Summer Entrepreneurial Experiences

During August 2013...

Week 8: Letting Go of “Grumble”

Monday, August 26, 2013 3:19 pm

This week Ryan and John have been asking me to weigh in with my opinion on a pretty big topic – rebranding Campus Grumble. Although we’re all attached the the current name of the platform, we’ve come to realize through conversations with many users and clients that the term “grumble” isn’t exactly the most positive spin on the concept of submitting feedback. It connotates a bunch of Negative Nancys typing out long-winded, whiny complaints online. This really does not communicate the purpose or function of Campus Grumble’s platform model. So, decisions are being made to change CG’s brand, most notably its name.

When considering new names for the platform we try to keep a few things in mind:

– How easily readable/pronouncable is our new name?
– Can users roughly infer what our product/service is just by hearing or reading the new name?
– Does the name lend itself to unique and catchy taglines? (e.g. mumble this grumble)
– Does the new name accurately reflect our values and purpose?

After asking ourselves these questions, we did some preliminary brainstorming for names. We came up with a list of about 20 possible new names and compiled them into a spreadsheet. Then I did some research regarding the availability of domain names, trademarks, Facebook usernames, and Twitter handles. A name was removed from the list if any one of these was not available. It’s important for the name of the platform to be consistent across the board. It makes more sense to the user and prevents any accidental misdirection on the web.

Finally the list of 20 was narrowed to a list of 5 potential names. Ryan and John then spent time fleshing out the details of each name like what a mumble or grumble would be called under that name, how the logo would look, and what types of free association does the name lend itself to. So far it has been a really difficult process. Everyone on the Campus Grumble team has their own opinion on the matter and we seemingly all have different favorites.

It won’t be easy letting go of the name Campus Grumble, but I know that rebranding is the right decision for the success of the platform. It will open up our users’ minds to change the way they think about giving feedback on campus issues. As of right now, no decision has been made. Hopefully the perfect name that we all agree on will come to mind soon.

Have suggestions of your own? Comment them on this blog post or email them to shelby@campusgrumble.com!

Shelby A. Taylor

Wake Forest University ’14
Bachelor of Arts in Communication
Minors in Entrepreneurship/Social Enterprise and Italian

Reflection, Post #8

Sunday, August 25, 2013 8:33 pm

Overall, the opportunity that I had to work for Monumental Sports and Entertainment was the most special job opportunity I’ve had, which
may not sound like much for someone my age, but I also had the opportunity to intern on Capitol Hill and I enjoyed this opportunity even more so.
Working for a sports company really provided me with a chance to work in a field I’ve been incredibly interested in my whole life.

I’ve lived and breathed sports since the age of four, so to see the management of a professional team up close was truly incredible. Events that I would generally attend as a fan or watch on TV (John Wall press conference, Wizards Draft Party, Mystics games, etc.), I was now setting up and seeing first-hand. This entrepreneurial experience was very unique in that I was working with something I was truly passionate about.
Because the company was recently founded in 2010, I had the chance to not only see a sports company, but also a start-up company, which
certainly had its advantages to work for.

With newly founded companies there’s a certain mindset of constant innovation and careful thought in every move made to make sure the company creates revenue and I was able to see this mindset up close. Everything the employees did had a sense of urgency and everyone was looking for constant feedback. This made the experience all the more valuable and interesting; I really learned to be insightful, yet careful in my time with the company. I attempted to offer ways to improve certain routines, while carefully executing effective strategies.

Although readjusting from a college clock to a working day was tough, it provided for great benefits. Firstly, I was able to build up my
attention span and work for a longer period of time (8 hour working day instead of 4 hours of classes per day). I really feel like my endurance increased to get through a long day. Secondly, I built a more realistic clock for the real world, as opposed to a late college clock. For work downtown, I woke up at 6:30 most days and arrived home around 6:00pm most nights. Waking up earlier is something I definitely need to get used to and my internship provided for a first step in my adjustment of time, which I will surely appreciate in the future.

I’m terribly grateful for my opportunity to work with Monumental Sports and Entertainment and I feel very gracious that Wake Forest
helped make the opportunity a reality. I’m anxious to explore a different entrepreneurial field next summer and attempt to truly pin point the most
fitting job for my future. But for now, I’m content with going to class for another year.

