Almost to market!

Project Update: Briquette

When considering ways to update you on the charcoal briquette project, we thought the best way would be to share a snippet from our internal project plans. Hopefully, this gives insight not only on our process, but on the framework we’ve used to pursue these projects. The chart below shows our major objectives with the main tasks for each objective.

Develop improved briquette. + Completed six focus groups with users (1/27/10)

+ Researched Indian rural cooking initiatives (12/20/09)

+ Tested for optimal briquette makeup (3/25/10)

+ Tested for optimal briquette shape and size (6/15/10)

+ Tested chemical additives (6/15/10)

+ Competitive test against other fuels (8/29/10)

+ Interviews with improved briquette (10/01/10)

Develop improved press and production. + Analyzed use of current press (10/31/09)

+ Built stove prototype to understand manufacturing (10/15/09)

+ Completed first round of (2) prototypes (3/01/10)

+ Completed second round of (2) prototypes (6/10/10)

+ Tested prototypes (7/30/10)

+ Completed final prototype (7/30/10)

+ Completed mixer (1/19/10)

Develop market and distribution. + Researched competitive fuels/stoves (11/20/10)

+ Completed cost analysis (1/15/10)

+ Discussed and plan distribution scheme (6/10/10)

+ Designed packaging and find suppliers (2/5/11)

+ Met and networked with intended distributors (12/15/10)

+ Plan and design promotional activities (2/30/11)

+ Plan and design training activities (2/30/11)

Develop ODAMs small enterprise capacity. + Attended (3) conferences (12/01/09)

+ Applied for (3) grants (8/15/10)

+ Hired a manager for the pilot project (8/15/10)

+ Built linkages to partners and suppliers (10/01/10)

+ Implement test market (3/15/11)

+ Complete follow up measurements and report (10/30/11)

As you can see from the chart, on top of design and engineering, we’ve done a lot of research, networking, and testing. This work has led to a fully developed idea for a business that is centered on a functional product and can be economically sourced, manufactured, and distributed. The business benefits from a well-defined target consumer who lives in a proscribed area, and has potential to improve indoor air quality and create new jobs in an economically depressed rural area.

We are beginning to prepare for a one month, limited supply test market. We will use all of our contacts and equipment to produce 300 briquettes per week for sale in one of the target communities. This market will be supported by promotional activities and briquettes will be sold at full price. The purpose of this activity is to test all of our ideas for the product, production, distribution, and marketing. If successful, ODAM can confidently apply for a small loan to start the business. If unsuccessful, we can either adjust, or end the

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It is important to note that completing all of these tasks required skill sets outside of traditional design. Some of these skills sets were provided from our own non-design experience. Some of it came from ODAM; and still other came from volunteers and outside consultants. However, design was a focal point that brought all of these skills together. All of the testing, research, and networking directly fed or was fed by the creation of physical products and visualizations. In summary, we have learned that while design cannot do this work alone, it can serve as a flexible and creative basis for development.

(We’d just like to add here quickly that we just received news that ODAM was awarded a grant from the One Percent Foundation to help fund this project—which was much needed! Great news!)

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Get Cozy and Rock On!

The folks over at CNCY MADE had a vision: grow Cincinnati’s maker community and revitalize its rich manufacturing culture by connecting design entrepreneurs to local, small batch manufacturers. Through partnership with Design Impact and the University of Cincinnati design program, First Batch was born: supplying creative entrepreneurs with the knowledge and tools necessary to establish their small enterprises and produce their “first batch”. Due

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to Design Impact’s familiarity with small business development, program design and management, and outcome measurement, we joined forces with the CNCY Made team to measure

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the impact of the program and contribute to program oversight.

DJ Corney of Wool Shop and Adam Jonovski of Hatchet Guitars were the first two entrepreneurs to go through the program.


Noel Gauthier articulates the vision.

Wool Shop focuses on producing high-quality, handmade sweaters. Using wool from ethically-raised sheep and dying it with all natural ingredients such as roots and flowers, Wool Shop ensures that each sweater is unique and thoughtful–from “sheep to sweater”.


It takes a village to craft an all-natural, handmade sweater.


