As founders, developing a great product and team is the easy part. Once we’ve discovered a solution to a real problem that the world really needs solved, we must then challenge ourselves to think bigger about the impact we can have.
If you’ve followed Drive Spotter’s story, you know we’ve come a long way since participating in the Global Insurance Accelerator (Des Moines 2015) and Techstars Mobility (Detroit 2016). Today we’re a mobility company building a dynamic map of the roadways. We work with fleets to improve driver behavior and have discovered that our dynamic map data also offers significant value to insurance companies, vehicle manufacturers and city planners. In each case, these parties are using our mobility data to improve the safety and efficiency of our roadways.
For me, that mission is deeply personal. Why? I was lucky. I was able to move beyond an incredibly abusive and isolating childhood. My secret? Mobility. The public bus system, friend’s cars, the taxi, walking. Anything and everything that could get me closer to school, to work or simply to other people. Those experiences drive a deep personal mission to improve mobility for people across all socioeconomic classes and in some sense give first at scale.
Giving back to our communities
In Nebraska we’re sponsoring a deployment with No More Empty Pots, a non-profit corporation that connects individuals and groups to improve self-sufficiency, regional food security and economic resilience of urban and rural communities through advocacy and action (Omaha, NE).
In Iowa we’re working with Nourish Mobile Grocery, a mobile grocery store service that brings grocery store quality foods into neighborhoods categorized as food deserts (Des Moines, IA).
In Michigan we’re participants in a sustainability forum that works with the community to boost physical, social, and economic mobility for people in greater Detroit. This group also collaborated with the Go! Detroit Challenge powered by Ford Motor Company to better connect Detroit communities through innovative mobility solutions.
In general we proactively seek out at least one organization through which we can partner and give back that aligns with our give first ethos. We’re currently seeking similar organizations in Austin, TX, Iowa City, IA, and Lincoln, NE. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you think you know of an organization that might make sense with whom to partner in this way.
Building our communities
Since improving mobility is such a crucial part of our ethos, we’ve also baked mobility into our culture across our distributed team, where we now have active team members in Omaha, Des Moines, Detroit, Austin, Silicon Valley and elsewhere.
In each ecosystem we work closely with local community leaders to maximize the following:
- Build an initial core team in a local co-working space
- Maximally leverage ridesharing and public transit when we travel
- Sponsor gym memberships and transportation passes for our team members
- Provide unique intern experiences to high schoolers and disadvantaged adults
- Participate as mentors in initiatives such as 3 Day Startup and Startup Weekend
- Hire young people with social entrepreneurship mindsets
- Make our data available to local city planners
Lessons have we learned
When determining how to best impact the communities your company or organization serves, remember to stay true to who you are. Specifically, sticking with your team’s core competencies will likely deliver the greatest value.
Your company’s culture will also determine how you can best collaborate with your network to carry out your team’s broader social mission. For us, that means providing data in ways that improve mobility for anyone and building mobility into our team in ways that allows us to be highly effective and close to the ones we love.
There’s a saying that it takes a village to raise a child. We fundamentally believe that to be true and we also believe that to accomplish this goal, we must be active community participants in ways that go beyond simply raising capital, providing jobs and working towards a big exit.
How you can participate
If you’d like to know more about what we’re doing to give back to our communities and building our communities from the inside out, please contact our community manager, email@example.com.
Chris Augeri is the co-founder of Drive Spotter.