Hi, I’m Daniel. I am a designer and innovation consultant.
I live in New Jersey. In June 2017, I raised $15,000 pre-seed capital to pursue a new, purpose-driven project. In October 2017, I acquired my first set of customers. Within 10 weeks, I generated over $40,000 in revenue.
I now prepare to scale my platform into specific niche markets, one-at-a-time:
- higher education
Who is my customer?
An emerging entrepreneur who is growing a purpose-driven project into an organization that shapes our future.
What problem do I solve?
Out-of-scope, over-budget, and irrelevant marketing and design projects has led to this type of work being thought of as an expense rather than an investment.
How do I solve the problem?
I provide a measurable return on your investment.
I provide you with an alternative suite of digital tools, specifically curated education to ensure your mindset adjusts along with the pace of your market, and continuous improvement of all products and services I offer.
Why is this unique?
This solution disrupts the way marketing and design has always been done. Overpriced, inflated services that never intend to produce a return on your investment are no longer an issue for those who adopt this smarter approach to defining, building, and growing an organization.
My customers typically need one, some, or all of the following:
- leadership coaching
- strategic learning pathways
- inbound marketing
- growth-driven design
- custom WordPress development
- culture design
- customer problem framing
The above list typically costs an arm and a leg. You hire an agency to make something for you. Perhaps you contract a designer to build a website. I have one question, and it’s “why”. If your goal is to turnaround your organization, acquire more customers, and retain existing customers then you shouldn’t assume you know what you need. If you knew, you likely wouldn’t be searching for a solution. Then once you find that “solution”, you just tell them what to do for you.
Steve Jobs said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
This is for you
For the last decade, I helped over 100 CEOs, startups, and leaders like you grow their organizations from both a strategic and tactical level.
As an innovation expert, I work directly with leadership to identify and prioritize opportunities that transform the value and supply chain to more effectively meet the evolving needs of customers.
I typically work in one-on-one partnerships to provide uniquely personalized services that weave together the lean startup, scrum agile, inbound marketing, and growth-driven design methodologies.
I am a business mentor for Rutgers Business School and the INSEAD MBA Program at the Kellogg School of Management. I sit on the advisory board of Enactus at Rutgers. I curate a weekly email digest on social entrepreneurship for Techstars. I was fortunate to be selected as one of five global design coaches for the human-centered design organization, IDEO, for their Future of Higher Education Design Challenge. I am an organizer of the Hubspot User Group (HUG) in Northern New Jersey (which is quiet lately, but that is going to change soon!).
Hear from my customers
Learn more about who I am, and what I have accomplished by watching, listening, and reading the words of my previous partners, clients, and mentors.
What I do
I make things. Sometimes, they solve problems.
I work closely with you from the start to determine where you are today, what path you took to get here, and where you want to be tomorrow. Together, we assess the blockers standing in our way today, and potential obstacles of tomorrow. We identify the opportunities, and prioritize them in a step-by-step roadmap that takes us from A to B.
How I do it
I am high-touch and work alongside the front-line.
I navigate through the layers of management and seniority that typically exist within an organization to connect directly with the people at the front. I take things at face-value and pursue further research and experience to acquire a comprehensive understanding of each client’s situation. I continue to accumulate resources in a curated knowledge-base as I learn new lessons along the way.
Who I do it with
I work with CEOs, founders, and early stage startups.
My process is heavily influenced by the lean startup, scrum agile, inbound marketing, and growth-driven design methodologies. After selling my marketing agency in 2012, I began to work exclusively one-on-one with clients to provide personalized business services with a high-proficiency in creative design.
Does the culture fit
Culture comes first.
I find that an organization’s culture is the sum of all of its parts. Whether we like it or not, once the culture is emoted, it is no longer ours to control. Culture is a direct reflection of what the organizations stands for, what the people within the organization believe in, and the perception of that organization from those who surround it.
What is important to you
Here are a few of the values at the core of my life and work.
I enjoy working alongside other passionate entrepreneurs and founders like you with common values, complimentary strengths and weaknesses, and a shared vision of the purpose-driven projects in which we decide to invest our time.
I am standing by for you
Let’s have a conversation.
It’s the only way for you to get a feel for me, and it is the only way I can uncover what might be required for a project that solves the problem in which you presently require a solution. Reach out to me anytime.
If you think we might be a good fit, I look forward to hearing from you.
Until then, have a nice day 🙂
FYI: The remaining content below contains stories, videos, and other media which document the last ten years of my life. If you prefer:
I appreciate your time, and hope to speak soon.
My professional career began in 2009 as an ethnographic backpack video journalist.
I received training from Emmy Award Winning Backpack Video Journalist, Bill Gentile.
I continued to refine my craft through an immersive studio mentorship as I sewed myself into the cultural fabric of my local community. I attended biweekly New Brunswick City Council meetings, and the Middlesex County Board of Education on a monthly basis. The first community I would be introduced to was a local activist group. I started there:
Through the community members I met during the two to three months I documented the above movement, I met another group of people from my local community. It wasn’t long after I began hosting art and cultural events in my own home.
