Aug 18, 2011

It’s in our DNA: Hot’s Social Innovation Practice

Sarah Brooks's picture
Sarah Brooks
Director, Social Innovation

In both my personal and professional lives, I’ve always had a commitment to engendering social change through art and design. One of the things that made me so excited to work with Hot Studio is that Hot’s always had the same commitment: approximately 15% of our annual client portfolio is reserved for work with nonprofits, community organizations, and NGOs. Our founder Maria has always encouraged us to dedicate time to projects that will really make a difference in people’s lives.

To increase the positive impact we can make, I joined Hot in January 2011 to launch our new Social Innovation practice. Hot’s Social Innovation practice reflects our deepening goal to support the broader community of social entrepreneurs building market-based solutions that address systemic social issues. We recognize that the world is fundamentally shifting, and along with that, the landscape of business.  

Organizations like the Grameen Bank, originator of the micro-credit movement, and mPesa, a mobile banking solution for Africans without access to traditional banks, are tackling some of the wickedest problems facing the world today. These organizations, and countless others, are enacting positive change while straddling the line between non-profit and strictly for-profit enterprises. They’re hybrids that are changing the world, and these are the kinds of clients Hot intends to serve with our Social Innovation practice.

In the span of just a few months, we’ve already had the opportunity to work with incredible organizations like Code for America for whom we’re coaches and mentors, and Pop!Tech, where we’re working as a product development partner. This September, we’re working with SOCAP, an organization that brings together investors and social entrepreneurs, at its annual conference, and have ongoing projects with the Hub SoMa, the local Hub of a worldwide network of co-working spaces for social entrepreneurs.
One thing that makes Hot’s Social Innovation practice special (and ideally suited to working with a wide range of social innovation projects) is its situation among Hot’s other practices. Social Innovation crosses all the other practices here—visual design, user experience, technology and business strategy—and we can bring these disciplines to each project on an as-needed basis. Social innovation organizations are nimble and dynamic, so we are too.

There are many, many complex problems waiting to be solved, and better futures waiting to be imagined. We’re incredibly excited about the opportunity to help all kinds of forward-thinking social innovators make a difference. Whether you’re a scrappy startup; a mid-size organization in a growth phase; making a pivot in your business; undertaking a corporate social responsibility program in a large organization; or knitting together multiple organizations and partners for a service-design effort—we’re interested in working with you. If you’d like to learn more about our Social Innovation practice, leave a comment or drop me a line.