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Adam Jacoby is a serial innovator with a twenty-year global history of starting fast growth businesses in sport, information and media. Outspoken and with a revolutionary bent, Adam’s start-up footprint spans from; IMS Sports, Life Lounge, Learning from Legends, the global Mummu group of companies and currently, the fast-growing not for profit, MiVote.
With deep expertise in fast growth business development, Adam was the CEO of BRW’s 2010 Fastest Growing Private Company [under $100M] (Sportsnet Corporation), the Co-Founder and CEO of 2013 finalists in the Anthill Cool Company Awards [global category], #40 BRW Fast Starter 2015 and Top 10 in Smart Company’s Smart50 Awards 2015 (Mummu Group).
Currently, a Non-Executive Director of the Centre for the Future, Adam is a highly sought after speaker and corporate advisor and in 2001 was a Young Australian of the Year Semi-Finalist (Career Achievement Category).
Adam has a Masters of Entrepreneurship and Innovation and has studied at the Judge Business School, Cambridge University.
Can you tell me a little bit about your idea?
MiVote is the public facing brand of an idea that I have been developing for more than three years. The idea emanated from a really deep concern that my four young kids were going to grow up in a world in which their voice was becoming less and less valued and less and less relevant.
I came to realise that I could continue to bitch and moan about the failings of our system from the social media sidelines or I could actually try and do something about it. At that point, I started to take an entrepreneur’s approach to democracy and asked myself:
“if democracy was a product what would it need to look like, feel like and behave like to win customers?”
What made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
From there, it was really about since testing the model and continual refinement. About a year ago I gifted the model to the Centre for the Future and its founder, the iconic futurist Dr Richard Hames. The movement has really blossomed ever since.
We have an extraordinary growing team of 50+ volunteers and the support of private philanthropic patrons who have made MiVote one of the premier global democracy innovations today, with 22 countries interested in creating MiVote chapters.
Please explain your movement?
We are not a business. We are a not for profit, mindful social and political uprising. We are a growing, diverse group of people representing the vast political and socio-economic spectrum, many religions, races, geographical origins, languages, world views and experiences. Our commonality is a shared belief that genuine democracy is possible and the enactment of the informed will of the people is a more equitable and logical way for humanity to govern itself in a technological age.
The movement is not for profit and currently relies on member’s private donations (we do not accept corporate or institutional donations), individual patrons and NGO grants. Given our considerable growth and growing global footprint, we will soon launch new activities which may assist in generating additional income to reinvest in the movement, these will include MiVote merchandise and democracy related conferences.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next year?
There is so much activity at the moment, in so many different areas.
Most of my time is spent with our amazing team, working on finalising the technology platform (app) which will launch in December, research and issues development, content creation, we are planning a major international democracy conference in Melbourne towards the end of 2017 and I am working on some critical partnerships in the global and local NGO sector. We are also investing time with representatives of 22 countries interested in integrating our model into their political systems, which is terribly exciting.
How do you make ideas happen?
There is no secret sauce, but I think it is critical to:
- Be self-aware. Know your own limitations and find great people who can turn your weaknesses into strengths
- Do your research and take your time. Try and understand your market, opportunity and risks, inside and out. Scenario plan and be critical of your choices and assumptions
- Do not accept someone else’s benchmark as your own
- Embrace change and failure as key learning opportunities
- Courage, curiosity and creativity are a formidable combination
- Accept cognitive dissonance as your new comfort zone
What role have mentors played in your business life?
Mentors have played a massive role in my life. My parents are both incredibly smart and open minded people and provided a critical formative experience for an entrepreneurial existence. Over the last 20+ years, I have had half a dozen formal and informal mentors who really shaped the way I view the world, approach situations, challenge myself, engage with others and accept the risk.
What does your typical day look like?
No such thing as a typical day. The only constants are that I have morning cuddles from my kids when I wake and reading time with them when I get home. Other than that, I am really lucky that every day has its own unique fingerprint.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business in Australia?
I suspect much the same as everyone else…. Self-doubt, external scepticism, an unsophisticated and risk adverse funding ecosystem, unscrupulous investors, cashed up entrenched competitors and the tyranny of geographical distance from high volume markets.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
You are not better than anyone and no one is better than you
What companies do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
Our industry is evolving. Online Direct Democracy, which has been around for a while are doing a good job in the space but the incumbent political parties have really had a stranglehold on representing the people, much to the detriment of democracy, logic, leadership, equality and equity.
What about internationally?
Internationally, Democracy Earth and its founder Pia Mancini are major democratic innovators. The Icelandic Constitution is a hot talking point at the moment and Josh Silver and the Represent Us movement in the US is a brilliant democratic intervention. I think many more innovations will emerge in the coming year or two as people reach a tipping point with their tolerance of our governing systems.
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
Businesses coexist in our ecosystem. For businesses to remain relevant and important to customers, they must understand and adapt to a changing world, just as individuals do. Given their reach and resources, organisations must play a critical role in genuine social development (rather than change).
Evolutions like B-Corp status are reinforcing the need for businesses to embrace their broader role in society and find a balance to traditional shareholder value propositions.
Is there a particular charity or social enterprise you support?
Many, but in our family, we tend to lean towards those supporting children in need, developing nations and displaced peoples.
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.
Singularity University – Always at the cutting edge
CSIRO – Keeps me abreast of major STEM activities
Canva – Helps turn my ideas into visual tools
Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter.
John Englart EAM – Environmental
Jamie Skella – Tech / Innovation
Yvonne Adele – Comms, Branding, Cool Culture
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea?
Absolutely. We are always looking for support. We need interns, volunteers in a number of operational areas, patrons (donations), beta testers, etc… when trying to change the world, one never refuses assistance. Start here.
We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about startups, marketing, social media, accounting, monetization, product development etc. What would it be?
What is the best way to identify quality volunteering talent? And how do you keep them motivated given they do not get paid?
What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?
- Mr Mister, Chapel Street Prahran
- The European, Melbourne CBD
- Cornerstone & Co, Bayside (closer to home)