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As 30 become ten, we take a look at how the Chivas Venture 2017 quarter-finals went down.

With any competition, there are highs, lows and bitter-sweet moments. Today is no exception, as we say goodbye to 20 inspiring social entrepreneurs, and congratulations to our ten semi-finalists.

In the spirit of getting down to business, we won’t leave you hanging. It’s time to reveal our top ten.


Katharine Budd, Now Money
Peetachai Dejkraisak, Siam Organic
Dickson Ochieng, Sanivation
Álvaro Vásquez, Bioestibas
Mark Istvan, NowTechnologies
Michaël Van Cutsem, Beeodiversity
James Steere, iDrop
Son Preminger, Intendu
Chioma Ukonu, RecyclePoints
Tricia Compas-Markman, DayOne Response

For these ten entrepreneurs, the journey has just begun. They now have the semi-finals to prepare for tomorrow, followed by the live final on Thursday 13th July. Sounds like a busy couple of days then. Well, you didn’t think it would be easy, did you?

Day two, from dawn till dusk
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at how day two unfolded. We kicked off the quarter-finals back at the stunning location of NeueHouse in Hollywood. Here, our finalists were divided into five groups of six, each with a panel of carefully selected judges, including Sonal Shah, Bridget Hilton and brothers, Raan and Shea Parton.

Our finalists had five minutes to pitch their business, followed by ten minutes of grilling from the judges. We caught up with Sonal Shah for a behind the scenes chat:

Chivas Venture: How does this year’s Chivas Venture differ from last year?

Sonal Shah: The competition’s been a lot tougher! [There are] many more projects in many more diverse categories, and it’s been fascinating to see the different trends this year. The quality of the participants is incredible and it only improves with every Chivas Venture.

CV: Are there any particular qualities you look for in a successful social entrepreneur?

SS: I tend to look for three things. One is passion – is the entrepreneur passionate about what they’re doing? Two – do they understand the problem they’re trying to solve and the market in which they’re trying to do it? And three – do they see a pathway for themselves to grow over time? In the past I’ve looked for scale, but now I think the pathway is key.

CV: We’ve got a lot of fantastic candidates this year. Without naming names, do you think there are any real standouts?

SS: There’s always at least one standout, but the others are really tough. The challenge is trying to compare people that have huge transformational opportunity but aren’t quite there yet, with those who have figured out their growth. That’s what we as judges struggle with most!

As the judges deliberated over a spot of lunch (it’s a hard life for some), two quarter-finalists from each group were chosen to go through to the semi-finals.

Tears and cheers of support rang out between the 30 social entrepreneurs, all of whom have formed strong bonds throughout the competition. And whilst commiserations are all part of the process, they’re all winners in our book.

We wrapped up the night with dinner in west Hollywood. Our finalists and judges got to know one another a little better, sharing tips and success stories over canapes and cocktails (we didn’t say it was all work and no play now did we?). Then, it was back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep, ready for the next challenge on Wednesday. Bring it on.

Join the conversation using #ChivasVenture and follow @ChivasVenture on Twitter for all the news from LA, highlights from the competition, and the latest stories, ideas and individuals that are helping to shape our future.

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