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  • Writer's pictureDave Ferran

A Message from our CEO

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read) Summary:

  1. We’re still here! & We’re working on new things.

  2. Black Lives Matter and what we’re doing about it.

  3. COVID stinks, so we’re pivoting to online - October Cohort is coming!

Read on for more.

Torrey Project Update

Dear friends and members of the Torrey Project family, as we move into the final weeks of the “Summer of 2020” I think we can all agree that it has been a summer to remember.

Some of you might feel it has been a summer to forget but I would strongly disagree.

It is true that as a people and as a planet we are facing extraordinary challenges, challenges that none of us could have imagined, not that long ago. So, it is with these challenges in mind that I suggest we must NOT forget this summer, this year, this pandemic or this period of social unrest. Rather, we need to look closely and carefully at the state of the planet, the state of our global economy, the state of society and the state of the local communities we live, work, and play in.

As I cast my attention to the reality of where we are and the daunting road ahead, I am deeply troubled and am feeling more compelled than ever to push for positive change on so very many fronts.

At Torrey Project, we care about the planet. We care about society. We care about racial injustice. We care about Social Economic injustice. And, we believe in Capitalism.

It is the faith we have in the inherent goodness of people and our belief in the restorative potential of Capitalism (when done correctly) that gives us hope at Torrey Project and energizes all that we do.

We are committed to teaching, training, financing, mentoring, and empowering future generations of entrepreneurs, here in America and around the world. We believe that business can, and must, be used as a force for positive change. To do that, we need a new operating system. One that builds better solutions for all Stakeholders, not just shareholders. We need an operating system that addresses systemic injustices including racial justice, economic injustice, diversity, and inclusion. It starts by teaching entrepreneurs the right mindset and providing the tools that are required to create a socially responsible, stakeholder-focused, and profitable business.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Thus far, we have been silent on the recent events that have brought the topic of racial injustice to the forefront of discussion, including the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others. We have watched, listened and learned, and we are now ready to speak up and speak out. Let it be clear, Torrey Project is a staunch supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. As a nation and as a people we have failed to act in accordance with the founding principles of our country and the tenets of common decency. Now is the time for action. We must take this moment in time to make meaningful systemic changes in order to permanently wipe away the stain of bigotry, exploitation and exclusion that has plagued our great country for way too many generations.

We recognize that we at Torrey Project must look inwardly as well as outwards. We recognize that we still have work to do in our own approach to racial justice and we welcome support from all our Stakeholders as we strive to become the epitome of a just and equitable organization.

To date we have made some small steps in the right direction. We have opened our doors and our hearts to all entrepreneurs, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or religious affiliation. Thanks to our donors we have been able to offer our bootcamps on a tuition-free basis so as to provide an equal opportunity for all aspiring entrepreneurs, regardless of their financial status. We held our first Female Founder cohort in January 2020, and 41% of our graduates are women. Despite our good intentions and early successes, we know we still have a lot more work to do in creating an environment and an organization where diversity thrives and world class leaders are developed.

The Global Pandemic

As a start-up organization, Torrey Project had very little time to build its resilience before COVID hit us, and it hit us hard. Almost overnight the only thing we did (in-person educational programs for entrepreneurs) got eliminated, funding dried up, we lost our paid staff members and were contemplating disbanding. And then…it happened.

It was as if all the good deeds we had done in our short time as Torrey Project suddenly came back to haunt us, in the most positive and spectacular of ways.

Suddenly, we had offers of unpaid assistance coming from the most unexpected of places. The government stepped in and helped us out with a small loan. Board members wrote checks to keep us alive. Former graduates came back and pitched in. Service providers kept working without pay. Speakers offered to waive their speaking fees. New partners magically appeared. Colleges and universities from around the country have locked arms with us, and the momentum has been steadily building.

From the depth of despair, a new hope has arisen, buoyed by our community and by Torrey Project’s many incredible stakeholders.

Our appreciation for the tremendous outpouring of support we have received from around the country knows no bounds. We are both grateful and humbled by all of the kindness and generosity that we have experienced.

In return, we offer heartfelt thanks to all of you who have helped us weather the storm. It is because of you that we are here today to enthusiastically reaffirm our commitment to our mission of “accelerating the transition to a more compassionate, inclusive, and just form of Capitalism."

We believe in the power of business done right, and we believe that well-led and well-run businesses can and will play a central role in saving the planet and its people from what is clearly looking to be a very, unhappy ending.

What’s next? Have you ever seen a digital dinosaur?

Torrey Project is going online!

We have our very first online educational program starting Monday October 26th. Our new format will combine some of the most appreciated elements of our “Bootcamp for Conscious Entrepreneurs” with a whole new cast of speakers, business experts and thought leaders. It will be an interesting transition, and we are sure to experience a few growing pains as we enter this new era. That said, we are excited and energized by the challenge. The Torrey Project board has approved and has funded the first phase of development of the Torrey Project Academy, a central hub for all things entrepreneur related. Stay tuned as we begin to roll out elements of the Academy later this year and into 2021.

Our new online program is geared towards first time entrepreneurs and is dedicated to founders who are willing to consider embracing stakeholder capitalism and who are sincerely interested in using their new business as a force for good in the world.

Changing times call for changing business models. All of us are now challenged to think differently as we come to grips with a new normal. And, that is perfectly OK with us. COVID-19 did not put an end to Torrey Project. It made us stronger and hopefully wiser.

Perhaps more people now see the error in building brittle businesses for the benefit of shareholders without due consideration for the impact on its stakeholders. Businesses that are built with a focus on robust and respectful Stakeholder relationships have the ability to recover from difficult conditions. In other words, they are more resilient. The new normal in the world of business must now be one centered around Resilience and Regeneration.

We call on the global capital markets to embrace Stakeholder Capitalism and we ask that they finally see that regenerative companies are resilient - they are built to last in the face of unexpected trauma and are, therefore, less risky. Business leaders, over the past six months, have seen the difference that employees can make when the going gets tough. The world must finally be ready for a better version of Capitalism. Torrey Project is here and stands ready to help make that transition happen. Join us in re-imagining capitalism, together.

Thanks for your interest in our passion and your support of our purpose.

Dave Ferran

Founder & CEO Torrey Project

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