The historic Halcyon House, located in the heart of Georgetown, is home to S&R Foundation’s latest program supporting innovative ideas that enable measurable social change and maximize social impact. S&R has supported talented individuals with aspirations in the arts, sciences and social entrepreneurship for 15 years, but has shifted its focus in the past year towards creating an environment and community for social entrepreneurs to succeed and thrive.
The Halcyon Incubator provides a unique 14-month fellowship for a highly selective group of ambitious social entrepreneurs to transform their innovative ideas into scalable and sustainable ventures.
“Entrepreneurship is kind of a lonely journey…and being in an environment like this creates something that is really critical to help move people forward,” says Ryan Ross, program manager for Halcyon Incubator.
Each cohort, composed of a maximum of eight fellows, starts the immersive program living and working out of the Halcyon House with support from a deep network of experienced and versatile mentors and leadership coaches. Once a month, the fellows have pitch meetings which “really catalyze the iterative process of putting ideas out there,” says Ross, and allow for constructive feedback before the culminating event at the end of the first four months, Demo Day. It is here where fellows present their ideas to investors and partners that may be interested in getting involved with their work.
During the next four months, the fellows move out of the mansion, but continue to work out of the Incubator with full access to its strategic, legal, business, and public relation resources. For the final six months, fellows transition to a shared workspace, continue to build their network, and scale up their ventures. As each class transitions to the next phase, a new group of fellows start the process.
Thus far, fellows of the first three cohorts have experienced accelerated growth in their ideas and ventures, significantly outpacing their previous work conducted within the same time frame. However, at Halcyon it’s a balance between the development of the idea and of the individual. Although entrepreneurs may be neck-deep in the challenges associated with building their ventures, Halcyon also recognizes that these ventures live and die with the ability of the leader of the venture to grow and adapt with their work.
Unlike other incubators, Halcyon focuses strictly on maximizing social impact and does not take equity in the social ventures in its program. Ventures range from sanitation services in East Africa to sustainable gardening in shipping containers to ex-inmate re-entry web portals.
The program recognizes the high costs of starting a social venture in Washington, D.C. and seeks to decrease financial barriers so that anyone with a great idea and vision to achieve great success can really move forward towards solving critical social challenges. “We bring in a diverse group of the best and brightest applicants, regardless of socioeconomic background, and provide them with the opportunities to take this vision of a better world, and make it become a reality,” says Ross.
“We see Washington, DC not as just fertile territory for social entrepreneurship, but we think it can be the best place in the world to start a social venture.”