Two years ago, Devon Carr had just moved back to Vancouver. A sailor, tinkerer, chef, and innovator – he came to RADIUS searching for an impactful way to apply his considerable talent and passion. Today, Devon is leading two exciting initiatives.
Coastal Cover & the Trampoline Business Model Validation Program:
I first met Devon in the 2015 when he brought “Coastal Cover” to the RADIUS Trampoline Business Model Validation Program. Devon’s idea was to pull old sails out of the waste stream by turning them into tents for special events.
Over eight weeks, participants in RADIUS Trampoline build the skills and confidence they need to validate the business model and potential impact of a social venture idea. Participants test their idea to ensure that:
a) the venture addresses a meaningful problem;
b) the solution is viable and competitive; and
c) the founder has the skills and passion to carry it forward.
Most of the time success means a refined business plan and more confidence. Sometimes, though, success means recognizing that one piece of that triad is missing. Better to find that out in eight weeks than after eight months of trial and error!
That was the case for Devon. A couple weeks in, Devon realized that although the tent rental market was underserved and his business model was economically sound, his solution wouldn’t divert enough waste to be his life’s work. After doing a couple of events he put the business on the shelf and continued to explore ways to apply his entrepreneurial learning.
The next challenge that he sunk his teeth into emerged out of his experience with the RADIUS Fellowship.
Precarious Employment & The RADIUS Fellowship in Radical Doing
Devon was a 2015 RADIUS Fellow. He credits this experience with fundamentally developing his understanding of social innovation (“like drinking from a firehose”) and with connecting him to a network of likeminded peers.
While participating in the Fellowship – which pulls together the next generation of untamed social entrepreneurs and innovators early in their journey – Devon noticed that most of his peers faced precarious employment. These vibrant young changemakers who demonstrate remarkable accomplishment and a relentless dedication to creating positive impact are among approximately $5.5million Canadians whose work is seasonal, temporary, contract based, or self-employment.
Exemplifying the best of a social innovation mindset, Devon asked, “How might we create conditions to better enable young Canadians to take chances to create a better economy?”
Devon is close to launching a group benefits program for people precariously employed but dedicated to positive social change. “I didn’t set out to be an insurance provider,” says Devon, “but I am dedicated to reducing the risks associated with following your own path, and benefits are great a way to do this.”
Devon is now structuring the benefits offering, and exploring a partnership with Ontario’s Coworking Health Insurance Plan (COHIP). If you would like to learn more about whether this program may be a fit for you, please contact Devon at benefits[at]livelihoodinstitute.ca.
Ironically, Coastal Cover – the sail cloth tent company – is also alive and well. Coastal Cover delivered 18 events in 2016, all in response to inbound inquiries. “Even after I decided that this wasn’t the full deal in terms of impact,” Devon says, “I realised that it’s a good little business that can help generate revenue for other projects while serving a market need.”
Today, Devon is an active member of the RADIUS community and is continuing to develop solutions that apply his unique skills toward addressing market and societal needs.