All posts by Kristin

05 Nov 2018

Reflection: Opportunity Collaboration

 

A few weeks ago, a few of us from Santa Barbara were able to travel to Mexico to attend Opportunity Collaboration, a convening of non-profit executives, social entrepreneurs, grant-makers, impact investors, corporations, media advocates and academics all devoted to building sustainable solutions to poverty and injustice.

Despite the relaxed beachside environment (panelists showed up to their sessions in water-logged bathing suits, and no one blinked an eye!), conversations centered around serious topics such as corrupt governments, unjust laws, educational shortcomings, and power dynamics.

There were multiple sessions to choose from. We could attend workshops on how to participate in the “funders dance” or how to tell if a deal is a good one. We could attend a conscious entrepreneur affinity group and build a support network that spans the globe. We could attend a capacity building clinic on media literacy or the elements of an effective digital strategy.

On one night, there is a marketplace where entrepreneurs can show off and sell the works of their artisans. The next evening, there is an Open Mic Night where talented delegates can tell stories, dance and sing… one person performed a song from her “raptivism” work (rap activism). You might be getting a picture of how varied this un-conference conference is!

With 450 delegates from all over the world who are involved in many different areas, Opportunity Collaboration rightly prides itself on the serendipitous connections that occur every day there. Perhaps more so than the scheduled sessions, this is the true value of OC. Delegates report that they have gained capital relationships, strategic advisors, mergers, suppliers and operating partners from their attendance at Opportunity Collaboration.

It’s hard to describe the amazing atmosphere at OC. The week is designed to build deep and lasting relationships. You laugh, you cry, you  get excited about the future. Impact Hub team member Michaela Deegan says it best:

Being at Opportunity Collaboration was an overwhelmingly inspiring experience. There is such a strong sense of community, being surrounded by individuals who have devoted their lives to exploring solutions to social issues and fighting for the marginalized. We cannot all be passionate about everything, but there is so much hope in knowing that while you are devoted to one issue, someone is handling another.

 

-Kristin Boehm
03 Jul 2018

Member Spotlight: Tom Quisel

 

When becoming an astronaut seems too lofty a goal, naturally, the next move is study computer science engineering and build a dating website….right?! For Tom Quisel, his aeronautics childhood dream evolved into making waves in the virtual dating world. On the surface, one might not easily find the common denominator between cryptocurrency, health care and OkCupid, but Tom sees it differently. His resume is varied, as his interest in computer sciences has lead him to work in many different arenas – but what has always remained the same is his drive to be a force of positive change and to improve the lives of the people who use his products. Tom explained that at OkCupid, his first job out college, their goal was to “make sure there were good opportunities for people who are not traditional heterosexual daters and it was essential to be inclusive.”  With a team of only 15 people, Tom and his coworkers were able to build OkCupid and help change the face of dating. Tom wanted “the quality of people’s dates to improve by creating algorithms to make better matches,”  and he was able to achieve that because “with programming, the computer does exactly what you tell it to do!”

 

After 7 years of improving the virtual dating world, Tom decided it was time for a change and he moved from NYC to Santa Barbara to escape the fast paced, overcrowded city.  Although Tom was passionate about this company, he fell victim to the feelings of isolation that many remote workers experience; “My last year with OkCupid I worked remotely.  I was lonely, and there weren’t many great coworking options available. I began working at some other coworking spaces but they just didn’t have the community feeling I was looking for.  That’s when I decided to try Impact Hub, and I immediately noticed a difference. There is such good energy here and a feeling of community that feels in alignment with my personal values. It is fun to come to work!  I just hired someone for my new project, and it was a huge selling point that they would be able to work out of this space!”

 

It’s been four years since Tom arrived in Santa Barbara and he continues to be driven by a mission to make imperfect systems more perfect. This time he took on the health care system at Evidation Health.  Evidation Health is a “technology and services company that helps individuals and the world’s most innovative health care companies understand and influence the everyday behaviors that create better health outcomes.”  Tom felt the health care system was in need of innovation, and at Evidation, he was able to put his passion for data science to work. While clinical trials take years to complete due to the time it takes to recruit participants, run the trials, and analyze results – the virtual approach to studies can instead be done in weeks or months, thereby speeding up the pace of medicine.

