How Venture with Impact Markets Their Social Impact Startup
By: Carli Evilsizer | August 22, 2018
When you are building a mission-driven startup, you want to grow your company for even better reasons than just profitability. Ann Davis launched Venture with Impact, a 'workation' experience with social impact, to allow professionals to maintain their full-time careers while traveling by volunteering their professionals skills in order to create true, positive social impact on local communities.
Ann built Venture with Impact based on her own experiences traveling and working full-time, and this passion shines through in everything she does. In fact, her customers are also so passionate about the work her startup is doing, that word of mouth is actually one of Venture with Impact’s key marketing strategies! Keep reading to learn how Ann builds brand loyalty and what some of her most successful marketing strategies are for mission driven, social impact startups.
How Ann Davis Launched a Mission Driven Startup, Markets a Social Impact Company & Builds Brand Loyalty
Venture with Impact is a 'workation' experience with social impact. The mission of Venture with Impact is to expose professionals to new cultures, people and ideas so that they may be more informed and empathetic world citizens, and in the process, provide a positive social impact.
CEO & Founder
Venture with Impact
Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, over the past nine years, Ann has lived and worked with various international organizations in Latin America. She traveled to Chile for a study abroad experience with Tulane University and after graduating, Ann joined Teach for America and taught in New Orleans. For the next couple of years, Ann continued to explore her passions, while she continued teaching. She moved to New York and taught in PAVE Schools. One of the ways that Ann explored possible paths forward was to explore Idealist.org. In July of 2016, she quit her job and moved to Peru to work with local NGOs, which was where the idea for Venture with Impact was born. She previously founded a non-profit organization called Swim 4 Success and has worked in marketing at multiple startups in New Orleans, including Feelgoodz, LLC and Kickboard.
1. How was the idea for Venture with Impact born?
"Having travelled the world while working full-time jobs, I lived and felt the internal struggle of wanting to maintain a professional career, while at the same time nurturing an adventurous and humanitarian identity. I have always had a passion for both traveling and working in the social impact realm, however I know that fulfilling these passions, while maintaining a full-time professional career is very difficult. This dilemma led to the idea for Venture with Impact."
2. Why was it important to you to build a mission driven company?
"All around the planet, I have met many impactful individuals and professionals who are investing their skills, know-how and competencies to make the world a better place. It is inspirational, motivational, energizing. I’ve visited places where particular skills are missing and institutions with meaningful missions cannot move forward due to the lack of resources. A non-profit which needs a better IT solution or wants to develop a mobile application to digitize and enhance its goals can never afford to pay an IT expert to achieve it. And that’s where skill-based volunteering comes in."
"Studies such as Deloitte’s Volunteerism Survey show that many professionals wish to volunteer and contribute with their skills to a meaningful cause, but don’t know how to find a volunteering opportunity or how to gain support of their employers. My business partner and I listen to this call and answer to it. The mission behind our business is to help professionals to volunteer their skill while maintaining and their career and improving their professional skills with our international programs. We believe that with experts from the private sector lending their skills to NGOS, the social change and achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals will move at a much faster speed."
"The mission behind our business is to
help professionals to volunteer their skill
while maintaining and their career and improving their
professional skills with our international programs."
3. What is your background?
"Over the past nine years, I have lived and worked with various international organizations in Latin America and have traveled to more than 40 countries on five continents. I previously founded a non-profit organization called Swim 4 Success and has worked in marketing at multiple startups in New Orleans, including Feelgoodz, LLC and Kickboard. I am an alumna of the Teach For America and prior to starting Venture with Impact, I worked in elementary education for four years. In July of 2016, I quit my job and moved to Peru on a whim to work with local NGOs, which was where the idea for VWI was born."
4. Tell me about your target customers.
"The spectrum of our customers varies in terms of age, profession, nationality, and experience, however the common feature of all our program participants is their interest in travel and giving back. We offer programs for both individuals and company teams. While the first usually attracts young professionals, PhD students, career changers and retirees, the latter is designed for entire company teams who want to develop their team work and capacity on a short-term project for one of our local non-profit partners."
5. How do you build brand loyalty?
"Our reputation is driven by the referrals of program participants and non-profit partners as well as our media relations and outreach. We provide our participants with 24/7 support and logistics as well as cultural immersions so that they can fully focus on their work and volunteering assignment and make their program with Venture with Impact a life-time experience. We are transparent about everything we do and how we select only trusted and recognized non-profit partners so that all the principles of ethical volunteering are considered and respected."
6. Did you run into any unexpected roadblocks while building Venture with Impact?
"Our very first program location was launched in Trujillo, Perú. This was a destination that our first clients very much enjoyed, however we quickly realized that the internet infrastructure was not up to our standards for remote work. Remote work capability is the bread and butter of our programs. We have since launched three fantastic locations in Medellin, Colombia; Chiang Mai, Thailand; and Lisbon, Portugal, adding an additional location in Mexico in 2019."
7. What makes you unique from your competitors?
"Venture with Impact is the only program of its kind. While many ‘workation’ companies exist to provide programs for remotely working professionals, Venture with Impact is unique in that it offers the set-up for professionals to work remotely for their jobs offering true opportunities to volunteer professional skills and create positive impact for local communities. We partner with local nonprofits to match participants with skills-based volunteer placements that meet their skills, interests and schedule. In addition, Venture with Impact connects program participants with cultural events and activities in their program country, which allows them to dig deeper into the local culture, create bonds with local communities and get an insight beyond a simple tourist experience."
8. How do you market your startup?
"Our marketing strategy is based on word of mouth and sharing the positive experience of our past program participants, whether it is professional success or travelling impressions such as bathing with elephants in Thailand, planting coffee seeds in Colombia or watching a sunset off the coast of Lisbon. We use social networks to share these experiences and we also maintain our alumni network to learn from each other and reflect on how a skill-based volunteering experience nourishes our current careers."
9. What has been your most successful marketing campaign?
"Some of our successful campaigns include the experiences of journalists, bloggers and influencers who became our program participants for a day or joined us for our month-long programs. We are always open to anyone who wants to learn more about what we do and spend a day either with myself and the team, our non-profit partners or our program participants. Videographers and journalists visit us in our program destinations where they observe a typical day of our program participants, from visiting NGO partners to discovering local markets or coffee shops. It is the best way how to give anybody a genuine and authentic flavor of how it is to venture with us!"
10. What is your best advice for someone building a social impact startup?
"I’d tell them what I tell myself: take risks, be positive and optimistic, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and use your network. Don’t be hesitant to tell people about your idea and spread the word. We are often so afraid of failure and what others think, but most people don’t spend time thinking about what you failed at, however if you succeed, it’s something that they notice."
Thanks for sharing Ann!
If you love traveling and creating positive social impact in the world, check out Venture with Impact. (We also highly recommend following their Instagram to help satisfy your wanderlust desires!)
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