Mission-Driven Stories

Read Our Stories

William Kosann: Innovating for Impact™️ in the Great Lakes Fishing Industry

William Kosann, an economics student at Northwestern University, was drawn to entrepreneurial opportunities that could drive meaningful impact, leading him to enroll in the new “Innovation for Impact” course in Spring 2024. Alongside Environmental Sciences student Sam Rappin, William decided to work on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors and Premieres’ (GSGP) problem of finding ways for commercial and tribal fishers to more productively use 100% of each fish in order to reduce waste and generate more value.  

 Early on, the team believed that they needed a two-pronged approach: to educate consumers on the impact of fully utilized fish, and help producers use more of each fish. However, through early beneficiary discovery, William learned that “if we can change the way [the fishermen and producers] act, we can change the whole ecosystem.” Narrowing in on their primary beneficiaries, they quickly realized that nothing would change unless the fishermen and producers were properly incentivized.  

 The team developed a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), a survey and spreadsheet for fisheries. that collects data on current operations and the spreadsheet calculates and demonstrates to fishers and producers how much potential revenue is being left on the table. Now, two months after the course has finished, the team is working with GSGP to roll out their MVP, which they will use as an entry point into the industry to get more operationally involved, by connecting fishermen and producers with opportunities to make more revenue and use 100% of the fish. William and Sam plan to use the small grant funding they received to further their research and continue engaging with fisheries. The team will expand their outreach to the other side of the industry, such as fish food and collagen producers, to validate their concepts and scale their impact. 

 Looking back at the course, William recalls the most rewarding aspect of the course was the methodology itself.

The Innovation for Impact approach pushed me out of my comfort zone but ultimately honed my problem-solving skills
William Kosann

Williams notes, recalling how he learned to use the skills he gained from prior sales experience in a completely new way to solve impactful problems. 

 The course solidified William’s interest in entrepreneurship, reaffirming that opportunities exist in available in every industry. He encourages other students, regardless of their specific interests, to take the course for its practical business insights and the potential to work on projects they are passionate about.