 

Tom’s newest project is taking on the uncharted territory of cryptocurrencies.  He has now banded together with some former OkCupid coworkers to change the way finance is done by harnessing the powers of cryptocurrency to benefit underprivileged groups. “When people hear cryptocurrency, they easily get the wrong idea, they think of day trading etc. But I am working with a nonprofit group on an app that can have a huge impact and change the way money is exchanged.” For example, an immigrant from the Philippines comes to the US to work.  They send money home to their family in the Philippines and they have to pay exorbitant bank fees due to the middlemen who make money on this exchange.   “Many families suffer because of it.  This is a situation ripe for an automated system and by working with this nonprofit I am able to create a standard for financial exchange.”

 

But, alas, all work and no play makes Tom a dull boy! Here in Santa Barbara Tom likes to indulge in all that the outdoors have to offer, including hiking, trail-running, mountain biking and paragliding!

 

His greatest passion? Tom is driven by a mission to make imperfect systems more perfect, in a way that will benefit the world.

 

 

Written by Alexis Malatesta

 

09 Aug 2017

5 Reasons To Get Yourself Into A Coworking Space

 

BZZZ BZZZ BZZZ sounds the alarm. BZZZ BZZZ BZZZ, I reach my hand over the side of the bed and pick up the phone to hit snooze. My head lands on the pillow as I force my eyes open.

I’m staring at the crack in the ceiling above my bed as I ruminate over what needs to get done. I can’t help but have a sense of dread as I think over my to do list. I let out a laugh. My friends had told me that “being your own boss will be great, you’ll love it!” It turns out, it’s not so glamorous.

Now, rather than going into the office and catching up on the latest news, I sit at my lonely kitchen table drinking the same coffee I’ve had week after week. I often find myself trying not to have conversations with myself – or my cat.

Before I found my local coworking space, Impact Hub Santa Barbara, this was my reality.

Despite living in a beautiful city along the coast of California, it was surprising how quickly I came to dread working alone in my home. I needed to get out, and Impact Hub was my answer.

After experiencing Impact Hub, I came to realize 5 reasons why everyone who works at home needs to get themselves into a coworking space.

1. I can have a social life again.

I never realized how much those water cooler conversations at my old office meant to me. As much as office life drove me crazy, I was surrounded by interesting people who made the environment bearable. As soon as I started working for myself I lost those social interactions and immediately felt the impact. I was lonely. I was talking to my cat more than other people. So when I walked through the doors of Impact Hub, I immediately knew my days of being lonely were over. Which brings me to…

2. Networking opportunities galore!

I’ve got far more networking opportunities now than   I ever had before. Being surrounded by fellow entrepreneurs, remote workers and freelancers makes me feel ‘normal’. It also pushes me to succeed.
As Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” At a coworking space like Impact Hub, you can be sure your average will increase.
Being surrounded by entrepreneurs also means significantly more exposure for your business. Being in a space surrounded by business owners multiplies your connections. In fact    one member of Impact Hub, Anne Ribley said,This space has had a multiplication effect on my business. Finding a coworking space has been one of the best things to happen to me and my business.”

3. Amazing coffee and other tasty perks.

It may seem trivial but if you’re a coffee drinker you should understand that good coffee makes all the difference. Working from home, I found myself getting sick of my normal drip coffee day after day. Yet, I also didn’t want to spend $5 to get a cappuccino from a local coffee roaster. Nowadays, I have no need for a coffee shop. I have access to Impact Hub.

Along with good coffee, it is also nice to have access to tasty treats and other drink options. Conscious Kombucha and beer from Draughtsman Aleworks are both available on tap. High-grade organic tea from around the world is available from Far West Tea Traders. Organic fruit and gluten free pastries can often be found in the kitchen.

4. Getting out of the house.

If you’re like me, I get distracted by all the things I “should” be doing when I am home. Dirty dishes left in the sink or undone laundry can haunt me until it is taken care of. Having the temptation of Netflix a few clicks away can also make focus impossible.

