Entrepreneur and East Hartford resident Jeffrey Safo-Darko owns SD3 Media Agency and is currently working on a new startup, Nomads Dream. Jeff spoke with Innovation Destination Hartford about the impact of technology and innovation are having on the “entrepreneurial generation.”
IDH: You’re at the beginning stages of your startup, a mobile app that aims is to “revolutionize the way millennial entrepreneurs collaborate and build businesses.” Tell us how.
JEFFREY SAFO-DARKO: So many talented people give up on their dreams because they never had the connections, knew the right people, or felt they were were in the right city. A lot of people want to move to the top cities and can’t either because it’s too expensive or they can’t find work.
In this age of technology, you can easily use an app to have an Uber driver come to your house or book an Airbnb room. I figured, why not find a way to make it easier for someone to accomplish their dreams and goals and remotely connect with the right people, who are also interested in those same goals?
That’s pretty much how the idea for Nomads Dream started. My Co-Founder Nda-Jiya Suberu and I developed an algorithm that helps match people depending on their interests, skillsets, and requests.
This is an entrepreneurial generation. In the next 10 to 20 years, a lot more people are going to be self-employed and geared toward entrepreneurship. There has to be something that’s really helping these people connect. That’s pretty much the goal of Nomads Dream.
IDH: When do you plan to launch?
JEFFREY: We want to launch in March 2018 at South by Southwest (SXSW), which will take place in Austin, TX. Right now, we have a working prototype and we are aiming to demo it among the University of Connecticut, Boston College, and the University of Oklahoma.
IDH: Why target educational facilities to launch?
JEFFREY: One of the biggest difficulties new startups face when launching a social app is hitting critical mass, or basically meeting the minimum number of users needed to keep the app functional and effective.
Introducing this app to colleges makes the most sense to me, because they’re filled with tens of thousands of students with different personalities, career goals, and—most importantly—time.
Of course, not every student wants to collaborate with like-minded individuals, but the amount of awareness this will create is an important factor to reaching the people who do. The truth of the matter is, recommendations play a major role in most of the services we use today. And college students create the most word-of-mouth opportunities—from classrooms and dorms, to student clubs, to spreading the word back home in their respective communities during breaks.
IDH: You’re tapping into a whole new market and providing a service that hasn’t been explored yet. Who is the audience for the app?
JEFFREY: People looking to make a shift in careers or launch a new venture often run into problems where they want to build experience, but they don’t have anyone to build it with. That’s really what the platform is for—to help people make those connections.
Maybe there’s somebody else out there who could use help with marketing and you can collaborate. Then you can build your resume based on the work you’ve done together. Or, what if you’re an entrepreneur who wants to build an app but doesn’t have the technical knowledge? You can find somebody to assist with that. You can make connections and collaborate—potentially build your tribe and develop a startup.
IDH: What does being entrepreneurial mean to you?
JEFFREY: To me, being an entrepreneur means finding something you believe in and being willing to take the risk to achieve that goal—whether it’s something tangible or intangible, whether it’s a big dream or it’s just the idea of owning a local shop.
IDH: Have you always felt entrepreneurial?
JEFFREY: I wouldn’t call it entrepreneurial, but I’ve always felt the need to tread my own path and make a change. In high school, I honestly thought I would be a psychologist or something similar, because I loved to listen to and analyze a person’s situation and then provide solutions.
I love the feeling of making something easier or someone feel better. I guess that passion of grew into something bigger and me wanting to make a positive impact on a larger scale. Launching Nomads Dream, running my media agency, and being involved with the Golden Child Foundation, are all channels for helping people live to their fullest potential.
IDH: Where do you see the future of innovation?
JEFFREY: I really see everything being geared more toward globalization, which is why I’m focusing so much on tech.
I think people are unaware of the impact artificial intelligence (AI) is going to have on the workforce. They have an idea, but I think they’re underestimating its power. And I do believe we will reach a time when developing your own skill and your own way of generating that revenue will be the main workforce. A lot more people will be seeking ways to develop money on their own, as opposed to working for major corporations.
IDH: As an entrepreneur, how can you tap into that movement?
JEFFREY: That’s right where we are—which is where I feel like platforms like Nomads Dream will be developed. Entrepreneurs and those with business skills can attract and meet other people with like skills or skills that can complement theirs, so they can build something to help generate revenue.
IDH: Let’s talk about community involvement. You recently became a member of Hartford Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs (HYPE).
JEFFREY: I connected with HYPE because I felt like I was lacking that sort of influence in the Greater Hartford area. I want to engage in more networking and tap into more local resources.
IDH: How did you connect with HYPE?
JEFFREY: I want to say I found out about HYPE through Instagram. I saw a hashtag and it sparked my curiosity.
IDH: social media works!
IDH: You’re a 2017 Outstanding Youth Delegate for the United Nations and chairman of the Golden Child Foundation. How did you become involved with those organizations?
JEFFREY: I became a Youth Delegate by pitching my ideas about Nomads Dream.
My Co-Founder Andagia introduced me to The Golden Child Foundation—he pretty much founded it in Oklahoma City. It’s something I want to bring here to Hartford. It involves a scavenger hunt that’s geared toward community development. One of the goals is to drive traffic to local shops through the scavenger hunt. Our focus is to bring it into Hartford, so I’m working on making connections. I’m hoping it will start with HYPE, with me connecting with the right people.
IDH: Do you plan to get more involved with the community as you’re developing this new startup? Is that part of your mission?
JEFFREY: Definitely. The mission is to hopefully bring on more developers and people who can assist with marketing. I’m looking to base everything I’m doing here in the Greater Hartford area, which is why I reached out to develop that support system.
Find out more information about Nomads Dream
FOLLOW: Twitter @NomadsDreamXyZ
LEARN MORE: Read our interview with Hartford Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs (HYPE) Executive Director Kim Bishop and HYPE Program Director Jackie Valliere: Hartford Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs (HYPE)