I discovered various vibrant communities from the many diverse pockets within my city. My videocamera was always by side. I fell in love with telling the story of the people within my city.
After producing five or six short films that told story about the government, education, culture, and technology components of my city I was nudged by one of my studio mentors to start a blog or website so that I had somewhere to put all these videos. I didn’t know how to start a blog or build a website, but I went home that night and typed into Google, “How to build a website”. I was up and running within a few days. Soon after, I was invited to design the curriculum for, and teach, my own undergraduate course under the supervision of the previous Chair of the Rutgers English Department. In January 2010, I would design my first syllabus and run my own entrepreneurship and innovation courses.
This evolved into running workshops and co-designing curriculum with about 10 different departments within Rutgers. Among them are Executive Director of the Eagleton Program on Immigration and Democracy, the previous Chair of the English Department/Executive Director of the Plangere Culture Lab, Executive Director of the Rutgers Future Scholars Program, the Dean of the Honors College, and various professors from throughout the university. I facilitated workshops in social media, blogging, website design, new media composition, and entrepreneurship. While working within the university in the capacity of an innovation partner, I was able to simultaneously cultivate relationships within the local community surrounding my university. This would eventually lead to the establishment of my marketing and design agency.
I was hired to document a three-campus initiative known as, Citizenship Rutgers. This initiative provided free legal services to individuals requiring assistance with the naturalization process. It was spearhead by the Executive Director of The Eagleton Program on Immigration and Democracy.
Annie E. Casey Foundation would be among the next to hire me to produce my unique style of visual essays and new media compositions to establish a digital brand footprint that would inform and influence public policy around topics of disconnected youth, aging out of the foster care system, and paid family leave.
I have worked in the traditional corporate world as a marketing director, social media manager, WordPress developer, senior designer, and UX lead. I started and managed two successful small businesses, and had several failed attempts along the way as well.
I continue to invest tens of thousands of hours in my craft. If you were to ask me what, specifically, my craft is, I would have a difficult time providing an answer. I am a problem-solver. A storyteller. I do this through the lens of immersive, explorative, and ethnographic new media composition.
I produce professional videos, I design revenue generating websites, I implement strategy with organizational leadership, and I have learned to do these things simply because of my curiosity and self-motivated desire to learn more each day.
I also teach everything I know.
I learned that the powerful tool that rests in my pocket, known as the smartphone, has become the sledgehammer I use to shatter the ceilings above. Social mobility no longer depends on where we come from. It comes from how creatively we can push our imaginations, and how hard we’re willing to work.
Nudging a Market to Emerge
From 2009 through 2013, I continued to scan the socioeconomic climate, analyzing the complexities of the way sectors interact with one another. Not only did my mentor tell me in 2009 that I was destined for social entrepreneurship, but I could now see that social entrepreneurship was beginning to emerge. Rather, it was beginning to merge at the center of several other new markets emerging.
There was a rise in research published about global problems humanity faces by the World Economic Forum which seemed to validate my vision. My vision is that one day, we will live in a world where government, education, business, and technology work cooperatively in the community to design a sustainable way of life. There will not be a choice between making an impact, or making a profit. These will be one in the same.
I had an idea as to how I might be able to do my part at the local level. It took me a few weeks to tease out the first few blog posts to share with the internet. The first would be a post that would suggest a new way of thinking about business, education, technology, and the way we leverage those things to solve social and environmental problems: Build a startup that solves a social problem.
The outline for the plan looked something like this:
- Social Capital: Develop meaningful relationships with residents, business owners, government officials, educators, and technologists to listen, observe, and understand what their lives are like and what might be missing
- Vision Validation: Inspire a community of cross-sector sector stakeholders into to action through the establishment of a new vision, hopefully shared vision, with a convening platform such as Meetup
- Cross-Sector Stakeholder Conference: Create a platform for cross-sector stakeholders to tell their stories, listen to stories, and gain an empathetic understanding of who the individuals are that represent their city
- Mentor Network: Based on the investment in social capital in stages 1, 2, and 3 we now have a mentor network of established community members ready to connect with the pipeline of youth. Practitioners standby to provide various skills training at the different phases of the pipeline to empower emerging entrepreneurs with the tools to germinate their own purpose-driven projects into profitable organizations
- Pre-incubation Pipeline: Through partnerships with institutions like Rutgers University, undergraduates have an opportunity to learn new media and technology skills through real world application as they work on various service projects in the local community – typically with social sector orgs first, and businesses inline with their passion second, and, finally, the opportunity to pursue their own project along with a team of peers who share the same values
On March 25th, 2015 I began to roll out a series of initiatives.
Read more about my impact project, movement, and social enterprise methodology from Philadelphia journalist, Kristen Gillette.
