Why we founded Outpatch
My family, friends, and even brief acquaintances probably know that the idea of me writing some sort of origin story would be a painful affair. I generally don’t like talking about myself which is a trait I think I share with many Vermonters. Alas, I am starting a business and it’s probably fair to tell people using our products a little about myself and a lot more about how Outpatch began.
Not sure I picked the right picture here but at least it proves I caught a fish once. A tell tale sign of great business acumen.
Well, the idea began after I had left the Army to pursue a different kind of service in the humanitarian field. Besides the appeal of doing good and applying the skills and leadership the Army had taught me, I was admittedly also drawn to humanitarian work out of a sense of adventure. I wanted to see more of the world and I figured becoming an international aid worker would be a win - win for me and for it.
This perspective changed as I began to grasp that, in my opinion, the most inspirational leaders doing humanitarian work were individuals actually part of the communities they were helping. Local changemakers that not only possessed the contextual knowledge to be effective in times of crisis but were also invested in the long term success of any community building effort.
Generally, these local individuals and organizations weren't being funded sufficiently by donors. Instead, most private aid dollars pass through international organizations and are filtered down to local actors after much dilution (if at all). And while there has been a string of mixed progress on diverting more aid funds to local organizations, much more needs to be done.
That being said, without a doubt there are international aid workers doing tremendous, one could even say holy, work in communities that are not their own. Personally though, I decided I could contribute a lot more from my own country, the US, and vowed instead to find a way to get those local changemakers the resources they needed.
After moving back to the US I found work at a business school and started to lay the foundation for creating a financially sustainable funding stream for smaller, locally based nonprofits. As an avid traveler the idea came to sell souvenir patches and forward the proceeds to those local organizations working in the places each patch represented. Outpatch was born, and around the same time so was COVID-19 which quickly decimated the tourism (and souvenir patch) industry.
Luckily I had read somewhere that entrepreneurs need to pivot and (un)fortunately I had noticed that local changemakers in my own Vermont community shared many similar traits with the organizations I had initially sought to support. They were incredibly passionate and effective but lacked funding and the resources to constantly solicit donations. Maybe Outpatch could still be the solution?
That’s where we’re starting, working to create funding streams for local changemakers in Vermont and looking to grow to do the same in other communities.
If you think you might want to join us in doing so I’d love to have you be part of our journey. In fact, I need your help to do it :).