by Juliana Fetherman
Founder & CEO of Making Authentic Friendships LLC
I am 22 years old, have a bachelors degree in health science and am currently working towards my MBA, both at Sacred Heart University. I am the founder and CEO of Making Authentic Friendships LLC, a mobile application that will enable children (ages 13+) and adults with special needs make friends. It will match them based on their geographic location, diagnosis, age and interests. This is inspired by my brother Michael. My family is the most important thing to me and I want to dedicate my life to helping others.
How one should go about cultivating a business idea (for profit or nonprofit) for social good:
There are a few key aspects that go into cultivating an idea for common good. I am creating a mobile application that will enable children and adults with special needs make friends. I will share with you what I learned from my experience.
Producing the initial idea for common good is relatively easy, you just need to think of something that will help people or fix a problem. The idea of a “common good” is something I studied a lot in college. I went to Sacred Heart University, a private catholic university, and we did a lot of exploring the idea of a “common good”. A “common good” is basically something that is good for a large number of people. The best way to think of this idea, is to write a list of problems that need to be solved, then write down possible ways (products) that could solve them and finally, narrow down the list to the ones you feel are most feasible.
The more difficult part, in my opinion, is proof of concept. It is great to plan a business around social good, but will be useless if you can’t prove concept. This is an idea that was foreign to me when I first started. Proof of concept is the idea that when you publicize the idea, you are conscious of reactions to it. If there is a positive reaction, you get a lot of attention from it and people say they would use it, then you proved your concept (you proved that there is a market for it). If the reaction isn’t like that, then there might not be a market for that product and you might want to consider going back to the drawing board. I want to stress that this isn’t always an end all be all. If the initial reaction isn’t great, with some minor changes and some work on marketing and outreach, it could still work. When you are telling people about the product, you also need to make sure that you are targeting the correct audience. For me, I targeted parents/caregivers/family members of people with special needs, as well as other special need centered organizations.
Even after you prove concept, there is much more work to be done. It is crucial that once you are established, you are constantly networking. With social media and its prevalence today, it is easy to get your business in the hands of possible consumers. Social media is the most obvious way to do this. You can target specific people through the use of things like hashtags. More specifically, you can pay a small amount to run “promotions”. This is where the social media site, does the work for you and targets a specific audience on your behalf. This brings more traction to your page, translating to more awareness and more customers.