 In the past I searched for coffee shops I could escape too. This was always a challenge since most spaces are loud and hard to focus in. I no longer have the challenge of finding a place I can focus. Now I have a place to go that is designed for people just like me – with good coffee and the community, I crave. A coworking space has absolutely led to better productivity.

5. Opportunities for growth.

One of the best advantages of a coworking space are the amazing opportunities for growth. Often special events held in the space are great learning experiences for those of us running our own businesses.Workshops, mastermind groups, conferences, talks and other growth opportunities are constantly available.

Access to mentors are another significant perk at Impact Hub. Membership provides members with a pool of talented mentors. These mentors push their mentees to do great work by providing advice and accountability. As I walk into the beautifully designed building, a familiar focused calm
descends. I step over to the espresso machine where I make a cappuccino. Soon I find a seat where I set up and
get to work.Nowadays, when I think back to the time I used to work in an office, I no longer miss the water cooler conversations. In fact, I find I am happier than I have ever been before. Being in a space designed for my productivity and enjoyment has made working for myself the dream everyone talks about.Written by: Kathryn Arthur 
30 Jun 2017

Unite To Light Santa Barbara

Unite To Light Santa Barbara

Written by: Ray Estrada

Two community-minded Impact Hub members are collaborating to help bring hope to some 500 homeless children, women and men who live out of their vehicles in Santa Barbara County.

 

Megan Birney and Mike Tognotti met at Impact Hub on State Street not long ago and found that they share the desire to help those in need. They noticed that they both carried Patagonia backpacks; with that common ground, they began to talk about what was needed in the community and how they could help.

 

 

A long-time South Coast community activist, Megan now runs the nonprofit Unite to Light Inc., which sells solar-powered reading lamps and cell-phone chargers. When someone buys one of the devices, another goes to a person without one in a Third World country.

 

“We usually send them to developing countries, but this time we’re providing some for homeless in Santa Barbara,” Megan said.

 

In collaboration with Mike and the church he attends, the lamps and chargers are provided to people living out of their cars and vans in a “safe parking lot library.” It’s a pilot program that will determine if the devices are going to people who need them and won’t just sell them.

 

The nonprofit New Beginnings Safe Parking Program has provided case management and outreach to the homeless and safe overnight parking to individuals and families living in their vehicles since 2004 in cooperation with churches, governmental and non-profit agencies and businesses.

 

Mike said the lamps provide light after sunset for women who will feel safer with them and for children who can read at night. The phone chargers allow the homeless to communicate when their batteries run low. He said many homeless people living out of their cars have jobs, but no place to go after they finish work.

 

“The light provides a little hope that these people in need find very gratifying,” Mike said. He said he saw a 9-year-old girl who lives in a car with her mother. “I have a 10-year-old daughter,” he said. “Perhaps the homeless girl can read after it gets dark.”

 

Megan said the people who received the lights and chargers are very happy to see that someone in the community cares about them. “They are part of the community, too,” she said.

 

Megan and Mike said the pilot program just started after they discussed it at Impact Hub and brought other businesses and nonprofit groups in to support it. Mike said if it is successful, the program could be expanded into other cities.

