On May 6th, 2019 Innovation Accelerator, the program that transforms nonprofit leaders’ thinking by bringing a culture of innovation into their organizations, graduated its fourth cohort. The event, held at TechSpring in Springfield, hosted three graduating Innovation Accelerator teams. With numerous funders, business and foundation executives all in attendance, they supported, learned, and provided a pathway to potential funding for initiatives realized during the six-month class.
Each team pitched their best plan to create mission-aligned revenue for their organizations. They also had to clearly demonstrate the core assumptions underlying their new ventures, how they tested those assumptions, the evidence they gathered, and what they learned. Many of the executives serving as judges have been involved in the program as mentors and visitors throughout the class, so the teams really had to show progress!
Meet our newest alumni:
Translate My Document (CEP)
The Community Education Project in Holyoke, (CEP) led by Rose Egan came to class with one idea in mind as a potential revenue-generating business and quickly found, after a number of customer interviews, that her initial idea was not going to generate enough unrestricted revenue to support her mission. Learning this led her to pivot her thinking and create a document translation service. The need identified, translating documents from English to Spanish, with a specific focus on human service organizations has already produced customers and has piqued the interest of potential funders. To find out more visit: Translatemydocument.org
A special thanks to the Beveridge Family Foundation for sponsoring CEP’s participation!
Employment Retention Solutions (Viability)
It was a pleasure to have Viability join us again, this is the third Viability team to complete our training. The group of five led by Cody Andrews came into class with energy and precision. Their goal was to discover a training model that would benefit their employee placement division with a core focus on the work they do across the country in distribution centers. Not unlike Rose, they came into class with one model in mind, and discovered, through talking with customers, that it should look different to fit the unique needs of their clients. At graduation, they pitched a beautiful presentation and fulfilled their goal of gaining more knowledge as they develop their training platform.
We aim to have a for-profit startup in each cohort to help nonprofits gain a different perspective. This cohort’s for-profit was Xernai, a venture that will help you escape boredom and reawaken your childlike wonder. Xernia’s founders, Ethan Ferris, Will Swyers and Ximena Salmeron, brought an amazing energy to the class. They also get the award for the most pivots (changing a critical part of your business based on evidence). In the end, they discovered, after numerous customer interviews and countless meetings with mentors, their best pathway to a revenue-generating business is by becoming a content marketing company. At graduation, they had one simple ask: to sign up for a minute motivation. And it worked!