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One Long 72-Hour “Aha” Moment

By: Austin Martin 22 Jan 2024

Austin Martin, Founder & CEO of Rhymes with Reason

The Upswell forum was one long-72 hour “aha” moment, as there were almost too many of these to identify just one that stands out alone. There were incredible, constant moments of discovery and epiphany that were uncovered during case discussions as well as individual discussions with other founders and organizational leaders during breakout groups and breaks.

Among the many moments, one that jumps out to me came in the form of a quote from Professor Brian Trelstad when he said “if you are a for-profit social enterprise, you have to evaluate and measure your impact like a non-profit and if you are a non-profit social enterprise you must closely manage your revenue generation or financial management plan like a for-profit.” As Founder and CEO of a for-profit social enterprise called Rhymes with Reason, these words of advice truly resonated with me. Rhymes with Reason has a mission to disrupt the cycle of word poverty to economic poverty disproportionately affecting urban communities and Professor Trelstad’s words served as a great reminder to double down in terms of frequency of delivery and expansion of the ways in which we are reporting impact to our customers.

After the in person portion of Upswell we’ve begun building new internal dashboards for even more efficient internal organization of our impact with each customer that also makes room for an expanded version of how we’re measuring impact. In the past few months our team has also revisited some of our founding conversations, and documentation (from years ago) detailing the original impact plan for Rhymes with Reason, helping to anchor the refined version of that plan that exists now.

What’s great about the Upswell experience is that you essentially get to go to a social-impact focused version of Harvard Business School, for three days, with room for individualized attention around your organizational needs. As a minority founder and leader of a social enterprise, the work in itself is already an uphill fight that you are brave enough to dedicate your life to. This fight is inherent in the job. Upswell addresses one of the hardest aspects of that fight, the part where oftentimes, you have to do the fight mostly alone. Being in community with people that understand the struggle at a fundamental level and are excelling at navigating these waters is the most invaluable aspect of the experience.