Starting A Scicomm Company

I'm currently in the process of starting a science communication consultation and training company called Science Art Fusion (or ScienceAF, LLC).

ScienceAF's goal is to provide professional creative and performance arts training to the scientific community.

Im currently beta testing a six week online course I've developed that goes into the nitty-gritty of narrative structure and what makes some stories so universally appealing, and helps science communicators figure out the best ways to apply these narrative skills to their outreach efforts.

Over the next few months, I'll also be beta testing two in-person one-day workshops. One teaches basic stage skills, like how to project, how to stand and improve the way you move on stage, and how to use a microphone. The other takes a science-based approach to looking at how humor works, how it affects the way we interact with knowledge and individuals, and how to craft your own jokes.

I've been performing my entire life (in fact, I was a child actor! I just wasn't sucessful enough to develop a meaningful IMDB page or a drug habit) and I've been a professional writer for over five years I've been published on McSweeneys and National Lampoon, my writing and stories have been performed on stages in New York, DC, Atlanta, Boston, and more.

I've also spent my career trying to bring my performing, writing, and comedy background into the world of Science Communication. I've worked with Georgia Tech, The Society for Conservation Biology, TEDx, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Atlanta Science Festival, the Science Festival Alliance, and more.

Starting a company is expensive. The costs for creating an LLC, buying a workable laptop, joining professional societies, attending conferences, buying software, paying for web design and brand photoshoots, getting insurance, paying for travel to and from meetings, etc. pile up, not to mention paying for my own continued existance during the whole process. Prior to getting insurance, I broke my leg, came down with an illness, and had to take care of my PTSD's need for medicine, all of which threw a ton unexpected medical bills on my plate.

Given the progress I've made in the two months I've had to fully dedicate all of my energies into getting ScienceAF off the ground, I feel confident that I can have this company bringing in a sustainable income by August, or at least be close enough to coast on my own. But to do that, I need to survive the next five months without running dry and having to give up and return back to the 9-5 workforce.

The nature of starting a business like this (and the nature of my own work/life balance limitations as someone who does need to watch out for my mental health) means that having a job AND pursuing this startup is impossible. I'll be traveling for weeks at a time to conferences and festivals to perform or put on workshops, and I'll need a schedule flexible enough that when a client appears, I can take care of that client's needs ASAP.

I've worked out that to squeak by, I need about $3,500/month to support both ScienceAF and myself. That means to get all the way to August, I'll need to raise $21,000.  I've hit empty, so the sooner I can get the money, the better.

Any amount you can put towards this venture will push me forward and help get ScienceAF set up so that even if I can't make it till August, the company will be that much closer to launch if I do have to find a job to save up enough cash to restart the project.

Thank you so much for your support. I truely believe that this project will be able to bring some much-needed access to the creative world's best practices to science outreach, a field that is trying so hard to innovate the way they connect with the public. I also hope that eventually, ScienceAF will be able to help support (and hire!) artists and science communicators who are working to bridge the gap between the two communities.

[Puppet by: Gregg Van Lanningham, taken at the Solve for X Science Vareity Show, a project of mine that I'll be bringing under the ScienceAF umbrella]


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Rachel Kaylee Pendergrass 
Arlington, VA
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