Now there is a third option to classic capitalism and an ineffective non-profit sector – social entrepreneurship. The problem is that the majority of people in the world have no idea what it is, and how to support it. That is why Inventshift was born. To educate, build and help the social entrepreneurs find their customers globally.
Can you explain your idea to us and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
We have been a part of and have run multiple businesses, but felt a need to do something larger that would benefit the world. After finding out about social entrepreneurship, we were hooked.
When you get bitten by the drive of the perfect idea with a chance to do good and build a business at the same time, there is no other choice than to take the plunge.
It’s nice to wake up every day with a business that has a purpose.
Could you explain your business model to us?
We are the gateway to finding businesses worldwide that are creating a positive impact. As a business, you can add your services and products for sale and get reviewed by your customers. As a customer, you can find, shop, enquire and review businesses. The most ethical businesses get the most visibility. Inventshift is also the place for all things social enterprise related.
There is an affiliate fee that is charged on services that are found and booked through our platform. Most of this fee goes towards our fund which is re-distributed to invest in other social enterprises.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next year?
Right now we are focused on travelling in and out of Australia to meet social entrepreneurs for our YouTube interview series, building our resource bank and forming partnerships.
We believe in launching immediately, making the platform accessible and along the way we will develop the concept further, adding more content every day.
Next year will be exciting as we officialy launch Inventshift, creating the largest hub of resources in the marketplace by mid 2017.
How do you make ideas happen?
Iranthi’s favourite quote by Richard Branson says that “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”.
Ideas only materialise by someone taking action. Even more crucial is learning and adapting on the way. Almost no business has been from day one what it is when it finds success. The learning curve from an idea to a successful execution is long and requires hard work.
Have mentor’s played a role in your business life?
We both have people in our families that have done business. Talking to them and channelling their successes at an early age has made a huge impact for the both of us.
Books can be great mentors. We’ve both read dozens, if not hundreds of books on business, autobiographies and followed people online. The stories, failures and guidance through books is often un-appreciated.
We also have multiple mentors that we consult on a frequent basis.
What does your typical day look like?
A typical day means coffee, soy chai and laptops, multiple calls and some meetings. We mostly work from co-working spaces and cafés.
We are not 9-5 people, and as a couple we don’t mind working long hours one day and not so much the next two days.
What challenges have you faced as you’ve started an organisation in Australia?
Finding great people with good values when resources are limited and dealing with paperwork can be challenging. For many traditional service based businesses you need to make great sales to cover the basic fees of employees which can kill many small businesses or turn them into grey (not-paying-taxes) work.
Australia’s bureaucratic system of is one of the toughest in the world to navigate in terms of paperwork and fees.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
People wont come if you just build it. A great product is one thing, but what then? Sales, marketing and finding out how to make people find you is even more crucial than having a good product. A bad product that everyone sees sells much more than a brilliant one that is hidden.
Writing a business plan that’s longer than 5 pages (or for more than 6 months in the future) in a start-up is as useful as going to a Sauna in Alice Springs.
What people do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
During the last year we’ve met brilliant individuals in different industries building businesses with impact, from entrepreneurs selling wine online to large non-profits trying their wings in what I’d call actual sustainability.
This is what is exciting for me and what we are trying to push globally.
What about internationally?
We are very interested in organisations like b-corp that are trying to show the way to businesses and reviewing their activities.
Do you think business can play a role in affecting social change?
Capitalism is the greatest driver of action in the world. If we can show and prove that we can make more money by doing good things, then capitalism will make a positive impact as we have never seen in the history of business.
Is there a particular charity or social enterprise you support?
As social enterprises are our customers, we try not to take sides.
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.
Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter.
Shane Nichols – @shanenicholsx
Daniel Flynn – @danielmflynn
Geoff Gourley – @geoffgourley
Are there any opportunities for people to get involved with your idea?
Yes, we are always on the lookout for people who are interested in changing the face of business by making an impact, the key factor in business being decision making. We are especially looking for web developers, designers, content writers and marketers.
We are also raising our seed round by mid-2017. If interested, we would love to chat.
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 we are sourcing our first round in mid 2017, we are looking for ideas on how and where to find funding. We are always on the lookout for great people who are willing to work together, and collaborate on this idea.
What’s your favourite cafe or restaurant?
My favourite restaurant is Dumplings Plus at Highpoint shopping centre. They have the best Chinese food we have ever had. I highly recommend the lemongrass chicken noodle dish. Afterwards, right opposite there is Jasper Coffee that smells amazing. Head there for a cup of coffee!