NYU Founder Diaries: The Flossy Organization

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The Startup: The Flossy Organization

The Founder: Jibreel Jalloh (Wagner '25)

Participated In: Startup Accelerator Program, Startup Coaching

Jibreel Jalloh is the founder of The Flossy Organization, a non-profit dedicated to addressing structural inequities by closing the advocacy gap in marginalized communities. Born and raised in Canarsie, Brooklyn, Jalloh is studying Management & Leadership at NYU's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. He recently participated in the 2024 Summer Startup Sprint from May 20-31.

Below, Jalloh shares more about his entrepreneurial journey and inspirations.

How did you first become interested in entrepreneurship?

JJ: I’ve always loved tackling tough challenges and being solution-oriented. It's something I got from my parents, who immigrated from Sierra Leone and instilled a strong work ethic in me. In undergrad, I remember juggling a full-time job, full-time school, and being super active on campus.

What first sparked the idea for your startup?

JJ: For the venture I’m working on currently, the idea was sparked while working as the Brooklyn Borough Advocate in the office of NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. During those couple of years, I was all over Brooklyn, teaming up with different groups to boost campaigns on a bunch of issues. When I left the Public Advocate’s office, I wanted to take all those skills I’d learned and use them to teach others about the science of changemaking. 

How do you describe The Flossy Organization and its mission to someone new for the first time?

JJ: The Flossy is a Brooklyn based non-profit that works to close the advocacy gap through training and actions. We do that by raising folks' confidence and competence in advocacy and organizing. We serve everyone from elementary school students to senior citizens. We also engage directly in issue-based campaigns ranging from anti-violence to transit equity to climate justice. 

How did your experience in the Startup Sprint transform the way you’re approaching your venture?

JJ: The Summer Sprint was a game changer for us. It stretched our imagination of what's possible in terms of the level of intensity needed to make a big leap forward. We spent two straight weeks doing daily interviews with educators, consultants, business leaders — you name it. It was intense but incredibly eye-opening.

One of the biggest takeaways was that we made a crucial pivot in our revenue model. That shift was huge for us. It was all about rethinking how we approach our goals and finding new ways to make them happen.

Favorite memory from your time in the Sprint?

JJ: The Ask Me Anything session with Wayne Mackey, PhD (GSAS '16), founder of Statespace and Founder In Residence at the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute, was a real highlight. He pulled back the curtain on what it’s like in the early days of starting a company. There were so many gems packed into that one session. It was incredibly insightful and inspiring.

Have you participated in other entrepreneurship programs outside of NYU?

JJ: Yes, we’ve completed a number of accelerator programs, including EGF Accelerator, Communitas America, and 4.0 Schools Tiny Fellows. Each of these experiences has been invaluable in helping us grow and refine our approach.

What’s the biggest business challenge your startup has overcome so far?

JJ: Our very first campaign was a real turning point. It was to stop a city proposal to place a pesticide storage facility in our community. At that time, we had laughably fewer resources than we do now, especially when it came to money. But we believed in the power of collective action, and that belief drove us forward.

We managed to organize a coalition of civic associations, elected officials, and everyday neighbors to create a force strong enough to get the proposal reversed. It took a lot of grit, consistency, and faith to pull it all together, and we’re so thankful for everyone who joined us in the fight. You can read more about it here.

What has been the most rewarding moment of your founder journey so far?

JJ: It’s those moments when I’m speaking to folks who’ve gone through our program and they realize they already have the power to make a difference. They just needed that spark, that push. That’s the most rewarding part for me. Each time someone says, “I’m going to take on this local issue," or “I’m going to start organizing around that,” and they have the confidence to jump in — it’s incredibly gratifying.

What three words describe your founder journey?

JJ: Don’t Agonize, Organize! 

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to aspiring student founders?

JJ: The biggest piece of advice I’d give to aspiring student founders is to learn to love the process. Don’t over complicate things or fantasize about reaching the mountaintop. Yes, set large, ambitious goals, but once you do, get to it. And remember, don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. In the early days, it’s more important to get through the big to-do list (customer discovery interviews, applying to grants & accelerators, etc.) than to spend too much time perfecting designs on Canva or Squarespace. Focus on progress, not perfection.

Favorite NYU spot to spend time?

JJ: Washington Square Park

Which successful entrepreneur would you like to get lunch with, and which NYC restaurant would you take them to?

JJ: Sharon Richardson – Peppa’s in Canarsie; Kenneth Cole – The Odeon; Jack Dorsey – Le Bernardin; and Jonathan Tisch – The Grill.

Favorite movie and book?

JJ: Inception and Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable

Connect with The Flossy Organization on Instagram and LinkedIn!