As mentioned in the above outline, one of the components of the social enterprise ecosystem is the establishment of a mentor network so that we might have individuals to connect with the pipeline of undergraduates. Here’s a clip:
This movement was the result of a reflective journaling experience I began on Saturday, October 11th, 2014. Over the course of the next 23 days, I would write for 12+ hours each day. By the end of this knowledge dump I would accumulate well over 100,000 words. Incubation lasted approximately six months. During this time, I organized the concepts of my theory into chunks that would eventually be arranged in a scaffolded, intentional order.
On March 24th, 2015 I went on to test, validate, and learn how to iterate my project with actual people. I brought the idea public with a low-risk validation effort via Meetup.com
To continue learning, I developed relationships with more stakeholders from the local community.
I continued to use meetup events, one-on-one mentorships with circles of influence across the sectors of the city, partnership developments, and unique organizations based on the existing gaps I uncovered through a five year ethnographic immersion in the various sectors of my city.
Upon initial validation through the above experiment, I began to roll out each organization – one by one – each designed specifically to meet the needs of the social enterprise ecosystem. A few of the initiatives:
- Cooperative Impact, Social Innovation Conference
- Action Horizon Institute, Postsecondary Education Program
- Princeton Impact Project, Social Enterprise Ecosystem
- Wolfpack, Mobile App to Prevent Domestic Violence
I advised my trusted mentor, the Dean of Rutgers Honors College whom I worked with at Rutgers for nearly four years, of my small success with this impact movement. As mentioned above, the dean and I co-designed and co-taught social enterprise undergraduate courses together at Rutgers, among various other projects. We were extremely close. I let him know I figured out a solution that I was excited to finally bring to him for review. I let him know that I was looking for a higher education institution to bring my education innovation and intellectual property to in exchange for an invitation from that university to collaborate and run the program with their leadership.
He invited me to his office so that we could walkthrough each step of my social enterprise ecosystem. Prior art dating back to 2014 looked something like this:
Another rendition, which soon became Gantt Chart.
I let him know how important it would be to the ecosystem to establish a pipeline into Rutgers, particularly through the Honors College. I sat with the dean for a few hours that day. Upon my arrival, he cleared the top of his desk except for a stack of blank white paper and a few pencils. As I spoke, he mind-mapped my entire innovation and took stock of the project at-large. It is a complex framework to only visualize in the mind. Once I finished walking him through the framework and mental models I explained how I found it most helpful to view as a Gantt chart.
On June 16th, 2016, I moved to Washington, D.C. so that I could scale my model to a city where I might have an opportunity to work directly with the U.S. government as collaborators, partners, and friends.
Scaling to D.C.
Upon moving to D.C. I invested the first few months listening. I scheduled over 100 coffee dates with individuals from D.C. as I was on a mission to build the team I would need to realize this big vision. I met with WeWork, ImpactHub, General Assembly, and spent most of my days working out of neighborhood cafes and bookstores.
I did my research through an immersive ethnographic exploration of the city – just as I did in New Brunswick from 2009-2012, and just as I did in Princeton from 2013-2015.
I observed, learned the habits and rituals of the people, the vocabulary used to communicate, and through this learning process I established trust necessary to discover the underlying, latent unmet needs that were missing.
It would be right here – in the place where people didn’t realize was void – I would carefully begin to rollout my strategy.
Six months and 100 coffee dates later, I finally began to meet individuals who shared my values and had a similar vision. We complimented one another’s strength’s and weaknesses.
After about six to eight weeks of awesome community building through personal and intimate events, I was hit by a motor vehicle as a pedestrian around 7:30am on February 16th, 2017 as I was walking to WeWork.
It is exactly one year later as I write these words for you. I am now walking again – nearly fully recovered. It’s time to pick up where I left off
I have learned that the first step is always about creating community. It is an abstract, intangible concept that is hard to see, but is always there. The culture of an organization and the ecosystem responsible for its germination is a direct reflection of the community – the people – the relationships between those people. Social capital. It’s the one of the only things that has kept this type of work under the radar for far too long. VCs and startup leaders assume money is the answer, but without focusing on the right steps the money simply perpetuates the existence of the same problems we set out to solve.
Nearly ten years later, I have come full circle with my experiences to offer a unique value to my customers, and my community. The experiences I mention above, along with many others not listed, have resulted in feeling that my work serves a purpose. That’s what is most important to me. I feel purposeful. A purpose-driven career is something I am proud to pursue.
I have both failed and succeeded at building businesses. What I learned from that is, I enjoy building businesses.
I went through some difficult times in the last 20 years, and still deal with adversity daily. I think more people do than we are led to believe. It matters to just keep showing up.
What gets me through the day is knowing if I keep doing the right thing, eventually, the tides turn.
If you face adversity, I want to remind you of those brief moments of relief when you get to say to yourself, “Oh my gosh it’s over! I can’t believe I just went through that!”
As we gasp deep breaths from the butterflies in our stomach we prepare for the next adventure.