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Interviews

Stories that include video interviews.

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This Entrepreneur Is Working To Address Affordable Housing Crisis With Shipping Containers


The country’s fascination with tiny homes has led to a nascent movement using shipping containers for low-income housing. With some tiny homes and apartments having fewer than 200 square feet, the 40-foot shipping container and its approximately 320 square feet could feel relatively spacious.

Wanona Satcher, the CEO and founder of ReJuve Corp based in Atlanta, is launching a new initiative to create “Plug-In Pods” using shipping containers. She hopes to create a flexible model for l0w-income housing that addresses need of a range of people, from millennial minimalists to seniors who may want or need to live backyard-close to family caregivers.

Be sure to watch my interview with Wanona at the top of this artice.

Two Plug-In-Pods, one home and one office, rendered side-by-side courtesy of ReJuve Corp

Two Plug-In-Pods, one home and one office, rendered side-by-side courtesy of ReJuve Corp

Recently, Wanona launched a crowdfunding campaign on the new ifundwomen crowdfunding site. She has already raised $11,920 toward her goal of $20,000 to construct a prototype dwelling in a container.

The costs for creating a dwelling begin with the $2,000 to $3,000 price for a container. Wanona hopes to keep the all-in cost between $20,000 and $40,000.

Wanona is seeking to use a land trust to create financial models that will keep the housing units affordable long into the future. For the prototype dwelling, Wanona has received a donated site.

Container homes could potentially have very long lives. Containers are designed to withstand weather when shipped across oceans, on trains or highways. The strength of a container could be an optimal space for a dwelling.

Wanona is working to acquire and equip a manufacturing a facility where the containers can be converted. This will create jobs and allow the completed homes to be shipped to a site for installation.

She hopes that the homes will contribute to solutions for poverty in America. By providing radically affordable housing, she hopes to enable people to find sustainably affordable lifestyles.

To learn more, visit Wanona’s crowdfunding page at ifundwomen.

Wanona Satcher, courtesy of ReJuve Corp

Wanona Satcher, courtesy of ReJuve Corp

More about ReJuve Corp:

ReJuve Corp is an Atlanta-based charitable urban design nonprofit for social good. Our team reuses and upcycles spaces and materials to develop permanent equitable communities and effective neighborhood services around the globe through cost-efficient and environmentally sound methodologies.

Wanona’s bio:

Wanona Satcher is an urban designer, landscape architectural designer, city planner, economic developer and has produced children’s theatre. Wanona holds Masters degrees in landscape architecture and community planning from Auburn University as well as Economic Development and Finance Professional Certification from the National Development Council in small business development and real estate development. She’s been featured in the Huffington Post, GOOD Magazine and was a Next City Vanguard. Wanona is currently working on a crowdfunding campaign to rapidly build affordable housing and entrepreneurial spaces in low-wealth communities.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

 

New Venture Seeks $50k to Teach Coding to Adults on Autism Spectrum



You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

Oliver Thornton says his Aspergers is his super power. His brother, who is also on the autism spectrum, serves as a role model. Because autism hits close to home, he wanted to do something to address the unemployment rate for those with autism, which approaches 85 percent, he says. So, he launched Coding Autism with Austen Weinhart.

The two visited with me about their plans. Watch the interview at the top of the article.

Oliver, who serves as the company’s CEO, says, “Although we are pre-revenue, we just recently launched our crowdfunding campaign with the goal of fundraising a minimum of $50,000 on StartSomeGood. If we are successful with fundraising $50,000 on that platform, we will be able to cover the minimum costs to make the Coding Autism ASPIRE program happen.”

The money they are raising will go to pay the instructor, an assistant instructor, an occupational therapist, a social skills intervention expert, a career counselor and to pay for the space where the intensive 15-week course will be taught. Those who complete the course are expected to have sufficient skills to be able to begin a career as a software developer.

Oliver adds, that if they exceed the $50,000 goal they will be able to discount the tuition to the first class of students. If they reach $120,000, they can waive tuition altogether.

As of now, Coding Autism has raised $18,815.

Oliver says mentorship is key to the program’s success, “Research has proven that adults with autism tend to do significantly better in their careers and live more fulfilling lives when they have mentors and advocates. Coding Autism has made it one of its cornerstones to provide ongoing advocacy and mentorship services to all Coding Autism students. Our Coding Autism mentors and advocates ensure that all Coding Autism students stay on track with their curriculum requirements, their personal goals, their employment goals, and more.”

Readers can learn more and contribute to the campaign by visiting StartSomeGood.

More about Coding Autism:

Twitter: @codingautism

Coding Autism is a full-service professional coaching and training company that trains adults on the autism spectrum in professional skills such as software engineering, quality assurance, and web development. We also assist our graduates in finding employment within the software and technology industries. We do so by providing services such as immersive programs and bootcamps, resume workshops, career counseling, interview preparation, and coaching/mentorship, all of which is designed around providing an environment where people on the spectrum can thrive.

