab. He is a member of the Sandbox Network and was a fellow at INK (in association with TED). Dhaval studied at Harvard and Singularity University

—Guest contributor Jody Turner is a future trends strategist who works with companies, conferences, and organizations in bringing forth thriving and relevant futures. Turner is CEO and founder of the global insights group CultureofFuture.com, a trend innovation group working with companies such as BMW, Munich, and is associated with Trendwatching, London. (@cultureoffuture).

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1 Comments

  • Diego Remus

    in this case, "first" is a very violent and non-accurate word to be in the title of a constantly prestigious publication.