Done

Saturday, August 24, 2013 3:19 am

My internship with TMWRK Management has finished. I have to say it was my best and favorite experience with an internship I’ve ever had. I hope to one day come back to this company whether it be in LA or NY as I felt the team welcomed me in open arms and I feel I could benefit them. There is still so much I need to learn and experience but I feel like this is the place to do so.

I have cherished every moment I experienced this summer and realized that the management and representation side of the music industry is where I want to be. I have an enormous respect for my bosses as they believe in our artists’ talent so much they fight for it as if it were their own lives. This is something I wish to gain and appreciate in the years to come as I feel it is what makes TMWRK so special and successful.

Mad Decent Block Party – Brooklyn

Saturday, August 24, 2013 3:12 am

This passed woSaturday was the Mad Decent Block Party in Williamsburg Park Brooklyn. It was the first Block Party I was able to attend to see all the work I had done first hand. The Brooklyn show was by far the best lineup of the whole tour, explaining why it was the first venue to sell out of all the tours dates. I got to truly experience the management side of the show and artists, including all access credentials for stage, backstage, and artists spots. It really was enjoyable to be the personal assistant of the partnering managers for the day as I got to see how they run and manage the entire day and night to run smoothly.

Not only did we have to maintain all the performing artists of the event but there were also many other celebrity artists and personnel that decided to come and hang out during the show. This served us an even bigger task to please and maintain the fluidity of the event. Pleasing the sponsors and making sure all the fan engagement of the show was also a difficult task to manage but was doable with the man power we had.

The entire day and night was an absolute great time even though I was technically “working.” Not one moment passed where I stopped to realize what I was actually doing was considered work. There are still 5 more dates of the Mad Decent Block Party but today was my last day. Therefore, I had to leave my end of the work set up for the next 5 dates to avoid any conflict for my coworkers in the future.

The show was an absolute success, everyone was having a great time and the artists felt like this was the best stop of the tour thus far.

Under Construction : Hard Hat Zone

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 2:55 pm

It was not until I completed the infamous SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) on HerSpace, Inc. that I realized the organization was in a serious ‘Under Construction’ phase. All summer I have been working to put certain key elements in place that will ensure the organizations success as a growing non-profit organization. I have pretty much had on my ‘Hard Hat’ all summer and have not even realized it.

The SWOT analysis gave me a clear and concise idea of where the organization stood, areas of improvement, and opportunities that exist that would be of benefit to the organization. Such an analysis is not always an easy pill to swallow on paper because it requires the organization to be internally transparent from all angles. It reveals the gap between where you are as an organization and where you want to be. It reveals the gap between your goals and your results and the gap between what is and what is not. Because of the amount of emotional energy that I have invested into HerSpace, Inc. it can be difficult to take a step back and conduct such an analysis. All in all, it requires on to wear a ‘Hard Hat’ – emotionally disconnect and professionally assess.

Although challenging at times, ithas been a pleasure spending so many hours building and constructing HerSpace, Inc. I appreciate the moments that have required me to step back and assess. I also am thankful for those moments that have reeled my emotional strings and pulled me to a place of passion and purpose.

The End

Thursday, August 15, 2013 11:46 pm

This past week was my last week at AMOS and I couldn’t be happier with how the summer and my project turned out. To give an overview, I was placed in charge of researching and developing a micro-credit cooperative in an isolated rural community in Nicaragua. In my first visit, we found out that the women’s cooperative had been struggling with organizing themselves and harnessing the sewing machines that they had received. They hadn’t had a formal meeting in 9 months and a lot of them had lost hope about the future of the project. It was then our job to figure out why they were struggling and work with them to move forward with the project.

Fast forward a month, and we were just leaving from our final visit to the community where we had executed an entrepreneurial training course. At the end of the course, the women wrote their own business plan, had set up meetings with local officials to move their project forward, and even some of them were sketching out designs for skirts they wanted to sell. We left the community with tons of optimism and what seemed to be a clear plan of where they were moving towards in the future. I couldn’t have been happier with their progress.

So what was the best part of the internship: that moment. It felt so great to have been able to use my experience in business and economics to actually help people who needed it. They were so grateful, appreciative, and excited to be working with us. It was really inspiring.

