Among the many distinguished speakers at the 1776 College Entrepreneurship Panel on September 11th, was Georgetown University alum, Arthur Woods (MSB ’10), founder of Compass Fellowship on campus and current COO of Imperative. From Google to YouTube to starting his own company, Woods has made leaps and bounds in the professional entrepreneurship world since graduating from Georgetown only four and a half years ago.
When asked about his decision to attend the university, Woods replied, “it’s kind of a crazy story. I met the governor of California on this tour [of the California State Capitol] and his aid was a Georgetown graduate, very articulate, you know, young man in politics, extremely inspiring and well spoken and I just remember having an amazing impression of him and said, ‘wherever he went to school, I really want to go’…so I went and did a week long international relations course one summer [and] loved it.” Woods finally walked onto campus as a new student in the fall of 2007 and hit the ground running.
Coming from a small, rural town in northern California, Woods missed his home’s supportive community, so, as a freshman, he endeavored to bring that local feel to Georgetown’s campus. Woods explained, “I naturally gravitated to the local farmers market in Dupont…and started to reach a point where I was like…I feel such a great community feeling when I’m at the farmer’s market and the products here are amazing – what if we could deliver those products and that experience to students and help them improve their health?…[So I] created this local farmer’s market delivery service called Mission Three; and the idea was that we would take products from local family farmers and create a subscription service for students. And it got a great response! We had a couple hundred people subscribing to the service every week.” After finding success with his own business, Woods began to think about how he could help others bring their ideas to life.
With this in mind, Woods, and his classmate Neil Shah, founded the well known Compass Fellowship at Georgetown. On what he learned from founding Compass, which provides students with the capacity to build upon their business plans, Woods remarked, “for me, a couple things happened at that point: I realized… millennials are hitting the work force and needing much more than a pay check… [and] what’s most incentivizing us in our work right now is our ability to build deep relationships, to grow personally and to achieve a sense of impact every day and if we’re not doing those things then we’re really not fulfilled and we’re not our best.” This belief stayed with Woods throughout college and into his professional career.
After some time at Google and working on innovative education models at YouTube, Woods decided to break off and found Imperative. Though he had always had a lurking “fear of failure,” which led him to take the “real job[s]” in the first place, he ultimately found he needed more from his work. Woods explained, “I really thrive when I’m building something new and I want[ed] to get the opportunity to go and create,” so, with that goal in mind, he left Google and YouTube and started his own company, Imperative.
Imperative aims to connect with individuals in the workplace and help them assess their needs in order to find fulfillment in their jobs. As Woods put it, “the ethos of Imperative is to own your work, take your job in your own hands, be in the driver’s seat and create opportunity for yourself that helps you uncover the unique dimensions for what drives fulfillment for you and how you best learn and grow and build relationships to really improve your job.” Just as a suit needs to be tailored, so does your professional environment.
Woods initially felt uneasy in a city so unlike his home when he went to college but found a way to adapt and change his surroundings to better fit his personality. With Imperative, an individual can do the same within his or her work. As Woods put it, the company “lets you set goals for improving your job and then actually tracks the progress you make, which helps hold you accountable to make those changes… it’s really self-discovery all the way to insight and improvement and the chance to really then be held accountable and to do so in the company of your community.” Arthur Woods’ transition from aspiring entrepreneur as a freshman at Georgetown to a successful professional just four and half years later is a testament to how much any hard-working student can grow and develop in college and then, how far he or she can go after graduation.