Guest Author: Ryan Stoll
Ryan Stoll is a PhD candidate in Clinical Psychology at ASU. Born in Ohio and raised in Arizona, Ryan has been in various management, creative, and marketing roles prior to grad school. He is passionate about creating positive social change, especially when it comes to mental health and wellbeing. But in 2016, instead of pursuing more training to become a licensed clinical psychologist, Ryan looked for training in entrepreneurship to answer a question he had been asking himself for a few years – “How could positive social change be accelerated through science, business, marketing, and design?”
In 2016, I set out to create a career that would allow me to combine my passion for social change with my Ph.D. training and experience in design and marketing. I knew I needed to get more training in business and entrepreneurship to make this happen, but I had no idea on where to start.
Later that year, through a chance encounter, I met Katie Clemens, Assistant Director for Youth Entrepreneurship at E+I, who introduced me to all the support, resources, and funding avenues available for student entrepreneurs at ASU.
This was a game changer. It was the last thing I needed to start my entrepreneurial journey – guidance.
A short time later, I founded my first true venture – Obeo Wellbeing.
Obeo Wellbeing’s mission is to improve the reach, use, and public health impact of the amazing research taking place all around the world. We provide tools, support, and strategic guidance to those working in non-profits, universities, and socially conscious businesses to help them drive positive social change through their research using principles of entrepreneurship, marketing, and design.
The natural place to start testing the concept behind Obeo Wellbeing was the psychology lab I’d been working in since undergrad. We had developed a curriculum for elementary schools to teach their students struggling with anxiety or stress proven skills to manage their worries, build their resilience, and thrive in all that they do. This is what would eventually become Obeo’s first project – COMPASS for Courage.
I spent the next year focusing on translating COMPASS for Courage from a research-focused program into a consumer-accessible product. ASU Startup School resources, BUILD Workshop at ASU Entrepreneurship + Innovation, the ASU Venture Devils program, and free workshops provided by the ASU entrepreneurship community– I took advantage of everything ASU provided and applied it ALL to COMPASS for Courage.
This journey provided countless opportunities that I am incredibly grateful for: Connecting with incredibly supportive mentors, peers, and staff, gaining the guidance I needed to carry out my vision, and receiving funding that continues to support the development of COMPASS.
And most recently, winning the Changemaker Entrepreneurship Team of the Year at the 2018 ASU Pitchfork Awards.
“It’s basically ASU’s version of the Grammy’s.”
A most accurate description of the ASU Pitchfork Awards I overheard while waiting in line to check-in. It was an event complete with excellent live performances, engaging MC’s, amazing student leaders, and a red-carpet experience. The nominees in my category were other student-led ventures doing amazing things locally, nationally, and even globally. I was honored to just be among such a group of driven students.
Then COMPASS won.
Winning the Changemaker Entrepreneurship Team of the Year really solidified within me, that the entire concept behind COMPASS is a viable approach to driving social change, that the hard work of my team, the long hours, and countless dead ends – is worth it. It capped off what was already an amazing 12 months for COMPASS and Obeo, providing a little social validation and a milestone to refer to 12 months from now, when I ask myself, “How much further along is COMPASS and Obeo today than they were a year ago?”
And as we know in the world of entrepreneurship, what can’t be measured, can’t be improved upon.
Obeo Wellbeing is currently looking for our next project and to expand our team. Inquires can be sent to [email protected].