Immersive Computing for Impact


On Tuesday, July 24, Impact Hub member Asante Simmons led an Intro to AR/VR presentation and demo for the public in our Training Lab. Asante spoke passionately about how Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and even 360 degree audio are creating a generational change. This technology has the power to inspire change, improve processes and efficiency, save money and even save lives!

After listening to Asante’s presentation, the ways virtual reality can be used seemed endless. It goes way beyond the typical gaming experience that may come to mind. For example, VR has the potential to transform the medical industry. It is being used to plan complex operations which increases the success rate. In 2017, VR played a vital role in the successful separation of conjoined twins at Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.

Virtual Reality is also being used to teach individuals in settings from elementary school classrooms to the military. VR offers an affordable and readily available way to bring virtual field trips, language immersion, and various skills training scenarios to life.

Asante’s presentation also taught the difference between virtual reality and augmented reality. Augmented reality enhances experiences by adding virtual components such as digital images, graphics, or sensations as a new layer of interaction with the real world. Contrastingly, virtual reality creates its own reality that is completely computer generated.

So what does this have to do with social impact? Asante shared how these immersive technologies are being used to inspire others to act when confronted with a social problem. AR/VR can be used as an empathy machine, helping to raise awareness, and further connect audiences to social causes. Examples of this include; a AR/VR series to create stronger appreciation for the planet and building AR/VR scenarios to address social interaction in individuals with autism.

After the presentation, attendees had the chance to interact with the technology. Asante had glasses and headsets available to demo. People of all ages were eager to try each item. Entrepreneurs from Snapspheres were also present to show off their 3D printed globes.

Thank you, Asante, for hosting an interactive and educational event. We can’t wait to see where immersive technologies will take us!



Making an Impact: Mobility 4 All


Born in Vietnam, John Doan came to the United States at age 4 as a refugee. John’s mother, a single parent, worked hard to care for her two sons, however, much of what John remembers is being raised by his older brother, Roy. Roy walked John to school each day, taught him how to ride a bike and eventually how to drive.

When Roy and John entered their 30’s, their lives changed dramatically. Roy was diagnosed with Dementia and Multiple Sclerosis. John has now become Roy’s caregiver. Over the years, John realized that Roy’s greatest challenge was transportation. He looked for a solution to help his brother and when he couldn’t find one, he decided to create his own solution.

Mobility4All launched in February of this year. Described as the kinder, gentler Uber for seniors and people with disabilities, the program offers custom transportation services. What sets Mobility4All apart is their dedication to service, trust and respect. Unlike other transportation services, Mobility4All requires their drivers to go through background checks and complete the special transportation services certificate. Drivers are also expected to provide ‘door through door’ service, ensuring customers get safely from their home to the vehicle to their destination. There is also the option to select a favorite driver because John knows that the best way to build trust is to build a relationship. By allowing customers to select a favorite driver, they can get to know each other to ensure a safe and comfortable experience.

Being a member of Impact Hub has allowed John to build important connections to further the impact of his project. This year, Mobility4All is a semi-finalist for the MN Cup and his team also plans to apply for the FINNOVATION Lab fellowship program. In July, Mobility4All will launch a second iteration of their program, adding locations, partners and drivers. By 2021, John would like to integrate self-driving technologies into his fleet. “I want to make sure that seniors and vulnerable adults are not left out of this technology, because they will benefit the most.”

Learn more about Mobility4All.


The story behind Impact Hub & FINNOVATION Lab


Impact Hub is the world’s largest network focused on building entrepreneurial communities for impact at scale. Established in London in 2005, Impact Hub is home to the innovators, dreamers and entrepreneurs who are creating tangible solutions to the world’s most pressing issues. Today, there are locations in over 50 countries, and although each Hub is unique, they all focus on creating a community of impact.

Impact Hub Minneapolis-Saint Paul began in 2014 as the Minnesota Social Impact Center, a nonprofit committed to increasing the depth of engagement, support and innovative connections among Minnesota’s social entrepreneurs. Two of Impact Hub’s Founders, Terri Barreiro and Katie Kalkman, were inspired to form a local Impact Hub when they visited San Francisco with entrepreneurship students from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. A survey of local needs and interests was completed in December of 2013 to frame what exactly the community needed. It was clear from the 110 respondents, that the Twin Cities was ready for an Impact Hub. In 2014 a Founding Board was formed including Fred Rose, Mary Rick, Ben Aase, Reynolds Anthony-Harris, Leah Goldstein Moses, Beth Parkhill, Terence Steinberg, and Tim Reardon. 

By May of 2015, MN Social Impact Center was accepted into the global Impact Hub network and rebranded as Impact Hub MSP. That fall, the Founding Team opened its doors with a proto-type space in the North Loop and Danielle Steer was hired as community and operations manager. 

