The arrival of 2020 wrought deadly fires, riots, a global pandemic - and these events only scrape the surface. Though it’s impossible to define exactly the impact the year had on us, it can be agreed upon that 2020 brought indisputably overwhelming changes, most of them destructive. However, four rising seniors at Cupertino High School were determined to make a positive difference in their community. In March of 2020, Horizon Networks was founded by Lawrence Fan, Pranav Eranki, Alexander Wang, and Sivansh Chitti within the confines of their homes in the South Bay. One year later, the organization has developed in unimaginable ways, having established chapters in 33 States throughout the United States as well as over 15 countries worldwide, including regions in South and East Asia, Europe, and Africa. All throughout this growth process, the founders of Horizon Networks were able to learn and absorb valuable strategies of growing a nonprofit in the ever-changing digital world.
The five co-founders spent the first few months meeting up regularly in order to establish the basic foundation of the organization. This included developing organizational infrastructure, creating marketing plans, making financial/budgeting decisions, and establishing community partnerships. Building a strong foundation allowed for a sustainable and coordinated organization, and led to gradual yet steady growth during the first few months of Horizon Network’s formation. However, the founders wished to develop a system which allowed for an even quicker rate of expansion without increasing the amount of time and energy inputted, which was usually spent on menial tasks such as updating spreadsheets and tracking volunteer’s service hours; “During this time our development was relatively linear, meaning that the amount of growth was equal to the amount of work we put in. Our goal was to develop an exponential growth model, where the amount of growth was disproportionate to the amount of work.” said Eranki. Despite their efforts, the co-founders knew this desired growth model could not be achieved with the current amount of exposure they were receiving.
With the internet being the primary form of communication in this day and age, Eranki knew that gaining exposure online would be their best bet. Throughout late summer to early autumn they set on expanding through social media and gaining a better online presence. The primary goal was to increase website traffic and visibility from search engines alias search engine optimization. This process utilized keywords, compelling content and accessibility to ensure that Horizon Network’s website would show up first when searched for. Though the practice was seemingly simple, there were many factors that needed to be taken into account: useful content, engaging graphics, and social influence all needed to be optimized in order to provide a positive user experience. Throughout this process, the founders also developed a deeper understanding of their website and client goals, allowing for a better vision of what they needed to improve on. Another tactic utilized in increasing online exposure was through interactions with reputable sources, namely credible websites and news sources. This form of exposure was able to serve as a testament to their reputation, allow for more online publicity, as well as develop trust between Horizon Networks and its community.
The amount of exposure received through online presence provided the necessary traction for Horizon Networks to rapidly expand and amass a larger volunteer base over the next few months, eventually allowing for growth on larger scales as international chapters were developed worldwide. The founders hope that Horizon Networks will be able to continue making a positive impact even after the pandemic has ended - helping not only seniors, but individuals of all ages, and serving not just the Bay Area, but countries all over the world.