The worst part of the internship was also one of the most exciting parts. When we were in the rural communities, we lived in a “house” with nothing resembling a modern amenity but even worse, with spiders the size of my fist. How do you sleep when 15 minutes ago there was a big hairy tarantula 5ft away from your cot? Well, as a self-described arachnophobe , I can say that you just have to work yourself hard enough during the day that you are too tired to think about it at night. But as crazy as it sounds, I am very appreciative of the experience, as now I safely laugh at any little spider in the US knowing what real monsters are out there.

The true learning experience was being exposed to such a different perspective of life. The poverty that I was able to work with really exposed me to my own fortune and blessings. When I went out with Ismael for 3 hours to milk cows only for him to receive less than a dollar, it was an experience I will never forget. It makes me really appreciate what opportunities I have received in my life and truly understand “The accident of birth”.

Overall, I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work at AMOS. It provided me with insight, relationships, and perspectives that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

 

Drawing near…

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 10:00 pm

My time in Peru is drawing to a close. I can’t believe how fast time has passed–wasn’t it just yesterday I was stumbling through Spanish introductions and speaking hesitantly to the ladies?

This week at Krochet Kids has been crazy. A shipment going out this Saturday means pulling late nights at the office (8 am to 10, 11pm sometimes) counting, sorting, tagging, bagging, sealing and boxing hundreds of hats, scarves, sweaters, shirts, and more. I am amazed at how close I feel to the people here, how quickly they became my family. I don’t know how it happened, but somehow along the way my heart got invested in each of these ladies, in their kids, in their stories. The first week of adjusting was difficult and all i wanted were the comforts of home, but now, more than anything, I wish I could stay and continue this journey with these people, to continue the daily grind that we all hope will be worth it in the end. That’s the best, and the worst thing about social enterprise. You never have any idea what is about to happen.

We have just begun the process of integrating and training 10 new ladies. They will train with Chabela, our in house knitting expert, mother figure, and one of my best friends and mentors here, for a month, have one on one mentoring sessions with the mentors, and be integrated with the other ladies once they finish their training. It was crazy and fascinating to see how fast and agile we were able to move in order to grow the program almost 30% in a week and a half-I got to be a part of the meeting where every detail of the process was decided in less than 45 minutes. Every decision is an exciting mix of risk, trust, aggression, discernment, and faith that it will somehow all work out. I think that’s one of the reasons why this line of work interests me so much. It’s quick, effective, exciting, and results are seen quickly, but that doesn’t mean you can disregard foresight either.

The new fall 2013 line of products we have been working hard on has been released…check it out here: www.krochetkids.org

20/20 Vision

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 6:50 pm

Although I have never had perfect natural vision, I have always been quite a natural visionary. I instinctively can see beyond today into tomorrow, I can see the possibilities beyond the impossibilities and in essence the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Ideas excite and ignite me. New concepts and creative tanks take me to one of my most fulfilling zones.

One of my roles this summer has been devising a fundraising strategy and building relationships that will bring HerSpace, Inc. the financial resources that it will need to operate its programming for the upcoming year. This has been one of my most difficult responsibilities to say the least. Because I am such a natural visionary, I have had to worked diligently at honing my skills to paint the very picture of HerSpace, Inc. that I see to others. I had to realize what I naturally see does not necessarily come natural to those that I am sharing the vision and mission of HerSpace, Inc. with.

I have welcomed this challenge and I have worked tirelessly to perfect this growing skill of mines. I have had to develop tools and diagrams to assist me in my vision sharing as I attempt to can the influence and support of others in order to further advance the mission of HerSpace, Inc.

When people do not have 20/20 vision you have to give it to them!

Why do we do this?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 2:02 am

Throughout my time here I have been learning more about the importance of asking “why?” Not only do I learn a lot by asking this little three letter word, but it is the most important question to ask in the entrepreneurial process.

An interesting conversation between my boss and I came up one day on the car ride home. He was explaining to me the generational poverty that exists in the type of urban poverty we work with in that community, and how it is different from other types of poverty (for example, event related poverty–Haiti, northern Uganda–act differently than generational poverty and respond differently to the KKP model). I had never really thought to look at poverty this way. I, like most people, originally thought that poverty was just an overall lack of basic things, but it affects so much more than quality of life and day to day convenience and comfort. It affects the entire person-physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. He told me about an unexpected obstacle they’ve encountered in Lima that they didn’t in Uganda–the poverty mentality, he called it. This “poverty mentality”, has been created as a result of many things–generations of families living in poverty, not being able to educate their children, not being able to find jobs because of incomplete education–, NGOs that had good intentions–toys at Christmas, relief aid and other hand out type programs–but actually damage a community by making it dependent, materially and mentally, on the NGO, and other various unaccounted for variables.

