Tenant Spotlight – Meet Design Outreach
Design Outreach was founded in 2011 by Abe Wright and Greg Bixler. It is a humanitarian engineering Christian nonprofit whose mission is to help alleviate poverty in developing countries.
Both Abe and Greg had spent time abroad, and saw the need for clean water in the third world. Wanting to put their engineering skills to work and develop a solution for this issue and others like it, they started Design Outreach, and developed the LifePump.
LifePump is a hand-powered water pump, and is a sustainable solution to the clean water crisis. They are finishing up a pilot project where their goal is to have 100 LifePumps installed in five African counties. They are on track to bring clean, safe, life-giving water to poor villages in Africa. Water is vital to overall health, access to education, agriculture, and income. Clean water can have a powerful impact on a group of people.
What are you good at and known for?
We take pride in our high level of engineering expertise that we have applied to solving issues of global poverty. We have volunteers from institutions like Battelle, The Ohio State University and SEEPEX. These field experts have contributed to the design of our LifePump.
What is the smartest move you’ve made so far as a business owner?
We are a nonprofit that relies on many volunteers to accomplish our mission. One of our best moves has been to treat our volunteers well and publicly recognize their achievements. We continue to be rewarded with more high caliber volunteers joining our ranks.
What is your biggest mistake?
In general, not taking time to vet new opportunities or proposals that come our way. Because we rely on volunteers, sometimes the urgency of a need or new idea can lead to decisions made to quickly. However, we have learned that it is always worth the time to slow down and make sure to select the best option that fits our values and culture.
If you had one piece of advice to give a new business owner, what would it be?
Set a clear vision for your organization. It is easy as a small organization to only tend to the urgent, everyday tasks and be immersed in them. Having a clear vision helps keep you and others focused on what is truly essential to your long-term goals.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a business owner?
For us as a nonprofit, it has been figuring out how to grow and increase our impact. It takes a lot of elbow grease in the first few years, but now we are starting to see our hard work pay off.
How has your business grown and changed since it first started?
We started with a couple engineers and an idea to change the world. Now we have over 75 volunteers and are working to provide clean water in six countries.
How long have you been a tenant at Innovate New Albany?
We were virtual tenants starting in 2013, and then moved into cubicles in Spring 2015. Now we have an office of our own where our two staff members work and host meetings.
What made you decide to become a tenant at Innovate New Albany?
We wanted to work alongside like-minded small business owners and develop connections with other ambitious innovators in the community.
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