Oliver Thornton, courtesy of Coding Autism

Oliver Thornton, courtesy of Coding Autism

Oliver’s bio:

When I was two years old, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome shortly after my older brother was diagnosed with Autism. In 1994, the year of my diagnosis, having any variation of Autism was perceived as a horrific condition by society and experts in the medical field. In fact, doctors had told my parents that I would never develop adequate social skills and to not expect him to succeed independently in life.

Throughout my adolescent years, I struggled with my speech, making friends, and lacked self confidence in his intelligence and ability to succeed. One day, I had a realization. Through the motivational forces of autism influencers such as Temple Grandin, I transformed my mentality of what it truly meant to be an individual on the autism spectrum.

With this newly adopted mentality, I dove head on into my later years of college at California Lutheran University (CLU), where I was able to accomplish impressive feats such as obtaining my Real Estate Salesperson License, co-founding and spearheading CLU’s professional business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi, and winning CLU’s 2016 New Venture Competition.

Since my college graduation, I have devoted my waking hours to building my father’s real estate team/Real estate representation at Compass in Beverly Hills as well as building my start-up Coding Autism, which helps and trains autistic individuals in professional skills such as software engineering, website development, QA, etc as well as assists in finding and obtaining employment in the software and technology industries. In recent months, I have been slightly drifting away from real estate and moving towards working on Coding Autism full-time.

I am confident that my entrepreneurial mindset, my gift of Asperger’s syndrome, and my drive to succeed and make the autism community more progressive will allow me to satisfy my highest endeavors with Coding Autism and my future ventures. Eventually, I sees myself manifesting into one of the most influential advocates, thought leaders, and mentors of the autistic community in my generation.

Austen Weinhart, courtesy of Coding Autism

Austen Weinhart, courtesy of Coding Autism

Austen’s bio:

I come from a background of extensive experience in the technology space, performing roles in marketing, quality assurance, and web development. Early on as a student at UC Berkeley, I was the president of the public relations student group, PR @ Cal. After graduating from Berkeley, I worked on both technical and marketing projects for high-profile clients such as Adobe, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and others. I was drawn into Coding Autism both for my passion for autism advocacy and also as someone who is a product of a coding bootcamp education myself. I am eager to create an environment where others can turn their lives around by learning to code, just as I did.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and crowdfunding speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

 

7 Crowdfunding Keys For Social Entrepreneurs

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

Lots of people hold themselves out to be crowdfunding experts. I haven’t met anyone who has raised more money in on Kickstarter and Indiegogo than Funded Today’s Zach Smith. He reports raising over $110 million total over hundreds of campaigns.

Smith visited with me (watch the video recording of the interview above) to talk about how to apply his experience and insights for social entrepreneurs.

He thinks of himself as a social entrepreneur, helping other entrepreneurs to be successful. He is almost a prototypical entrepreneur. Young, confident—even brash—he has built his company to 50 employees and reports “eight figures plus” in revenue. Funded Today charges 25 to 35 percent of funds raised, so in its short three-year history, we’d expect it to have generated over $30 million in revenue.

Zach Smith

His reputation in the crowdfunding community is such that when Hiral Sanghavi, co-founder and CEO at BauBax had his crowdfunding campaign stall at around $4 million, he called on Smith to help. He says, “They reached out to a completely different audience and got another huge wave of traffic our way which helped us add another $4.5 million to our total in the last 3 weeks and our campaign closed at $9.19 million.”

“FT has got access to thousands of crowdfunding campaigns and they’ve built a community of early adopters out of it. They were able to get our campaign in front of the right audience who are mavens, early adopters of technology and innovative products. We couldn’t have done that using only Facebook ads,” Sanghavi says.

Paid media on social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, is a key tool that Funded Today uses to raise money for clients. Smith explains how you can do it on Facebook.

A good crowdfunding campaign begins with a crowd. A crowd is best represented by a list of email addresses. He suggests spending up to $5 per email address for people who are interested in your mission. Given that you’d like a list of 10,000 people and a list that long will cost up to $50,000 to build, he has another plan.

Ask, he says, someone in your mission space who has a list for a copy of the list specifically to use for building a Facebook audience. You should promise not to send email to the people on the list. Instead, you want to upload the list to Facebook for targeting advertising. Until Smith told me, I had no idea you could do this. Did you?

Not only can you use that audience as a target, Facebook will automatically offer to create a “lookalike” audience that is much bigger. For instance, I uploaded my mailing own mailing list following the instructions on Facebook and it instantly helped me create a list of more than 2 million people who are like the people on my list.

