I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Samuel Sawchuk co-founder of Sandwich for a Story, an initiative which focuses on using Virtual Reality as a tool to help immerse people coping with homelessness in job interview settings. He is also a former TEDx speaker, startup advisor and contributor to multiple publications including the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, and Influencive.
All-Time Favourite Quotes:
“Strangers are just friends we have never met before.” – Jeremy, the first man that we met
through Sandwich for a Story on the streets of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Why it matters to me: In our daily lives, I think it can often be difficult to step outside of the way
we view things in that moment. Each and every friend we have ever made in business and in
our personal lives always began with something as simple as a smile and a hello. This quote
particularly connects to me because it taught me just because someone is in a different
situation, in this case living on the streets, that their ability to share a loving bond does not
“Hustle is the antidote , fear is the disease.” – Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber
Why it matters to me: No path is going to be easy — its never A to B — Think like a problem
solver and don’t be discouraged if the first way didn’t work. Each attempt is a lesson that will
help you get to the place you want to be.
1. What is Sandwich for a Story? And how is it changing the life of others.
Sandwich for a Story began 4 years ago in Vancouver, when I was doing an internship at a local
tech firm called Ayogo, essentially we built applications that gamified Heart Disease, as well as
Diabetes etc. This was novel technology and something that I had never been exposed to
It really made us began to question how could we be SO connected on one side of society….
and then be so distant from that connection in other people’s lives — like the tens of people that
I walked by everyday coping with homelessness on Vancouver’s streets.
For 4 years, Sandwich for a Story engaged schools, non-profits, and corporations to get
together to simply make sandwiches, engage with those in their community on the streets and
then share our stories through our digital storytelling platform.
It was a concept so simple, and human grounded in what we call Empathy Through Familiarity.
We had the chance to go to the UN, Forbes30U30, CGI U, TEDx to tell our story, but we really
had a dream to take it a step further.
The new concept was really the antithesis of my work in Silicon Valley (at HIRED), and my
co-founders experiences working to provide services for homeless populations. We truly began
to realize the importance that a job can have in giving a person a life they feel they are living
On the streets, people would tell us stories of how they felt when they were employed… that
sense of purpose…. that feeling that they mattered to society and we’re making a difference in
their own unique way.
We have decided to really push the limits with bleeding edge technologies to offer a unique
program of services to homeless populations across Canada. (VR, 360 Video, Industry-Driven
The plan is to engage with existing employers that work with homeless agencies (ie.
construction/warehousing companies) and film their traditional interview experience using a 360
video camera. After this, we will allow people coping with homelessness in our seminars (still
not sure on best model 1/1 vs group sessions due to resources) to sit in on that interview
experience using Google Cardboard.
2. What’s the meaningful part of what you do that gets you up in the morning?
I think the most exciting part is looking at the person’s potential to change society after they land
that job they have been looking for!
3. Failure: Do you think you’ve ever failed in life? If so, how’d you overcome it?
Over and over again — but I have started to redefine failure as part of the journey. If I am
unable to connect with a potential partner, contact etc. I have learned to take those lessons to
shape my approach for the next time. One of my favourite things to do is to explain to other
people who are in similar situations things that worked for me and strategies that did not — I
would challenge all of the readers to redefine failure.
4. Challenge: What’s a challenge you’re facing now with SFS? Your solution?
Scalability is a challenge that we are already facing even in the early stage of this venture — we
are looking to establish a partner to help us cover some of the necessary resources such as the
Google Cardboard headsets, as well as the phones in order to provide the service to as many
people as possible. I think we are going to identify many pain points in our initial pilot and I am
really excited to see how we take those to make this the most effective program for our clients.
5. Success: Define it for you + is there a key to success?
I always talk about 1 > 0 — When I am able to inspire one person — show them an approach I
used to get a hold of someone, help a person get a job — it could be anything really. It never
has to be something incredibly groundbreaking, the smallest things can truly make a difference.
6. Entrepreneurship: What does that really mean?
Doing something beyond the realm of normal — putting yourself out there and recognizing that
this word means something different to everyone. There are too many people out there who
would spend hours arguing over what this word truly means … don’t be one of those people.
7. What action do you want the reader to take?
Send out 5 cold emails/messages on social media to people you have been wanting to speak to
in order to help move yourself ahead personally or professionally. After you have engaged them
— aim to get them on the phone, it is one of the most underutilized tools that is at your disposal.
A little info about Sandwich for a Story Co-Founder: Evan Beck
Evan is a passionate advocate for mental health and homeless issues. He has
professional experience working closely on these issues with international students,
homeless individuals in Canada and impoverished populations in Uganda. His mission
is to ensure that an inclusive psychological approach is taken when members of the
SFS community are communicating with homeless individuals.
To know more about Sandwich for a Story: Click Here