Fostering a Sense of Community: Research by Inspiring Capital

Over the past ten weeks, Five One Labs has had the opportunity to collaborate with a group of undergraduate fellows from  the Social Enterprise Summer Training Institute (SESTI) at Inspiring Capital. The talented fellows went through an entire design thinking process to develop an innovative user experience for Five One Labs entrepreneurs.

Below is an interview with one of the fellows, Omri, who kindly shared his thoughts on his experience with Inspiring Capital and Five One Labs. 

The Inspiring Capital undergraduate fellows hard at work in New York City. Photo courtesy of Inspiring Capital. 

The Inspiring Capital undergraduate fellows hard at work in New York City.

Photo courtesy of Inspiring Capital. 

Q: Can you describe your backgrounds and interests? What led you to end up connecting with Inspiring Capital and Five One Labs? What interested you about it?

Omri: I am originally from Brooklyn, New York, but both of my parents are from Israel, so the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Arab Spring, etc, are all very important to me. I am a double major studying psychology and peace/conflict studies. I’m also very much into entrepreneurship and design thinking. All these favorites meet at what Five One is doing as an organization, so it was really the perfect fit for me!

Q: What exactly do you do with Inspiring Capital?

Omri: I have an undergrad fellowship. I’ve been paired with an MBA student, and have been working on studying and developing a business case for an open-hiring process, for a company based in Yonkers.

Q: What is your specific role within the project with Five One labs?

Omri: My group explored the potential ways Five One Labs could foster a sense of community. This pertains to both within the entrepreneurial cohort (among individual members), and the connecting the cohort to external community members (in Erbil).

Q: What was your particular research process?

Omri: We worked using user research, by visiting innovation labs and accelerators across NYC and actually conducting interviews with space managers and the entrepreneurs themselves that were using the space. These labs helped foster creativity and collaboration among like-minded entrepreneurs.

Q: What was your takeaway from the research?

Omri: We analyzed our notes and presented a takeaway for Five One - for what does and doesn't work in incubators. We are now coming up with new ideas to form a sense of community, like lunchtime experiences, work time experiences, and more. We came up with many ideas, but one I liked was a coworking experience, teaching others how to use design thinking. There's also show and tell. Entrepreneurs sharing their progress for group feedback. We've only just started, but we are looking forward to developing more experiences that enhance community and foster collaboration. More community means more comfort for entrepreneurs.

Q: What recommendations did this lead to for Five One?

Omri: Each space we looked at was subject to specifics. For example, in a financial incubator, if someone had a question about their work they could turn to someone next to them and ask a very career-specific question and collaborate which would be an unlikely experience in, say, a public library. This also helps foster collaboration. The research applies to Five One Labs in that all entrepreneurs are refugees which can be unifying as a community, and entrepreneurs can share experiences and feedback.

Q: What have you personally learned so far, through this project?

Omri: I've definitely seen some amazing work. Personally, I've have realized how important it is to understand the context of what you're researching - trying to come up with solutions for a refugee crisis that we, as students who haven't undergone the same struggles, can struggle to understand. Also, it's been fun and inspiring to work under Alice, Patricia, and Sophia!

Q: Is there anything final you'd like to say to those reading your interview?

Omri: I think it’s important to recognize the need for long-term sustainable solutions to the refugee crises. Beyond the immediate emergency relief, refugees need the opportunity to work and study.