However, Benno did not initially intend to work at this impact startup. Instead, she initially expected to work for a city clerk that was focused on campaigning for the upcoming elections at that time. But, while she was there, Benno became close with one of the city managers who introduced her to the software startup and as a person who gathered gratification from impact, Benno was thrilled to work for such a cause.
Benno felt that it was extremely exciting and gratifying to be able to support those who supported her community—education is fundamentally what serves as the foundation for our society, instilling a sense in people that they will never stop learning and offering tools for humans to problem-solve and improve our society. She said, “Our work made their work better... so instead of focusing on other things, they could focus on teaching kids.” Through this work, Benno found how rewarding social impact work could be—she got to apply her knowledge into an area she felt empowered to work for. Furthermore, during this start-up experience, Benno was able to experience all parts of a business and is immensely grateful for all that she learned during her time at the startup.
However, as the startup grew, it began to receive large sums of money from investors and handling the business became both increasingly difficult and stressful. From then on out, the company diverted their focus from the mission behind their work into their numbers. The company wanted itself to grow and meet a series of very high revenue productions and made it clear that those numbers were going to be its priority. At this moment, Benno realized that she did not want to operate by sales or numbers, but rather wanted to work for a non-profit.
It was through this learning experience that Benno began working for TechTown. She learned about Detroit Urban Solutions and how it brought together various stakeholders to find innovative solutions to urban issues and was immediately impressed. Benno loved how the department was working at a community level to first identify, then solve various problems—a beautiful harmony of technology and community action. Furthermore, she loved this new non-profit environment in which she was able to see how each department shared the same goal of supporting the community: through innovation. And she loved this driving force since, as Benno put it, “Innovation is going to make or break us as a collective.”