A beautiful Wool Shop sweater.

Hatchet Guitars is devoted to building uniquely portable electric guitars. By implementing a shorter neck with thicker strings, Hatchet Guitars have the full range of a traditional instrument while providing the convenience of fitting in a backpack, all manufactured right here in Cincinnati!


Manufacturing a stairway to heaven.


Full range of a classic guitar, way more convenience.

With the successful launch of these two enterprises, the First Batch team will take learnings from this year and apply them next year’s batch of design entrepreneurs.

We had a great time working with the following teammates on this one (CNCY MADE, Springboard, Hatchet Guitars, Wool Shop, We Have Become Vikings, The Launch Werks, Powerhouse, FEAST), and look forward to staying involved in this work, helping to create lasting economic impact here in our hometown.

Now, let’s get cozy and rock on!

rock on

First Batch early adopter, Sean Goss, enjoys his Wool Shop sweater and Hatchet Guitar.

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Seeking Social Innovation Specialist


We are growing! Which means Design Impact is looking of a talented individual passionate and experienced in social design. See the job description below and if interested, send resume, cover letter explressing your interest in this position and relevant examples of work to


DI is currently looking for a Social Innovation Specialist to join our staff in Cincinnati. The Social Innovation Specialist will serve as a key member of our team, with specific responsibilities to develop and implement social innovation programs with our partner organizations and entrepreneurs.


As the DI Social Innovation Specialist, you will be fully responsible for successfully designing and facilitating various social innovation programs. This includes collaborating with partners, developing new curriculum, implementing programs, and growing our network and client base.

Program Design
+ Adapt DI’s current curriculum to specific programmatic environments
+ Develop new active-learning curriculum to program needs
+ Meet with partners to co-design program structures
+ Develop real world, community project structures
+ Design program materials including: presentations, workbooks, and facilitators guides

Program Facilitation
+ Work closely with partners to design and deliver the program content
+ Deliver engaging and educational presentations
+ Facilitate participant growth and skill development
+ Facilitate “train the trainer” sessions
+ Provide oversight and feedback (coaching) to program participants

Partnership Development
+ Build professional relationships with clients and program partners
+ Communicate the value of the DI’s Programs through blog posts and/or short articles
+ Participate in developing program evaluations and measurement
+ Identify and develop relationships with potential partners for future programs
+ Support a variety of administrative & organizational tasks as needed


If you’re a successful candidate, you will be flexible, resourceful, and willing to work in a non-traditional work environment. You have a strong work ethic, build trusting relationships easily, and can relate to people from various economic and

geographic backgrounds. You would have experience working in cross-boundary, cross-sector settings and would be comfortable talking to business leaders on one-hand and low-income community members on the other. You are excited

by the challenges of collaborating across multiple time zones, playing various roles (entrepreneurial), and building on existing programs. You’re an excellent communicator, take initiative, thrive in a team environment— and with the switch of a hat, you can work remotely with impeccable ease.

In addition, you must have:

  • Extremely strong verbal communication skills, both in front of large groups and inter-personally
  • A deep working knowledge of design thinking, social innovation, and social enterprise
  • Experience working with NGOs/non-profits, social enterprises, social entrepreneurs, and/or low-income communities
  • Significant experience in facilitating creative learning environments
  • At least 3+ years of professional experience in design or social entrepreneurship
  • Strong visual communication skills and the ability to create your own aesthetic presentations and documents
  • Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in a related field (design, business, community development)
  • A genuine and demonstrable interest in interdisciplinary work and intercultural collaborations
  • Excellent written communication skills in English. The knowledge of any other language is a plus
  • The ability to work independently; self-motivated and responsible with minimal supervision
  • A positive attitude, highly curious with the desire to work with people from various backgrounds


The Social Innovation Specialist is a full time or 0.75 time position based in our Cincinnati office. While most of the position’s responsibilities are conducted in Cincinnati, occasional travel—including international travel—will be required.

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Collaborating Globally

Along with back to school schedules and pumpkin-flavored everything, Fall has ushered in some very exciting developments in the Design Impact world.

