“What I didn’t anticipate was the momentum and stability that a summer at Flywheel would provide me.” – Philip McHugh
When I first started at Flywheel, I didn’t really know what Flywheel Social Enterprise Hub was. In fact, I didn’t even know what a “flywheel” was. I figured that was a good place to start. “Flywheel – a heavy revolving wheel in a machine that is used to increase the machine’s momentum.” The name made sense, given that enterprises would look to Flywheel for momentum and stability. I anticipated that I would spend the summer helping Flywheel to achieve this mission. What I didn’t anticipate was the momentum and stability that a summer at Flywheel would provide me.
The Flywheel website promises a belief in the “power of social enterprises to make communities stronger.” This was on full display from my first day at Flywheel when I was briefed on the idea of the Welcome Project, a joint boutique/kitchen in the heart of Camp Washington. In the following weeks, I was immersed in conversations, phone calls, workshops, and research to build out a business plan for this enterprise that would employ the local refugee population. I was inspired by the Welcome Project team, who had a clear vision and passion for building a sustainable venture that would support and enhance the Camp Washington area. I heard this same passion in the voices of social entrepreneurs who came to the “Business Model Canvas for the Social Entrepreneur” Workshop in late June. I had never been surrounded with people who had this passion for community development, but also a drive to develop a high quality service or product to meet market demands. I remember walking away excited to see how these businesses would grow, scale, and develop in the coming years. These people were building great companies and left me wondering, “What could I build?”
“All the while I was interacting with these entrepreneurs, I was surrounded by an incredible team at Flywheel.”
As I got to know Bill Tucker better, I quickly realized that he attracted dedicated and motivated people to work with him. There were consultants, advisers, board members, volunteers, and presenters. Each one was unique, bringing a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and experience to the table. They came from all over Cincinnati, all different industries, in all different stages of their career. And yet, they all had a similar thread running through their work that I observed. They were all deeply invested in helping these social enterprises succeed and everything they did was of the highest quality. I learned how to be timely, diligent, and committed. I observed how they conducted themselves in a meeting, introduced themselves to clients, and networked with other professionals. Whenever I told someone in the #StartupCincy ecosystem that I was working at Flywheel, they were immediately impressed. Not because of the specific work I had done, but because the people at Flywheel who had built up its reputation to what it is today.
“As I look back, there is no doubt that I had a “Flywheel” summer.”
The entrepreneurs that I interacted with and worked beside accelerated my interest in entrepreneurship. The professionals in the Flywheel network gave me mentors and examples to stabilize and model my professional style after. The whole experience left me believing in Flywheel and the power of social enterprises to make communities stronger.