Reflections of a student start-up

Chelsie Lui
5 min readDec 30, 2020

Our team of four wasn’t sure what to expect. After a summer of exploring our overlapping interests in data for social good, we were stuck at a crossroad for what to do next.

A busy city crosswalk

We’re still at that crossroad. But compared to before, it feels like we’ve at least picked up a map ― a sprawling one littered with different destinations and journeys.

At the end of our summer, we had developed the project Black Lives Matter, Always (as detailed by our very own Miki O’Reggio) as part of ParsonsTKO and TechSoup’s Data Strategy Mentorship Program. But we weren’t ready to stop; ambitiously wanting to do more but not knowing what should (or could) happen next. Simultaneously, the four of us were getting back into school for the Fall, losing the freedom of a virtual summer at home due to coronavirus. It was during this time that we applied for gBeta Social Impact in an attempt to find more support and interest in the work we had started.

In the past 7-weeks, we’ve connected with a team of ridiculously helpful mentors and program directors, a cohort of amazing social impact minded entrepreneurs, and more resources than we could have imagined having access to as a student-led, early-stage startup.

While we’re still early and our path forward is long, gBeta has given us invaluable insight into what Activism Always can become down the line. Below, our founding team takes a moment to reflect on both our experience in the gBeta Fall 2020 Social Impact program.


These past 7-weeks with gBeta has turned our team of four passionate women with a vision into a team of business women with a clear plan. With the amazing people that we’ve met our passion for the work that we do with Activism Always was reinvigorated. As we went along the customer discovery journey with the guidance of gBeta, we were reintroduced to the need that the mission driven sector faces. Thanks to the amazing gBeta team, we were able to develop our company to be able to empower this community to the best of our ability. Giving us the tools needed to develop a robust revenue stream, executive summary, and pitch deck gBeta showed us the proper way to build our company to support these nonprofits.


Before the gBeta program, we were more of a student initiative, a bunch of students who shared a passion in the social sector and were dreamers. The gBeta program let me as well as Activism Always become more aware of what blockers we would be facing in REALITY and prepared us for it. I would say jumping into a real incorporated company entails a great amount of time, which may drive us away from what we were primarily doing ― like consulting and data analytics. It was so nice to have the staff and mentors at gBeta to support us along the way! After this program, I even love the Activism Always family more and again feel the energy in us. There were times where we had different opinions and were frustrated and uncertain, but we all went through them with full transparency as a team. It is good to see how we grew individually and as a team.


Over 7-weeks with gBeta, we have found answers in our own inquiry about demand and scalability. Conversations with mentors helped us confirm our hypothesis about the strong demand of data analytics applications for mission driven organizations and a need to maximize their impact. We witnessed positive energy and readiness to take action from leaders in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors, to make this world a better and more united place to live. Doing market research and talking to potential partners unveiled the hidden fact that many high impact organizations and work have not gotten enough public attention. Activism Always helps organizations make data driven decisions and take actions that lead to higher levels of impact. We all joined gBeta’s mission of “closing equality gaps.” In order to maximize impact, the Activism Always team is working on our AI platform scalability.


As someone with no business background, I went into gBeta with the hope of expanding my knowledge about what it takes to build out a start-up. Through the countless resources, references, and recommendations by the gener8tor staff and mentors, I quickly realized my own ignorance about what it takes and how much it takes to do a social impact startup. Everyone I met during the last 7-weeks were interesting, motivated, and kind in their own unique ways ― and this experience really solidified for me and my team how much passion is behind innovation for social impact. Our many, many iterations of our executive summary and long meeting hours brought to light how difficult it is for a socially conscious entity to not only exist but persist and grow. From this experience, I have hope in the people and their goals to change the paradigm for their communities: to improve accessibility, to serve the most vulnerable, and to bring together justice and innovation.

Grayscale image of people holding up their hands


From strangers to friends to a team, in our short-time together, Activism Always has grown immensely. Activism Always is interested in continuing to learn and explore what it means to be social impact organization and how data and innovation can benefit activism, social justice, and mission driven work.

Our preliminary work has led us to gain a number of material resources, which have been monumental for our growth and ability to sustain what we are doing as a student team. We faced the complexity of how social impact functions within the current constraints of business ― and we will probably continue to face challenges moving forward. But for us and others in the social sector, it is the people that keep us motivated to continue our work: mentors, friends and family, entrepreneurial peers, nonprofits and activist, and each other.

About Activism Always

Activism Always’ AI platform produces analytics and recommendations to support the social engagement of mission driven organizations. This sector understands the value of data in operations, but the majority of organizations lack resources to perform data analytics. Activism Always’ hybrid service combines an internal AI platform with strategy analytics, maximizing organizations’ data capabilities and impact with an accessible price and format. Learn more at

About gBeta

From gBeta Social Impact: gBETA Social Impact is powered by the American Family Insurance Institute and gener8tor. The program works exclusively with startups building products or services addressing equity in education or criminal justice reform.



Chelsie Lui

Communication studies student with an interest in tech comms and social impact. Part of Activism Always.