Red-Hot: Samasource Growth Thaws a Frigid San Francisco Summer
Mark Twain once said that the coldest winter he had ever experienced was his summer in San Francisco. Although I’m reminded of that fact daily when I don my winter coat to commute to Samasource headquarters, I’m uplifted the moment I walk into work every day.
Simply put, it’s because Samasource is red-hot. Every part of our organization—engineering, sales, and fundraising, to name a few—is reaching major milestones on a weekly, if not daily, basis. As one of the two MBA interns at Samasource this summer, I am focused on fundraising. Prior to business school, I spent five years on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, California, working with foundations, endowments, and family offices. I helped them invest in private equity and venture capital. The best part of my job was generating profits I knew would go to the greater good. Much of my motivation for getting an MBA was to innovate ways to merge investors’ financial and social objectives.
Of all of the Silicon Valley start-ups that I’ve encountered, Samasource stands among an elite handful about which I repeatedly ask myself, “Why isn’t everyone already doing this?” To me, Samasource represents a win-win opportunity: companies can hire capable workers to complete micro tasks at a significant cost savings. The only thing standing between these workers and a decent wage is the proverbial short straw they drew in the birth lottery that brought them into a poor part of the world. In spite of launching during tough economic times, Samasource has grown astonishingly well. Much of this success seems attributable to its hardworking Board and team, as well as the obvious value proposition Samasource offer its clients.
While at Samasource, I’ve delved into enhancing our Salesforce.com database, forging a partnership with GlobalGiving, researching grant proposals, and drafting investor presentations. I’ve also applied my finance background to helping Samasource forecast its financial growth. These efforts have led to many fascinating conversations about how Samasource intends to balance approaching profitability with maximizing social impact. While at first it was strange to think outside of simply maximizing financial return, it has been enormously gratifying building financial models that try to optimize how many jobs can be created for women, youth and refugees who simply have no other way to support their families. When thinking ahead to 2015, it’s staggering to grasp the magnitude of the impact Samasource’s employees could have on the world’s poor.
Thus far, Samasource has subsisted largely on donations and grants. It is imperative that, as a non-profit, Samasource continues to receive these gifts. That said, as a social enterprise, Samasource is also beginning to grow from its sales revenue. As a former investment manager, I feel it is imminent that Samasource attracts a material amount of capital from a socially responsible investor. In so doing, I predict Samasource will become a trailblazer for other social enterprises and socially minded investors who believe in a world in which one can simultaneously maximize profits and empower the world’s poor.
Aside from finance and fundraising, I’ve dabbled in recruiting and planning Samasource’s 2nd annual Give Work Gala. Both of these side projects have been a wonderful way to familiarize myself with Samasource’s other activities. I enjoy coming to work unclear on exactly how I’m going to spend my day, so it’s great to get pulled into so many of the new opportunities that Samasource continuously accesses. Every day, Samasource brims with excitement from the possibilities it represents. I couldn’t imagine braving the cold to spend my summer anywhere else.