Aviva is the co-founder of Clickability, an Australian disability service directory that features ratings and reviews from the people who actually use the services. As a social worker with a background in research, mental health, community development and project management, she is passionate about creating person-centred social change and social enterprise.
She is also a Westpac Social Change Fellow and a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, exploring what information consumers of disability support services need to feel informed.
Can you tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
I was working as a social worker in mental health where a big part of my role was to help people link into the services that they needed. In doing that, I was gatekeeping a lot of information that should have been available publicly, so it was really disempowering and highly impractical for the people I was supporting. At the same time, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was gathering pace. It is a market model designed to make the disability sector more effective through competition. With the scheme, I knew people would need to have more independent information about what options existed, so I decided to found Clickability with my business partner Jenna Moffat. It’s all about giving people with disabilities greater access to information to create more choice and control.
Could you explain your business model to us?
At Clickability, we list service providers and other organisations for free on our website, where consumers can rate and review the service. Service providers and organisations can buy premium access, which allows them to design their profile and interact with consumers. A lot of wonderful service providers are subscribing, which is great to see.
Can you tell us what you’re working on right now and what are your excited about in the next year?
I’m always excited to be working on creative activities as part of the team and watching Clickability become bigger than me and Jenna. Right now, we’re working on how to best roll out Clickability nationwide. We’re evaluating our recent NSW launch to see how we can build on this in other states. We also have a remote workforce, with staff all up the east coast, so we’re looking at the most efficient ways to operate in different work environments, including by using various technologies. On a personal level, I’m running focus groups as part of my PhD, asking people how they wish to access information, which is obviously a big part of Clickability’s mission too.
How do you make ideas happen?
I think it’s vital to look ahead to where we’re aiming towards, keep a high-level vision and mission in mind, and not get stuck in the details of where we are. Clickability’s biggest ideas always come about through teamwork and talking with the community about their ideas and what they need. Having a remote workforce, we regularly run online workshops with a specific purpose and goal, and then generate ideas through collaboration.
Have mentors played a role in your business life?
Mentors have played a huge role. We’ve had so many mentors and friends advising us along the way, inspiring us in one way or another. The business wouldn’t be what it is today without the generosity of others and collaborating with them. We also connect our employees with various mentors in their chosen field, as it’s always helpful to bounce ideas off people who have done it before and to have ongoing support outside of our team.
What does your typical day look like?
I don’t have a typical day! But there’s certainly typical ingredients, including meditation and exercise, talking to team members, doing planning and administration, talking to customers and meeting with people inside and outside of the disability industry.
What challenges have you faced when starting a business in Australia?
Australian legislation limits the ways that social purpose and business can work together and as a social enterprise, it’s been a challenge operating in a sector that is traditionally funded by charities and philanthropy because our legal structure limits the financial support that we can receive from those organisations.
At times it’s also felt like a challenge to hold a leadership role being young and female. It took a while to convince some stakeholders that we have a sound, worthwhile social enterprise that can make a big difference in the lives of people with disability.
Part of that difficulty is also because it can be a challenge trying to innovate in a field such as disability. After all, the thing we’re proposing to do is confronting for both sides of the marketplace – feedback can be scary, both to give and receive! We’re playing at the pointy end of the cultural change that the NDIS presents, but it’s a really important change and one which we’re excited about.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
I think the most worthwhile thing that anyone can do is community engagement. Go and talk to people, thoroughly and thoughtfully, and conduct participatory research. People need to be at the middle of any design. By talking with the community, we can test our assumptions and develop better products that respond to real need.
Are there any organisations you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
There are lots of service providers who are doing really interesting, positive things. The ones that seem to be the most successful have identified their strengths and are a scaling at a reasonable pace. Some of the most innovative we see are also highly interested in research and engaging with participants. They’re finding ways to meet their customers’ needs (and the needs of their families) in effective and creative ways and invest in good customer service.
But it’s not only service providers. Start-ups are doing very cool things with technology, leveraging it to provide personalised services and equipment at cheaper costs. Consultants and academics are also doing invaluable work which is important in this industry as it’s so under-researched.
What about internationally?
Thanks to the Westpac Bicentennial Fund’s Social Change Fellowship, Jenna and I have been able to travel to the United Kingdom and New Zealand and have come across organisations doing really interesting things. The UK sector is a few years ahead of us in terms of their disability policy, so we were able to see how organisations were using consumer engagement to build their services. In New Zealand, there’s some really interesting story sharing happening, as well as creative ways being explored to make society more welcoming and accessible.
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
Change happens for a lot of reasons, but economics is central. You can’t separate economy from social. As we’re seeing with the NDIS, changes to economic structures create a window of opportunity for cultural change. So it can be really effective to leverage social change through business. I think big changes can be achieved through sensitive and responsible forms of trade.
Speaking of affecting social change, is there a particular charity you like to support?
My more general answer is to look at how we can do corporate social responsibility in a less restrictive way — how can we bring elements of charity into our whole enterprise, and behave responsibly and create positive social change through our whole business? Clickability is excited to be able to invest our profits back into our purpose. The areas I expect we’ll look to first are leadership and innovation.
What 3 websites would you recommend to our readers?
Google Scholar, as most of us are pretty bad at learning from research! There’s so much that’s been done already and can inform what we do day-to-day as well as long term.
Skyscanner – get a good deal on a good flight! Travelling for business, but also remembering to take holidays and self-care.
And Zomato, for helping me choose my “office” every day.
What 3 Australians do you think we should follow on Twitter?
Do you have any opportunities for people to get involved with your idea?
Yes, get in touch! There are often opportunities to collaborate or help out. We’d love to hear from you.
We’re aiming to build a community of Australian idea makers helping each other. If you could have one question answered about startups, what would it be?
As someone without a technology or engineering background, I think a big question for a lot of people in my position is, How do I best be my own CTO?
What’s your favourite café restaurant?
I live in Fitzroy, the hipster capital, so I can roll out of bed into just about anywhere around Brunswick or Smith Street and be completely happy with my choice.