Our Blog

Five Insights about designing for Consumer Debt

January 26, 2017     / /

In the summer of 2016, I was part of a team that formed through Blue Ridge Labs @ Robin Hood Foundation’s Fellowship program. We built an online tool called Daisy Debt to help low income New Yorkers deal with illegal debt collection practices.This article summarizes five key takeaways and opportunities in building technology solutions to address consumer debt. READ POST

Medium: Model Results

September 13, 2016    

Innovators are using technology to change our world — creating global connections, more effective healthcare, safer roads, and on the second floor of a Brooklyn walk-up, solutions in the fight against poverty. That’s where Blue Ridge Labs @ Robin Hood (BRL) is supporting the efforts of leading technologists, designers, entrepreneurs and others with the next big idea for social good. The initiative helps identify and launch tech-enabled products or ventures through three initiatives: the Fellowship, a five-month program to prototype and test new technology for social change; Catalyst, a six-month incubator that helps boost the most promising early-stage ventures; and access to the Design Insight Group (DIG), a community of over 500 low-income New Yorkers who provide feedback on products. Model Results:… READ POST

Inside Philanthropy: Social Entrepreneurs Are Getting Hip to Systems

September 13, 2016    

From its Brooklyn co-working space, Blue Ridge guides its portfolio companies through the treacherous early life of the startup, assisting them with grants and expertise as they flesh out their offerings, learn the entrepreneurial ropes, and start shopping around for investors. In many ways, Blue Ridge Labs is similar to startup incubators across the country. But several things mark it out as a place to watch. For one, the Robin Hood Foundation funds Blue Ridge in its entirety. And Robin Hood, in turn, has the backing of a powerful board representing the city’s wealthiest interests. For another, Blue Ridge Labs takes a refreshingly systems-oriented view and is good at listening. In a Startup Incubator, More Signs Social Entrepreneurs Are Getting… READ POST

Fellowship 2.0

February 16, 2016    

Here at the Labs we’re big fans of lean. That means constant iteration on our product – which for us is our programs. At the start of each cycle, we identify a set of assumptions to test, measure the results, and then reflect on what we’ve learned and how it means we can improve. READ POST

Alumni Profile: Dylan Butman

November 16, 2015    

Dylan Butman is native of New York and earned his Bachelor of Arts in Computational Aesthetics from New York University. He works as a programmer, designer, and fabricator, building web-based applications, experimental user interfaces, interactive data visualizations, and creative coding installations. He’s the engineer for Populace, a tool designed to bring people closer to community programs. READ POST

5 Insights From Our 2016 Summer Fellowship

November 9, 2015    

In a previous post we shared the five exciting applications that resulted from our 2015 summer fellowship. But while it’s always tempting to only look at the end results, we’d also like to share some of the interesting insights our teams learned along the way. To get kids to out-of-school programs, make sure their parents have friends there too Grapevine spoke with many parents and providers of out-of-school programs to get a holistic sense of people’s patterns of behavior when it comes to finding activities for their kids. Interestingly, they learned that many parents would prefer to take their children to programming if there is some sort of social component for the parents. Most of us can relate. Going to… READ POST

Announcing the Catalyst Finalists!

October 7, 2015    

Announcing the 2015 Catalyst finalists! Three weeks after announcing Catalyst, our brand new incubation program for early stage technology ventures at Blue Ridge Labs, we received over 40 outstanding applications! From our judges’ deliberations, 7 finalist teams emerged. Three of which will be selected by our all-star panel of finals judges to join us for six months of support, workshops, and a $40k cash stipend. READ POST

2015 Fellowship Products

September 21, 2015    

We’re excited to announce the 5 new projects that our fellowship teams built this summer. You can check out all of the products here! Duckling Nova Populace JustFix.nyc Grapevine READ POST

Alumni Profile: Gaïa Orain

August 13, 2015    

Gaïa Orain is a design strategist at Fair Care Labs, the social innovation arm of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Core to her design practice is a focus on the intersection of design thinking and social justice. Prior to joining Fair Care Labs, Gaïa freelanced with both corporate and non-profit clients. At Blue Ridge Labs, she worked on Neat Streak, a tool that creates agreements between house cleaners and their employers. She is currently working on an app that aims to aid domestic workers with employee contracts. READ POST

Alumni Profile: Jimmy Chen

July 10, 2015    

Jimmy Chen is the CEO of Propel. His talent for connecting people through technology previously drove his success in managing product at LinkedIn and Facebook. At Blue Ridge Labs, Jimmy worked on Easy Food Stamps, a user-friendly interface that guides users through checking eligibility and applying for SNAP. After the fellowship, the product was accepted to the Fast-Fwd incubator in Philadelphia and recently named one of the 2015 Financial Solutions Lab Winners. READ POST