Smith also shared his “Seven Ps” for crowdfunding success:

  1. Product: The crowdfunding reward or product must be appealing; for nonprofits, Smith recommends identifying recognition that donors will appreciate.
  2. Platform: Not only do social entrepreneurs need to decide which platform to use, but whether or not their business is a good fit for crowdfunding. If a reward can’t be shipped or delivered digitally, it may not be, Smith says.
  3. Presentation: The way you pitch your offering on the crowdfunding page, including the video, represents the presentation—and he says it makes a big difference. Smith says he helped ShotBox raise over $184,000 primarily by changing the presentation after the original campaign raised only $7,000 and had to be canceled.
  4. Promotion: The three key parts to promotion are paid media, press and partnerships.
  5. Price: Smith cautions crowdfunders not to discount the price, noting that it is easier to drop the price later than to raise it.
  6. Probability: He says that backers need to believe you can and will do what you promise. In other words, you need to develop trust by proving you have the smarts and other resources to necessary to pull it off.
  7. People: Your team needs to have the right people on it; they must be confident of success and committed to doing the work required to achieve it.

Marina Prospero, CEO of Perfectore Corp, is crowdfunding with help from Funded Today now. She says, “We were watching some very successful 6 figure Kickstarter campaigns and they all had one thing in common, Funded Today was their marketing partner. Several of these campaigns were products that focused on back and neck treatment. We figured if they have already been successful marketing these campaigns then they will definitely know how to market ours.”

She’s glad she did. “They have performed beyond my expectation.” With Smith’s help, she’s raised over $585,000 with an original goal of just $5,000. “Frankly I am blown away at how good they are and I am anxious to work with them again on our next invention.”

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

 

Support the Web Development Training Program for Adults with Autism

Coding Autism will launch the first full-time web development training program specifically designed for adults on the autism spectrum. They are raising money on StartSomeGood. Recently I caught up with Oliver Thornton to learn more about the effort; here’s what he told me:

What is the social benefit you hope to achieve with or through your crowdfunding campaign?

It is completely unacceptable that our autistic community is experiencing an over 80% unemployment and underemployment rate. As passionate advocates who have either been diagnosed with autism ourselves or have family members affected with autism, we understand that with the right resources, training, coaching, and environment that individuals with autism can thrive in the workforce.

By contributing towards our campaign, contributors are contributing to the development of Coding Autism’s first web development bootcamp, the ASPIRE Web Development Immersive. This is a 15-week, full-time course where students will be learning the fundamental skills necessary to secure an entry-level web developer job. We cover both front-end and back-end skills, along with Quality Assurance and SCRUM principles. By the end of the course, students will walk away with a portfolio of full-stack web applications which they can use when applying to their first developer jobs.

This program would create the societal benefit of slashing the 80% autistic un/underemployment statistic that exists in our society and in turn creating highly qualified, skilled, and eager to work autistic employees to fill job vacancies in the tech industry.

How much money are you hoping to raise and why? How much have you raised so far?

Through out crowdfunding campaign, we are hoping to raise $50,000 as our tipping point goal. If we reach our tipping point we can cover the minimum costs to make the Coding Autism ASPIRE program happen. This includes providing the salary for the primary Coding Autism immersive instructor, an assistant instructor, an occupational therapist, a social skills intervention expert, a career counselor, the location that we will be hosting our program, the development of our curriculum, and marketing expenses to help promote our program and acquire qualified autistic students for our program.

If we reach our stretch goal of $120,000, we would be able to not only finance its first program, but we would also be able to 100% subsidize the enrollment fees for our first round of students, which is up to 15 in total.

As of day 2 of our crowdfunding campaign, we have raised $13,310, which is about 26% of our tipping point goal. We are hoping to use this momentum to not only surpass our tipping point goal, but to also surpass our stretch goal.

Whom are you trying to help with your project and why?

Through out company and our crowdfunding campaign efforts, we will and forever always will focus solely on helping individuals on the autism spectrum succeed. As we are a start-up, we want to tackle the issue of autistic un/underemployment first with our offerings before moving towards other demographics within the autism spectrum such as children and teenagers on the autism spectrum as well as non-verbal autistic individuals.

As mentioned in the previous responses, autistic adults deal with the egregious reality that 80% of all adults with autism are either unemployed or underemployed. With our program offerings through Coding Autism, we are creating opportunities for adults with autism to utilize the strengths of being on the autism spectrum to develop them into very highly skilled and desirable employees within the technology industry, an industry that has the highest amount of job vacancies in the US as well as pay an average salary of $40k+ a year.

What rewards, if any, are you offering to your supporters?

Personal Thank You Email: $10

The Coding Autism team is beyond grateful for any contribution that we receive. Each contribution is one step closer to accomplishing our goal of funding our first web-development immersive for adults on the autism spectrum. To show our gratitude, the co-founders will write you a personal thank you email for your contribution!

Social Media Shout Out & Personal Email From Co-Founders: $20

By providing a $20 contribution, you are moving us even closer to successfully funding our first program. To express our gratitude, we will shout you out on Facebook and Twitter as well as send you a personalized thank you email!

