Reflecting on the new year, I’m excited to look back on our milestones in 2022 and look ahead at what’s to come in 2023.
At the start of 2022, we had a prototype of Field Day that could run a few volunteer events. One year ago, we set out to expand the functionality of the platform to support a beta program with select employers to organize team volunteer events (what we call Field Trips) with local nonprofits and track the impact they make together. By September, we launched Field Day to the public.
What we learned in this past year has helped us to evolve the direction of our platform as well as shaping our team and our company as we work toward a goal of helping employers develop truly holistic community engagement programs.
Growth and learnings
We started last year with a team of five and moved out of our tiny office into a larger suite in our building in downtown Portland. We're now up to eight folks. We had set out with a plan to grow more than that in 2022, but as the economic environment started to slow down, we decided to hold at our size during the summer. This actually let us become much more focused on the most important features of our platform and aspects of support and marketing. We gathered feedback from customers and nonprofits, and used that to prioritize and check our assumptions about the value we were providing with different features and tools.
Field Day is a tech startup, a software company. That said, so much of what we enable, what our customers and nonprofit partners do, is done off-platform. One of our internal guiding principles reminds us that the goal is to get people off their computer and out into their community. To execute successfully, we need more than just feature development – we need communication, outreach, and support for customers and nonprofits alike. Calling ourselves a “software company” feels like only telling part of the story.
With our customers, we’ve encountered an avalanche of good intentions when it comes to giving back to their community. There’s an opportunity to implement structure that helps them roll out their community engagement programs – especially when it comes to volunteering. This is an area that we have a lot of experience with, so we’re excited to support our customers by providing tools to set up goals, incentives, and feedback cycles to create the best volunteer programs for their employees.
In the startup world, there’s a concept that you are either building a vitamin, a painkiller, or a cure (I'm not sure where this idea originated, but you can find it in The Agile Startup, among other places). More often, I see articles that drop the elusive "cure" goal and focus on the vitamin vs painkiller metaphor, as it best demonstrates whether or not your product is a healthy, long-term solution that may take time to see the benefits from, or a short-term solution that will save you pain (i.e. money) relatively quickly.
When money is tight, vitamin budgets get cut, and painkillers are used – especially if they translate into measurable savings. I hate to reduce our hard work into such a black and white metaphor, but this is Field Day's opportunity for 2023: show that volunteering is more than just a "feel-good" activity, that employees who are more engaged in their community are more connected to each other and their employer, more productive, and more likely to stick around for the long term. Our platform reduces the operational overhead of finding, scheduling, and organizing these engagement-boosting events, while tracking the effects of that engagement over time. We believe the value of culture-building is exponential in the deepening of team cohesion, community connection, and a shared sense of purpose.
We're based in Portland, and that's where a lot of our customers and nonprofits are based as well. Now that we've passed the pilot stage, it's a priority for us to expand. The world of work has changed – we use the term "future of work" a lot, but the reality is it's the "present of work" – and employees are spread across the map. In 2023, we’ll be expanding features that "go wide" and engage remote employees wherever they are, while continuing to "go deep" by selecting cities outside of Portland to establish roots and connections with local communities for maximum impact.
As we head into 2023, we’re excited for the opportunity to continue working with nonprofits doing critical work to better our communities; companies dedicated to building a culture of community engagement; and the individuals making a difference and finding connection through volunteering.
So much can happen in a year. Cheers to what’s to come!