At Noel & Co., we work to empower our clients with strategies that work.
It’s why we conduct thoughtful market research and create grounded marketing strategies.
It’s why Christina and Kayleigh do a lot of work within FYSO, a pre-accelerator program dedicated to helping participants take their business to the next level.
We want to see people succeed.
For us, this is one of the most satisfying results we can see when working with someone.
So when we were given the opportunity to support District C — a program that’s dedicated to helping the next generation of talent get better at collective problem-solving in diverse teams — as a “problem-provider,” you can probably guess how we responded.
The opportunity to work with a group of local high students tackle unique problems in a diverse group was exhilarating, and it was an opportunity that not many students get in high school.
For us to contribute to this unique setting and support the next generation of entrepreneurs was a fulfilling feeling by itself, but it wasn’t the only reason why we wanted to work with them.
Over the last few months, we’ve been working to reimagine what FYSO looks like to people post-COVID. Our 2021 participants joined an online cohort, much different than how the original model was planned, and it presented a unique set of obstacles that we’re excited to overcome.
By exposing FYSO to our District C students, it allowed us to view a completely different perspective. A perspective that hasn’t been affected by the trials and tribulations of working in a professional setting or starting your own business.
These students had o much ambition and imagination, and we wanted to tap into that.
So over the course of two months, we got together with the District C students to share with them what FYSO was and the challenges we faced. We discussed with them what FYSO looked like pre-COVID and during it, as well as how we needed to pivot our business model again going forward.
From there, it was on them to create innovative solutions that could help shape the FYSO brand moving forward.
Since the District C model consists of many high school students, we weren’t able to work with all of them. Instead, we were assigned “Squads 4 – 6” for our group, with each squad responsible for creating their own unique solutions.
Here’s what each group had to say, as well as our thoughts on each idea.
(And yes, we seriously considered each idea and its impact on the FYSO brand.)
This group started off STRONG.
Squad 4 had an idea to throw a FYSO Ball to raise money to invest in FYSO marketing and spread the word about the program.
Yep, like an actual formal dress-up-and-dance ball.
This ball not only would have your traditional song and dance, but it would also host speakers from former cohorts sharing their experiences with FYSO and a donation area where people could donate money to FYSO in-person.
But they didn’t stop there.
Along with ideas for the ball itself, Squad 4 also proposed a venue, catering options, a sample menu, and the immediate benefits (handicap accessibility, available parking, etc.) people would see from selecting this venue.
They also mapped out costs of holding the ball at the venue and how much they would need to charge if FYSO wanted to host the ball for three hours, which was impressive.
As for the venue?
Wye Hill Kitchen and Brewing.
(Michael LOVES this place.)
Overall, Squad 4’s idea around a FYSO Ball was built with a specific purpose in mind:
Meeting our prospective participants face-to-face and building connections.
Would we do this?
We love the idea of hosting an in-person event as FYSO was built on the premise of personal connections and face-to-face interactions.
With that said, it may be some time before we can actually attempt something of this magnitude.
Along with the associated costs that come with renting out a space like Wye Hill, many people still have reservations about close, in-person events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With that said, we still love this idea and maybe it’s something we revisit in a few years!
While Squad 4 focused on one, massive in-person event to generate interest and hype around FYSO, Squad 5 placed greater emphasis on multiple, smaller solutions. Their first solution involved a medium that has become a part of nearly everyone’s online experience:
Squad 5 made a strong push for expanding FYSO’s social media, as they highlighted numerous statistics showcasing the benefits social media provides in regards to reach and advertising.
They didn’t advertise traditional social platforms — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn — that many businesses live on. Instead, they focused on the newest platform to enter their social media ecosystem:
Knowing that neither Christina nor Kayleigh had experience on the platform, the students even provided an entertaining example “TikTok” on how FYSO could be presented to viewers!
To their credit, Squad 5 has a point:
TikTok has quickly grown to become one of the most popular social media platforms today.
And with TikTok’s ability to promote less known creators and better direct content to the right people, there’s certainly some value to creating an account.
But they didn’t stop at just TikTok.
Along with the notorious social platform, Squad 5 also pointed us towards one of the most well known and established video platforms on the internet:
Although FYSO does have a YouTube channel, it’s only updated during active seasons where the cohorts meet and interact. Squad 5 proposed updating the channel a little more frequently and uploading videos on a weekly basis.
And, like TikTok, they even provided a sample video for us to view!
(We love the ambition of these students!)
Squad 5 also offered two other solutions to help generate more participants for our FYSO cohort:
Sponsorships and recruiting college students.
For sponsorships, they recommended expanding our list of sponsors to better help with reach and benefits. As for college students, their belief was that by reaching out to a younger demographic that is ambitious and ready to enter the workforce, FYSO would be better able to shape the minds of future mission-driven business owners.
Overall, Squad 5’s biggest focal point was clear:
Invest in social media’s newest platform — TikTok — and expand the FYSO YouTube channel even further.
Would we do this?
While we are focused on expanding our sponsorship opportunities and adding more content to our YouTube channel, we aren’t as focused on expanding our social presence to TikTok or actively recruiting college aged students.
Admittedly, we aren’t ready to make the dive into TikTok quite yet as it doesn’t speak to our main target audience.
Although we’d love to see college students participate in our FYSO Accelerator, that demographic also isn’t who we had in mind for FYSO. By focusing more on college students, we may see higher numbers, but it may fall on the ears of participants that are more focused on finishing up school strong, finding a job, and starting their career instead of people looking to start a business.
(But there are always exceptions!)
With that said, FYSO is forever growing and evolving, so we can never really say no! Who knows what our accelerator will look like in the next few years.
The final squad in the presentation, Squad 6 took a more traditional approach when it came to suggestions on how to improve FYSO:
Updating and expanding our online presence.
Squad 6 suggested moving information about FYSO off of Christina’s personal website and creating a completely new website for the accelerator program. They even built a Google Business site to showcase what the website could look like!
They also recommended posting on our social media — primarily our Instagram page — more often, and provided examples on what “engaging media” looked like for today’s social media users. Additionally, they mentioned promoting FYSO through business flyers so people have time to learn more about the program and how they could sign up!
Finally, like Squad 5, they also recommended reaching out to local businesses in the area to partner with and better improve reach! They specifically highlighted the Wake Tech Small Business Center, local high schools, and the Academy of Finance, which all of Squad 6 was a part of.
It was a fantastic way to end the series of presentations, and we were very impressed with the ideas these students had in mind.
Would we do this?
This is something we would very much like to do! With FYSO becoming more notable, it’s so important for it to have its own independent website. While tying it to the Christina Marie Noel site is good, it can leave people confused when they first learn about it. Having its separate site would help tremendously with SEO, searchability, and avoiding unnecessary confusion.
We also agreed that expanding our Instagram page and adding more content would be incredibly useful, and we actually have new social assets from a former FYSO participant that we plan on using this year!
Being able to work with this group of students has been an absolute privilege, and the ideas they brought to the table were creative and executable.
These were well-thought-out strategies that perfectly showcased how it could impact FYSO’s bottom line. From budget management to site creation, the District C students:
Brought. The. Heat.🔥
We’re so excited to see how these young professionals continue to develop and what ideas they contribute to the industries they pursue!
And who knows, maybe they might be part of or even helping with FYSO one day. 😁