The Next Phase for New Story

Brett Hagler
May 18, 2016

One year ago, June 28, 2015, New Story had a total of 45 homes funded. Today we have 330 homes funded and 150+ new homes in partnerships that will be happening soon (the homes are between $6k-$6.8k). These phases relate to startups, but also relate to ideas or new products inside of bigger organizations. 

Phase I: Proof of Concept: 

18 months ago, we built a (technically fake) crowdfunding site, did everything we could think of to get our first few homes funded, and then had to get the homes built. We were trying to prove, "can we actually raise money for homes on our site, build them, and send the move-in videos back to all donors?"

We did. And because we proved this was something people wanted, we applied to Y Combinator and got in.  Watch the video of New Story transitioning out of the proof of concept phase. (May of 2015)

The number one piece of advice for getting proof of concept is that no idea "just takes off"... the co-founders have to make the idea take off; they have to will the concept into existence. Imagine dragging heavy rocks up a hill and slowly making progress with each new user or donor. We knew that's what it took, so we dragged and climbed that hill with unscaleable hustle. Why? Because we knew, eventually, that we'd have (a) a tribe of early supporters that would tell friends (if the product was worthy of telling friends), and (b) proof of results. Enter the next phase...

Phase II: Product Market Fit 

When we got to Y Combinator, we set a goal to fund 100 homes in 100 days. This was no longer just a few homes... it was $600,000 in three months. We would find out if there was truly a fit with our product and the market. It turns out there was. We did 100 homes in 91 days and realized that we were building something bigger than homes -- we were creating entire communities. We then changed our mission from "crowdfunding life-saving homes" to "transforming slums into sustainable communities."

The real test came after the 100 homes in 91 days, though. Did we truly have product market fit, or was it just a fortunate summer because of our hard work and the hype of Y Combinator? Gut check. Instead of doubling our team and saying we were ready for the next phase, we wanted to dive deeper and prove we truly had a product that was indeed a fit with the market and could scale to help hundreds of thousands of people. The next step for us was to bring on Helena, our Head of Marketing in early 2016. She has built our brand awareness and marketing strategy... you'll be seeing more exciting news from her efforts in the near future. 

In late 2015 and early 2016, we were able to bring New Story into new markets (corporate partnerships with 'The Architect Program', new home sponsors, viral crowdfunding campaigns) and secured another 200+ homes. 

The DNA of New Story was built during the first two phases. And here we are, now entering the next phase. 

Phase III: Company Building 

For New Story, this phase has three buckets. 

1) Team Building and Culture. We doubled our team to 7 team members and recently had the honor of welcoming Emma, and Morgan to the family. Yes, we're a charity, but we have the culture of a tech startup and a "team of founders" value when hiring. 

  • Emma - Global Impact Data Manager: investing in the actually change we're making in our communities. We'll measure data points at both the family and community level to learn how lives have changed, what's working, and how to improve our work. We're geeking out on data. 
  • Morgan - Chief Technology Officer: investing in technology to improve the user experience, advancing fundraising platforms, and making operations more efficient. We'll be pushing forward concepts like team fundraising campaigns, automation, and going above and beyond to make the donor's experience as easy, special, and delightful as possible. 

2) Impact Data and New Story 2.0. We believe that anecdotal, feel-good stories are not enough. New Story and our donors need to know the true impact that happens 1 year, 2 years, etc. after a community is built. This will help us improve our on-ground model and will also formulate data-driven case studies. 

New Story 2.0 will use (a) participatory design and (b) world-class urban design and architectural resources to create the absolute best community designs. The first New Story 2.0 community will get started near the end of 2016. 

3) Repeatable and Scalable Revenue Models that can take us from 330 homes to 3,000 homes in two years. We are searching for the flywheel to triple down on over the next 2 years. We want to stay diverse in revenue channels, but also super focused on the main channels we can scale and build our growth team around. 

Because of our early supporters, corporate partners, local partners, Y Combinator, Draper Richard Kaplan Foundation, Advisors, and Board Members... New Story has been fortunate to get off to a fast start in our first 18 months. Fast starts bring high internal and external expectations.

It will be hard. Very hard. But what makes me most optimistic about why we will exceed those expectations is because of New Story's #1 asset: the team. 

In 2016, we've been fortunate to secure operational capital from our 'Builders' and will be looking to hire towards the end of 2016. Internship opportunities are also available. You can sign up for job updates here. 

Check out our new brand video and learn more at

Brett Hagler
Building @newstorycharity. Follower of Christ. YC alum. Go get your dream.