Contributed by: Mark Taylor II
After months of blood, sweat and maybe a few thoughts of tears, it was time for Goodie Nation to take yet another moment to sit down and take a breather to talk about frustrations. On November 3, 2016 in the heart of the historic Underground Atlanta, friends of Goodie Nation gathered to vent about the ups and downs in their fight against gentrification disparities. As with every edition of Founders’ Therapy, Goodie Nation aimed to show entrepreneurs that they aren’t alone on their journey towards success, allowing others to share their pain and triumphs.
A Family Affair
Unlike most founders therapy sessions, this was closed to the general public and involved heroes and heroines who’ve participated in various stages of the Goodie Innovation Process. This meant gathering participants, judges, panelists, founders, volunteers, and even Goodie Nation staff to talk in an unfiltered environment about the triumphs and not so exciting, or even frustrating, moments throughout the process of progress towards social impact. Over a few eclectic beer selections provided by Brothers That Brew, attendees got down and dirty about about their struggles in a judgement-free zone with the guarantee of anonymity. So, as they say: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”
Goodie Nation staff leadership kicked off the discussion and reeled in the crowd by reiterating the origins of Founders’ Therapy. One staff member expressed how he intended to “help out a bunch of people [start businesses] without charging them” while also trying to deal with personal stress that comes with the territory of working with a nonprofit. Many acknowledged that friends and family can help, but they don’t understand like individuals who have been through the same trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship.
Another core staff member also chimed in with reflections of his past and harnessing the changemaker in him. Born and raised on the south side of metro Atlanta in the suburbs of Jonesboro, he needed something different when it came time to venture out. “There are [bad] things that happen in the suburbs that you don’t hear about, and since I feed off the energy around me, I needed a change.” He further expressed how bothersome it can be to see people galvanize around things that don’t seem to matter. “I feel limited and I want to help more [people]. There’s progress, but I feel like things are moving too slow for me now like they used to [back in Jonesboro] .
Founders from our ideation lab and team developers from our recent hackathon on gentrification disparities agreed. Some were annoyed with the other entities hacking on code for ideas and topics that don’t have an impact. One founder said “The idea of entrepreneurship is getting more perpetuated than the actual work itself,” causing an eruption of support and acknowledgement throughout the room. This segued into concerns with why locals don’t get engaged on real issues that affect the community and the inability to directly reach real people affected by gentrification. “When I look through the streets I see a diamond in the rough, or a dream deferred,” the participant elaborated on how painful it is to see people, especially children, that he can’t help no matter how hard he tries. As we expected, in a session like this there are a myriad of communal problems discussed:
- “Tech VS Engagement” – People let technology take the place of actually engaging with the people in the communities/centers they exist.
- “Narcissism trumps” – We care about ourselves so much that we don’t even take the time to care about other people in our immediate circle or community.
- Accountability – So many people say they want to make a difference, but when it’s time to lace boots up and hit the ground running
- Don’t Be a Lone Ranger – It’s dangerous to start a business alone as it can create more stress and not allow a buffer for checks and balances or diversity in thought
Be the Solution
After discussion and lamenting about several scenarios in the struggle to create social impact, it’s clear there is light at the end of the tunnel. A developer with five years of experience told his intimate story of the path that led to using his skills with us. “Goodie Hack was one of my personal trophies because the last two years of my life have been “shit-tastick.” I wound up in court and was ordered to volunteer. After several attempts at community service gigs, he didn’t meet his goal. “I was advised by my father to find something around my passion to do for volunteer work. Then I found about Goodie Hack and signed up.” Later he talked about continuing to help and not just because he was ordered to do it, but how his technical talent could make a real difference.
Other Founders’ Therapy participants spoke on their drive in the innovation Process to stick with seeing their business ideas through. Reflecting on Goodie Hack, one founder explains her management struggles. “We really had to sit down and find out what people’s talents are and how to motivate people so that they don’t give up. Our idea had so much research and time invested that we didn’t want to give up. Another founder who was quiet through most of the session, stood up with passion to put more positivity in the room. “I really want to help 5 million people,” she said. Although the fervent founder got discouraged during the innovation process when her co-founder stopped answering calls and dropped out, she still had hope. “We had a roadmap, and when we didn’t have resources, you all [Goodie Nation] helped. Through all of the complaints, frustration and venting, our entrepreneurs seem to agree on a few takeaways that we should note for startups and others looking to create social impact:
- “Grassroots Starts In Your Heart”: Technology is convenient, however we have to take moments to go into the community or epicenters where problems exist to make impact in addition to our use of tech solutions.
- No Time Like the Present: If you have an opportunity to do something good or expose yourself to something new, take advantage of it.
- Diversity is Key: The stigma towards what an entrepreneur looks like needs to be removed. Innovation can’t continue to grow if we all have the same mindset and uphold social or racial barriers up against those wanting to make change.
- Show Up and Show Out: If you know of a positive event, attend and do your part to make it a success.
- Two is Better Than One: Collaboration can’t be emphasized enough. Many ideas come from networking with others and working alongside partners with similar goals. It goes without saying, together everyone achieves more
Concluding the event, Joey presented the vision for Goodie Marketing on November 18-20 and motivated founders to keep pushing through. No matter where you are in the ecosphere of social impact, everyone has a role to play so be passionate and encouraged to play your part. We want to know: how do you balance business and romance? Comment below or on social media with your thoughts!
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