Early Bird: Coding Autism Shirt & Sticker: $40

The brackets in our logo represent open arms embracing people on the spectrum into the workforce. Show off your open arms (literally) with your own Coding Autism t-shirt! With this contribution reward, you will receive a Coding Autism shirt as well as a Coding Autism sticker that you can put on your laptop, your school binder, or anywhere else you would like! Early bird price is applicable until 4/04/2017, where this prize will jump up to $50.

Early Bird: Coding Autism Snapback Hat: $65

Are you a hat person? Or simply would like to rock one of Coding Autism’s snapback hats when you are out and about in town to show off how you contributed to and supported our campaign? With this reward, you are able to choose either a black or white Coding Autism snapback hat that you can show off to your friends and family! Early bird price is applicable until 4/04/2017, where this prize will jump up to $75.

Name Featured on Coding Autism Website: $100

How cool would it be to be forever remembered for providing the opportunity for people to achieve their dream jobs? With this contribution you name or company will be memorialized on our website on our contributors wall. This is a fantastic was to show the world your passion for the cause, and be recognized for your role in changing people’s lives.

Skype with the Founders: $250

Would you like to have a personal conversation with the people behind Coding Autism? With this reward, you will have the ability to have a 30 minute Skype conversation with both co-founders of Coding Autism, where you can ask them questions about how they got involved with starting Coding Autism, what there plans are for Coding Autism in the future or anything that is on your mind! This is a great way to share you input on where you would like to see Coding Autism go.

Early Bird: Custom Coding Autism Shoes: $400

Not only are these shoes insanely cool, but they are custom made specifically for this campaign. With this reward, you will receive a pair of Coding Autism’s customized “autism-blue” athletic shoes which you can rock at the gym, as street wear, or around the house! Early bird price is applicable until 4/04/2017, where this prize will jump up to $500.

Early Bird: Framed Poster of First Cohort: $750

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words… or a thousand dollars! The contributor for this award will received a framed poster of the first Coding Autism ASPIRE program signed by each student, founder, and employee involved! Early bird price is applicable until 4/04/2017, where this prize will jump up to $1000.

Meet the Founders: $2,500

If a Skype meeting is not enough, you have the ability to meet the founders in person! With the reward, you will have the opportunity to meet the co-founders of Coding Autism in person where you will grab dinner and have a night on the town! If you are from the United States, the Coding Autism co-founders will either fly you out to them or they will fly out to you. If you are from outside the United States, the co-founders will provide up to $750 towards travel expenses.

Sponsorship for Coding Autism Student Enrollment: $10,000

This award sponsors a student selected by Coding Autism for a guaranteed slot in their program. The sponsored student would provide the following responsibilities for the contributor. 1.) Skype call with the donor 2.) Personal hand-written thank you note 3.) Progress report on their learnings in course and plans after course completion 4.) The opportunity to meet the student in person (we will fly you out to them) 5.) Sponsorship named after the contributing individual or company. The contributor would also receive all of the rewards previous to this reward and the $10,000 voucher award.

Voucher for Student Enrollment in First Coding Autism Cohort: $10,000

This award provides the contributor 1 voucher, which claims a guaranteed slot for an adult with autism (their son, family member, recommendation, etc.) to enroll into Coding Autism’s first program. The contributor would also receive all of the rewards previous to this reward and the $10,000 Sponsorship reward.

Check out the campaign:

Visit the website.
Follow on Facebook.
Follow on Twitter at @codingautism

Support Mile High WorkShop to Rebuild the lives of Addicted and Homeless People through Jobs

The Mile High WorkShop is a social enterprise contract and goods manufacturer. They are raising money here. Recently I caught up with Andy Magel to learn more about the effort; here’s what he told me:

What is the social benefit you hope to achieve with or through your crowdfunding campaign?

Imagine what it would be like if you made a mistake, and nobody would give you a second chance. For many of the employees at Mile High WorkShop, society has turned its back on them, despite their best efforts to turn their lives around. Colorado has one of the worst recidivism rates in the country, but a good job can make all the difference. At the Mile High WorkShop, we believe in giving people a second chance, and everyone is welcome here.

The Mile High WorkShop is a social enterprise contract and goods manufacturer. We partner with businesses who need help producing and manufacturing their woodworking and sewn goods, and produce the goods for them in our workshop, right here in the Denver area. We also work on packaging and fulfillment, making sure that people get their orders in a timely fashion. Why do we run this business? Well, we love Denver, and we love the local manufacturing movement. But most of all, we love being able to employ people who need a second chance. Every contract we get means more jobs for the people who need them.

How much money are you hoping to raise and why? How much have you raised so far?

We’re aiming to raise $50,000 to help us do the following:

The first $10,000 will purchase a lift which will enable us to increase the production capacity of our workshop by making it easier and faster to move large pallets and also add to the skills we’re able to teach

After the initial $10,000 is raised, $40,000 in additional funds will go towards ensuring that we are able to provide training and support to our employees so they succeed long term. Because we have a social mission to help people out of poverty, we incur more costs than your typical business, such as individual case management, group training and helping to provide transportation to our employees.

