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How QuickBooks and Compton Girls Club launched 11 new small businesses

The Business G.IRL Incubator provided mentorship, education and funding support to course graduates

TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles won ‘Best Brand or Charity Collaboration’ at The Drum Awards for Social Purpose, with its work for QuickBooks and Compton Girls Club. The Business G.IRL Incubator was a 6-module course that guided to create a business plan, launching new entrepreneurs who want to ‘make shift happen’. Here, the team behind this winning entry explains how it was brought to life.

In 2020, QuickBooks tasked its agency partners with changing perceptions of the brand. It wanted to reinforce among its target audience of small business Owners that QuickBooks and its modern business tools can help them navigate challenges to reach success, in whatever form that means to them. The campaign, ‘A Hero’s Journey to Success’, was born, emphasizing QuickBooks’ purpose to create opportunity and prosperity for all small business owners and non-profit leaders as they work toward their goals.

As part of the campaign, TBWA\Chiat\Day LA, The Content Collective, Hearts & Science and Courageous Studios together created a series, called ‘Shift Happens’, highlighting the over 90% of businesses who say they had to pivot operations during the pandemic. Knowing that BIPOC and female-founded organizations were disproportionately impacted, QuickBooks wanted to prioritize these.

When we learned about Compton Girls Club (CGC), founded by Chrystani Heinrich, a librarian at Compton High School in South LA, we immediately wanted to partner with them. Chrystani said of CGC, “In starting this club, I feel like I’m healing ancestral trauma. This is the club my grandmother needed, my mother needed, I needed. The safe space to learn something new.” The objective of the QuickBooks x Compton Girls Club: Business G.IRL Incubator was to put tangible support behind the CGC mission in giving young women and gender non-binary people the life skills and knowledge not taught in school to become more confident and empowered.

When Covid-19 hit, CGC’s in-person workshops, field trips, and access to the safe space Chrystani leased were put on pause. So Chrystani quickly pivoted and turned to online resources to keep in touch with their young club members who were searching for ways to stay inspired. Chrystani’s dream had always been to take the knowledge they had learned from starting their own business and share it with the members of CGC. Their goal was to teach the girls more about business ownership and financial education, so they could turn their hobbies and talents into businesses, and a way to earn money.

With its mission to support small business owners, QuickBooks jumped in to provide tools and support the dual needs of Chrystani and CGC. Together, we created a virtual entrepreneurial workshop that gave these young women the education and skills they needed to start their own small businesses. The QuickBooks Business G.IRL Incubator was a 6-module course that taught 11 young women how to start their own small businesses, guiding them through creating a business plan and teaching them about the power of branding and marketing. Mentors like QuickBooks Vice President of Ecosystem and Lifecycle Marketing, Jessy Hanley, and TBWA\Chiat\Day LA CEO, Erin Riley, spoke to the young people about their careers and the hard work of being a leader. To complete the course, each participant pitched their business Shark Tank-style in front of a panel of judges. Upon graduation, each participant received a stipend of $500 to launch their business, along with headshots and printed business cards with their new branding, made a reality by TBWA\Chiat\Day LA creatives and designers including Kirsten Rutherford and Bruno Regalo.

The content series that was developed by the team at The Content Collective and Courageous Studios (the branded content studio of CNN), led by director, ​​Katie Dellamaggiore, shined a spotlight on Chrystani’s real, relatable story and offered valuable information, and inspiration, to other small business owners and nonprofit leaders who were “making shift happen” during uncertain times. Through the series, QuickBooks amplified their mission of creating opportunity and prosperity for small business owners, while showcasing how their suite of tools can further drive success for these businesses and charitable organizations. In Chrystani’s case, success looked like the power of change being driven by their organization, which started in the community for the young women of the community and has since expanded thanks to its founder and its inspiring mission. Storytelling featured key QuickBooks products that enabled Chrystani to navigate the needs of their growing organization and shifted perceptions about the brand as being complicated or ‘just an accounting tool’. Leveraging CNN’s social and digital platforms for reach, the brand was also able to share Chrystani’s incredible story, at scale to QuickBooks’ core target of Small Business Owners.

Through this tight partner collaboration, we were able to bring maximum impact for Compton Girls Club. TBWA\Chiat\Day LA acted as creative consult, creating the Incubator program and orchestrating the different partners involved in the larger “Journey to Success” campaign. QuickBooks provided monetary support for the program by sponsoring the incubator course and providing speakers, mentors, and judges throughout the event. The Content Collective and Courageous Studios captured content during the sessions and turned it into film assets that could be used to share CGC’s story and spread the word about the work they are doing. Long-form (2:46) and short-form (:30s, :15s) videos were made and distributed through Compton Girls Club, QuickBooks, and TBWA\Chiat\Day’s social media, plus paid media on CNN’s digital and social platforms.

Through the combined efforts of the agency teams and media partners, we were able to bring awareness to Chrystani and the incredible work they do through Compton Girls Club programming, as well as help shift perceptions of QuickBooks as a brand. Through amplification of Chrystani’s story on CNN’s social and digital platforms, we delivered more than 1.3m impressions against storytelling assets and 100% positive sentiment — showing the positive engagement surrounding the content. Not only were we able to drive awareness and engagement around the CGC, but we also drove an incredible 19-point lift in Brand Favorability, helping change perceptions of QuickBooks and build visibility of the brand’s purpose.

QuickBooks was also able to manifest their mission of backing small businesses by helping bring awareness to Chrystani’s organization. For the CGC organization itself, there were over $60k in donations since the launch of the Incubator and campaign and a 25% bump in the org’s site traffic in the two months following the activation (March 2021-May 2021). In May 2021, Compton Girls Club and the Business G.IRL Incubator sponsored by QuickBooks were featured in the Los Angeles Times both in print and online, which showcased Chrystani, their mission and a few of the entrepreneurs who participated in the Incubator. Due to the overwhelming support following the activation, mentors from businesses and people all over reached out, Chrystani said that this collaboration "changed the trajectory of [their] work." Most importantly, 11 new small businesses came to life.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Social Purpose. To find out more, including which competitions are currently open for entry, visit The Drum Awards website.

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