The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Interview: Melbourne local, Danny Almagor — September 3, 2012

Interview: Melbourne local, Danny Almagor

Name: Danny Almagor
Twitter handle(s): @atanajurat
Works: Late at night.

What is Small Giants and where does this purpose lead you?

Small Giants is a company dedicated to creating nurturing and supporting businesses we think are making the world a better place. It leads us to meeting lots of amazing people.

Congratulations on being awarded Ernest & Young’s 2012 Social Entrepreneur of the Year – how does social differ from traditional entrepreneurship and what can companies do to become more conscious of their impact?

I think the term social enterprise should be renamed ‘business as usual’ and those that do not have a social and environmental agenda should be called ‘crap business’ or ‘business that adds no real value outside of itself’. There is nothing inherently bad about profits, but there is much good in caring about the people and environment around you.

You’ve registered Australia’s first B Corporation – what is this and what does it mean for Small Giants?

B Corporations believe that we can use business to solve social and environmental problems. It is a certification guaranteeing you are the real deal in ethical and sustainable business. We feel very honored to be a B Corporation and take it very seriously. We hope that this will spawn a large community of B Corporations in Australia and together we can be a strong force for a different way of doing business here.

You’re the resident Social Entrepreneur at RMIT and were also RMIT’s Alumnus of the Year 2009 – do you think universities can create entrepreneurs? Are social entrepreneurship elements being taken across to other disciplines and courses?

My role at RMIT is a great one but it is hard to see universities, with their complexity, bureaucracy and numerous competing agendas deliver what entrepreneurs need – less complexity, bureaucracy and competing agendas. Universities must still try, but I think the school of hard knocks is the best place to learn. Start a business, by your third try, you have just become an entrepreneur. As for cross discipline and cross course work, yes, elements are being taken to various disciplines, but more work needs to be done. Social entrepreneurship is an idea that should exist in every facet of our lives, or maybe we should call it social innovation. Fashion, engineering, art, science, teaching; you name it, there is a way to impact those around you in a positive way.

What was the process like when you started Engineers without Borders and what is a humanitarian engineer to you?

A humanitarian engineer is one who sees the plight of the poor and disadvantaged as part of their mandate as an engineer. Engineers are the interface between technology and people, and as such hold an incredible power to effect meaningful and lasting change for so many people. Water, sanitation, energy, infrastructure, connectivity, access, health. As for the start of EWB, the most important trait of all for anyone starting a business or a non profit is persistence. Never give up.

“Comparison is the death of happiness” is a quote you refer to often – what are your tips for staying happy and focused?

Balance. Think Mr Miyagi in Karate Kid. The problem I find is that everything keeps changing so balance is a dynamic target, but well worth pursuing.

What’s your favourite neighbourhood in Melbourne?

I work in St Kilda and love it. The Sun seems to shine there more often.

What’s next and when do you stop?!

I don’t understand that last word. Actually, its 1:30am so maybe its time for bed.

What next?


Interview: Sydney Local, Tom Dawkins — August 6, 2012

Interview: Sydney Local, Tom Dawkins

This fortnight, our Community Ambassador, Lisa Fox (CEO and cofounder of OpenShed) chats to Tom Dawkins of StartSomeGood about peer-funding and their community of changemakers.

Name: Tom Dawkins
Twitter handle: 
StartSomeGood & Make Believe

How did StartSomeGood come about? 

My co-founder Alex and I met while working at Ashoka in Washington DC. Ashoka is the world’s leading organisation support social entrepreneurs. Ashoka’s mission is to create an “Everyone a Changemaker World.” I was the social media director, exploring how social technologies could support help bring about this world. Having founded a couple of non-profits previous and spent a lot of time fundraising I understood that access to seed capital is one of the greatest barriers to new changemakers and innovations. Meanwhile Alex had been traveling in India and had had a realization that social change needed to be a mass movement and that it would take communities working together to bring about a better future. We re-connected and started talking about how we could support emerging social entrepreneurs and changemakers to raise the funds and rally the community they need to make a difference and over many late nights and a lot of coffee StartSomeGood was born.

You prefer to use the term “peer-funding” rather than “crowd-funding” can you explain why?

Crowdfunding as a term derives from crowdsourcing which derives from outsourcing. Crowdsourcing describes a non-collaborative dynamic of competing to win the right to do projects. This is a terrible analogue for any fundraising platform. We prefer to think of this as peer-to-peer fundraising. This isn’t just a matter of preference however but a more accurate way to describe what’s really happening. There just isn’t a big anonymous group of individuals out there just waiting to fund your project. The initial group of supporters for almost any successful project is the personal community cultivated by the founding team. Without their support you are unlikely to make it out to a wider audience. So focus on peers and the crowds will follow.

What are your three top tips for someone thinking about starting a StartSomeGood campaign?

  1. Craft a compelling story about the future you are creating
  2. Design rewards which connect supporters to your project and further your social mission
  3. Work really hard on sharing your story and inviting people to be part of it. Successful fundraising takes work, there’s no way around it.

Are there any exciting plans for the second half of 2012 for StartSomeGood you can share with us? 

Our focus right now is on growing and internationalising our community of Changemakers. There’s a lot of amazing and important social initiatives who are not currently supported by the creative crowdfunding platforms or the traditional charity fundraising websites. We are focused on connecting with changemakers and helping them design fundraising campaigns that work. We tripled the number of campaigns on our site in the first half of the year and hope to do that again in the second half. And each successful campaign represents a very real impact in the real world. We think that’s pretty exciting.

Where do you seek inspiration? 

My main inspiration comes from the social entrepreneurs using our platform to make the big scary and important leap from idea to action. It takes a lot of guts to put an idea out there and ask for support; to step up and commit yourself to making a difference for your community and to create a better future. It’s an enormous honour to work closely with and support so many inspiring changemakers.
Where do you get your information from?

Where do you get your information from?

Twitter mostly. I find it incredibly useful for keeping track of friends and social entrepreneurs all over the world and connecting with people around shared interests and passions.

What are some upcoming events you would recommend to the Fetch community?

The Biennale of Sydney is on at the moment and I would definitely recommend it – it only comes every second year! For more regular inspiration check out Vibewire’s monthly fastBREAK event, an early-morning get-together at the Powerhouse Museum with fascinating short speeches and delicious food. Also the Think Act Change meet-ups, the Young Entrepreneurs meet-up at the Vibewire Hub coworking space and keep an eye out for the next Social Startup 48.

About our Ambassador // Lisa Fox is a recovering a Government Lawyer and the Co Founder and Director of the peer-to-peer rental site, Open Shed.  Lisa is passionate about spreading the word about the Australian Collaborative Consumption movement and helping Australians access what they need when they need it! Connect with Lisa via @_lisafox or @openshed.


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