So far we’ve raised $600.

Whom are you trying to help with your project and why?

Mile High Workshop is a non-profit manufacturer that employs Colorado’s former homeless, drug addicted and people with histories of incarceration, and trains these folks in woodworking, laser engraving, packaging and assembly services. Mile High offers high-quality, small-scale manufacturing, filling a key business need with both non-profit and for-profit businesses. Small-scale manufacturing allows employees to learn specialized skills, and we hope, potential for career and wage progression once they leave social enterprise employment for competitive employment.

What rewards, if any, are you offering to your supporters?

** Every gift over $100 will receive an awesome UpCycled Banner Bag sewn by members of our training program as a thank you for your generosity. **

** Every gift over $250 will receive a beautiful WorkShop cutting board crafted by members of our training program as a thank you for your generosity. **

** Can you help us purchase a pallet stacker with your gift of $10,000? We’d love to say thank you with a custom built dining table from the shop **

Check out the campaign:

Visit the website.
Follow on Facebook.
Follow on Twitter at @MH_WorkShop

 

Help to Teach Visible Learning and Improve Not-For-Profit Schools and Education Worldwide

Alliance for Public School Technology Resources wants to make learning technology and teaching materials more equally available, to not-for-profit education organizations and public schools with very low (if any) costs to conventional education funding sources. They are raising money on Indiegogo. Recently I caught up with Steven Corey Hixson to learn more about the effort; here’s what he told me:

What is the social benefit you hope to achieve with or through your crowdfunding campaign?

Well, teachers need a way to collaborate, and to determine what works best in the classroom as a team. This way teachers and administrators can improve education materials through peer-review, and also discuss best-practices in a way that improves the overall quality of the teaching and the learning materials. Assessments require technology that the NGO model can provide freely, and still have other costs, so we’re striving for a way to save time and cost while increasing efficacy and finding ways to create rubrics for visible learning. Working together does not have many costs associated with it other than time, and so teaching people a way to develop efficient and effective plans for teaching that can be shared saves the most valuable resource, which of course is the time to spend on development and planning.

How much money are you hoping to raise and why? How much have you raised so far?

Our goal is to pay travel and presentation costs for the Golden Key International Honours Society Education Delegation in South Africa, and also the materials and travel costs for the delegation and workshop at the Kappa Delta Pi 2017 Convocation. Any additional funds raised will create more investment in free technology for public schools in 2017, as well as the additional development of shared materials and resources. The costs for travel are the current goal, but beyond that and into the future, funds will be donated to schools for teacher collaboration activities in order to facilitate professional development as well as resource development in terms of technology and assessment. At the end of the year any unused funds will go to another public education related 501(c)(3) or public school organization as decided by a survey and our board.

Whom are you trying to help with your project and why?

The students stand to benefit the most from teaching that is visibly effective, and school classrooms that can be equipped with blended learning technology that improves the quality of teaching. OTher stakeholders benefit from the success of the students in the larger community as they demonstrate their learning and become a part of the larger ecology and global economy. Teachers benefit from the time saved as well as the improvements in outcomes at their school, where administrators benefit from the higher performance of the overall organization even at sometimes the same or less cost. Employers benefit from the skills that students learn, businesses benefit from a well educated workforce, and parents benefit from the increased investment that their kids have in learning in the school communities and also the larger life-contexts that they inhabit; as educators can free up resources to focus on being present to better student learning engagement, the overall community creates a more functional support system for all stakeholders, especially students and parents.

Which category of crowdfunding campaign best fits what you are doing?

Donations based – no rewards, equity or repayment

Check out the campaign:

Visit the website:
Follow on Facebook.
Follow on Twitter at @corey_303

 

How Partnering With A Nonprofit Can Boost Your Crowdfunding Success

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

John Lee Dumas is one of the most successful podcasters on iTunes. Last year, when he decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign for his “Freedom Journal,” he partnered with Pencils of Promise. He raised $453,000 on Kickstarter and donated $75,000 to the nonprofit. Now he’s at it again.

Dumas boasts over 1 million listens to his “Entrepreneur on Fire” podcast every month. You wouldn’t think he “needs” to partner with Pencils of Promise in order to be successful with his campaign. Dumas is a savvy entrepreneur. He’s clearly figured that this is an important part of the strategy.

His last campaign for the “Freedom Journal” raised enough to build three schools in Ghana, Guatemala or Laos, the three countries where the nonprofit operates. For his current campaign launched this morning for his “Mastery Journal,” he hopes to raise $100,000, enough for Pencils of Promise to build four schools.

John Lee Dumas, courtesy of Entrepreneur On Fire

Dumas has not only been successful as a podcaster, talking with successful entrepreneurs seven days a week (here’s his 2014 interview with me), he’s become a business coach for podcasters. He reports his revenue and profit publicly each month. Last year, he reported revenue of $2.6 million and net profit (presumably pre-tax) of $1.7 million.

