Sam Waldo 

CPO: Education in Sight

Problem: Poor access to eye glasses in rural China. Existing solutions are unsustainable, expensive and incomplete. 

 

Solution: Provide low-cost, high-quality eyeglasses and eye care education to 100,000 students in underprivileged communities by 2017

Ratings of Co.Creator program: 

Leadership Development

very significantly

Funding:

$80,000+

Recommendation (out of 10) :

10

 Mindsets:

very

significantly

Challenges

"Our idea was already most of a startup before CoCreator, but it skewed towards the overblown project versus the true agile/dynamic startup.

 

Before Co.Creator, we had a relatively simple idea with relatively little idea of what to do next. EIS started out, and largely continues, as a traditional non-profit. We partner with Teach for China to implement a glasses donation program in rural schools. This allows us to piggyback off of TFC’s established network, which is essentially the only way we have actually gotten into schools thus far.

 

CoCreator has been mostly, if not entirely, responsible for lighting a fire under EIS to diversify into new models of implementation that would allow us to grow beyond the TFC network and beyond our ability to fundraise.

 

The main barriers were our mindset – the idea that growing within TFC was “good enough for now” – and our perception of time inputs/timescale – the idea that we could maintain volunteer status for a while longer, and that developing regions/ideas/new ventures over slow months was acceptable."

 

Journey

Progress

"We have successfully run pilots/experiments testing our revenue-based implementation that have provided convincing numbers as to the validity of this approach in rural areas of China. Out of 160 students who were offered the choice between 80 RMB ($12.90 USD) and 0 RMB (free) glasses, 150 opted for the paid (higher-quality) pair. We’ve created a pitch deck that has been used in presentations that have successfully established two high-profile partnerships. One with AMC Live, a concert organizing group based in Chengdu, that has led to a pledge of at least $80,000 USD to launch our traditional, fully-sponsored/free glasses model in 50 schools in Sichuan and Yunnan. The other has been to form a partnership via UBS and the Optimus Foundation with the Moh family, which has pledged its support to our non-traditional efforts focused around scale (revenue pilot, technology track, social enterprise and/or government-impact-led). We have upped the timeline for us to bring on full-time staff, with the first full-time staffer to join us by mid-summer. Plans for another full-time staff member are also solidified, and we have the potential to bring on as many as two more by the end of the year."

 

"We JUST BECAME ECHOING GREEN FINALISTS! This never could have happened without you and Co.creator, thank you so much for all of your support, expertise, and the flat out hard work you put in to help us with everything...."

 

Real deal: "Co.create didn't just help give us a framework for achieving success and scalability with our target consumers (students with poor vision), it also gave us the inspiration to look in new places for solutions that had been escaping us. With my time spent in Co.create, I have come away with a start up that is leaner, more adept, and capable of attracting resources from a top tier list of foundations and corporate partners. This program has given us a distinct advantage that will last long after we have finished the 8 week curriculum. Co.create is the real deal, and we have benefited from their program and expertise in more ways than I can count." 

 

Skills: "Going through the CoCreator process has felt like a skill acquisition process in and of itself. Our org is currently planning our next few months of development, and we refer to ‘going through CoCreator’ as the definitive way to establish whether or not an idea is valid. We have a number of models still under consideration, and we will use CoCreator (like process) to evaluate their potential for success.

 

Mindsets: "Coming into CoCreator, I was planning to find the smartest and best way to expand our small, traditional non-profit organization. Coming out of CoCreator, I feel empowered and almost obligated to create something much more profound, sustainable, scalable and impactful. Having a mentor to walk me through that shift in mindset has been invaluable.

 

Reflection on my co-founder: "Zevae has been fantastic to work with. He's great to talk any idea through, provides insightful feedback on any and all situations at the drop of a hat, and is generous with his time and energy. He's also very flexible when it comes to scheduling, which was a big help."

 

Next 8 weeks: "At this point we plan to run through the CoCreator 8-week process at least once and likely multiple times within the coming months. We will test the long-term validity of models we are already pursuing (revenue-based glasses sales), give an additional layer of rigor to ideas we are pursuing (technology-based solution), and evaluate at least one still very new concept we’ve been kicking around (a Warby Parker-style social enterprise, government-led initiatives) in our internal meetings."