01 Jun 2017

Remotely Motivated

 “When my boss asked if I could work remotely rather than leave the company, I knew exactly what I needed.”
Celine Derai has a familiar story. An incredible job opportunity presented itself to her husband and suddenly change was in the air. The opportunity meant relocating the entire family to Santa Barbara, consequentially causing Celine to make some significant life changes of her own, including in her career.
Assuming she would be leaving her job before the move, she went into work with a plan to break the news to her employers. Instead, her boss, impressed with her consistently high level of work and professionalism, asked her to stay on with the company even if it meant working remotely.
“I prefer not to work from home for a variety of reasons, so when I was asked to work remotely, I knew what I needed – a coworking space.”
For an array of different reasons, remote work has exploded across the United States with recent stats reporting 3.3 million full-time professionals, excluding volunteers and the self employed, who consider home as their primary place of work. With half of the U.S. workforce in jobs that are compatible with remote work, these numbers are surely going to grow. As the traditional sense of workplace becomes less common, unfamiliar challenges begin to arise; that is where a coworking space like Impact Hub fits.
A feeling of isolation is one of the primary challenges facing remote workers. At first, working from home can seem a fantastic break. Slowly however, remote workers start to long for the sense of community that is attached to a shared office. Community is a universal craving and is one of the leading challenges addressed by a coworking space.
Setting boundaries between home and work life is another major stress point for remote workers. When working and living in the same space, it can be difficult to fully “shut off” after hours and over the weekend. This inability to maintain boundaries can then lead to unnecessary stress and feelings of guilt for many working adults. Having a coworking space to turn to can be a huge benefit for those trying to keep work separate from their home life.
Celine recognized these challenges with remote work and thus knew that a coworking space would be the best solution. So she did what anyone in her position would do, she asked that her company help her find and pay for her membership at a coworking space in the Santa Barbara area.
Conveniently, the COO of her company has a brother utilizing coworking spaces in Santa Barbara and he recommended she take a look at two well-known spaces in town, one of which was Impact Hub.
“When I walked through the doors of Impact Hub Santa Barbara, I absolutely fell in love with the space and the community. I joined as a full time member as soon as I could and I haven’t looked back since.”
Now, Celine and her family are settled in the Santa Barbara area, her daughter is at a local school, her husband is working an excellent job and Celine is still employed by her Bay Area based employer, as a happy remote worker.
Celine now says, “Having a space like Impact Hub in the Santa Barbara community made it possible for me to keep my job. I have found that I am very productive here and I wouldn’t change a thing. This is just what I needed.”
Link to workplace statistics above HERE:
Written by: Kathryn Arthur
11 May 2017

Homegrown

 

Luscious rose petals caress one another in the display case, filling the room with a heady scent. The client’s anticipation is palpable as Rita Tate unveils several mood boards, each showing a possible design for the floor-to-ceiling floral showpiece she’s been commissioned to complete. It is time to make a decision.

As the client passionately debates the subtleties of ruby versus blood red roses, she glances up at the small chirp of Rita’s cell phone. Glancing down at the caller ID, Rita sees her daughter’s name flash across the screen and excuses herself. Her role as a mother takes precedence over any business transaction.

“Every time I say yes to one thing, I say no to something else.”

A love for the interplay of design, beauty, and nature is what initially attracted Rita to the floral design industry. With experience as a floral buyer for a high-end grocery chain and as an artist, she finds comfort and joy in using natural materials to make a space beautiful and inspiring.

Flame Floral Design Studio, Rita’s homegrown business, specializes in creative, eco-conscious events. The flowers she uses are seasonal, sustainably grown, and she recycles or reuses all packaging materials.

The process of owning and growing a business, even one she feels intense passion for, has not been easy. As a female business owner and mother of two beautiful daughters, she recognizes the very real struggles of ‘having it all’.

Rita, like millions of women worldwide, met the man of her dreams and found herself in the midst of a challenging situation: balancing the desire to both start a business and start a family.

As Rita said, “Life is scattered. It’s hard to be both a mom and a business owner. Often everything falls on the same night and you have to make a choice. You can’t be in two places at the same time. And at this point in life, my girls are my priority. Nothing comes before them, even if it may slow the growth of my business. These years are too precious to miss.”

Rita recognizes her privilege of having a husband who is working and can help support the family, but even with that blessing; she intrinsically understands just how much time and emotional energy a business can take. It’s no small task.

With societal pressure at an all-time high for women who want both a successful career and a family in the US, it is no surprise that increasing numbers of women are aiming to run their own businesses rather than work on someone else’s schedule. It seems to be one of the few ways to have both a healthy work and family life.

In Rita’s case, she’s made her decision to make her daughters her top priority. “Even if it takes more time to get to where I want to be in my business, my kids matter more.”

At Impact Hub we have a number of female entrepreneurs working to balance the home and work life. It’s not always easy, as we can see from many of our peers, but if we choose our priorities and allow ourselves, without guilt, to make decisions based on the welfare of our families we can go far in both business and life.

Flame Floral Design Studio

Written by Kathryn Arthur