What began as a small office, has now expanded into a 13,000 square foot space in Elliot Park. Along with a brand new space, Impact Hub MSP also formed an exciting new collaboration with FINNEGANS, a local beer company dedicated to turning beer into food. In 2017, Mary Rick was brought on as CEO of both the FINNOVATION Lab and the Impact Hub MSP in a new collaborative model to help build out the facility, recruit office partners, and launch new programming including the FINNOVATION Lab Fellowship.

When FINNEGANS was ready to open a taproom, they had a vision for something more than the typical brewery experience. Jacquie Berglund, founder of FINNEGANS Beer Company, wanted to create an inspiring environment within the whole building dedicated to launching the next generation of impact enterprises.  Since 2003, Finnegan’s Community Fund has donated $1.2 million dollars to nutrition programs since 2003.

This vision laid the groundwork for the FINNEGANS House, which includes the brewery and taproom on the first floor, an exclusive social club called the Brewer’s Den on the second floor, and the Impact Hub - FINNOVATION Lab on the fourth floor.

Today, the FINNOVATION Lab focuses on specialized trainings and offers venture services to support local entrepreneurs, while the Impact Hub acts as the community workspace offering private offices, open workspace and event rental opportunities.

Together, their mission is to provide a state-of-the art destination to work, meet, learn and connect, provide resources, training and capital for entrepreneurial leaders, curate peer-to-peer impact practice groups and share global best practices, and to spearhead initiatives within the Elliot Park neighborhood.

Making an Impact: Ecotone


Ecotone Analytics was selected as a semi-finalist for the 2018 MN Cup for their new project called “,” an online platform for impact business accelerators to onboard the innovative ideas of social entrepreneurs.

Co-Founders Tim Roman & Ted Carling launched Ecotone Analytics out of the Impact Hub MSP in 2015, to help social enterprises scale their impact by clearly communicating their value to stakeholders and investors. Ecotone creates simple, eye-catching and effective summaries for their clients that can fit onto a single page.

It is important to Tim and Ted that the impact value reports they create are easily digestible. “Our team is passionate about making change in the world and scaling impact, and we love being a part of our clients’ important work.”

They help organizations through research, cost-benefit analysis, data visualizations, and by categorizing client impact according to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and developing compelling narrative that funders look for when deciding where to put their dollars.

Tim and Ted met at a “Social Innovation Deep Dive” event back in 2014 where they discovered their shared interest in using business tools to scale social & environmental impact. “We decided pretty quickly that we needed to get some beers and wings together and take the conversation further,” said Tim. A year later, Ecotone was born. will help impact accelerators and social entrepreneurs accurately and effectively communicate the impact value they create, ultimately to secure more funding and support.

Ted says, “Our goal is to use best-practice analysis tools that change the way impact investors measure outcomes and create roadmaps for directed investments in organizations creating the greatest impact.” They believe a new era of Impact Investing has the potential to fundamentally change how capital is mobilized to solve the world’s challenges.

Making an Impact: Footprint Project


When the purpose of your work is saving lives, it’s hard to think about anything else. But that’s not the case for Will Heegaard. He is also dedicated to improving the long-term sustainability of emergency and disaster response practices.


Will is a nationally registered paramedic working for North Memorial Ambulance Service. He has responded with the International Medical Corps to Typhoon Haiyan, the ebola outbreak in West Africa, and has been on the ground with Team Rubicon after disasters in Louisiana, Minnesota and Puerto Rico. It was during these deployments that Will saw some big spaces for improvement in how energy and environmental sustainability are implemented in the field.

In 2016, Will participated in a national Hackathon with the goal of tackling environmental degradation in humanitarian interventions, and the Footprint Project was born. Footprint's service model combines sustainability consulting with clean energy deployment so every humanitarian organization can fulfill their commitment to first do no harm, and every affected community can build back better. They have already accomplished several successful projects.

  • Caguas- Spring 2018, Partnered with Solar Libre to support the installation of a 4kw array with 12kwj of storage for a community kitchen in Puerto Rico.

  • Rampart, Fall 2017, Developed a 3kw array with 10kwh of storage to power a health clinic in Nevada.

Will is connected to Impact Hub MSP through John Goeppinger, Footprint’s CDO. John has acted as a "grant mercenary" for a number of nonprofits throughout Minnesota. To date, John has successfully secured more than $10 million in philanthropic, governmental, corporate, and individual gifts.

Will and The Footprint Project is currently a semi-finalist for MN Cup and Will also plans to apply for the FINNOVATION Lab Fellowship Program. In the meantime, Footprint will continue to follow their plans to green the international aid system by:

  1. Prototyping: Integrating environmental impact calculators with humanitarian logistics software to build a simple, effective platform for evaluating energy use in humanitarian response.

  2. Partnering: Working with humanitarian organizations to test our service model by developing sustainability metrics, deploying renewable energy systems and reporting progress to donors.

  3. Developing: Making Footprint the go-to platform to track and transition humanitarian response off diesel, so that every organization can improve their operational efficiency, and every affected community can develop through disaster.

Learn more at