Impact Hub Host Nitin Chand had the opportunity to hang out this year before the City Awake Festival and chat with it’s Founder, member Justin Kang. Justin is steadfastly dedicated to putting Boston on the map as an established hub for Social Impact.
Nitin: Tell us, what is City Awake?
Justin: City Awake is a non-profit dedicated to building an ecosystem of social innovation and civic engagement in Greater Boston. We create programs around organizing young adults to be civically engaged. In addition to this we also create programs & events that help drive social innovation across all industries & sectors.
N: How did you get involved with City Awake?
Justin: It was an idea that I had for the last six years and I felt compelled & ready a year ago. I brought together a group of trusted friends & advisers including Geoff from Impact Hub Boston.
N: What has surprised you most about the development of the Festival over the last two years?
Justin: We had modest expectations from the first year event. It took us about a month to get one hundred partners to sign on but once we had a hundred, It took us a week to get two hundred partners. So it was really that sort of thing that came as a positive surprise to us.
N: What should we look out for during the Festival?
Justin: We’re trying to experiment how festival can drive a change and this year we want people to collaborate around. This notion of the festival is such an interesting thing where you can do a festival in many different ways. So really for this year we’re trying to see how we can drive collaboration.
N: What’s next for City Awake?
Justin: Next few months is all about stabilizing the City Awake to a full time organization. We are filing the paperwork, creating a board, raising funds and we’re going to hire some staff.
We are converting this project into a real robust company.
N: Why the name, City Awake?
Justin: It is an inspiration from a poem written by an Indian poet named Rabindranath Tagore around Indian civil war. And the last line is of that poem is ‘let my country awake’.
N: If you have to change one thing in City Awake project, what would that be?
Justin: We want to make sure that it’s not just a celebration which is important but we also want to make sure that it actually makes the city better. So that is something that we want to think through. And we plan on making some interesting adjustments next year as we sort of align ourselves with that priority.
N: What do think, what got credibility to city awake festival so quickly?
Justin: I think people just get it. We have a great team but I think ultimately we’re not saying anything crazy we’re just saying we want a more collaborative community. And that’s where we build credibility.
N: What helped you to develop key partnerships for city awake festival?
Justin: I think we had a team that people trusted. So the credibility was around using our own personal credibility.
N: Apart from city awake is their anything else that you are working on?
Justin: I am a mentor at Big Brothers Big Sisters non profit organisation so I have a little brother for the last three years. I am also active in local politics.
N: What are some subjects you are passionate about?
Justin: I’m very interested in community organizing and allocation around capital.
N: What are some skills you are currently looking for?
Justin: I am decent at starting things but now I want to challenge myself into building something. That is such a different skill set and I think it is going to be very challenging.
N: Why Impact Hub Boston?
Justin: I think Impact Hub Boston has been extremely critical to the success of City Awake. IHB founder, Geoff has been a great advisor from the very start. We often fail because we don’t know the right people. And I think with the leadership of Geoff, Katie & Scott initiatives like City Awake can succeed.
N: Do you want to say anything to the budding entrepreneurs who are just starting their startup journey?
- Build relationships that matter and treat people with respect and it will come back to you in a good way.
- Don’t compare yourself to the other entrepreneurs, we all have different paths and you shouldn’t let other people success or perceived success affect you.
- Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.