First and foremost, we have the pleasure of welcoming Geoff Zoeckler, SEEK innovation consultant and the latest addition to our DI family. Geoff’s deep background in human-centered design coupled with his passion for social change make him a perfect fit as our new Social Innovation Specialist. Over the next nine months, he will apply his unique talents at the helm of our Global Citizen Leader program; galvanizing 250 MBA students at the Welingkar School of Business (Mumbai) to resolve social challenges while immersing them in Leadership and Innovation practices. Go Geoff!

The one and only, Geoff Zoeckler

The one and only, Geoff Zoeckler (YoYo master)

Click here to learn more about the Global Citizen Leadership Program.


Student become Global Citizen Leaders

Future leaders prototyping their ideas

On this project DI is continuing our close partnership with the Center for Creative

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Leadership, whose mission is “to advance the understanding, practice and development of leadership for the benefit of society worldwide.” DI believes that together with CCL we can have a significant impact equipping young leaders to face some of our world’s most pressing challenges through a combination of human understanding, diverse collaboration, and innovative problem-solving.

Staying dry - Kate and Ramsey with Lyndon from Center for Creative Leadership.

Staying dry in Chennai – Kate, Ramsey, and Lyndon from Center for Creative Leadership.

Keep an eye out for further DI/CCL joint ventures including a transformative approach to fostering women’s leadership at Mount Mary University in Wisconsin, as well as an exciting collaboration with Ford Motor Company Fund’s Blue Oval Social Innovation Leadership program in Tamil Nadu, India.


Collaborating during B.O.S.I.L.

All in! Team members at Ford Motor Company Fund prep for innovation

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Random Snacks of Kindness


“This year’s project has really opened up my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities. You CAN use your creative abilities in areas other than art. And it is also possible to make a difference in your city through something as simple as a snack mix.”
Elena Jordan-Keller (ArtWorks Apprentice, 17)

As Design Impact continues to grow, we’re excited to focus much of our efforts on our hometown of Cincinnati. We’re involved with many local projects over the next few months, the first of which began during summer 2013…


Meet our fabulous, culinary entrepreneurs!

As the creator of FEAST, Frances Kroner had a vision: empower youth to help her start a socially-conscious snack business by giving them the tools and inspiration to do so. With a background in food innovation, she decided to partner with ArtWorks youth apprentices, Sydney Wise (paper artist extraordinaire) and the team at Design Impact. Due to DI’s experience incubating multiple social enterprises, Frances invited DI

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to instill the team with business development expertise while she facilitated the food development portion of their training.

They’re on a roll! Artworks apprentices in the kitchen.

They’re on a roll! Artworks apprentices in the kitchen.


Experimenting to make the most delicious snack mix ever!

Experimenting to make the most delicious snack mix ever!

Using the Springboard curriculum as a starting point, DI led the apprentices through multiple creative enterprise modules in order to bring this snack mix from the kitchen to the community.

Consumer research - blind taste test.

Consumer research – blind taste test.


Youth apprentices collaborating on the business plan.

Youth apprentices collaborating on the business plan.


The team created over 1,000 personal kindness notes.

The team created over 1,000 personal kindness notes.

Why is it called Random Snacks of Kindness you ask? Each snack mix includes a handwritten kindness note that includes original artwork and is folded origami-style. In addition, 100% of the proceeds go directly to ArtWorks to support their community art initiatives–so this snack mix really will brighten many people’s day!

From plans...

From plans… reality!

…to reality!

DI is thrilled to have helped launch this amazing social enterprise! Special thanks to

Frances Kroner of FEAST, Sydney Wise, Sarah Corlett and the amazing team at ArtWorks (and Springboard!), Betty Hatchett Design, Giacomo Ciminello @ Kaleidoscope, Julie Niesen of Wine Me Dine Me, Peggy Shannon of Queen City Cookies, and Jacqueline C. Wood, in addition to all of the incredible donors that supported this project. Finally DI wants to give a big thank-you-shout-out to Elena, Sunny, Max, Madeline, Breanna, and Emma–the six ArtWorks Apprentices–for their boundless creativity and enthusiasm. You all rocked it!

Finally, keep an eye out for an upcoming Random Snacks of Kindness video as well as a product launch this fall!

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