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Interview: Melbourne local, Rick Chen — February 24, 2013

Interview: Melbourne local, Rick Chen

This week sustainability writer and researcher, Lara McPherson, chats to Rick Chen – the cofounder of Pozible about crowdfunding, starting up in Melbourne, coworking and the arts.

Rick Chen

Name: Rick Chen
Twitter handles: @pozible & @rickchenn
Works: Co-founder & Director of Pozible

What is Pozible about and what prompted you to create it?

Pozible is a global crowdfunding platform for people with creative ideas and community projects. We have supported thousands of people and organisations to raise money to make their dreams come true. The idea for Pozible came about when myself and my friend and business partner Alan Crabbe decided we wanted to make a website to help artists to sell their art. The concept evolved from there.

Where do you think crowdfunding is at in Australia, in comparison to overseas?

Crowdfunding is still very much in its infancy in Australia. While we are starting to see people take crowdfunding seriously, it still has a lot of potential to become more mainstream both here and internationally.

Obviously, the US market is bigger and more mature, but there’s still a huge scope for growth in the States as well as in Asia and the developing world.

Does crowdfunding suit some industries more than others? What is behind Pozible’s focus on creative projects?

Crowdfunding really took off first with creative industries, because filmmakers, musicians, artists and others in creative fields were social media savvy, and people enjoy supporting artistic endeavours because it allows them to feel involved in the creative process.

Legal limitations which prevent crowdfunding campaigns from offering financial returns as rewards obviously makes crowdfunding less suitable for some industries, such as start ups and entrepreneurs. That said, we still see start ups and entrepreneurs using crowdfunding as a way to develop brand awareness in the marketplace.


You have a few businesses under your belt already – what similarities have you noticed in setting up each one? What new challenges have been presented with Pozible? Do you notice consistencies with the kinds of people Pozible works with?

With crowdfunding being such a relatively new concept, Pozible has presented some real challenges. Our business has been constantly evolving and changing since the very beginning, and I would expect that to continue.

The landscape in this sector is changing very rapidly so that is one of the biggest challenges, especially as we grow and expand internationally.

We work with a large number of organisations as partners, businesses as sponsors and a huge variety of people from different creative backgrounds, and we really try to be very customer oriented, and we really focus on trying to offer services that are customer-focused and value-oriented.

It seems collaboration is in your nature. You work from Hub Melbourne – how do you find the coworking experience?

We grew up in coworking spaces, and we started Pozible in a coworking space so really we’ve spent our whole time there. I really enjoy working at the Hub. I consider a lot of the people who work here to be close friends, and we always get together for communal lunch or a wine on a Friday night. I think the whole coworking experience really promotes collaboration, and stimulates ideas and connections you would’ve have had otherwise.

I think coworking is really the future, and I certainly can’t imagine myself going back to working in a corporate office.

Do you have a suppressed artistic side you’re honouring with Pozible? Will we see a Rick Chen film or exhibition one of these days?

I studied film and art at university, and I’m a designer by training so I do have an artistic streak. I wouldn’t say its suppressed exactly though. I get to do a lot of design work on a daily basis, and I find the line between creativity and entrepreneurship to be a very fine one.

Maybe in the future there might be an exhibition but for now my career focus is really about digital technology and the online space. We’re more like to see another start up in this space, than something purely artistic.

What’s your favourite neighbourhood in Melbourne?

I live on the southside, but I work in the city and I hang out on the northside.

What else are you passionate about, besides helping funding great projects?

I’m passionate about the internet, technology and social enterprises businesses.

What’s next for Pozible and for Rick?

Next for Pozible is we are aiming to evolve the crowdfunding model, and spread our wings. For me personally, Pozible is really what’s next for me. I’m committed to it moving forward.

About our ambassador // Lara McPherson is a writer and researcher interested in how ethics and economics intersect. Communications Manager at the Centre for Sustainability Leadership and a Director at Lala Productions. Tweed Rider, farmer, yogi. Lover of travel, pretty things, big questions and cups of tea. Follow her on Twitter as @laramcpherson

The Pros and Cons of Being a Bike Commuter — January 30, 2012

The Pros and Cons of Being a Bike Commuter

This is a guest post by Lara McPhersonTo find out what’s happening in your city subscribe to The Fetch weekly email digests now!

Last year I sold my car and became a full-time bike commuter. Pretty quickly, I wished I’d done it years earlier. I got thinking about what took me so long. Why do we only hear about the negative elements of two-wheeled travel? Rarely do the many positives rate a mention. I think it’s time to set the record straight.

Lara McPherson


Helmet Hair
The helmet issue seems to be a pretty popular one in Melbourne, as Australia is one of very few countries to mandate helmets for bike riders – and evidently folks in Melbourne are extremely vain. Many women cite helmets and the resulting hairstyle challenges as a particular detractor for jumping in the saddle. Personally, this doesn’t faze me – the simple low pony has become my go-to bike-ride-‘do. And in the unlikely event that the mandatory helmet laws be repealed I would still never get on a bike without a helmet. I like my brains inside my skull, thank you very much.

