Defy, Unilever, Tesla: Introducing the First Ever Winners of the NewCo Honors


We’re neck-deep in the middle of the biggest week in NewCo history. We just finished hosting the first-ever NewCo Shift Forum, our sold-out executive conference about capitalism at a crossroads. We held over a dozen hands-on MasterClass workshop sessions on Monday, and our Bay Area festival continues to roll on with our biggest list of host companies yet. I wanted to take an opportunity, though, to report from the Shift Forum on the three new awards we gave out last night as part of our first annual NewCo Honors.

The NewCo Honors celebrates three different kinds of organizations: first, the ‘NonProfitCo’ (we’re not sure if the nomenclature will stick, but we’re going with it for now), an award that celebrates a non-profit that’s going above and beyond on serving their communities. Next, we celebrated the ‘BigCo’: a large, established brand that’s transformed its operating model and put purpose at the core of what they do. Finally, we honored a single NewCo, which is a tough job to do given that we’ve identified over 2,500 of them across the world. A NewCo is, put simply, a new kind of company with innovative offerings and a deep-rooted focus on a mission beyond profit. There’s never been a more important time to identify and celebrate these types of organizations: they’re the engines of positive change in our society, and they serve as a model for changemakers and entrepreneurs across the world. Without further ado, here are the inaugural NewCo Honors winners:

1. The NonProfitCo: Defy Ventures

Formerly incarcerated men and women are some of the greatest underdogs in America. Catherine Hoke, Founder and CEO of Defy Ventures, set out to change that when starting the organization back in 2004. Since then, Defy Ventures has served over 525 formerly incarcerated “Entrepreneurs-in-Training” through an entrepreneurship, employment, and leadership training program. The results speak for themselves: Defy’s recidivism rate is just 3%. The organization inspired us all at NewCo, and we were proud to celebrate them with the first NonProfitCo award.

2. The BigCo: Unilever

Big companies are undergoing one of the most significant transformations in modern history. It’s not just tech that’s driving it: employees, partners, and communities are demanding that capitalism do more than extract profits and cut costs. The world’s biggest companies are being challenged to rethink their relationship with society. It’s not common to celebrate these BigCos, but we think they’re key to the shift towards a more sustainable, inclusive economy. Few companies exemplify this more than Unilever, which has become a global leader in sustainability and social responsibility, setting an example for brands, big and small, to follow — particularly with its commitment to preserving the culture and missions of the smaller companies it has acquired (Dollar Shave, Seventh Generation, and more). We presented Jonathan Atwood, the company’s VP of Sustainable Business and Communications, with the inaugural BigCo award.

3. The NewCo: Tesla

“When I talk to young, ambitious entrepreneurs about the companies they admire most, 9 times out of 10 I hear one of two companies: Tesla or Solar City.” Those are the words of James Joaquin, co-founder of Obvious Ventures, as he announced Tesla as the NewCo winner. It’s a point that’s hard to refute: Tesla, specifically, is a benchmark for aspiring entrepreneurs across the world, and a great example of a company that’s using the power of business and technology to address some of society’s biggest social problems. Tesla is what we consider a “Total NewCo” — a business that’s focused on addressing a deep, systemic social problem and uses leverages new technologies to do it.

In different ways, these three organizations are working on some of the most pressing issues of our time. Our mission at NewCo is to identify, celebrate, and connect these organizations across the world, and we’re looking forward to seeing their work unfold and finding more organizations just like them for our next NewCo Honors.

In the meantime, our Bay Area Festival continues to roll on: follow along on Twitter for our coverage inspiring sessions from host companies across the Bay.

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