He told me that sometimes they encounter with the ladies a “poverty mentality”, something that more or less sounds like “I’m poor, and you are a Western NGO, so you are supposed to help me and I am entitled to that help”. Krochet Kids is different than other NGOs in that we try to create opportunity, not just relief, not just economic success. The ladies get paid for their work, but sometimes we run into difficulties when different expectations collide. It is difficult to make decisions when trying to balance so many factors and systems–the ladies and their wages, orders from HQ for new products, samples being produced for the next season, yarn orders and inventory, post production, and the training of the 10 new ladies–and not prioritize some things more highly than others. It would be easy, if we were not an NGO, to do whatever it takes at whatever cost to meet every order on time. But that’s not what we are about. We have to continually ask ourselves, “why do we do this?” The answer is, and always will be, to empower these ladies to rise above their situation, their poverty. If that means being a couple days late on an order because one of our ladies is having a baby, or a batch of products were produced in the wrong color, so be it. The ladies are our priority–we aren’t going to fire workers because of inefficiency. However, it is not an easy change to make because it is not a decision that has needed to be made before.

This, unlike the video shoots and house visits, is a less glamorous part of the job, but was an important learning moment for me. I often have a simplistic, idealized concept of what this type of work should look like, and don’t always anticipate speed bumps. Not everyone who is poor thinks like this.

One can read books and study poverty, social enterprise, and entrepreneurship (I am), but there is no education quite like being here, interacting with these ladies, their families, working in their community, and learning from my boss and our model more everyday. Theories, models, studies…they’re all just words. But these ladies, these stories, this place, and this organization…this is real. This is empowerment. This is entrepreneurship. This is what change looks like.

 

And I am so excited that I get to be a part of it, and am gaining the knowledge and tools and passion to do more.

Home visit-Julia Gonzalez

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 1:16 am

Another opportunity I had was to visit the homes of a couple of the ladies with the film crew. I was excited to learn more about the process of visual storytelling, something I would like to be accomplished at myself, and also the chance to get to know the family and home behind Julia’s smiling face that I saw at work everyday.

Stray dogs run amok. Little kids laugh and play in the street. I try not to step in dog poo. The sounds and smells of lunch cooking drift through the air. These are the sights and smells of Pacifico, and my heart is filled with gratitude but is broken at the same time. This was my second trip to Pacifico, the first being a walking tour with the other interns, and with our big white van and handful of gringoes, you can imagine the stares we received. We pulled up on a Saturday morning, driving up a steep San Francisco reminiscent dirt hill crowded with poorly constructed houses. None of these homes have heat or running water, making its location right on the ocean undesirable. Pacifico has a certain beauty–the colorful wood panels of the houses contrasting against the gray washed sky above and muted dirt below, and the hills that overlook the ocean. Its location, above a magnificent bay, would be billion dollar property somewhere else, but here, it is the end of the line. Water arrives 2-3 times a week in a truck, ringing a bell signifying to the residents its arrival. The neighborhood residents run out of their homes with practiced precision and a touch of panic with large buckets and hoses–if they miss the water truck, they have no water to bathe, cook, or drink.

In the time we spent at Julia’s house, I learned a bit more about her story. She had come to Lima at 9 years old to work for a family member as a maid and was mistreated and abused, and went years without getting paid. She went about the house with quiet confidence, and I sensed her pride as she showed us the laundry machine and water tank she was able to buy because of her income working at Krochet Kids. We chatted while she cooked lunch, and I got to know her kids more, specifically, Jennifer, a sweet spirited 9 year old girl. We weren’t doing anything extraordinary, just making conversation and getting to know each other, but the normalcy with the way Julia treated us, a bunch of foreigners with cameras, was humbling. Once again I realized how lucky I am, and once again my desires and hopes and dreams of helping women like Julia overcome powerfully adverse situations were affirmed.

It was a glimpse into Julia’s life, a step deeper into the entrepreneurial dreams of my heart, and an experience I will not forget, not because of the things we were doing, but because of Julia, because of her story, and because I want to tell more stories like hers.

Here are pictures from that day: http://kristianachan.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/but-why/

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