Rose Broome is Co-founder and CEO of HandUp, a charitable giving platform that provides donors with a direct way to impact the lives of their homeless neighbors and other low-income locals. One Hundred percent of donations on the Web site go directly toward paying for things like food, shelter, medical care and other basic needs. HandUp also connects members to community partners and services that help them find a way out of poverty and life on the streets.
This week in part one of a two-part interview with Rose, she shares about where her dream came from and about confronting obstacles to her big dream.
Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your professional dream? How did your dream originate?
Rose Broome: I had the idea for HandUp one very cold night when I was walking on the streets of San Francisco, bundled up in a heavy coat, scarf and gloves. As I was about to cross Market Street, I saw a woman sleeping under a thin blanket, with most of her skin exposed. I felt concern for her well-being and wanted to help her, but I wasn’t sure what to do. In that moment it dawned on me: I wondered why we can press a button on our smartphone to have a car arrive or food delivered, but have no direct way to help to people in our communities.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized our power to affect tangible change. Ultimately, we decided to take up the challenge, and eight months after that moment on the street, my co-founder, Zac Witte, and I launched HandUp.
If I had to encapsulate my professional dream for HandUp into just one line, I’d say that it is for us to help millions of people out of poverty and homelessness, enabling them to live lives of health and happiness.
Dreaming Made Simple: What have been the biggest obstacles or challenges to realizing your dream?
Rose Broome: Especially when you’re motivated by passion, you can tend to want things to happen immediately, but it takes time. Everything takes longer than you expect it will, and this can be a challenge.
There are so many things to line up in order to be successful. First, you need to get your business affairs in order. Fundraising is also a challenge when you’re presenting a new model like ours. We decided to go the route of a for-profit organization to enable us to scale quickly, but this confused some people, given our social mission. It was a process of refining the pitch. Eventually we were fortunate to find a few angel investors - Jason Calacanis as the first - who really got what we’re up to and wanted to get on board to help.
Finally, I would say one of the biggest components of realizing the dream that isn’t necessarily an obstacle or challenge - but an opportunity - is to build the team. I can’t stress how important it is to find the right people who share in your vision to help actualize it. Zac and I have found fantastic people who are motivated to use their gifts and talents to get behind this idea.
Dreaming Made Simple: Helping homeless people sounds pretty overwhelming. How do you avoid apathy in the midst of so much need?
Rose Broome: To my own benefit and that of my company, I just don’t seem to be wired for apathy. When I look ahead, I don’t see us opposite an insurmountable problem; I see the opportunity for incredible impact - and if that isn’t a motivating force, then I don’t know what is.
I think it also comes from a mindset of not believing in failure, of looking at any potential adversity as simply feedback, and powering on.
Our motivation also comes from being in great partnership with others in our space. While we do present some new ideas of how tackle these grand challenges, HandUp doesn’t see itself as a singular solution. We’re simply part of a greater network that is working to solve these issues, and we’re incredibly grateful to partner with amazing organizations who are also committed to making the world a better place - for everyone.