Camden Francis

Founder of Beyond the Crisis

Camden is a senior at an independent preparatory school in Massachusetts.

Camden enjoys spending quality time with his family and friends. He likes going on long walks with his dog named Brooklyn. Camden enjoys spending frequent summer weekends on Cape Cod with his family. He also enjoys playing sports.

Camden enjoys playing sports with a particular passion for soccer. He has been playing soccer since the age of 3.

Today, he spends significant time building Beyond the Crisis, a charitable organization he founded to lead efforts in mitigating food hunger amidst and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Camden meets the demands of running Beyond the Crisis between his academic and varsity soccer commitments.

“There’s a cost, for sure,” he says, “but helping others is something we as humans don’t make enough time for. I balance it all because what we’re doing helps to balance other families’ lives.”

He has recently appeared on the Drew Barrymore Show to discuss Beyond the Crisis.

Camden has a passion for entrepreneurship and wants to fund a startup when he is older in addition to continuing Beyond the Crisis, his nonprofit organization.

Where did the idea Beyond the Crisis come from?

I thought of this idea during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When my brother Colton (12-Years-old at the time) and I (16-Years-old at the time) were watching TV, we saw news reports depicting people waiting in long lines to obtain small rations of food. After seeing these news reports my brother, Colton and I were immediately compelled to help. We come from a family that instilled in us at a young age the importance of helping others – treating your neighbors as you treat yourself.

This idea started as a lightbulb but turned into a safe haven for the hungry. We first began doing research. We learned that there was enough food around to end hunger. However, real issues were the amount of food that goes to waste and people’s lack of access to nutritious food.

We wanted to change this by building a food-distribution charity. The organization I started is a nonprofit organization called Beyond the Crisis.

During the time of getting the nonprofit up and running I was 16. At this time, I was at least working 18 hours a day. Somedays, I fell asleep face flat on my desk. I read for 3 hours a day to research other nonprofits, contacted mentors, built a website, obtained certifications (501(c)(3) (needed lawyers), found homeless shelters and housing communities to correspond to, grew my network (obtained a small number of private benefactors, contacted goodwill ambassadors), crowdfunded, filled out grant applications, recruited a small number of volunteers, set up a payment gateway, got a separate banking account for my nonprofit, set up email addresses and obtained a private organizational phone number and fax number, set up social media accounts, reached out to newspapers for press coverage, spoke at schools to raise awareness, contacted grocery stores, farms and foodbanks for donations, purchased food in bulk from grocery stores, distributed donated food to shelters, drove to bank and deposited checks

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My days start early and end late. One thing that makes this possible is I am truly passionate about what I do. Working on my nonprofit for sometimes 20+ hours a day is possible because I never forget why I do it…that’s important. I started a nonprofit to end food-insecurity. Knowing that I am doing a little every day to solve this global crisis motivates me. Knowing that each warm meals I deliver helps aid young children and adolescence in development, relieve single mothers of additional stress, and bring families closer together pushes me. Moreover, I want to live a live that is fulfilling and worthwhile and I find that the best way to do that is to be helping others.

What’s one trend that excites you?

One trend that excites me is tracking how much food I deliver each month and trying to double that or triple that the next month. I love to push myself – in doing so, I gain wisdom as I encounter failure, it’s inevitable

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

One habit of mine that makes me productive is making a schedule. Each day I make a written schedule or use an online calendar. This helps me plan. Oftentimes, when I encounter problems, whether that is missing a crucial meeting, missing a grant opportunity, it is from failing to plan. Having good time management also makes a busy day seem less stressful.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to care less about what other people think. When I was younger, I spent time constantly worry about how others perceived me. I started to change parts of myself for validation. I spent a lot of time on Instagram comparing my live to that of other people. Some of this was from getting bullied and losing self-esteem. When I got older, not only did I realize looking for public validation was unhealthy but also lead to unhappiness. It was when I looked to myself for validation that I grew as a person and gained confidence. As I got older, I grew to appreciate the value of not always fitting in with the pack and sometimes being okay standing alone. Many of the people, I idolized whether that be Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, etc. also did this. Be authentic. In being my own person, and I had unique hobbies such as founding a nonprofit, being a German and Mandarin scholar, playing golf, and working part-time. I became interesting to others, had fascinating conversations which led to deep friendships, and obtained sincere happiness.

As an entrepreneur, I learned to not compete with others but to compete solely with myself.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Don’t stop your daydream. When launching a nonprofit, I spent some days away from my computer brainstorming and coming up with creative and innovative ideas. These ideas allowed me to quickly launch and scale successful organization which fights food hunger while minimizing food waste. Creativity is something that the best and brightest innovators of the 21st century ooze.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

The best advice I can give is to work hard, obsess about your vision not your competition.

One thing that I did when building Beyond the Crisis was network with others. Get your community around your idea. Leading a nonprofit, I spend a significant amount of time listening to colleagues and peers’ ideas and insight. I make sure to spend a significant amount of time networking. I do not just network with civilians and foodbanks – I network with governors, philanthropists, influencers, innovators, and corporations. Getting different people involved helps me obtain donations, get new perspectives and knowledge, reach a wider audience, and become more involved in my community.

As an executive director leading a mission, I have learned that leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. How you carry yourself and how you communicate that with words matters.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

I grow my nonprofit by networking with a diverse group of individuals. See above question, “As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?”

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Starting a nonprofit as a teenager, I was oftentimes not always taken seriously. Older generations should listen to younger generations, just because we haven’t roamed the earth as long does not mean we don’t have anything to say. I had to work exceptionally hard to become creditable. I sent over 1,500 emails and made over 300 phone calls to get only a handful of favorable responses.

I learned that the best rewards come with the most sacrifice, be persistent – keep on keeping on. Failure gives you experience.

If you encounter failure I learned not to dwell on it. All failure means is that you are one shot away from newfound success. You can fail a thousand times, but you only have to be right once. You will never realize how close you are to success if you throw in the towel.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Build a nonprofit. Help be the solution to a global crisis!

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

The best $100 dollars I spent was given to a family who was homeless and did not have enough money to feed their family. I come from a fortunate family; my brother and I always had a full fridge and pantry. We believe having food is a right not a privilege. Thus, the best gift that we can give is a hearty meal that makes the mind and body strong. Fact: In the world, every ten seconds we lose a child to hunger.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

A web service we use is Campaign Monitor. This is used for email marketing. This allows my brother and I’s nonprofit to reach a wide audience. Reaching a wider audience allows us to get donations, get recognized by community partners such as food banks and pantries, and get media attention (which in turn gets us even more donations).

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a great book. This book taught me how to grow influence by making a genuine, meaningful difference in other people’s lives which in turn allowed me to live a more interesting and fulfilling existence.

What is your favorite quote?

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”

– Gandhi

Key Learnings:

  • Having food is RIGHT not a privilege
  • Improve the quality of life not just for yourself but for others
  • Get your community around your idea