Founder Stories: Responsible Innovation Tools and Methods

The best founders and operators want to do the right thing. And it’s hard to do. That’s why we brought together founders to share their stories on how they’ve put responsible innovation into practice – from data ethics to product decisions to board management.

Leaders from Multitudes (seed-stage), Sora Schools (Series A), and Planet (publicly-listed Public Benefit Corporation) joined RIL founding team member Luisa Reyes for mini-sessions on how they’re actually putting responsible innovation into practice – from data ethics principles to quarterly feature reviews, governance mechanisms and step one of introducing a responsible innovation framework to one’s team. CEOs also reflected on the biggest challenges facing their teams and how to respond as they build products, processes and GTM strategies iteratively. Attendees were invited to be early contributors to the Responsible Innovation Roadmap, a tool for teams to think more rigorously about how to build a responsible company.

Key Takeaways:

  • Great innovation has social value. It starts early with a clear mission and orientation to create a business that’s ambitious and good for the world.
  • Begin by introducing your team to a responsible innovation mindset. Offsites are a great opportunity to introduce the framework and get started on figuring out how it best fits your business.
  • Data is power. Form your data ethics principles by leveraging existing resources and best thinking out there. This kind of rigor and intentionality, bolstered with governance, can help mitigate bad actor scenarios.
  • Ask first what kinds of data should be collected. Take early steps (ex. train on diverse data sets) to be proactive on your data ethics.
  • Optimize for intended consequences and against unintended consequences - use key consequence indicators like KPIs.
  • Practice radical empathy and bring stakeholders into the room for decisions. Put users first.
  • Integrate values into product decisions and product roadmap planning (ex. quarterly features roadmap and risk rating against your data ethics principles).

Session Speakers

Andrew Zolli

Chief Impact Officer, Planet

Andrew Zolli is Chief Impact Officer at Planet, a breakthrough space and AI organization that has deployed the largest constellation of Earth-observing satellites in history. He joined Planet in its early days and continues to oversee Sustainability and Global Impact initiatives at the company. He is also on the International Board of Directors of Human Rights Watch.

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Garrett Smiley

Co-Founder and CEO, Sora Schools

Garrett Smiley is the Co-Founder and CEO of Sora Schools, a virtual, project-based high school where students explore their interests, learn however is best for them, and gain exposure to future careers. Previously, Garrett co-founded a charity which built wells in developing nations called Drops of Love, directed a university startup incubator called Core Founders at Georgia Tech, and started an education non-profit that worked with foster children to develop financial literacy called Flip, and worked as a Venture Partner at Contrary Capital.

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Risto Lähdesmäki

Chief Product Officer, Sora Schools

Risto Lähdesmäki is Chief Product Officer of Sora Schools. Risto has been focused on the UX design space since 1999 through investing in and founding new companies.

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Lauren Peate

Founder and CEO, Multitudes

Lauren Peate is Founder and CEO of Multitudes, an ethical team analytics tool that delivers engineering effectiveness metrics without the creepiness. Before founding Multitudes, Lauren founded a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultancy called Ally Skills NZ, worked in San Francisco with Fortune 500 tech companies, and worked with startups across the Middle East. Lauren studied economics and Arabic at Stanford University.

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Vivek Katial

Founding Team and Data, Multitudes

Vivek Katial is a founding team member and data scientist at Multitudes. Multitudes provides insights and actions to unlock high-performing teams without the burnout – with a focus on engineering. He has his PhD in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Melbourne.

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Luisa Reyes

Founding Product Manager, Responsible Innovation Labs

Luisa Reyes is a founding team member of Responsible Innovation Labs and joined as our first hire. She focuses on building our community and early products. Her work has spanned private markets, early-stage organizations, and, at the start, education and community organizing. Across sectors, she enjoys building high-leverage tools for a better world and the teams and ops behind them.

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