Welcome to episode two of the Fairware Changemaker Series where we highlight entrepreneurs and thought leaders that constantly inspire us through their passion for using business to better the world. This week we’re featuring Keith Ippel, CEO of Spring Activator who is using business as a force for good to empower social impact leaders with the know-how, network and support needed to build a better business.
In this episode you will learn more about Keith Ippel and how Spring Activator has bridged the gap between skills, passion and the problem entrepreneurs are trying to solve. Keith truly sees the bigger picture and moves the needle by bringing a global startup education to entrepreneurs around the world.
What inspired you to start Spring Activator?
It was our realization that there was a community of impact entrepreneurs and technology entrepreneurs, but there wasn’t an intersection or collision happening between these two amazing sectors. For us it was really about bringing those two communities together to allow impact entrepreneurs to find a way to amplify their impact through technology and technology entrepreneurs to find their voice and impact.
Where would you say your motivation comes from?
My motivation comes from a desire to make the world a better place and that motivation isn’t exclusive to me. As humanity, were hardwired to try to make the world a better place by helping those people around us so that we can lift ourselves as well as our community. We live in a world where we have tremendous privilege and there’s an opportunity to step out of that privilege and help those people around us, both locally and globally, to raise up their well-being to survive and learn to thrive. On a very personal level, I have a daughter and I’m trying to create a better world for her and people of her age. The generations to come is definitely a strong motivator for me.
What is it about the entrepreneur journey that has inspired you?
I’m inspired when young entrepreneurs find an intersection between their skills, passion and the problem they’re trying to solve. When you see someone who has phenomenal skills, whether it be accounting, marketing or sales, and they are able to apply their skills to solve a problem in an area they are passionate about, whether that be progressive food, healthcare, circular economy or sustainability. To me, that is the most fueling thing for a business. You see people who are crazy passionate and get up early everyday to work on solving problems, helping people and changing the world. They are doing it with the strengths they are given and cultivated over time. To me there is no greater fuel for what we do than that.
What organization would you like to create through Spring Activator?
Our vision is to change the world through entrepreneurship by making impact mainstream and helping people amplify their impact into the world. Whether they have a small business in Downtown Vancouver or they are working in El Salvador or working anywhere else in the world, they actually do have opportunity to amplify that.
What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position?
For people entering into entrepreneurship, the leadership skill to cultivate should be a desire to ask all the right questions. They should understand that education is available at their fingertips whenever they need it and realize that they are not doing it alone. They should be asking for help all the time. We have constructed Spring around the tenants of leadership. We actually run incubation and acceleration programs which we call Inspire, Launch and Grow. These are programmatic ways to learn and instill patterns of behaviour around leadership traits. In addition, we also run a founder Roundtable or mastermind series where people can be in a community with accountable support day to day, week to week, and month to month.
Tell us more about the Global Impact Accelerator Program?
We see an opportunity in the City of Vancouver to be one of global leading cities for impact entrepreneurship. There is natural DNA in the City of Vancouver and a track record of phenomenal impact organizations coming from this city. Everybody from Fairware to Renewal Partners to Social Nature are examples, but global connections are lacking – where we take the best of Vancouver to the world and the best of the world to Vancouver. Our Global Impact Accelerator Program is designed to address that specific issue by bringing seven impact companies to move their companies to be based in Vancouver and extend their global reach. Our goal is to be at the forefront in Canada by becoming global player and making Vancouver a global city for impact innovation and entrepreneurship. These seven companies will help us on this path.
Can you tell us about one success story?
If I were to pick one success story to tell it would be Zero Waste Market which is now known as NADA. The reason I like to tell this story is because Breanne Miller is a Marine Biologist by trade and on paper she doesn’t have the typical characteristics of an entrepreneur. She was very passionate about solving the problem of reducing plastic and waste within our ecosystem. She did the homework to find out where the majority of this was coming from which was from consumers and grocery stories. She dove in and made this her entrepreneurship journey. Throughout that process she has grown into a world leading entrepreneur, seen success, grown her team and is scaling her organization. Vancouver is just the starting point. When you look at NADA in the market place you realize anyone can be an entrepreneur. When people start to embrace leadership traits, they have the opportunity be a world changing entrepreneur.
What does being a Changemaker mean to you?
For me, being a Changemaker is about acknowledging and embracing the strengths I’ve been given and applying them. Having the courage to act, day to day, week to week to have impact on the world. It’s about moving forward with gifts you’ve been given and strengths you have and making a difference in the world.