Some really good thoughts on Social Capital(ism) and related investment by Roger Ehrenberg came from a panel in NYC sponsored by Philly’s Goodcompany Ventures. Goodcompany CEO Garret Melby, who I enjoyed meeting after my presentation about organic team building at Entrepreneurs Unplugged back in December and spoke at Ignite earlier this week, also commented.

The full post is worth reading, but two quotes stood out to me:

It’s an issue of how you define capital and return.
My hypothesis is that we need a whole new regime for quantifying the value of businesses that have goals other than strictly financial profit. We need hard numbers – real metrics – to demonstrate the value of initiatives that create value for society beyond the payment of staff and the generation of profits for shareholders.
But the “R” [in ROI] – the return – isn’t simply financial profit: it’s economic utility, real benefits being enjoyed by society.

This leads me to something else that I always find hard to articulate: the ROI of IndyHall, or even coworking in general.

We’ve been running IndyHall for nearly 3 years as a business for a reason, and a profitable one at that. But the metrics for ROI aren’t salient, since most of the investment has been in human, knowledge, and time capital, and the return doesn’t show up on our balance sheet. As such, Geoff and I don’t take a draw, at least not in terms of cash…because that’s not what’s we’ve invested. If there was a balance sheet for the social capital we’ve invested and seen in return, though, and we had metrics for it, we’d be able to far better express and share what we’ve accomplished.