Catapult believes that every student, every idea, and every startup has the possibility to do great things: to shape culture, to impact society, to disrupt business, to inspire change.
Catapult provides aspiring young entrepreneurs with the tools and resources they need to grow and bring their startup idea to the next stage of development. Through workshops, mentorship, and a pitch competition, these young people acquire crucial social impact and entrepreneurial skills such as leadership, teamwork, and empathy in an immersive environment of like-minded peers and advisors.
Workshop facilitation (brand positioning, visual storytelling, business model canvas), online/In-person mentorship
...Since October 2014, Jess' meticulous, thoughtful, and carefully considered approach to her work has had a hugely positive impact on Catapult's ability to execute our programming - as well as our students ability to understand and fully appreciate the design process.
— Joshua Caleb Collins, Founder & CEO at Catapult
Volunteering our time early on a Saturday morning, my teammates and I co-facilitated the brand positioning workshop with Catapult students. This was our initial engagement with this organization as well as the student group. Collaborating with my fellow creatives to deliver concepts that we as mentors were already familiar with to these young entrepreneurs was extremely rewarding and humbling.
A total of five mentors participated in this workshop. Each mentor was assigned a specific team of students to deliver a unique, high-touch experience based on the students’ needs, and to introduce the basic workshop framework shown below:
Like the UPenn workshop, this event’s intention was to assist students with accurately positioning and organizing their brand. With the previous workshop experience, the creative mentors were comfortable with an open discussion format, choosing to rotate among the groups rather than working with a designated team.
The students had already worked on their Business Model Canvas within their course, and we found that their questions frequently referenced their existing work during the brand positioning workshop.
2014 – 2015
Aside from these in-person, high-touch workshop experiences, I worked with two separate teams of bright individuals to help craft their businesses’ identity. The key to this engagement was not only to deliver the final identity design, but also to utilize this opportunity to guide students on how they might communicate with a professional designer on a self-initiated project. During the five-week mentorship experience, I dedicated one hour per week for each team to chat online through Google Hangouts. Other online communication such as emails and slack channels was also utilized.
The following two projects were developed while working with these teams:
STEMs for Youth
STEMs For Youth is a non-profit organization that helps youth grow and flourish in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields. Students sometimes don’t see the value of learning STEM subjects in school. Our mission was to change that perception and infuse them with excitement and the ambition to learn more.
— Morlan, Founder at STEMs for Youth
VOCAP is a mobile application that helps anyone build a vocabulary in a foreign language while watching a video. Users can choose any language they want to learn from a selection of videos with four main features: a video playlist, randomized highlight vocabulary, a word bank, and a summary page.
SF Impact Hub Workshop
The SF Impact Hub workshop was a two-day engagement. While our previous workshop took place early on in the Catapult curriculum, this time students were preparing for their Demo day, which was scheduled just after this two-day workshop. The pressure was high.
On the evening of day one, I presented an hour-long lecture on visual psychology. Knowing that students were actively preparing for their final pitch deck, I wanted to deliver some tangible tools for the group to utilize right away. I challenged the students to consider visual surprise, hierarchy, tonality, question, humor, and overall journey while designing for their final presentation. Meanwhile, I demonstrated that a solid understanding of numbers, scale, white space, and consistency are critical for capturing an audience’s attention while presenting.
On day two, I returned to SF Impact Hub, and worked with each individual team for 30 minutes each. During this process, we took a deep dive into each team's current deck in order to collectively critique and analyze how we might further refine the pitch.
It was very powerful to witness how the teams chose to include my recommendations from the lecture into their own practice.
I am a firm believer in promoting education to produce social impact. By working closely with these bright, genuine, and vibrant future entrepreneurs, I felt empowered, humbled, and inspired to continue striving for excellence in my own professional and personal practice.