Matthew Konar, founder of groundworkk

Matthew Konar, an alumnus of both the N.C. State Colleges of Engineering (’97) and Design(’01), has started a local non-profit venture, hoping to bring together people working on various projects that inspire a sense of community and growth.

Konar, an architect by profession, said he “didn’t want to be someone that sat behind a desk the entirety of (his) career,” and was inspired by numerous ideas that individuals in Raleigh wanted to create for the community. 

Encouraged by noted national projects, such as DetroitSOUP, and the community funding model of Kickstarter, Konar decided he wanted to bring something to Raleigh that met its needs, and suited its own culture. 

“I always wanted to do something more than work 9-5,” Konar said. “Architects have a real tendency to be stationary. I would sit at my computer, at my desk, for 9 hours, in my zone, and you start to lose touch with everything around you. I didn’t want to be like that, I want to be part of everybody.” 

So six months ago, Konar was able to put together groundworkk, a monthly social event that uses micro-funds to support creative local projects.  The idea behind groundworkk is simple. Each event has a $5 door fee, with food donated or provided by a local chef or restaurant. The sum collected will be put in a single pot, with a winner to be decided based on the votes cast by the audience that night. 

 Four teams and/or individual presenters then speak for four minutes about their project, the inspiration behind the idea, its potential influence on the community, and how they would use the funds if they were to win the night’s pot. After each elevator pitch, there is a question and answer session where members of the audience can learn more.

groundworkk has brought together people of all ages, backgrounds, and lifestyles to inspire development in all fashions. Last month, presenters varied tremendously, pitching ideas like, “Get Giddy,”  an organic skincare and apparel company, “Chez Moi,” a rum cake company, “Sixth Sun,” a team empowering food and energy resources for local schools by building school gardens and RESQD, an N.C. State bred team looking to rescue and nurture orphans through the design of clothing.

Hosted at the Longview Center in downtown Raleigh, groundworkk saw peak attendance of any event that had previously been held, with an audience of over 60 people. With the votes tallied, RESQD emerged victorious with a margin of a single vote, and a pot of $315.

Founded by Owen Jordan, a junior in environmental sciences, and Tasso von Windheim, a junior in materials science and engineering, RESQD is a start-up that will sell clothing embroidered with the drawings and creations of children from orphanages all over the world. 25 percent of the proceeds will go toward empowering these young children. According to Jordan, “the money will go toward creating prototype products, editing the children’s drawings for clothing, and creating promotional items such as buttons.”

To those interested, the next groundworkk events are just around the corner. On Jan. 15, groundworkk will travel to Tir na nOg Pub in Raleigh, and on Jan. 22, groundworkk will travel to Durham for the very first time, and will be held in Mercury Studio. To apply to showcase your idea or project, email holler@groundworkk.com.  When asked about the diversity of participants that have gotten involved with groundworkk, Konar said, “You can be anywhere in your path, as long as you need help getting started.”