2018

MAKE-IT-MONDAYS

INFORMATION

Design Researcher, Lead Designer

COLLABORATORS

Aaisha Fatima, Melissa Nadeau,
Ray Thamthieng, Caitlin Yee

SKILLS

Service and UX Design, Qualitative User Research, Concept Generation, Prototyping

ABOUT THE PROJECT

Make it Mondays is a programming initiative designed to engage young entrepreneurs who have ideas for social innovation and need a community for support and guidance. It offers social entrepreneurs/makers opportunities to meet and learn from like-minded peers and experts through exciting, interactive short-term projects and workshops.

While more and more youth are interested in social entrepreneurship as a means for tackling some of the world’s toughest challenges, many aspiring social entrepreneurs fail to move beyond the initial idea phase because the infrastructure to support them is lacking. Some are unable to gain access to networks or mentors that could provide the knowledge and experience to confront major decisions, while others lack the capital they need to start their venture.

The project was developed through IDEO’s Human-Centered Design course, and was taken through a process of inspiration, ideation, and implementation. I worked alongside a team of five over a period of two months, serving as the team lead by leading our weekly workshop while I worked collaboratively with my teammates during the interviewing, researching, idea synthesizing, and prototyping processes.
RESEARCH

In order to narrow down a solution for our challenge to enable more young people to become social entrepreneurs, our team needed to conduct research to identify the current landscape for our audience as well as the barriers to entry that stopped current young people from pursuing social entrepreneurship. We went out and interviewed several individuals across various stages of the entrepreneurship process, as well as the senior programming manager of an innovation center with expertise on social entrepreneurship, in order to gain insights on pain points for those seeking to become social innovators. Furthermore, we went out to mHub and conducted on-site observational research and used some of our former experiences at Startup Weekend to flesh out our understanding of the social entrepreneurial landscape.

I was very lucky…got the right cards and played them right. Resources got me thinking about interactions between public and private sectors, tools to do social activism in a way outside of politics. I wish that social entrepreneurship had more recognition.

Aspiring Social Entrepreneur
Aspiring Social Entrepreneur
Andrew

I’ve had to seek experiences elsewhere by being open to engaging with people who have expertise in the field.

Aspiring Social Entrepreneur
Aspiring Social Entrepreneur
Joshua

I couldn’t find non-profit work that I wanted to pursue, so I made my own opportunity.

Former Social Entrepreneur
Former Social Entrepreneur
Erika

The young part doesn’t really matter… success has more to do with hands-on experience, resources: network, financial, timing.

Senior Programming Manager, mHUB Chicago
Senior Programming Manager, mHUB Chicago
Cynthia

Upon sharing and synthesizing our interview findings, we found several clusters of insights that emerged. After consolidating the research results, we narrowed our project scope down to three key insights:

Community Support

People desire safe spaces for emotional, professional, and brainstorming support.

Learning from Others

Young entrepreneurs find it hard to find a good mentor (and role model) match that allows for a long lasting relationship.

Skills Development

There is no defined trajectory or curricula for skills learning, except for some online courses geared towards hard skills.

These insights provided the framework for the generative questions that we asked ourselves in order to develop solutions to our challenge at hand.

  • How might we foster communities for people interested in social entrepreneurship that encourage knowledge sharing, creativity, and personal support?

  • How might we create ways to facilitate connections between people with interest in social entrepreneurship and mentors that encourage meaningful relationships?

  • How might we help individuals cultivate practices and skills that allow them to pursue their unique social entrepreneurial aspirations?

IDEATION
With our core challenges identified, our team went ahead and started brainstorming ideas for each of our challenges. Upon brainstorming potential solutions for each of the three insight questions. we found patterns emerging in our various ideas that we then used to reorganize these potential solutions. Solutions included online, digital services like forums and networking sites, as well as offline programs that ranged from ‘speed dating’ events between mentors and mentees to co-working spaces and classes that facilitated learning and sharing. Keeping in mind our three primary insights, we wanted to focus more specifically on developing a supportive community. Based on the research we had gathered, that specific challenge was one highlighted across all demographics we talked to, and was also the lynchpin in addressing our two other challenges in addressing skills development and appropriate mentorship matching.
Ultimately, we filtered down our ideas to the ones that satisfied these criteria, with our most promising ideas centered around recurring offline opportunities that would bring social entrepreneurs together to work collaboratively on short-term projects. The three ideas that we merged were a ‘mentors, mint tea, and monkeys’ social event, ‘Fail Fridays’ that encouraged individuals to be comfortable with making mistakes and sharing their failures, and brief project opportunities that allowed people to test run mentor and mentee relationships. The core of these ideas fostered a supportive and relaxed environment to meet entrepreneurs of all skill levels, encouraged individuals to cultivate an entrepreneurial mentality and actionable skills, and allowed people to collaborate and learn with others.
 
Make it Mondays was designed with our three key insights in mind, as it aims to provide a casual, collaborative community for individuals interested in social entrepreneurship by providing short, but instructive activities to allow people to grow their entrepreneurial toolkit while connecting with like-minded changemakers. Through our research, we found that drive, a strong support network, and accessibility to resources that encourage growth and learning were all fundamental instruments in entrepreneurship development. With our program geared more specifically towards social innovation, the platform connects individuals that 1.) are interested in learning more and engaging with local social innovation programs, 2.) want to expand their entrepreneurial skills through productive projects, and 3.) want to connect with like-minded individuals who can provide mentorship, collaborate on future projects, and more.

Our team decided to develop a user persona and storyboard, and isolate our prototype to a singular step of our storyboard. We agreed that the group project/challenge phase would be the most integral step to finesse and develop.
PROTOTYPE

In order to narrow down a solution for our challenge to enable more young people to become social entrepreneurs, our team needed to conduct research to identify the current landscape for our audience as well as the barriers to entry that stopped current young people from pursuing social entrepreneurship. We went out and interviewed several individuals across various stages of the entrepreneurship process, as well as the senior programming manager of an innovation center with expertise on social entrepreneurship, in order to gain insights on pain points for those seeking to become social innovators. Furthermore, we went out to mHub and conducted on-site observational research and used some of our former experiences at Startup Weekend to flesh out our understanding of the social entrepreneurial landscape.