Our story begins in 2015 when co-founders Sara Patterson and Jesse Wayne met at a tech startup in Tucson, Arizona. Both working in the Program Management Office, we began talking and discovered we had the same business idea; a local-centric business model that empowered local artists, musicians, makers, and entrepreneurs to succeed. We joined forces and founded Locals Only LLC in 2016.
Initially we served the Tucson community by offering professional services to local businesses to help them get online and visible. Our blogs and videos about awesome local places started to be noticed more and more. By 2018 we had one of our videos reach 50K people on Facebook (and 15K people actually clicked on it) with no paid advertising, all organic reach! We wanted to do our part to promote local and cultivate connection to the community and the natural environment we live in, or “place-making” as they call it these days. To cultivate that connection we did more than blogs and videos, we created local events, and even started offering local tours and experiences.
In 2018 we began quietly working on the Local’s Only Connect Community (LOCO CoCo), an innovative online community. Designed from the start to be a space to empower individuals in the community to connect with each other and support local in a way that’s easy and engaging. It was a fun challenge to create this website platform and app utilizing SDK’s (software development kits) and open-source solutions. We made pretty good progress, but continued to run into problems with current solutions, as well as our virtual private server (VPS) provider, and funding (as we weren’t getting paid for all the time spent building this new platform). It became clear that we needed to get additional funding and create a larger business plan to make this concept a reality.
We participated in the Arizona Innovation Challenge in Spring 2019. In the first round we received valuable feedback from the judges. The feedback we received made it clear that we needed a more traditional solution that would be easier to understand, but accomplish the same goal. That goal being to empower individuals in the community to connect with each other and support local. “Support local” to us means creating a for-profit solution to facilitate a sustainable local economy that is regenerative by nature.
Enter the Humanity Hub and our initial products; The Local Food Box and The Local Loot Box. This new concept called The Humanity Hub Network deploys an innovative local logistics and distribution network with local subscription products that generate consistent revenue for local businesses, farmers, artists, musicians, and makers. By January 2020 we were making progress developing this new business model and building relationships with local stakeholders in relevant industries, then COVID-19 entered the scene.
While disrupting our current business, COVID-19 amplified the need and urgency for a solution. Specifically, a long term solution for food security and a resilient local economy. Our response was a swift pandemic pivot. With the disruption of our current services and local offerings, we increased our efforts toward making The Humanity Hub Network a reality.
Currently we are in Phase 1, building relationships with local partners, raising funds, and participating in a variety of useful programs. We’re eager to complete each phase and work with the amazing local communities here in Arizona. Due to the robust local communities that already exist here, it makes it the perfect place to get started.
Thank you for reading our story and telling someone else. That’s how amazing things happen; one person at a time!