He says, “My goal with EOFire is to inspire entrepreneurs to succeed, emulate success and avoid mistakes.”

The Mastery Journal is a manual for accomplishing big goals, Dumas explains. In it, he teaches entrepreneurs how to deal with their three biggest problems: lack of productivity, discipline and focus. The book includes a daily guide to building those three powerful skills.

Dumas, who served in the military, says he learned discipline there. But he recognized that he lacked focus and productivity. His business took off once he mastered those skills.

He says the biggest challenge people face is the constant barrage of what he calls “OPA” or “other people’s agenda.” One of the tricks he uses to overcome OPA is to block out 42-minute stretches of time for focused activity with absolutely no distractions allowed.

Dumas acknowledges that some people can’t use the system. For those in 9-to-5 jobs with little autonomy, the Mastery Journal won’t help much–unless they are willing to use the tool for their free time outside of work in an effort to break away from the 9-to-5. He says, “Some people are just in reactionary mode and can’t use the book unless they are ready to leave that behind.”

He believes that the Mastery Journal will help people accomplish their objectives. “A lot of people have amazing voices to share with the world, but they don’t because they don’t give themselves permission to do it. This gives people the structure to be productive and share their message with the world.”

So far on the first day, as of January 23, 2017 at 4:00 Eastern, Dumas’s Kickstarter campaign for The Mastery Journal has raised $29,009, topping the initial goal of $25,000. The campaign ends on February 24, 2017 at 10:59 PM Eastern. In order to reach his goal to donate $100,000 to Pencils of Promise, he’ll need to raise another $571,000.

Dumas clearly believes the partnership with Pencils of Promise is a win for everyone. Not only does it provide needed cash for the organization to deliver on its mission to educate underserved communities, it makes the crowdfunding campaign more appealing to backers. They get both the value of the book but also the honest sense of helping to build a school for deserving children in the developing world.

On Tuesday, January 24, 2017 at noon Eastern, Dumas will join me here for a live discussion about The Mastery Journal, his crowdfunding campaign and the strategic partnership with Pencils of Promise. Tune in here (at the top of this article) then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

Your Support to “United Front Against Riverblindness Campaign” Helps Eliminate Riverblindness

UFAR is a nonprofit charitable organization fighting Riverblindness. They are raising money on CaringCrowd. Recently I caught up with Charles C. Phillips to learn more about the effort; here’s what he told me:

What is the social benefit you hope to achieve with or through your crowdfunding campaign?

Imagine a child living in a village so remote he/she has no access to basic medical care, even communication with the outside world beyond the village is very difficult. Imagine many in the village are already blind and totally dependent upon children to assist with almost all of their daily needs for survival. Many adults in his/her family and other families in the village endure the constant misery of unrelenting itching , teary eyes, disfiguring, visual impairment and eventually blindness, all characteristic of onchocerciasis, also commonly known as Riverblindness. Children, 5 years of age or younger, not yet infected by the parasitic worm causing the disease that is transmitted through the bites of small blackflies living and breeding along rivers and creeks, they become full-time caretakers for their blind adult relatives. With this consuming daily engagement, these children have no time left for schooling, making them doomed for illiteracy and perpetual poverty. Once the children are old enough to start doing the types of daily chores adults do along infested rivers with onchocerciasis-carrying tiny blackflies, they will get the disease and without help, they also will eventually be blind.

The good news is that Mectizan, the only effective and safe drug approved for Riverblindness can be administered as a single annual oral dose on a community-based mass treatment setting, can indeed interrupt transmission of the parasite and achieve elimination of the disease. Administered for 10 consecutive years in endemic areas with recommended treatment coverage rates and the disease can be eliminated. The drug is free from its manufacturer who has pledged to continue providing it free as long as it’s needed for worldwide elimination of Riverblindness.

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How much money are you hoping to raise and why? How much have you raised so far?

Our overall fundraising goal for 2017 is $70,000, of that $20,000 through CaringCrowd. We have raised approximately $30,000 overall and approximately $12,000 through CaringCrowd so far. These funds will be used to overcome the major hurdle to the administration of Mectizan, which is the distribution of the drug to the millions of people who need it, in order to achieve and maintain recommended treatment rates for therapeutic and geographic coverage of 80% and 100%, respectively. The majority of those needing treatment live in remote villages poorly accessible or inaccessible by motor vehicles.

The high efficacy and safety profiles of Mectizan and its convenience for a single annual oral dose regimen make it well suited for large-scale mass distribution programs in remote communities by selected individuals in rural communities trained and empowered to play a major role in managing their own health and well-being.

