Armed with a new name and a new set of core customers, the team behind Inclusivv (formerly Civic Dinners) is building what they call the “Peloton for empathy.”
Over the last two years, they’ve attracted an impressive list of corporate clients, graduated from Techstars Social Impact, grown to a team of 20 full-time employees, and built out more content to address the most pressing social issues of our time.
The goal, founder and CEO Jenn Graham told Hypepotamus, is to build a platform that enables in-person and virtual conversations for both individuals and companies alike.
What started as a simple but engaging conversation over dinner has become an important recipe for other companies as they try to navigate 2021 and beyond. For Graham, Inclusivv’s new name and brand are a reflection of where the company is heading next.
Community Engagement Catches Corporate Attention
Civic Dinners started as “a way to creatively bring Millennials into the long-range planning process” with early clients like the Atlanta Regional Commission.
The national dialogue has shifted since 2016, making Civic Dinners’ conversation model even more important. The company landed a partnership with The King Center in Atlanta to talk about bridging the racial divide. They quickly added non-profits and advocacy groups like Teach For America and The Sierra Club to their list of users.
“But 2019 was the year that corporate America came knocking,” said Graham.
“We knew our model immediately attracted community organizers because they know the power of conversation,” she added. But Graham and her team knew they had tapped into something special when “large tech companies came to us to try to build more connections in a meaningful way in the workplace and with their customers.”
Facebook, which at the time was looking to better connect with its small business owners, was the first big customer. That Facebook relationship helped Civic Dinners begin its international reach.
Coca-Cola, Mailchimp, other large companies have tapped into the platform’s ability to drive conversations with employees, customers, and the wider community.
Behind The Inclusivv Name
Even though their initial model centered around 100% in-person events, COVID did not deter the team’s focus on building connections. Within 10 days Graham said they were able to bring their content online in a meaningful and curated way.
COVID brought a few unintended “silver linings” that made these conversations more inclusive, as geography and transportation were no longer a barrier to entry. 2020 also highlighted the growing conversation topics the platform has built around racial injustice, diversity and inclusion, and allyship.
International expansion required Civic Dinners to rethink its name. “Civic” is typically associated with government outside of the US, so Graham said the team landed on Inclusivv as a name that better fit the direction of the company moving forward. “We’re really doubling down on what matters most, which is creating a more inclusive world and bringing more voices to the table.”
It also helped transform how Inclusivv positions itself in the tech space. “We’re transforming from a traditional professional services firm where we design custom conversations to a true SAS B2B player, where we put our own content and make it available to the world.”
Inclusivv is available for individuals, universities, and companies of all sizes. It provides as a particularly unique model for small organizations that “might not have the bandwidth or the personnel to manage conversations internally but they still want to offer them.”
As Inclusivv continues to grow, Graham sees their model becoming an easier way for people to join conversations from around the world on topics they are passionate about. Upcoming conversations range from topics on mental health to childcare to electricity.
Like Peloton’s marketplace of classes, Graham says the platform is ultimately growing to be a place where people can browse hosts and topics based on interest.
While the focus remains community-centered, Inclusivv plans on continuing to expand its global reach. The platform is now translated into 11 languages, and its work with international companies has helped the startup expand into Europe, Africa, APAC, and South America.
Up next for the startup: Venture Atlanta. Graham will present next week at the venture capital conference on how Inclusivv has grown its platform to be a key tool for companies navigating challenging topics.
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