The Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship awards annual seed grants to fund the launch or early stage growth of a Wesleyan-connected social enterprise, project, program, or venture. Each grant recipient reports back with blog posts and photos. Here’s the first report from Wishing Well, one of the three 2014 winners, written by Tavo True-Alcala ’15. You can read about Wishing Well here.
Thus far our work to expand the Wishing Well water stations into a venture that reaches beyond Wesleyan has been mostly about learning.
Here at Wesleyan, I have been learning from some great people thanks to connections forged by Makaela and the Patricelli Center. Early in the spring I had an excellent phone conversation with Rachel Hines ’82, who was one of the judges of the grant competition and was intrigued by the Wishing Well. She helped me to tease out some of the ideas we had when designing the original station that did not end up in the Wesleyan prototypes, but are worth considering as we move forward. Additionally she reminded me of the importance of making our design stand out and making it the water station people will want to buy.
I also attended a “Structure Lab” run by Joy Anderson ’89, an event in which participants are guided through some of the most important questions to ask when starting up a venture such as Wishing Well.
Later in the spring I met with a neighbor of Makaela’s (she is really a wizard at finding connections) who is an engineer, and with Brent Skyping in from the UK we were able to have many of our technical questions answered. From this meeting the strongest piece of advice we took away was the importance of having a “BOM” (bill of materials).
Moving forward, this summer I plan to use new software to model an updated version of the Wishing Well system that is better suited for mass production and will include a BOM, while Brent will be working on a website. We will discuss in more detail questions from the Structure Lab regarding how we should move forward, including bringing more people into the project. We also plan to start reaching out to find potential manufacturers and suppliers who will help us make the Wishing Wells a reality.
Our plan is that by some time this fall we will have formed all the connections we need to produce more Wishing Wells, and with the help of the Seed Grant, we will be able to have a new working system that is ready to be produced at a larger scale and marketed to other organizations.