YOXO hosts creativity class in Guatemala to support social mission

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


On March 24, MN Cup launched its 2015 Social Entrepreneurship Series sponsored by The Bush Foundation and The Carlson Family Foundation. The goal of this series is to support and inspire social entrepreneurs as well as encourage growth in this community. MN Cup interviewed Jeff Freeland Nelson, Founder and CEO of YOXO, who participated in our first event as a panelist for the session: leveraging your social mission to find and retain customers.

YOXO ("yock-so") is the sustainable, recyclable, made-in-the-USA, invent anything you can imagine toy company. YOXO's award-winning building sets inspire kids to design and build their own toys using recyclable Y, O, and X-shaped links that connect in numerous ways with everyday household materials like paper towel rolls and cereal boxes. The result: endless hours of play that foster creativity and fuel imagination. 

Jeff and his family recently spent two-weeks in Guatemala connecting with local schools and teaching a creativity class with 200 amazing kids at the Dreamer Center School, a program of Asociación Nuestros Ahijados de Guatemala in Antigua. He said they had expected to visit and interact with about 20 elementary school students. When they ended up engaging with over 200 students the experience had turned from an original hands-on play date to a YOXO demonstration and magic show. “It was exciting to see how jazzed the kids were about the products. The experience working hands on with kids helped us realize the depth of our potential mission,” said Jeff.  We also asked Jeff some general questions about social entrepreneurship.


What was your biggest challenge as a social entrepreneur?
Being mission driven is important for any company. YOXO holds itself to a double bottom line, to turn a profit for investors and to change the world. This can be difficult to do, but it makes business decisions easier to focus on one main mission. YOXO’s mission is to keep kids creating. It opens up new partnership opportunities.

What is your favorite part about being a social entrepreneur?
I have experience in both the non-profit and for profit sector and have seen how both types of businesses operate. Owning a social enterprise has held onto all parts of business. There have been long hours and risk involved, but having a mission makes it that much more meaningful in the end.

What is your advice for aspiring social entrepreneurs?
I like to think of putting your idea through a filter. Ask yourself, “Do I need to do this? Will this be life fulfilling?” There are some things that are nice to do, and there are some things that you need to do. If the opportunity is worth the risk and the work, go for it!