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Complementary Missions

Early this week (Sept 26) I was part of a Denver StartUp Week panel featuring the collaboration of Hopelab and Grit Digital Health. Expecting 50 attendees, the afternoon sizzled with over five times that. Many questions illuminated a fascination that a startup and a foundation would find common ground to partner. Below is a quasi-recap and additional pondering on this fascination:

We need to abandon our labels; they get in our way. There is such a focus on the not-for-profit and for-profit identities, that it inhibits creative, future-forward thinking. Instead focus on the mission and outcomes. Allow that to guide seemingly strange bedfellows into new opportunities. Hopelab and Grit Digital Health have missions of improving the trajectory of a young person’s life. And this is the joint guiding star that allows the best of both organizations to flourish in this partnership.

We need to deeply focus on complementary attributes. What makes our partnership so robust is that we are hungry in different but complementary ways. Hopelab is a social innovation lab that fuses science and design to solve complex challenges; we need organizations that can get solutions into the hands of young people. Grit Digital Health is a talented mental well-being startup that can do just that, but  like many startups is carefully balancing its resources; having a Hopelab-like innovation lab is not in their cards yet. Together, our resources combine into a fully complementary, mission machine.

We need more partnership that at their core are friendships. This may seem like a weird one, but it’s true. Partnership and collaboration are hard. There must be a deep belief that it’s worth the extra effort to co-create across organizations. However, with our feelings of mutual admiration and camaraderie, it’s making what can feel slog-y for some collaborations, seem light and expansive.

Being only about one third of the way through our collaboration, it would be unwise to call it a success. We still have to build, deploy, and scale our product. But these early signals are all lights green.

We’ll update you on the other two thirds in 2019.

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