Technology as a Force of Good. GTK #27: Chris Dykstra


Chris Dykstra
“My business philosophy is simple — human pain equals market demand,” says tech veteran and lifelong entrepreneur Chris Dykstra.

Chris has been using technology to solve real world problems for the past 15 years and is currently engaged in three distinct impact businesses:

Zanby is a white-label enterprise ‘group of groups’ social collaboration startup he co founded in 2005. With strong domestic and international reach, Zanby was used to facilitate discussions between private business, NGO’s, government and cotton collectives to curb Walmart’s child labor practices in Uzbekistan.

Warecorp is an onshore/offshore software consulting and development company he co founded in 2004 as a spinoff from a previous venture.  One recent WareCorp project facilitated crowdsourcing funds to build an orphanage in Haiti.

The Uptake is a citizen-fueled, online video news gathering organization focused on government transparency (think CSPAN for the web). Started in 2007, he chairs the board of this nonprofit journalism upstart.   “Better storytelling at the local level about business and more transparency about political processes can lead to prosperity,”  he says.

The Uptake received Center for Public Integrity’s “top ten websites of the year” award in 2008, in addition to five society for professional journalism awards since inception.  “We filmed every minute of the Norm Coleman Al Franken recount trial, including 40 different recount stations live…the result of that effort was that Minnesota has preserved its reputation as a good government state, ” he confidently concludes.

And as if three businesses wasn’t enough already, he recently added diary-based blogging network SoapBlox to the mix.

To streamline operations (and maintain sanity), Dykstra recently rolled his holdings into a B Corporation called Global Contribution. The B Corporation represents a fresh approach to modern business, in that it wraps a for-profit model around a named benefit which serves as the primary operating objective.   With Global Contribution, it’s all about spreading entrepreneurship (more on that to follow).

Chris can be hard to pin down — if only because he’s consumed with action wherever he goes. The collective mission in all that he does is to “create more connected, better informed, healthy and sustainable communities.”

A month ago,  he was in Kansas visiting with the Kauffman Foundation, then his media company went to Wisconsin to cover the chaos next door, and now he’s in Austin, Texas for the CoWorking Unconference.  His work regularly takes him around the world to places like Mexico, Europe and Russia where he’s expanding business relationships, consulting, and speaking about social entrepreneurship.

“I look at all these as business problems…they’re the ones I want to focus on…for me, they’re the richest opportunities. I would encourage people to consider becoming an entrepreneur and reaching for the empowerment that it provides in personal life…think about what market opportunities exist around our shared social problems.”

Tune in for an outstanding story of how one Minnesota entrepreneur applies technology towards the betterment of societies — an innovation of the mind.