The women of woven like to get sentimental and nostalgic. I will urge you to read both Gaby’s and my own various blog posts if you want to see two gals and their obvious love and compassion for the cause they are working for. We get really into it; the way we speak in our blog posts is pretty much how we speak on a day to day basis when we are “woven-ing” . Gaby is a natural at speaking about and doing anything to do with positivity and change and advancing this world as human beings. I completely feed into the energy and we have a lot of fun with it. But for this last blog post I would like to leave sentiments and professions of love for all of the incredible things we are doing for a more realistic approach. I think it is safe to say you guys get the gist of how much we love each other.
I have been pretty gung ho from the beginning, but when I first started as an intern I found I was having an incredibly hard time explaining what kind of company I was working for and what exactly I did. The concepts were a little foreign to me, but more so incredibly enticing. I was a little uncomfortable trying to speak about my internship. When someone would ask me about it, I would find myself rambling on about how important social change is and how we are trying to make an impact, but the language and the knowledge of the process were lacking. Both Hannah and Gaby were well versed in certain processes and Hannah did explain the inner-workings of the company until the both of us were able to talk about it in significant terminology. It took time and effort to develop facility with the language used in the social enterprise world. By the time we were marketing, I was a pro. This internship in juxtaposition with the PAD 4936 Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation course have opened up a treasure of resources on the topic and I intend to learn as much as I can.
I know that this field is the path I would like to continue down. Working with this startup and getting academic exposure to literatures and research has begun to highlight all of the incredible opportunities available and the need for more passionate individuals to frontier the field. I will be continuing my research on sustainability in the remainder of my academic career and hope to continue in the field after graduation.
For Future Interns:
I would like to stress the need for flexibility; you will be hit with assignments you are not prepared for and may not exactly know how to complete. Trust your gut and do what feels right. RESEARCH: the internet is incredible, and I am a strong believer that you can learn the basics of any skill from watching Youtube videos. You may not always get to work on the projects you want the most, but do not let that dishearten you. You must attack each assignment with the same amount of passion and drive that you would if it was your own company. And finally, there is so much importance in communication. Let your internship leader know what is going on in your life. If you mess up a project, be honest and be active about looking for a solution. Involve them in every part of the process, there is nothing wrong with needing help.
Now that my internship has come to an end, I’ve been reflecting a lot upon what I’ve accomplished, what I’ve learned, and how to implement this into my future endeavours.
Seeing first hand a lot of the challenges that have been faced with Driftour, I realize how important in depth research will be if I ever want to found a startup. Val has come to the conclusion that Tallahassee simply cannot sustain Driftour and its model. The consumer base along with a small business/startup culture that is just starting bloom is not enough to give Driftour the network it needs to survive.
Applying this to my own life, I have begun to do research in order to see if GirlCab (the social enterprise I created in Bruce’s class) could survive. GirlCab is an exclusively female ride-sharing app, similar to Uber. What makes GirlCab different is the fact that it would totally female riders and drivers, and revenue and reach would be used to combat human trafficking- specifically the sex trafficking of women and children. I now know how extremely important location is when trying to build a business. Originally, I wanted to base GirlCab in New Delhi, India- however I have taken a step back and realized while the need is there, the consumer power simply is not. I will be moving to South Korea in the fall to research the need/market in Seoul while working as an English teacher.
Driftour helped to inspire this big move in my life and really put in the leg work that comes before the business. I need to remember the 5 stages in Design Thinking that I learned from Professor Manciagli: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. Right now I think I’m still in the define/ideate phase and I need to make sure I’m being thorough and taking the steps I need to take to point me in the right direction.
Val decided to let Harrison and I be responsible for pitching Driftour to a few local businesses in hopes of gaining some new business partners to host immersions for our subscribers. Well, it did not quite go as planned.
Harrison and I met at Lucky Goat to go over our pitch one afternoon. We practiced and practiced because we wanted to make sure we did a good job representing Drifour for Val. Pulling up to our first location we were nervous and going over in our heads any possible questions we could be asked by the business owners.
At our first location, we were unable to talk to the owner but did our best to sell our package to the kind employee who was willing to listen. She seemed to be very excited about the idea and what Driftour has to offer and said she would pass along our pamphlet to the owner. A week passed by with no email or call. I followed up and one had any idea what Driftour was and they said they were not interested.
At the second location, we were happy to hear that the owner was on site! However, he does not like ‘solicitors’ so we would not be able to interrupt his busy day.
But like Harrison said in his blog post, sometimes you learn more from hearing no. While we wanted to bring good news to Val, and we wanted to feel like our pitches were persuasive and successful, we did not walk away empty handed.
In the world of startups and social entrepreneurship, one of the most important things to learn is to handle the word “no”. Because you’re gonna hear it a lot. It is so important to not let the word “no” discourage you, but to maybe take a step back and say “How can I be doing this better?”. And sometimes you just have to believe in your idea and yourself enough to think ‘they have the right to their opinion, but they’re wrong- I’m gonna keep going’.
Driftour’s future is uncertain, but there are numerous different options to consider. As it stands, the Driftour model needs some tweaks and changes in order to reach critical mass. That said, the network of businesses Driftour has built is impressive and when the Immersions have enough turnout, they are overwhelming successes. Driftour will be interesting to follow into the future as so much is still up in the air. In years from now, the company could look completely different or change locations to a more suitable city. Working with Val and Mackenzie has required thinking about all of these possible futures and trying to predict where every corner could take us. Evaluating markets, rewards/risks, consumers, and businesses is all part of a larger effort to mold Driftour into a popular model that operates with ease. Every step of the way has taught us something new about how to improve the models efficiency. I am glad I got to take part in the initial growth of Driftour and hope to see the company continue growing well into the future.
Working with Driftour I learned quite a bit about making connections within the local business sphere of Tallahassee. Though business owners were not always very receptive, sometimes you learn more from failure than success. Over time, Mackenzie and I developed numerous strategies for networking over social media and in person. We created many pieces of marketing material and talked to multiple business owners in order to grow the Driftour network. There were an abundance of obstacles along the way, and our strategies did not always proceed as planned. I created multiple polls which brought in a lackluster number of responses. One business owner we attempted to pitch too had his employee tell us “ he doesn’t like solicitors” at the door. Though there were failures, there were a number of successes too. Each new Immersion we added or Subscription we gained felt like an achievement we all took part in. Overall my time at Driftour was filled with ups and downs, but i learned a lot from the experience. I am looking forward to taking all that knowledge into the future as a prospective entrepreneur.
Reflecting on the past few months, I am so proud to have been a part of the movement and impact that INIE created and cultivated within the time I was there. I was able to work with some amazing women that inspire me, do great work that we believed to be bettering the community as a whole, and I got to see inside the interworking’s of a nonprofit organization-which was my goal in the end!
Although I do not think that my future will not go directly into nonprofit work, I do know that going forward, I will always take the skills that I have learned and worked on within my experience at INIE to further my individual and professional self. I have been able to really challenge myself to grow and be a better professional while I was working and interning and I am so appreciative of this internship program for allowing me the opportunity to learn so much more about myself than I originally anticipated.