These Community workers (CWs) or community drug distributors (CDDs) are the backbone of the community-directed and community-based strategy for mass distribution of Mectizan for onchocerciasis and of several other drugs for other neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), including lymphatic filariasis (LF), schistosomiasis (SCT), soil-transmitted helminths (STH) and trachoma (T). They are selected from within their community to lead the annual drug distribution campaign for the benefice of the community. Traditionally, CWs work as unpaid volunteers, receiving only small compensations from the people they serve. The increasing presence in recent years of other public health programs such as those for HIV/AIDS and malaria that provide relatively large incentives to their community workers has resulted in some instances in significant attrition among onchocerciasis CWs for the attractive paying or rewarding jobs. The new “Empower remote African villages to eliminate Riverblindness” approach was conceived as a way of reducing the attrition rates among our volunteers as well as to help the country and communities play a leadership role and appropriate the project as their own, for the goodness of the community by providing small incentives to the community workers.

Whom are you trying to help with your project and why?

Within the Democratic Republic of Congo we are working in more geographic regions. In addition to Katanga province we have expanded our work to the provinces of Maniema, Orientale, and Kasai Orientale.

The population we are responsible for treating has grown from just over 3 million in 2014 to over 6.2 million in 2017. We must train more than twice as many Community Distribution Workers – from 20,895 in 2014 to over 45,000 in 2017!

While the United Front Against Riverblindness (UFAR) is not changing its name, we are no longer solely focused on Riverblindness and we are not focused only on the control but the complete elimination of Riverblindness from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We are now additionally tackling other NTDs (neglected tropical diseases): including lymphatic filariasis (LF), schistosomiasis (SCT), soil-transmitted helminths (STH) and trachoma (T).


What rewards, if any, are you offering to your supporters?

Donations based – no rewards, equity or repayment

Check out the campaign:

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This Guy Was Forced To Stand Out; See How It Could Be Key To His Success

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

Ricardo Jose Bueso has a brother named Ricardo Juan Bueso. Really. His parents did that. To some, they are known as the two Ricardos.

Perhaps it was this unusual situation that inspired Bueso to look for ways to stand out and apart, to chart a unique course. He’s traveled the world, studying business administration in Texas, completing a degree as “Chef de Cuisine” in Guatemala, teaching English in Yemen, and then studying in both Miami, Florida and Shanghai.

Two years ago, Bueso and his brother Ricardo Juan, assembled a team and began developing a unique concept in social entrepreneurship. Their model is to sell responsibly-sourced, crafted products like soaps and candles via the web (nothing unique so far–wait for it) and let consumers set the price and then give the profits above a cost threshold to charity.

John Chung, an advisor to the startup called THX, says,THX is offering a unique product. It offers the opportunity for the consumer to donate part or all of the margin that would normally go to the retailer. The beneficiaries are the nonprofits and the consumers. THX can potentially make a big impact as each purchase gives the consumer the opportunity to direct the largest part of the cost of any product to a cause.”

Bueso explains the model this way. “The pricing structure for our products works differently than typical gross margin percentages. We purposely price our products excluding traditional markups and allow the customer to donate the margin matching the traditional retail value, or whatever amount they want.”

More simply, he says, THX sets a base price that is equivalent to a wholesale price. The consumer sets a price above that and the difference goes to charity. The markup THX charges to cover its costs and profits varies from 30 to 50 percent of the landed price.

The philosophy, he says, is not focused on profit. “Our company is driven by the idea that the brand and e-commerce platform is not a business seeking to maximize shareholder value in the form of profits, but rather a self-sustaining and practical giving mechanism.”

The inspiration for THX came from seeing the wide array of nonprofits serving South Florida and feeling a desire to help them all, especially the smaller ones that struggle for funding, Bueso says. “In our city of Miami alone, we have animal shelters, children’s hospitals, at-risk youth programs, as well as services for veterans, victims of human trafficking and the sad reality of homelessness.”

Bueso recognized that corporate social responsibility and cause marketing initiatives by larger companies often partnered with larger nonprofits, so he was looking for a way to sustainably help smaller ones.

He boasts, “Thx is the first brand to let shoppers transparently customize their impact by donating any amount to any registered nonprofit in America.”

“We have created collections of responsibly sourced, quality products that customers use every day like fragrances, soaps, candles, coffee, teas, etc., he says. “Through our platform, the customer can easily access our products and customize their impact by selecting the cause they care about the most.”

Charles Lee, the Founder and CEO of Ideation, has advised Bueso on business strategy and brand marketing. He says, “THX has strong value propositions for consumers, non-profits, and corporations that make it a win-win for everyone involved. In addition, as the company continues to grow as a new kind of social enterprise, its social impact will exponentially increase.”

Ricardo Jose and Ricardo Juan Bueso, courtesy of THX

Bueso understands, perhaps better than anyone, the need to stand out. He grew up as one of three Ricardos in the family–he and his brother were named after their father.

“One of our greatest challenges is being able to get our customers to fully understand the process of shopping on our marketplace,” he says. “More than ever we have to get the visitor’s attention fast and ensure their full understanding of our three-step model.”

Bueso acknowledges that there are some limitations to the model. THX can bring attention and money to small nonprofits, but, he notes, “we are not a nonprofit accountability platform.”

