When Xiang and I walked into SFO en route to Manila on January 15th, we didn’t know what to expect. After leaving our startup jobs, stable incomes, and significant others to immerse ourselves in disaster relief and community development with a Filipino organization called No One in Need, we loaded up our Chase Sapphire credit cards and hoped our Indiegogo campaign would get funded. A month before, after a long, difficult phase out, I left inDinero, where I had worked for over three years. After a few passionate conversations, Xiang and I decided to become co-founders.
We had been working together for a week before we boarded the plane. The only clear aspect about our partnership was that we shared important core values: to love our work and wake up every morning with a mission that inspired us, to match our livelihood with our dreams of traveling the world, and especially: to break open the world of nonprofits. Everything else was untested, unknown, and pretty terrifying.
Over time, we simplified all our dreams and interests into a single mission statement: to make it easier for people to do good. Bring revenue from the for-profit sector into the non-profit sector, without relying on donors or morality-based incentives.
Our first idea was VeryPartySF: normal people paying a premium to attend badass parties where all the profits would then be donated to an impactful charity of our choice. This idea alone morphed a ton:
1.0 Badass parties. (Fuck, party planners say margins suck balls!)
1.1 Badass parties with club tiers with recurring monthly dues! (predictable revenue is oh so important)
1.2 Badass trips/parties/happy hours for startups (ew, custom party planning is a lifestyle business - it can’t scale!)
1.3 BADASS MONTHLY EVENTS THAT YOU SUBSCRIBE TO! Founder jeopardy. Bocci ball tournaments. Cook-offs.
We bought domain names. Strategized our social media and first sales plan, Q1 planning, the works. It was a fun time, and it taught us to always go back to our strengths and values.
When we landed in Manila, this is where we were. Little did we know that the formation of our core values and mission statement was the only sacred thing we had between us at that point. When we returned to SFO two weeks later, everything else had changed.
Our backpacks. My map. Xiang with our trusty malaria pills.