Wardrobe Limitations
Outfit selection is another popular excuse for the ladies and I must admit, bike appropriate attire took a bit of getting used to. I’m self-employed and hence quite flexible when it comes to work wear. But even in my corporate past-life when I was required to suit up daily, the only extra planning required was to leave extra deodorant and a couple of pencil skirts at work to make the daily transition achievable. These days, if I think there is a slight chance of a wardrobe malfunction I make doubly sure I’m wearing respectable knickers.

Other Road Users
Despite the well publicised issues between riders and cars (ahem, Shane Warne), I find most drivers are happy to avoid any potential injuries to bike riders by being sensible and keeping a safe distance. More challenging to navigate are their upright cousins, the pedestrians. In both cases though, any unpleasant encounters can largely be avoided by awareness of the traffic/people around you and a ring of the bike bell or a polite “excuse me”.

Once upon a time, I tended to lug the contents of my office home with me almost every night. With limitations in on-bike storage space I am now pleased to say I leave my work at work. On the rare occasion that I need to cart something that won’t fit on the bike, I use a courier service and save myself a trip.

As a Melbourne local, I understand that the unpredictable weather can be a detractor for some. In my past life as a pedestrian, I was often caught without an umbrella in the case of a sudden downpour, so I consider a slight soaking while riding an even trade – though my bike raincoat is much easier to store than an umbrella. For me, it is not so much the rain as the wild winds that prove challenging, but now I prefer to think of them as an extra opportunity to shape my derriere. As an upside to the city’s sometimes volatile weather patterns, we are spoiled with spectacular sunny mornings and stunning sunsets most days, and it is truly wonderful to be able to savour these on my daily ride. I’ll take a the odd soggy t-shirt any day!


Fresh Air
As I alluded to above, enjoying the sights and sounds of Melbourne on my commute has become one of my daily pleasures. Even the occasional smell of a garbage truck, an over-active exhaust or a mouthful of pedestrian’s cigarette smoke aren’t enough to cancel out how great it is to actually breathe in the city every day.

High Heels
I’m sure many expect that my life in high heels came to a grinding halt the same day my bike commuter life began. I assure you though, the opposite is actually true! One of my favourite things about riding a bike is that it takes you straight from A to B, with bike parking always metres from my destination so I rarely need to walk far at all! This makes it even easier to wear impossibly high heels without looking too ridiculous! Hooray!

Avoiding Gridlock
Just how great it is to live a life without sitting in a traffic jam cannot be under-estimated. Traffic was (and still is) the absolute bane of my existence. Not only does avoiding it save me huge amounts of time every day, it has also saved my sanity and restored my faith in humanity.

Ignoring Timetables
Patience is not one of my virtues. Hence, waiting for trams always seemed a ridiculous waste of time to me. As a bike rider you can go exactly where you want, when you want. No need to worry about when the roads are busy, what time your train leaves, how to plan your route across the city on public transport. Just go. After all, what has patience ever done for me anyway?

While this may be no big surprise to some, getting an average of an extra hour exercise each day with my bike commute has had a huge impact on my health, both physically and mentally. Not only did I lose 10kgs within 6 months, my daily rides provide me with a much needed daily hit of Vitamin D and serves as a great way to plan my day and relax with my own thoughts (while keeping an eye on what’s happening around me). Though don’t get me wrong – no matter how many kilos I lose, I’m still not tempted to deck myself out in lycra. It does no one any favours.

Extra Cash in Your Pocket
Apart from the initial investment in my bike and the rare maintenance cost, bike riding costs nothing. No fuel, no tickets, no fees. Saving approximately $50 a week just in fuel, parking and traffic fines or the same in public transport tickets pretty much means an extra holiday a year. Don’t mind if I do.

Other Riders
The most pleasantly unexpected element of becoming a full time bike commuter is the amazing people I’ve met. Not only the odd person I get chatting to on my rides each day, but those I’ve met through my involvement in Melbourne’s social bike events, which are mostly community driven. Events like Melbourne Bike Fest (a celebration of bike culture), the Melbourne Tweed Ride, and the many relaxed rides by the guys at serve as a great reminder of just how strong the Melbourne bike community has become.

So, what do you think? For me the balance is very firmly in favour of riding. Granted, there are some small challenges to overcome, but they’re mostly inconsequential. It also tells me that riding my bike has become about much more than just getting too and from work. And that I need to buy some nicer knickers.

Bio: Lara McPherson is a writer, community manager and sustainability advocate. She runs Sustainable Fashion AustraliaThe Clothing Exchange MelbourneMelbourne Tweed Ride and Wardrobe Wonderland. She also works on Melbourne Bike FestThe AceFantastic Adventure Quest and The Spirit of the Black Dress. She and her partner Marcus have recently acquired Curracloe, and plan to turn it into a self sustaining organic produce farm.

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