It’s pro bono week right now, and if anyone knows a thing or two about doing work for free, it’s Matthew Manos, Founder and Managing Partner of verynice. Verynice is a design, branding, and innovation consultancy that, through its unique business model, dedicates 50% of its efforts pro bono to nonprofits. In the past year, verynice has expanded to three offices across the country, including one at Hub LA, one in New York, and one in Austin, TX. The company is on track to donate $10 million in pro bono efforts.
In late 2013, Matt published a book about his business model called How to Give Half Your Work Away For Free, which he quite fittingly gave away for free. The book has since been downloaded in 400+ cities across the globe. How to Give Half Your Work Away for Free is back this week in a second edition printing featuring new materials and contributions from other pro bono leaders. He answered some questions about what he’s learned since we last caught up with him about his publishing efforts and about the new version of the book. You can download Give Half here.
You’ve toured all over the country for the first edition of your book, How to Give Half Your Work Away for Free. What are some of the stories or responses you’ve heard from people, whether they’ve given half, are the beneficiaries of the model, or are just curious? How did that inform your choices for this edition of the book?
The growth and success of verynice as a company has always been thanks to its willingness to share and collaborate. The approach to writing “How to Give Half of Your Work Away for Free”, and growing the subsequent #givehalf movement is absolutely the same. For the first book, much of the content was actually derived through candid conversations with others who were facing a wall in their pro-bono projects as well as businesses who were interested in giving half, or giving any, but didn’t know the best way to go about it. With this second edition, those stories have grown exponentially, and I’m really excited to have been able to collect hundreds of perspectives, concerns, and critiques which directly informed the new content. I’ve always seen business books as being limited in that they come from only one voice – my goal from this book, thanks to having been so fortunate to have a platform to share, is to broaden that voice even more in the interest of growing the pro-bono marketplace.
Repost from Hub LA Member CreatorUp’s Blog. See the original post here.
Mike Tringe, Founder of CreatorUp, wrote this blog post after a JuiceUp morning on October 10. JuiceUps are our twice-monthly (every second and fourth Friday) power breakfast and networking event featuring successful entrepreneurs providing insight to their best practices, experiences, and social missions. CreatorUp co-hosts JuiceUps with Hub LA. On October 10, Mike Tringe moderated a Q&A and interview with Steve Gatena, founder of marketing agency REP Interactive.
You’ve heard of using videos to grow a business, but what is viral marketing and how could it help you actually launch your business? Learn from Steve Gatena, CEO of REP Interactive, who launched his startup with a viral video and now works with major corporate clients like Coldwell Banker on their video marketing strategy.
How many times have your heard someone say: just make a viral video? If only it were that easy. But that’s exactly what Steve Gatena, CEO of REP Interactive, a video production and marketing agency did to launch his business.
While Steve was at USC, his final project for his business class was to create a web series that would launch a business. And his concept was to create a video that everyone would want to watch and share. He believed there were certain ingredients – and when he tested his idea, he was right. His pilot “Most Expensive Homes in the World” earned over 1.2M views and launched an entire series on homes from Aspen to Napa.
Here’s the kicker. Steve had no video production experience whatsoever before launching this web series. But what he did have – was the interest to teach himself what to do, and the connections to help him get it done.
Guest post by Hub LA Member Michael Kass
As founders and entrepreneurs and generally smart people, you spend countless hours on business plans and market data. But the reality is that investors and supporters won’t care about your data unless you make them care. Unless you get them excited about what you can do for the community and for them. Unless you can connect them to the passion you have for whatever you’re setting out to accomplish, whether it’s solving world hunger or introducing a new dating app.
You have to connect before you convince. And story is the most powerful tool you have to connect with your community, whether it’s potential funders or team members.
Meet Christine Carrillo and Helen Lee. Though they’re relatively new Hub LA members, they jumped into the Hub LA community from the get go. Their consulting firm, Humanize Health, works with healthcare providers to optimize their systems to achieve the best results for their companies and for patients. Now, Christine and Helen are in the midst of developing a new platform from the other side: humanizing the healthcare system for patients as they navigate insurance options.
You run a consulting firm, Humanize Health, which aims to humanize healthcare companies to the patients they serve. How did you get into this space?
Christine: About 9 years ago, I was hired by a healthcare startup that was in need of someone to bring order to a chaotic frat house. The staff was brilliant, but had more clients than they could keep up with. During my time there I ended up overseeing all of our clients, which were health plans, and realized how siloed they were. Even though many of them were experiencing the same challenges, they faced them alone, in almost a secret vessel. Not only were they siloed from each other, but from their patients. They had no clue what people wanted from a health plan, as a matter of fact, they didn’t understand who their patients, the patients, really were. The concept of collaboration between health plans was unheard of. The concept of aligning with your patients to provide them what they really need was completely ridiculous.
