NONPROFIT IDEA ACCELLERATOR

There are some amazing innovations coming out of the not-for-profit sector, but it's hard for them to gain traction in a for-profit marketplace. I founded a team of designers, technologists, and business experts to provide early-stage assistance and support for potentially world-changing ideas.

 

Research & Strategy | User Experience Design | Placemaking | Identity Development | Website Design | Organizational Strategy | Campaign Development | Marketing Collateral

I believe the very best ventures are driven by passionate people motivated by a sense of burden to create something bigger than themselves. I knew I wanted to create a passion-centric process that pushed these sorts of individuals to the forefront. I assembled a team of visionaries to come alongside these individuals capable of building world-class products and services, but pointed purposefully at social impact. Our purpose was to gather around things that matter, things that shape our culture, and things that make a difference in the world.

I built a brand using "grey," to represent the space between an individual's passion and the culture around us that can be engaged as a vehicle for change. I combined it with "mob" to be short for mobilization, how I wanted to use GreyMob as a stimulus for getting others' ideas going, as well as a reference to a mob of people like the kind of fervent crowd that storms a city and evokes change.

I built a website and social media presence employing that identity system that is professional, but accessible. I wanted to use paper textures, watercolors, and hand-drawn figures to be clear that we're positioned to work with pre-formation initiatives, not just funded, already polished companies. I selected a flame as a metaphor for passion, and the story of the figures throughout the website shows a character in gray, representing GreyMob, coming up to another character, representing a fellow, with a small fire in their chest. With the GreyMob character's help, the fellow is able to turn that small fire into a large flame, then use that to light a torch to lead a team of others to the city as if to change it with their innovation.

It was important to me to create a brick-and-mortar space positioned geographically in the heart of the cultural part of the city that represented this brand, stimulated creativity, and embodies hope and optimism. I built the studio to be collaborative and open, and the organization flat and agile. I created a process that was as lean and action-oriented as possible, keeping the passion of the principal in the forefront pulling the venture, and emphasizing the design-stage that carries an innovation from synthesis to strategy. My objective was to help clients dream, define, research, ideate, prototype, brand, market, and deliver a real-world solution. I was asked to speak as the lead at the first ever TEDx Purdue University about this unique form of passion-driven social impact innovation.

Since I had not-for-profit objectives as heavy on encouragement and networking as deliverables, I called our clients Fellows and built a fellowship application as step one in a multi-step intake engine. This helped us stay in scope and invest our resources efficiently. GreyMob works with about a dozen fellows each year.

GreyMob has worked to date on ventures related to things such as local arts and music, literacy, hunger relief locally and abroad, international fair trade, clean water, low-cost prosthetics, HIV awareness, bio-presses, micro-business textiles, and others. We have delivered business plans, market analyses, marketing campaigns, public installations, awareness drives, logos, brands, identity systems, fundraising strategies, board designs, and lots of high-fives. 

I also knew I would need some outside help if I was to position GreyMob in the nonprofit sector, and I built an incredible team of like-minded advisors and experts from places like Google and the Peace Corps, heads of banks and hospitals, and those with experience in fortune 100 companies. I also designed and built a fundraising campaign, sold naming rights to fellowships, and positioned GreyMob to receive program-related disbursements from foundations.