Camden Francis is 18. He is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and public speaker. Camden is an entrepreneur who is the founder of Beyond the Crisis. Beyond the Crisis is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. This food-distribution charity has distributed over 100,000 dollars of food items to housing communities and homeless shelters across Massachusetts. Beyond the Crisis plans to establish a long-lasting legacy of giving.
Furthermore, Beyond the Crisis is also involved with the White House on planning strategic initiatives which can help end food hunger. Camden is also currently working on a Tech start-up with a friend from Harvard. This mobile application is called Circlez. Circlez connects people based on their interests and passions and uses advanced algorithmic technology to build people’s networks and help them achieve their goals. Furthermore, Camden is an experienced public speaker. He has spoken on the Drew Barrymore Talk Show, CBS, PBS, Bloomberg, and NPR.
How did you get started in this business?
I got started in Beyond the Crisis during the pandemic. I knew that the pandemic would have a disadvantaged economic impact on low-income families and would exacerbate food hunger. Furthermore, I knew that at the time at 16 years of age, I would not be the one to find the vaccine or create a cure. Thus, I wanted to do something to help my community. This idea turned into an initiative with national coverage and a safe haven for the hungry.
How do you make money?
Beyond the Crisis is a nonprofit organization that fundraises, has a board of trustees, and grant writers who help the organization lead operations.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
Beyond the Crisis was bootstrapped by teenagers Camden and Colton Francis and took years to get off the ground. However, these boys were successful as this organization has currently distributed over 100,000 dollars’ worth of food-items, have a board of trustees, large donors, corporate sponsors, and national media coverage.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
When starting anything entrepreneurial, there is always doubt whether it will work. So, for me, I was always unsure during the process. However, the best thing for me was to put this fear and uncertainty aside and get to work – solving one problem at a time and focusing on the things that I can control.
How did you get your first customer?
My first large donor was Kathleen Walsh my mentor who serves as CEO of the MetroNorth YMCA. She gave Beyond the Crisis its first donation. Our second major donor was U.S. Congressman and Food-Insecurity Advocate Jim McGovern.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
One marketing strategy, Beyond the Crisis, uses is email marketing. We use Campaign Monitor which is an email marketing tool that helps us create outreach within our community. This helps us fundraise, get volunteers, interns, food donors, trustees, partners, sponsors, and reporters – it has proven very effective.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
One of the toughest decisions we made in the last few months was planning for how we are going to continue operations while I am in college. This will be a challenging transition but with the help of Zoom and other videotelephony software apps, I can still have a virtual presence.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
The thing that makes me successful is my ambition and desire to compete. Beyond the Crisis is just one of the entrepreneurial endeavors that I am working on. It is the most well-known due to its community-impact. Furthermore, I am resilient, I can handle failure and adversity and I am okay walking away from something if it does not work.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
My most satisfying moment in business is the ability to network with other like minded individuals. I love to attend Black-Tie events, Ted Talks, and conferences because I love learning about others and their successes.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
As of right now, I am trying to stay present and in the moment. Every day is a blessing, and I am so fortunate to be in the position I am in today. However, for Beyond the Crisis alone, we plan to establish a long-lasting legacy of giving and build an organization that mobilizes against food-insecurity and food hunger nationwide.
What business books have inspired you?
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a great book. It taught me how to grow influence by making a genuine, meaningful difference in other people’s lives which in turn allowed me to lead a more interesting and fulfilling existence.
The Lean Startup is another book I love as it offers a sensible approach to founding and running a new company. The book examines common entrepreneurial mistakes and misconceptions and helps people avoid pitfalls.
Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence and How You Can Too by Gary Vaynerchuck is a practical book which offers new lessons and inspiration drawn from the experiences of dozens of influencers and entrepreneurs who rejected the corporate path in pursuit of entrepreneurship. This book offers timeless principles that entrepreneurs apply to grow their wealth. This book explores brand and marketing strategies centered around the utilization of social media.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Some advice that I would give my younger self is to stay humble, be ambitious, and take interest in others and their ideas it is your network and team that will bring you opportunities and success.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
I am now 18 years old, so I am a little young to be a mentor. But I cannot stress enough the advantageous benefit of having powerful mentors.