I then was recruited by Kaiser Permanente to help them “flip” their Medicare book of business. Being at one of the most innovative and forerunning health plans in the industry was quite an experience. You had a giant of a company who was leading the way in healthcare, and still there was such disparity between any real alignment with their patients. At the same time, I was in awe of how much they got screwed by vendors. Prices for anything always ran in the multimillion dollar range, and no one at KP really questioned the prices. It was sort of accepted that you paid through the roof for software or consulting, and then possibly had to cut the project if the vendors you hired did not come through. I wasn’t yet drinking the kool aid on how the “system” was supposed to work, so I challenged, and negotiated the vendor contract on their behalf from $9 million to $1.5 million. This led me to start our own firm to help health plans better understand their patients, and implement initiatives that align them with patients. I believe if you want to really change healthcare, and you really want to humanize it, it needs to start from the top. Read more on “Meet the Wonderful Humans Behind Humanize Health: Christine Carrillo and Helen Lee” »
One of the early jokes of Orange is the New Black is that main character Piper Chapman (played by Taylor Schilling), before going to prison, was just your average WASPy New Yorker, starting an upscale lotion line with her best friend and business partner that they hope to sell at Barney’s. Though she goes to prison before seeing her lotions hit the shelves, she uses her ingenuity to craft soap for Red when she is being “starved” out of her meals.
The point is: product makers are crafty people with a ton of creativity and the business acumen to recognize the unique value and branding of their products on the market. Impending prison sentences aside, there are many considerations and many steps that product makers must take to fully realize the potential of their products.
We’re excited to announce a new office hour hosted by Robert Gonsalves (Customer Farms, Food Centricity) for product makers. Here’s how Robert described the purpose of his office hour:
“If I gave you a magic wand, and you imagine yourself 12 months in the future, what does your future look like? I’m here to help you get obstacles out of the way, to get you to the future faster.” The Product Maker Office Hours will take place the first and third Tuesdays of every month, beginning in October, from 4-6pm at HUB LA in half hour increments. Read more on “NEW Office Hours: Growth Strategies for Product Makers” »
When Hub LA launched in September 2012, we had this question in mind: How can we accomplish real, substantive change as individuals, as the intersection of individuals, as organizations and businesses?
On Sunday, we saw change in action at the launch of Civic Innovation Lab. Civic Innovation Lab is a novel ten-month long community-driven solutions forum that aims to tackle issues plaguing Los Angeles using design challenges drawn from the city’s Open Data.
Conceived by Hub LA and Learn Do Share with founding partner LA City Controller’s Tech Bullpen and launch partners with innovateLA and Columbia University, Civic Innovation Lab is pilots a new model of citizen engagement with local government.
On Sunday – yes, Sunday – over 150 people came to Hub LA for the launch of the Lab. In this first phase, Sunday’s participants engaged in a discussion about city-wide challenges by discussing the question, “What issues do you feel the should the Lab explore?” Read more on “Event Recap: Civic Innovation Lab Launch” »
As we focus on Civic Innovation this month, it seemed obvious to learn more about the work Norman Gilmore is doing in a professional capacity as well as in his civic engagement in his neighborhood council. I asked Norman about the relationship between statistical modeling and civic engagement – how can we best use statistics and forecasting to affect policy and the decisions that our institutions make? Don’t let that intense question scare you away from reading this post, though. Norman managed to explain the extremely complex systems he’s working with in a palatable and surprisingly understandable way. If you’re interested in the relationship of data and policy, Norman recommends watching this talk from an LA Times Data Desk meetup (pt 2 and pt 3).
Could you describe what’s involved in making statistical forecasting accessible and understandable to stakeholders, companies, and foundations?
Although my company is TeamForecast, I actually define my research as “collaborative futures modeling”. I thought if I named my company “TeamModeling”, people might get the wrong idea, like maybe I’m developing Tyra Banks’ next reality show.
Also, predicting even narrow aspects of the future accurately is mostly the domain of physicists, astronomers, and Nate Silver.
So allow me to reframe your question as a broader one about effective use of statistics in general. To that I would offer the work of Doug Smith and Ben Welsh at the Los Angeles Times Data Desk. They have done major stories on value added teaching scores, doctors who over-prescribe to addicts, and Los Angeles Fire Department response times, to name only three.
