For our latest interview in our series of Hoyapreneur profiles we had the privilege to speak with Imperative founder and 2010 graduate Arthur Woods. During his time on the Hilltop, Arthur co-founded Compass Fellowship (now Impact 360) an organization that offered full year-long support, training, community and mentorship to incoming freshman looking to start a socially oriented business. Needless to say, Arthur has been instrumental in igniting the entrepreneurial community on campus. How'd he do it and what is he doing now? Find out below!
1. Your entrepreneurial roots go back all the way to Sophomore year when you started a local fruit and snacks delivery service at Georgetown. Have you always been an entrepreneur or once you started your first venture did something change in you?
A: Since a very young age I've loved building new things and seeing ideas come to life. Some of my earliest childhood memories were setting up pretend businesses or creating fake products, I had a chance to launch my first real organization as a Junior in High School, launching a nonprofit that fundraised resources for local schools.
2. Senior year you launched Compass Fellowship. Give us a bit of background about Social Impact 360 (previously Compass) and talk about it's success and how it's grown at Georgetown and other schools around the country?
A: Social Impact 360 was born out of a direct need that my co-founder, Neil Shah, and I both witnessed - students had big ideas for their own entrepreneurial ventures in school and the university was less equipped at the time to incubate those ideas. Neil and I both had start-up companies and we dreamt of the type of resources, direction and support community that would have helped our businesses thrive. We launched the Compass Fellowship to take students right in their freshmen year and provide them will a full year-long support community and mentorship to help their ideas for socially conscious companies to come to life. SI360 has grown to more than 15 universities nation-wide and has incubated the ideas of more than 1,500 students to date.
3. It seems that through Social Imapct 360 (previously Compass) and your startup that you are now running, Imperative, that you are really passionate about helping others (entrepreneurs and companies) better find their mission. Talk about what excites you most in helping others unlock their purpose?
A: Following my time running the nonprofit I had a hiatus at Google which taught me a ton, I had the opportunity to ultimately spearhead operations for YouTube's Education division. At Google, I saw firsthand that many people were actually not at their best or making the impact they aspired to make in their work. There was a need and opportunity to scale the functions of a career and life coach and launch an assessment company that would help individuals answer the fuzzy and difficult questions around purpose, would help them track their fulfillment and would equip companies to empower their people. This led to the launch of Imperative.
4. Georgetown's entrepreneurship program has really taken off since you set up Compass/Imperative 360. What are you most proud of in working to put entrepreneurship on the map on the Hilltop, what have been some of the success initiatives that have started and what work still needs to be done?
A: It's been so incredible to see the entrepreneurial community at Georgetown blossom. Jeff Reid and other leaders are Georgetown are doing a stellar job in creating a place where students can bring their ideas to life. I fondly remember that Neil and I went in to meet with Jeff when he was just moving boxes into his office. His support really helped Compass become successful at Georgetown and ultimately reach other schools. I think the major opportunity now, which I know Jeff is leading, is getting entrepreneurship to be a pervasive part of the culture of every discipline and department, not just the business school or in a siloed department of its own. We learned in our work that everyone can have the spirit of an entrepreneur, it's a mindset and not a function.
6. What are some of your favorite Hoya led companies and founders?
A: We've had some all-stars come through Compass from Encore Alert founded by James Li which exited last year to electric bike company, Riide founded by Jeff Stefanis.
7. Where do you see Imperative heading in 5 years and what are changes that you've been able to inspire through your work at Imperative?
A: It's been a wild ride to date, we've worked with hundreds of thousands of employees and over 100 companies from Campbells Soup to Sony Music. We are investing more in artificial intelligence and automation that not only will give individuals a trust co-pilot throughout their career but that will generate very meaningful data for companies in real-time.
8. What entrepreneur do you look up to most?
A: I've been blessed to have the mentorship of Fabio Rosati, Georgetown Alum who was previously the CEO of Elance/oDesk (Upwork). Fabio sits on our board and has always struck an incredible balance of patience, strong focus and thoughtful strategy as an entrepreneur. Fabio has taught me to be deliberate and resourceful in everything I do.
9. What was your favorite class and/or professor at Georgetown?
I was most moved by sociology course I took with Dr. Sam Marullo where we engaged in community-based-learning, a model he had spearheaded. This was one of the first times I really saw DC, beyond the iron gates. The course and his instruction was eye-opening and truly taught me the importance of getting outside of your comfort zone to learn the most.