Did you ever go into a small mom-and-pop restaurant and have a wonderful meal, yet there is almost no one there?
Did you ever go into a small mom-and-pop restaurant and have a wonderful meal, just as good as what you can find in a much more pricey, popular and upscale restaurant, yet there is almost no one there? Worse, when you tell people about this gem, you find they have never even heard of it.
If so, then you can understand the thinking behind “The Unless Project,” a grant-meets-accelerator program that provides significant financial resources to small businesses and organizations that would really use the help.
The program is the creation of Simon Rogers, who grew up in West Mt. Airy and graduated from Chestnut Hill Academy (now Springside Chestnut Hill Academy), and founded an agency called A Little Better Company (ALBC). The “Unless Project,” which will provide $150,000 in marketing and capacity-building services to up to four small for-profit and/or non-profit organizations, is its inaugural project.
“My goal was to form an entirely new entity to access high-quality storytelling for small non-profits and small for-profits to give them a leg up – to level the playing field so that a small organization can have powerful branding and storytelling to get the message out about what they are doing,” Rogers said.
“That mom-and-pop restaurant may be turning out great food, but they have to brand, package and position the business to get the customers. It is not enough just to have a good product. We are here to be the amplifier.”
Debbie Gress Jansen, owner of booked, the bookstore at 8511 Germantown Ave., is a client who has already benefited greatly from ALBC's expertise.
“Simon Rogers and ALBC put me on the map!” she said last week. “I would not have had my social presence had it not been for Simon and his fabulous organization. Not only did he help me create my 'brand,' but he also connected me with Tree House Books in North Philadelphia. I owe so much to Simon and the splendid people who work with him.”
ALBC does not currently have an office in the area, “but if anyone wants to donate an office to us, we will take it,” Rogers said.
After graduating from Penn State University with a major in arts and neuroscience, Rogers worked in a wide variety of capacities, with small organizations and global multi-billion dollar industries. He is also entrepreneurial – and ran his own agency and real estate venture. He and his brother, Adam, ran Transfer Station, a community hub and energy business in Manayunk.
The Unless Project is fully funded by ALBC’s for-profit work so that firm will cover all marketing-related expenditures required to realize each small awardee's vision. The grant will also include a $2,500 stipend for each recipient to cover unplanned out-of-pocket expenses.
The Unless Project is currently seeking applications from small non-profits and small for-profits that are working on new, novel, provable, scalable and sustainable solutions to challenges in one of ALBC’s four focus areas: Environmental sustainability, human health and wellness, social progress and advocacy, and artistic activism.
The short application process includes a simple five-question eligibility quiz (yes/no answers only); for eligible organizations, a short application that accepts written or video submissions; and for finalists, a 30-45-minute Zoom discussion with the selection committee. Interested parties can take the eligibility quiz at https://bit.ly/unless-quiz
Applications are open from Aug. 15 through Oct. 15. Awardees will be notified on Dec. 15 and then be guided through a six-month process to transform their brand, tapping into ALBC’s capabilities and expertise.
ALBC provides the same services for non-profit and for-profit clients. It has 40 experts to help small organizations, as well as an advisory council. Rogers' expertise is in strategy, branding and storytelling.
“Since we launched in January of last year, we have worked with over 40 organizations,” he said. “Most of the for-profits are in the Philadelphia area, but there are some in other parts of the country as well.”
To learn more, visit alittlebetter.com. Len Lear can be reached at email@example.com