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The Truly Mission Driven Startup

Over the years I had spoken to hundreds and hundreds of founders, some of whom describe themselves as Mission Driven.

But I never understood what Mission Driven really means to a before talking to Jaden Risner about his startup Family Proud. Jaden started to allow friends, family, and the broader community to support caregivers who in turn provide support to loved ones with medical challenges.

In an interview, I ask a lot of questions about past decisions, future plans, and trade-offs. Each and every answer was focused on how to advance the mission by reaching the greatest number of such people in need.

In my experience, for a seriously Mission Driven startup, maybe two-thirds of the answers are really driven by advancing the mission with the others focusing on investors, profitability, etc.

A typical answer from Jaden was that the ideal strategic partner was first and foremost mission-aligned and secondarily able to bring Family Proud's resources to many, many people that needed it. There wasn't a thirdly.

I wonder what it is like to work for an organization that is that Mission Driven. Does it free them from many of the petty problems that damage a typical workplace? Does it allow decision-making to be quick and accurate? Hard to make generalizations from N=1. I would be more than happy to talk to more founders that are as completely Mission Driven.

Over the years, there has been a lot of talk about how hard it is to be a caregiver, but until now, not been a lot of practical significance to help caregivers. Many times even the most overburdened caregivers feel uncomfortable asking for support.

Structurally, Family Proud makes that easier by allowing them to talk about what would be helpful rather than overtly asking for help. It may sound like a small nit-picky detail, but I have seen it make all the difference in the world.

Other than financial help (medical bills are the largest cause of bankruptcies in the U. S.), the most common ways to be helpful are watching children, bringing food, providing transportation. It feels like a non-intimidating list for someone that might otherwise fear becoming committed to take on of all the support a caregiver needs.

So far it is working. I applaud their work. Perhaps we could all benefit by asking whether and how our companies could be more Mission Driven.

Written by Russell Brand

Entrepreneur in residence at Founder Institute, he has mentored, performed due diligence on and invested in numerous early stage companies. Hundreds of these early stage companies have described Russell’s insights and advice as the most useful thing in the history of their companies. He has always had an inborn ability to find more valuable uses of new ideas and faster ways to achieve results.


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