What distinguishes a Data Desk story from other stories is of course the collection and analysis of a data set, the discovery of patterns, and the generation of hypotheses of what narratives might explain those patterns. Importantly, the data is explained not only using statistical charts and possibly infographics, but also with anecdotes that provide context and the potential for empathy with people who have participated in the system analyzed, as decision makers, beneficiaries, or victims. When you imagine a heart attack victim waiting 15 minutes for emergency response, you are able to viscerally identify with the risks and outcomes implied by the system.
All of these stories caused a legislative or executive response at the city or state level so I think the Data Desk does a great job of using statistics to effect policy change.
Let me suggest that if you stripped the statistical data out of those stories, the visceral impact of the selected anecdotes might be as strong, but the policy impact would not be. Ultimately policy makers are allocating finite budget resources, and they know that in general it is unwise to base decisions on a few outliers or anecdotes that were chosen explicitly for their drama. When a budget change can plausibly be associated with improved outcomes justifying the investment, then I think policy makers are more willing to act.
I also believe that these stories would generally have not have been commissioned by the subject of the story! Most people don’t like the use of statistics to measure and assess their performance. People do seem to like statistics to measure, assess, and control other people’s performance though.
So if someone said to me that they wanted to use statistics to measure performance within their organization, that is a political problem first, and a math problem second. Organizations that are analyzing their customers have a lot of frameworks, tools, and MBAs to work with. Policy and advocacy organizations that are analyzing outcomes outside their span-of-control have much more freedom to follow the data, because a negative interpretation does not lead back to the decisions of their leaders. Of course, data is harder to come by when the organization is attempting to analyze data outside its span-of-control. So these are just examples of organizational contexts that influence receptivity to statistical decision making.
Hub LA member Mike Tringe is the founder of CreatorUp, an online film school. This blog post is a version of a talk he gave at Innovate Pasadena.
How long does it take to take your awesome new startup idea from the donut shop conversation phase to the real customer and company phase? Here is a snapshot of our journey, where CreatorUp went from an idea written on a giant sheet of paper with a marker to a global e-learning platform.
Advances in technology and open source tools have empowered the first time entrepreneur to build any business they can think of. And the explosion of ideas for new businesses and apps, accelerator programs, and startup weekends have facilitated the jumpstart.
But with this startup jumpstart comes a challenge: there is a lack of support, planning, and experience over the amount of time actually necessary to bring an idea to market effectively. And without sustainable revenues, that becomes a big problem sending a lot of great ideas from the entrepreneurs behind them to the graveyard prematurely.
The burden lies on the entrepreneur to move as quickly as possible. I wanted to share my experience to provide a realistic timeframe for entrepreneurs to gain insight into our journey. There is no right formula or simple calendar, but there is a time-based template that provides a framework for action. Think of it like a game.
How long will it take? From household startup names like Shazam (founded in 1999) to consumer facing business movements like CrossFit (founded in 1996), you might be blown away by how long they’ve been around – or how long it took them to get to your doorstep or become a part of your life.
This is our generalized timeline with all the dates taken out and starting from our earliest month, and putting you and your potential company in the driver’s seat of the phase that I experienced. You might be surprised by the order of events.
5 Tips for Making Your College Project Real
Guest Column by Hub LA Member Scott Fairbanks
Whether in art, business, engineering, or another major many students worked on a project at some point in college that seemed worth pursuing. Maybe you developed a particularly compelling product concept, or maybe it’s a large-scale art project, or even a new restaurant idea. But how do you go from “that’s an interesting idea” to actually making it happen? I’m not an expert, but it’s what my team and I are in the process of doing right now by launching a life-size board game called Doozy. Here is what we’ve learned:
Talk About It
A lot of people are afraid that someone will steal their idea or (worse) laugh at it. They might do one or both, but no matter what, you already have X semesters of a head start and hopefully some assurance of the concept’s potential. The more that I’ve talked about Doozy, the more positive connections I’ve made for everything from simply supporters to professional advisors. And as I have spent more time perfecting my story, I’ve seen greater results. Be honest about the stage your company is in, remember to keep people updated, and welcome feedback. Don’t shove your idea down every person’s throat that you meet, but be confident it’s worth sharing.
Create an Asset Map
What kinds of services does your university share with their alumni? Who do your parents know? Where did the person you met at that one conference work again? It’s helpful to sit down and create an asset map for yourself and your team. Think about all of the people and resources you have access to and it will help inform your strategy for next steps. As we’ve prepared to crowdfund we’ve had to be intentional about knowing where our networks overlap, what sectors we’re missing, and which relationships are strongest. If you are consistent with #1 this pool of human capital will continue to grow, and the map can also help with #3. Read more on “Guest Post: 5 Tips for Taking Your College Project to Real Life” »