The makesense incubator develops tailor-made support programs for entrepreneurs and social intrapreneurs. Created within the makesense community, the makesense incubator is distinguished by the strength of its network, a collective approach and a constant focus on the impact of supported projects.

In this section, we will give you an insight into the roots of the makesense incubator so that you understand who we are, and what our activities, ambitions and values are.

Creation of the incubator

The Makesense volunteers, in contact with the social entrepreneurs they met during the hold-ups, realized the growing demand for longer-term and more comprehensive support.

It all started in 2014, when Alizée and Léa, two gangsters from the Parisian community, decided to take action and launched the first incubation program for digital social entrepreneurs. This was the beginning of the makesense incubator.

Its original name was SenseCube.

Alizée and Léa’s ambitions have nourished the makesense incubator’s vision: to be the platform for accelerating impact projects in order to foster the transformation of a more sustainable economy and society. This vision has spread beyond France and makesense incubation programs have been launched in Mexico, Peru, Senegal, Lebanon and the Philippines.

Even today, we innovate every day to help as many social entrepreneurs as possible efficiently and on a large scale. Our passion for impact entrepreneurs and our motivation to make a profound change in society are the common denominators of our 25-member team.

But what do we actually do within the incubator?

Over the years, to effectively meet the needs of social entrepreneurs, we have developed a range of more inclusive offers for social entrepreneurs.

For entrepreneurs in the start-up phase, we develop tailor-made support programs. The programs provide access to personalized coaching by an incubator expert, group training, a network of experts and funders, and the community of makesense contributors.

_Sprints are 6-week online programs in groups to prototype new solutions.

_The COMBO programme is aimed at project leaders from diverse backgrounds to support their launch over 6 months.

_The Back to Work program, in partnership with Pôle Emploi (French Employment Office), supports job seekers who want to find solutions to the employability of vulnerable populations for 6 months.

_Every 6 months, the Test&Learn program supports the promotion of 8 social entrepreneurs who use digital or new technologies to solve social or environmental problems.

_For employees (intrapreneurs) wishing to develop entrepreneurial projects within their organisation, the incubator offers tailor-made assistance to support each step of the implementation process. We work with social intrapreneurs from Société Générale, La Poste, but also from Emmaüs, the Red Cross and Paris Habitat.

For entrepreneurs and social intrapreneurs who occasionally need help and resources, we have launched a newsletter, a blog and a series of thematic events (financing, HR, communication, etc.) to free up our resources and expertise for as many people as possible.

The job of each team member is multifaceted. This includes designing tailor-made support programs, mobilizing relevant experts and methodologies, nurturing a network of partners, investors and corporate partners… Not to mention constantly innovating – to invent new services and tools according to the needs of entrepreneurs who ask for our help.

For example, at the request of social entrepreneurs based far from Paris, we developed a newsletter and a resource platform, Odisea. The objective is to make all content created and aggregated by makesense easily accessible to as many people as possible, thanks to trainings and tools.  

To go even further in supporting social entrepreneurs in the commercialization phase, we are launching the first makesense investment fund: SEED ONE. The purpose of this fund is to finance the pre-seed phase of young social entrepreneurs. The pre-seed phase concerns projects that are at the beginning of commercialization but do not yet have financial viability. Investments are scheduled to begin in the summer of 2019.

Our ambition is to be able to support social entrepreneurs at every stage of the development of their impact projects.

We have set up awareness campaigns throughout France for idea bearers. Whether it is social entrepreneurship competitions (Social Cup, Switch Up Challenge) or awareness and meeting times (Tech4Good Tour), we provide concrete methodologies (SenseFiction, Créathons) to idea carriers to help them take action and start their project.

The makesense incubator is an association under the 1901 law. We believe that every entrepreneur who wants to have a positive impact must have access to the best resources and support, regardless of their financial means. This is why the vast majority of our offers are completely free of charge for social entrepreneurs.

Our business model

Our business model is simple: we receive a contribution of 10% of our budget from the public sector (City of Paris), program sponsorship (BNP Paribas, AG2R-La Mondiale, Pôle Emploi, Fondation Face) covers 40% of our costs, and finally our tailor-made B2B support services cover the remaining 50%.

This model allows the incubator to be autonomous and financially resilient.

The incubator team is now composed of 25 people working in different programs (awareness, competition, incubation, investment funds). The particularity of the makesense operation allows each team to integrate “support functions”. This means that each team member, in addition to his or her role within the incubator, takes on a support role (HR, sales, budget, communication, digital, etc.). This choice of organization allows us to keep the agility and autonomy of a young organization. In addition, it allows everyone to explore new jobs and develop skills in new functions.

The well-being, professional development and freedom of decision-making of each individual are at the heart of our team’s DNA. We implement governance processes and moments of sharing to ensure that the positive impact affects both our entrepreneurs and each member of the team. It is a pleasure to meet every morning and to think together about the future of our organization.

The incubator’s activities are deeply linked to the activities of other makesense teams. For example, hold-ups are possible because the Community team mobilizes and trains citizens to organize them, and the incubator team identifies social entrepreneurs and helps them formulate their challenge.

Support for social entrepreneurs is possible above all thanks to the community of citizens all over the world who are mobilized to help entrepreneurs who want to change the world.

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