"My name is Aarushi Machavarapu, and I am a confident 16 year old female entrepreneur, storyteller, and activist. The night I thought of starting Threading Twine was probably the first time I felt a substantial amount of self value."
Inspired by other teens who put their passion for social activism into action, Aarushi became a social entrepreneur and started Threading Twine, a youth-led platform elevating the voices of young people.
"Self-value can only get me so far... I have come to learn the second aspect of what it takes for others to value me: following through with my ideas."
One night I couldn't sleep and I came up with the idea for Threading Twine, a social impact media company. I’m really into social activism and we try to empower youth activists to share their experiences, share their stories and connect with other youth who are similar to them. We think of every passionate youth as a piece of twine. As Threading Twine helps build their activism and content creating skills, we are “threading” them into this community of youth activists who are ready to change the world through self expression and determination. I applied to take this idea to the Catapult Incubator program and that's how it grew.
"Starting a company isn’t easy. Starting a company as a 16 year old definitely isn’t any easier."
One of my challenges was overcoming the fact that some people don't believe in the impact of social entrepreneurship or social activism. At Catapult Incubator, a lot of the ventures are not focused on social impact and in general, the social impact industry has a different business style than most other businesses. So for me, it took learning to be proud of the fact that I'm a social entrepreneur and coming to accept that social entrepreneurship isn't for everyone - Threading Twine isn’t a normal company!
Sometimes it’s hard to find the intersection between a business and a social impact organization. In general, all of the business things still apply to founding a social impact organization-- you still need to do customer research, you still need to identify the problems that you’re trying to solve rather than just starting an organization that's aiming to help the world. Getting specific and using those business tactics is really important, but also understand that it’s the balance between both.
"I will continue to let my growth as a person contribute to my growing as an entrepreneur and a businesswoman."
I’ve held leadership positions, but Threading Twine is a small team and I’ve had to build personal relationships as well as professional relationships with my team. It’s hard to find the balance because you have to be hard as a leader but compassionate as a friend. As the Founder, it is important for me to be harsh at times and say “you need to get this done or this isn’t going to work.” That balance is definitely something I’m still struggling to figure out but the Catapult Incubator really helped me because it was three months of managing a small team in an intense environment.
"We are discovering new and improved techniques to further company operations, and we don’t see this “Build, Test, Learn” process ending soon."
I was really excited for our second year of operation! Our idea was to have our 14 new staff writers roll out content twice a week, start a GoFundMe so that we could get enough money to operate for another year, and host webinars every single month instead of posting as much content.
We had a webinar over the summer called “Tips and Tricks for being an Activist” with three guest speakers. It got to January and I was so excited! We started contacting potential guest speakers for our webinar and... no one responded. We ended up having to cancel.
We had a meeting with our advisor, who is a contributor to the Huffington Post. She said, “Aarushi, you’re trying to do way too much, you have to take things one step at a time.” I was so excited and I had to realize that I have school going on, I’m traveling a lot - how can I do all of this? As time goes on it will be really useful for me to learn how to handle just one step at a time and take things slow because there's no rush.
Threading Twine is hiring a Social Media Director! Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Donate to their GoFundMe campaign
"As teenagers we ask ourselves what society wants to see from us, not who we want to be in society."
If you want to start a social impact venture, be proud of who you are because in the end there aren’t many people who have the drive to be social entrepreneurs. Being fierce and being honest and being proud is really important as a social entrepreneur -- no matter who tells you that what you’re doing doesn’t matter, I promise you that it does!
"It’s the times when others laugh and dismiss Threading Twine, saying activism is pointless, and the times when I overhear sexist remarks about my status as a woman entrepreneur that give me the strength and courage to continue carrying out my visions for Threading Twine."
In the end, just don’t give up. It’s such a generic piece of advice but it’s so important to just stick at it! If there are ever rough times just let those rough times be there. In the end, it's important to get back up and say “hey, I have people who support me, I’m going to do this and watch out because I’m staying true to who I am!”
Aarushi is a teen activist
She valued herself
Followed through on an idea
Turned her passion into action
What could you do?
Read more about Aarushi’s journey in her article “While People Keep Talking”