Dominique Jaurola – founder and CEO of Hunome

Hunome’s CEO and Founder, Dominique Jaurola, has over the last twenty years designed new businesses, products, visions and strategies in the mobile and online industries.

During her eclectic journey she has initiated many new ways to be human-centric and forward thinking, in order to make a difference to business sustainability and impact.

She has put these interests to work at Nokia (90s) in product leadership and strategy, Computer Sciences Corporation (00s) and in her two start-ups.

Dominique has lectured on and facilitated for future-market oriented and human-centric design at the University of Western Sydney. She was also a founding member and board member of the Association of Professional Futurists.

In addition she has co-authored and contributed to two books: Strategic Foresight – The Power of Standing in the Future and Thinking About the Future.

Hunome, the start-up Dominique now navigates forward, is very much a combination of the many strands of her path so far.

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Making ideas happen well takes time, patience and ultimately resilience. It takes a lot of talking, adapting to changing circumstances, tweaking and more. The most difficult thing with making novel ideas happen, whether in a corporate or start-up context, is a consistent and committed set-up.

 

Tell us a little bit about your idea.

Hunome is a web-based application and tool for thought networking; helping individuals make sense of ‘how humanity works’ by solo or co-creating connected perspectives and mind-maps.

For example: you might be interested in understanding what makes a start-up founder tick. You keep hearing anecdotes, you read research across many fields and perhaps you have colleagues who have ideas on it.

You can bring these various points that you discover together on a mind-map. It acts as your memory, but is organised, so as not to loose the perspectives and to be able to place them within context. You then can add further relevant context to them so that they are connected in the world of perspectives in the many contexts they belong in.

You can observe others who can join in, share their points-of-view and grow the collective understanding on the mind-maps you have started, making it richer. Alternatively you can invite others directly to help you make sense of your theme.

Hunome is a human-in-the-loop approach in which we can collectively make sense of who we humans are and how our thinking about ourselves connects.

Making sense of ‘us’ is a matter of bringing together the many ways of knowing about humans and the many interconnecting themes. We shift in our being contextually and because of that more is needed than a linear set of answers to a question in order to truly get a better understanding of what is going on.

Hunome is designed to bring these fragmented pieces together. Our mission is to join the dots of how humanity works and make it accessible.

What made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?

I have been frustrated by the fact that humanity’s understanding of itself is difficult to reach. All kinds of data is collected, abstracted and misused or just not connected, or accessible to all.

The journey toward Hunome started in the mid 90s at Nokia where I was in a product leadership role. Quantified market research or the best creative focus groups were not useful for products that were going to be launched three years later into a completely new technology and business model market and behaviour space.

So, I started programs in order to gain better insights to where the market could be three years later. We understood a lot about the impact mobile services were going to have and why.

I have been taking steps toward Hunome ever since.

Please explain your business model.

Our business model is firstly based on a freemium model serving the needs of individuals.

Anyone can join for free.

Hunome provides tools to make sense of themes by solo or co-creating mind-maps, perhaps bringing together a group for a collective effort or connecting current or newly invited members to make the understanding about a theme richer and faster. The core data and dashboards are accessible to all of our registered members.

Our revenue models are subscription and sponsorship-based to start with, for companies with an interest in showcasing their human-centric colours in front of our influencer membership.

What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months? 

We are launching our beta2 product. We are very excited about sharing our beta2 with those who have been waiting for us to get it out.

How do you make ideas happen?

First thing is to have ideas worth having. Worth is subjective, as it has to do with what really excites you. If the idea does not excite you then I think you can make something happen – fast and furious – but the steam will run out very quickly. At the sight of the first hurdles these ideas no longer have champions.

Making ideas happen well takes time, patience and ultimately resilience. It takes a lot of talking, adapting to changing circumstances, tweaking and more. The most difficult thing with making novel ideas happen, whether in a corporate or start-up context, is a consistent and committed set-up.

What does your typical day look like? 

I don’t have a typical day. The ups and downs throw things up in the air, and frequently off course; at times the excitement tries to bubble up as things are moving along but I have understood that this excitement, or on the other hand the disappointments, will pass. If there is anything typical about my days it is keeping an eye on great people who might be candidates to join us, staying connected with the potential members and companies with an interest and at this point in time of our evolution, taking the product to market.

