This Pride Month, we recall how our Dive Shop interns collaborated with StartOut to help LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs develop their platform.

Last year, our Dive Shop intern program led a pro bono project for StartOut—a nonprofit organization connecting the LGBTQ+ business community with investors and industry professionals to help their businesses grow through events, mentorship and capital. After extensive and involved research, our interns helped redefine StartOut’s positioning and messaging in order to better tell their story and increase awareness among their intended audience.

Divers, Meet StartOut

The Liquid Dive Shop program is a 12-week immersive intern experience—and we mean immersive. Each “diver” is partnered with a Liquid employee, or “dive instructor,” who provides support and guidance throughout the program. Divers learn about brand culture design in trainings and apply what they learn through hands-on client work.

Enter StartOut, a nonprofit organization on a mission to increase the number, diversity and impact of LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs in order to drive the economic empowerment of the community. We worked together to define three objectives for our daring divers: find ways to improve StartOut’s messaging; increase awareness in the LGBTQ+ community; and identify opportunities to further engage with their audience.

How the Dive Team Used Liquid Methodology

Our interns spent their first week analyzing and synthesizing a slew of data, using such research methods as audits, qualitative interviews and a full-day Swarm (Liquid’s term for our co-creation workshops) with key stakeholders in San Francisco.

The interviews revealed one of StartOut’s main challenges: while all seven stakeholders agreed that StartOut was a nonprofit for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs, they disagreed on what specific category StartOut was in.

After analyzing all the data, divers recommended a new positioning that pushed StartOut to see themselves as more than a nonprofit—to better illustrate their unique offerings and differentiate them from other nonprofits.

In-depth Collaboration Inspires Great Work

With this analysis, our interns started work on a series of solutions. They created and presented a brand platform and story to StartOut that unified the brand’s messaging, positioning and expression. They mocked up desktop and mobile websites, social media posts, environmental banners and marketing emails in two different visual styles.

The in-depth research, creative prototypes and brand touchpoint analysis the team delivered resulted in a continued partnership with StartOut to help the organization implement messaging and further develop their visual style.

Andres Wydler, StartOut’s executive director, said he was “wowed” by the project. “On behalf of all entrepreneurs who need to know about us and can benefit from us, all the supporters who will soon learn about us and can give back to our community, and the donors who will feel a stronger bond with our cause, thank you for your powerful work.”

It was a privilege to collaborate on this Dive Shop experience with StartOut, and we hope to continue doing pro bono work that celebrates and lifts the LGBTQ+ community for years to come. Even though stay-at-home orders halted this year’s Dive Shop experience, we look forward to working with our future divers and wish all a happy Pride Month.