Chung offered some counsel for the new company to achieve success. “Like other internet dependent ideas, the critical challenge is getting the message out and for the message to stick. Operationally, THX has to offer a desired set of products (which is not easy), fulfill and deliver them smoothly.”

Lee suggests two keys will be critical to their success. “First, open collaboration with varied industries that help to shape a new paradigm for consumption and gifting, and second, unwavering commitment to stay focused on their social mission as the core ‘why’ behind their business.”

Bueso exhibits the optimism that seems to be an inherent feature among successful entrepreneurs. “Our success will undoubtedly impact the world for good. We’re on a mission to help every cause, in every city in America.”

He sees the customers as playing a key role in the new economy. “We love social enterprise and the impact that conscious consumerism is having today and we hope that our model will inspire a generation of companies to follow suit.”

Bueso is currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to help accelerate adoption by more socially conscious consumers.

“We seek to be the first product brand that generates significant funds with a minimal amount of units sold. We believe this is possible because of how much we empower our consumers to support the cause that’s closest to their heart,” he concludes.

On Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 2:00 Eastern, Bueso will join me here for a live discussion about THX and its plans. Tune in here (at the top of this article) then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

Journalist Champions More Inclusive Community Capital

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

Amy Cortese is a rare bird indeed. She is almost alone in focusing her pen on crowdfunding’s ability to build underserved communities. She is equally interested in the place-based communities and demographic communities. Her book, Locavesting, is the definitive book on the topic.

Amy’s business, also called Locavesting, serves as a source of information for communities seeking greater access to capital.

Amy explains her view of the problem, “We live in an age of massive wealth inequality and lack of economic access, especially for women, people of color and those in underserved areas. How do we create an economy that works for all, instead of the few? The first thing is to tackle finance and channel more resources into communities.”

Access to capital for underserved communities is one of the great promises of crowdfunding. By reducing the dependence of women and minorities on traditional sources of capital like banks and venture capital that have not met their needs, crowdfunding hold the potential to lift communities.

Amy says, “Locavesting has chronicled and championed the rise of community capital.”

Recently, Amy launched a new platform, she describes as “Kayak for crowdfunding” that aggregates equity crowdfunding offerings in one place. She calls the new service Investibule.

“Investibule takes that a big step forward by connecting people with investment opportunities in their communities,” she says. “We believe in the wisdom of the community. Our goal is to accelerate the movement by raising awareness and shifting the financial narrative and flow of money into these emerging community-friendly investments.”

Great challenges remain for crowdfunding to achieve its potential for changing communities. The scale of equity crowdfunding in 2016 remained far below the hopes of the industry.

Amy says the number one challenge is education. “Most people have not heard of crowdfunding, or may be intimidated by the idea of directly investing. We also recognize that in some communities, there is not much disposable income to invest. So while the will may be there, the means may not be.”

Amy recognizes, too, that crowdfunding and other related community financing mechanisms can’t solve all of the problems for underserved populations.

“Individual investing is just one slice of the pie—albeit a potentially powerful one,” she says. “Inequality, economic justice are such deep issues, we need concerted action on the part of institutional investors, corporations and lawmakers. In addition, many entrepreneurs need technical assistance and coaching before they are ready to raise money—we don’t address that part of the equation.”

Despite the challenges, Amy remains optimistic. “We hope to contribute to, in a small way, a more fair and just economy and society. You can’t have a healthy economy without healthy, resilient communities. By channeling more capital to community-based ventures, we hope to grow a new generation of job-creating entrepreneurs and empower communities to invest in themselves and they change they want to see. We believe in the idea of community underwriting, that the wisdom of the community can surface and support the best ideas and ventures.”

On Thursday, January 12, 2017 at noon Eastern, Amy will join me here for a live discussion about her work to improve access to capital for struggling communities. Tune in here (at the top of this article) then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

Amy Cortese, courtesy of Locavesting

Amy Cortese, courtesy of Locavesting

More about Locavesting:

Twitter: @investibule

Locavesting is the definitive source for news and educational content about the evolving community capital and crowdfinance fields. We shine a spotlight on the innovate models that are empowering entrepreneurs, investors and their communities. Building on that base, investibule.co is a new aggregation platform that connects investors with crowdfunded offerings in their communities—a “Kayak for community capital.”

Amy’s bio:

Twitter: @locavesting

AMY CORTESE is a journalist who writes about topics spanning business, finance & food for publications including the New York Times and B magazine. Her book, Locavesting, was one of the pioneering works on the emerging local investing and community capital movement. She is the founder & editor of Locavesting.com, a media and educational site that covers the evolving community finance space, and cofounder of investibule, a new discovery platform for community-based investments. Based in Brooklyn, Amy has been named a “Top 30 Crowdfunding Thought Leader,” and was awarded a New Capital Markets Leadership Award by the Crowdfund Intermediary Regulatory Association. She was honored to present at the historic April 2012 Rose Garden signing of the JOBS Act.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at DevinThorpe.com!

 

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