When we were young, the sandbox represented our purest form of creativity: an environment in which we could play, explore, build and re-build, and discover lifelong friends. But as we get older that natural curiosity and desire to collaborate tends to fade in the face of daily adult life without a spark to keep it burning.
That's why Nico Luchsinger co-founded Sandbox, a collection of almost 800 like-minded people from all over the world who meet weekly as small groups in cities from Boston to Berlin to Bangkok, and gather together annually at a Sandbox Summit -- the second of which will be held this October in New York.
Luchsinger felt that by creating a metaphorical sandbox for 20-somethings, this global network could maximize their impact through collaboration, shared resources and working together to build things. The Sandbox Network is about "allowing them to learn from each other," Luchsinger told me. "This requires not just connecting them, but also to create a trusted environment where people can talk not just about their successes, but also about their failures and challenges."
I am a Sandboxer. I have made many lasting friendships and partnerships through Sandbox. Looking back, I grew a lot as a person during my time in the Swedish military; it gave me structure and boundary-pushing exercises. Sandbox strips away that kind of structure and gets back to the vitality simply human interactions can bring. My fellow Sandboxers made me think about collaboration before anything else; hence my daily obsession with sending emails connecting people and watching the magic ensue! Through Sandbox hubs around the world I have incubated ideas and projects that would not have been possible otherwise.
Sagarika Sundaram from Dubai breaks it down a little bit better: "We want to be part of a community, not just a network. But share stories, experiences, and be friends. We are not thinking about short-term relationships. At the back of our head or in our heart we know that these people that we are going to meet will be in our lives possibly forever. It's like a great shared experience, a journey, through life".
Why would 800 people travel from around the world for three days in Manhattan? Evan Samek, a Sandboxer who attended the first Summit plans to go to the New York gathering because he would like to meet amazing people in person. Ashish Aggarwal wants to "generate insights about what's the common thread that binds all of us".
Cat Calvin summarizes: "The immediate camaraderie, the mentorship, friendship and advice from like-minded individuals, interacting on a personal level with entrepreneurs who are changing the world."
"I think it's a hunger, a hunger to be involved and change their environment. To be 20 something is not entry-level so to speak. You are in a position to change the world and I think that these are all individuals that understand that," says Evernote's Jeremy Brand Yuan, who attended last year's Sandbox Summit.
According to the network's founders, the true power of Sandbox comes from serving as an extended family to people who create things. But how does that translate in to real-world action?
"Our members are 'impact-multipliers' - they often founded and lead organizations (such as NACUE with 45,000 members), and inspire their peers and local communities. So the real impact of Sandbox comes from the consequences of empowering our members," explains Sandbox co-founder Christian Busch. He points to a review that pulls together what Sandbox has accomplished in the three years since its founding.
My take is this: You get people to play together with the goal to play together and they will get to know each other better. And if you know each other, you will trust each other better and then you, as a person who is attempting to build projects and businesses, will share resources, connections and time together to make sure that "sandcastle" isn't a house built on moving sands.
Joshua Johnson, a non-Sandboxer who saw the video from the first Summit said that it "looks like a productive trip filled with life-altering stories." I think he's right. It's about stories of personal connection that could lead into creative collaboration and spread quickly across continents and platforms. If you like to hang out with people who want to buy a satellite to bring free Internet access, or are writing a book about how pirates are in the forefront of innovation, then Sandbox is for you.