21 Dec Launching Ideas with The Possible Project: A Look Back at 2017
LaunchSquad is partnered with The Possible Project, a Cambridge-based nonprofit organization that uses entrepreneurship as a framework to help close skill and opportunity gaps for young people. Our work with them focuses on advising student ventures on communications strategy, marketing, social media and branding.
Watching a 10th grader deliver a self-made business plan really makes you think about what you were doing in high school. As I sat in The Possible Project makerspace, listening to high school sophomores Ossy and Vernesha describe their quarterly goals for BIJOU X YOU, a customer jewelry business, I couldn’t help but think of my own most significant, though comparatively unimpressive, 10th grade accomplishment — an above-average proficiency at Mario Kart.
The Possible Project (TPP) students, on the other hand, spend their days thinking about customer segmentation, budgeting, distribution logistics and manufacturing costs, all in addition to the everyday high school struggles of calculus and Faulkner.
But that doesn’t mean their businesses are limited to a high school audience. TPP ventures operate in a variety of industries and produce legitimate goods for the public. Products include everything from organic hair styling products, to biodegradable greetings cards that contain real flower seeds and custom-designed shoes.
Partnering with TPP has given LaunchSquad the privilege to not only help a whip-smart group of high schoolers hone in on their professional ventures, but also dial deeper into our own work as communications professionals.
Getting Back to the Basics
Our first meeting with TPP was a whirlwind of 1-to-1 break-out sessions covering everything from social media to marketing events and brand messaging.
Although we were there to lend students a unique perspective as communication experts, these sessions turned out to be massively beneficial for us as well. We were forced to strip away all the bells and whistles that traditional clients may gravitate towards, and distill tactics down to their simplest form.
“Working with this group has given me the opportunity to step back and think about the importance of PR and the meaning behind what we do,” said Senior Account Executive Chelsea Hoedl. “Because the ventures we work with are just getting started, we have to think at a high-level and understand how campaigns can help build a brand and have a meaningful impact.”
Most importantly, it reminded us that the core of our work, which we call storytelling, is fundamental for achieving any goal—whether that involves a major enterprise vying for the cover of Fast Company, or a team of young entrepreneurs hoping to land their first sale.
Everyone needs to tell their story.
The Value of the Pitch
During our second trip to TPP, we participated in a Shark Tank-type pitch panel. We listened to new TPP students present their early-stage ventures and provided feedback on how they could transform their ideas into actionable plans. Unlike previous sessions, where we worked with seasoned TPP students running existing businesses, these participants came with just an idea and some cue cards.
Admittedly, many of us thought these panels would be a mess—shaky speeches with fragmented ideas strung together by a mix of hobbies and fads. But these early stage ventures were inspiring.
“Digging in at the earliest stage as a (pitch panel) judge showed us the entrepreneurs’ ideas at the rawest stage and helped us shape their paths” said Mike Farber, partner and founder of LaunchSquad’s Boston office. “It’s been an absolute privilege to partner with such a great group.”
This mix of genuine inspiration and unrefined creativity reminded us why we chose to work in the tech sector in the first place—to have the chance to be a part of world-changing ideas.
It’s About the Process
The Possible Project was designed to help empower youngsters through entrepreneurship. For the students, the goal is profit, but the real value is in the process of building and sustaining a business. Through that pursuit, students learn self-discipline, organization, how to deal with success and failure and how to work towards long-term goals.
After all is said and done, the most important aspect of a student’s time at TPP is not the money, but the experience. Our work is similar.
Although the end goal might be revenue, in its pursuit we mold the landscapes around us and create lasting impact. Working with The Possible Project has undoubtedly made an impact on the students, as well as on us. And much like the students, the value that we get out of our time at LaunchSquad won’t be found in the profit margins.
Follow us along @LaunchSquad to see more of our work with The Possible Project or learn more about the organization at @ThePossProj.