Workspace_Dominique
My workspace – it could be the nearest café e.g., Pyrmont Café XXII, Toast in Surry Hills, UTS Design space a few times (thank you UTS)

 

What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?

Lack of funding is an issue, or perhaps more precisely finding the right funders here; getting around or through the many emerging gatekeepers to just ‘that person’ whom you want to have working with you over the long haul, who is not in a hurry to exit but rather has eyes on the bigger potential.

US investors used to say that they were not interested in investing in tech start-ups in Australia but that has also started to change. Naturally the option is to raise funds in the US and move.

The nascent start-up culture we now have was not there when I started on this journey. So much has changed and keeps changing. But the community has some wonderful individuals who put their heart and soul into building it up.

The ‘employee share option pool’ change that is afoot is important as that shift in tax law will help start-ups meaningfully reward those who join the company in its early days, without pay.

There is still much to do though before people understand that a tech start-up is not a project but a serious business in the making. No one can ‘join’ a start-up and then sit back and wait for it to happen.

If you want to join a start-up be prepared to work really hard with no or low pay for a few years or more. I have been very flexible in enabling people to have day jobs so that everyone can eat while at it. This does pose extra issues with delays and energy zapping. Loosely coupled start-up teamsters kill start-ups everyday.

The difference in the mind-set in Silicon Valley/San Francisco is very noticeable. The community is very supportive and people know what it takes to be part of building a start-up.

Being a founder of a start-up is hard, and particularly lonely when things are tough and frustrating. A very supportive start-up community alleviates this. Talking to people and being helped by people who are in the same situation turns your weird existence to a normal one.

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?

Gosh, I have given away so many ideas for free. I am actually really excited by the fact that I now finally have a chance to pour my ideas to something that I can truly identify as carrying my flavour of the world.

To me ideas are not a dime a dozen; if the worth is that low then the idea is not worth doing much about. What matters, I believe, is that a start-up is a set of ideas that keep constantly evolving and being added to. Naturally, having ideas around the dinner table and doing nothing about them does not amount to even a dime for the dozen of them.

As I focus intensely on Hunome I don’t have free ideas.

What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry at the moment? 

In Australia?

There are many great start-ups either in the public eye already or in the works. I like Canva, I have used it a bit and no doubt will keep doing so.

And internationally?

Unshackled is an interesting concept allowing start-ups to move to SV with a visa that they sponsor.

What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?

I’d like to see that all companies be underpinned in some way by how they make a positive difference in the world, described as a humanity-centric purpose. It tends to put the eyes firmly on the longer-term.

Business has to step up and own the responsibility to ensure that forethought is applied to the consequences of our actions. It is not easy but being at least considerate of the longer-term consequences puts many business leaders on the right side of history.

Most good businesses produce a negative overshoot or side effects; unfortunate but something that business just has to own up to and work on.

Speaking of affecting social change, we’ve teamed up with Shout for Good to encourage readers to ‘shout a coffee’ to charity by clicking the button below. Is there a particular charity you’d like to support?

Ovarian Cancer Research Australia

Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.

This is a difficult question to answer without knowing what the readers are specifically interested in.

Interested in making sense of how humanity works with solo or collective mind-maps?

Join http://hunome.com in March.

Interested in creating your own designs without needing a complex tool? Check out http://canva.com

Interested in helping start-ups get off the ground? Go to http://indiegogo.com

Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter.

@julesmorrow – commentator, comedian, cheeky, influencer

@liubinskas – he has put a lot of energy into the start-up community and provides a way to stay on the pulse of what goes on. He is now with Telstra.

@remogiuffre – doing good works via TEDxSydney for the creative among other things

Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea?

We are currently looking for:

  • Creative UX/front-end developer
  • Energetic digital marketing savvy storyteller
  • Funding will be on the agenda in 2015
  • We are happy to nurture interns to a great position to enter into the workforce as they get an insight into how companies get built directly from the founders, and they will always work on the relevant tasks to their chosen career.

We are particularly excited about the individuals who have registered their interest; some examples of the fields interested are: design thinkers, artists, system thinkers, closet poets, curious, humanities interested and professionals and many more. Do join!

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?

Introductions to great people in the areas we’re interested in are always welcome. And I wish you a smooth journey.

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

For a very long time CafeXXII in Pyrmont was my second home or office. Recently I made acquaintance with Newington Armoury Wharf Café – great menu. Otherwise, Sydney has too many to single one out.

 

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