Who We Are Today
We are an advisor and resource to the social sector on developing leadership, advancing learning, and committing resources so that user experience is applied as a powerful force for social change. This work is rooted in a deep understanding of the economic, organizational, and social challenges and opportunities that continue to shape our field.
We empower some of the most talented digital leaders within nonprofits, foundations, and socially driven companies to use design thinking to tackle the “hard problems” and build user-centric approaches that transform organizations and the communities they serve. Our focus equally balances innovation and maintenance and creates meaningful structures within organizations to lead both aspects of the work. Our clients share a common desire to think differently about how they design communication, products, programs, services, and campaigns.
We are committed to excellence in service — we work with our clients to unlock a culture of mentorship and co-creation driven by focused learning and sharing. We create innovation spaces and incubate ideas. We bring the best user experience, design thinking, theory of change, and digital product research and development methods to every engagement and use our ability to continually learn from our relationships, experiences, and field as the foundation for our growth.
We remain focused on the future — we seek out and collaborate with leaders in social innovation and digital technology so we can work together to shape the future of social and civic tech. We make connections among pioneers, researchers, builders, and funders. We help large organizations become agile and small organizations scale. Our team actively speaks, writes, and teaches on social innovation, design thinking, user experience, and digital product development and collaborates with top thought leaders in the field.
How We Started
When founders Nicco Mele and Justin Pinder first imagined a new company, they knew they liked robots and wanted to harness the power of digital for driving social change. They met while working on Howard Dean’s Presidential campaign and later moved from Vermont to Washington, D.C., where they conceived of and launched EchoDitto in 2004.
A decade passed and the digital technology landscape changed dramatically. So did Echo.
Nicco moved to Boston and joined the faculty of Harvard University in the Kennedy School of Government, feeling strongly called to academic work. He opened a Boston office for Echo, which today is located in Davis Square.
In 2014, Nicco published The End of Big, a study of how the radical connectivity of the internet is undermining the power of large institutions and driving our world into a new kind of future. He drew from 10 years of experience helping Echo clients use digital technology to improve the democratic relationship between citizens and the institutions and agencies who serve them.
Why We Changed
During Echo’s nascent years, our future leaders were among the first professionals helping shape the emerging fields of user experience (UX), content strategy, and open-source product development. They were gaining expertise leading commercial brands, media institutions, institutes of higher education, government agencies, and nonprofits in tackling immense governance, design, and technology challenges — all the while being called to apply their expertise for social good. Several of them, in addition to working in leading UX, design, and technology agencies, left agency life to lead digital work and teams within nonprofit organizations.
Graziella Jackson was one of them. The new future of Echo began to emerge in 2012, when Graziella left UX consulting to head up digital for a national environmental advocacy nonprofit. A journalist who left that field in the early 2000s before studying the convergence of culture and technology at Georgetown University, she believed investing in social impact leaders and technology was our best hope for solving the world’s most critical social issues — but that the technology landscape was shifting so rapidly that mission-driven organizations were falling behind. She had witnessed it happen time and again as a UX consultant and knew what had to be done.
EchoDitto was one of many agencies Graziella inherited while at the nonprofit, and we immediately stood out. She understood our mission saw our potential — if Echo developed our expertise in organizational change and governance as well as user experience design and product development, we would become a truly powerful force for change.
This convergence launched a two-year collaboration to reinvent EchoDitto as an industry leader in applying the top design thinking and product development methodologies and talent to building digital technologies that strengthen organizations, spur citizen engagement, improve communities, and make governments more effective.
Graziella joined EchoDitto in 2014, just before we rebranded as Echo&Co and expanded outward to engage with new partners in achieving our vision. One of the first projects we completed under our new brand and approach — a new website for Greenpeace USA — was named an Official Webby Honoree in 2016.
Talk with us and we’ll help your organization use the internet and emerging technologies to change your community, and then the world.