This is part of a series of interviews with alumni from the School for Social Entrepreneurs Australia which inspires and equips changemakers and social entrepreneurs to establish, scale and sustain social ventures that foster social and economic participation, and create a lasting impact within disadvantaged communities.
Joel is a member of Young Opportunities Australia, and the chief parcel curator/ official perfectionist of Power Parcel. He comes from a background in humanitarian aid, operational management and customer service roles – and is a recent graduate of the School for Social Entrepreneurs. He is passionate about using business to design the optimal conditions needed to improve individual lives. His imperative is to work directly with individuals to help them overcome societal barriers through self-empowerment and innovative employment solutions.website twitter facebook Back us on Start Some Good!
Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
Power Parcel is a social good subscription box, supporting emerging social enterprises. It was born at a time when I found myself introducing others to incredible ventures that they had no idea existed. Disenchanted that many brands on a mission struggled with this lack of exposure, I created Power Parcel to act as a platform for them to gain customer feedback and analytics on their product/s in order to improve commercial viability and subsequent social impact.
Every season, we curate and deliver a surprise package of socially conscious creations from companies with hearts to change the world. It’s your opportunity to discover and support Australia’s best action takers, world changers and difference makers.
Can you explain your business model for us?
We’re a subscription service, operating in the same manner as a newspaper or magazine. Every season, you’ll receive a purpose filled package of our favourite products that are made to make a difference. We include products with a greater purpose – from drinks that fund employment in developing communities, to accessories combating youth homelessness. By operating on a quarterly basis, we have more time to work with our incredible partners to create a value packed box that is cheaper than most monthly subscription services. Not only are you receiving great products, you’re also supporting a group of individuals prepared to challenge the status quo. At the end of the day, the ability to help provide to those in need is priceless.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next year?
We’re approaching the halfway point of our ING Direct Dreamstarter crowdfunding campaign, which has been keeping us busy! We’re also in the process of curating a range of corporate Christmas packages to see out 2015. The finishing touches are being added to our summer edition which is due out on doorsteps in January. Next year we hope to begin implementing a range of expansion initiatives that will see our support for emerging social enterprises grow rapidly. Watch this space!
How do you make ideas happen?
My ideas have a habit of coming at the most inconvenient of times, which is why I constantly have to remind myself to have a notepad on me at any given moment. I’ll run any idea past my co-workers and mentors and then flesh it out through a business mapping exercise. If it survives those processes, I’ll endeavour to see how I can conceptualise a minimum viable product quickly so I’m not spending time on something that doesn’t have a market.
What role have mentors played in your business life?
A very, very integral one. Being the crazy dreamer that I am, it can often be easy for me to lose sight of important factors such as feasibility, time commitment and financial restraints. My mentors have a great knack for politely putting me back in my place, and helping me to refine exactly what it is that I want to do. The opportunity to gain wisdom from those with specific industry experience is so valuable- not only to the projects I am involved in, but also on a personal level.
What does your typical day look like?
As our team is permeated with night owls, we often work late and have a little sleep in. Mid morning you’ll probably find me at a local coffee shop, replying to emails and getting my caffeine fix for the day. That is often followed by a lunch meeting to discuss potential partnerships, before heading into the office for the afternoon. Now that daylight savings is back again, I have no excuse not to sneak in a jog before sunset. Once most of the neighbourhood goes to bed and all is quiet, I’ll either be found catching up on work or with my nose in a good book.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a social business/organisation in Australia?
Our team often finds it hard that there are no regulations/governing body overseeing the rapidly growing social enterprise sector. I’ve often encountered scepticism from individuals that are unsure about the concept of social business as a whole, as there is no way of ascertaining the legitimacy of their social impact. As most social enterprises do not accept shareholders, there is no need for them to report to anybody apart from their board. It is pretty disappointing that this negative stigma exists to begin with, but it’s a good reminder of how important it is to embed a strong level of transparency & integrity into our business operations.
What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry in Australia at the moment?
Forage is an annual cookbook responsible for creating plenty of mess in my kitchen at home. It is a collection of recipes, stories and gorgeous photographs from chefs, producers, restaurants and food folk from around Victoria, with the added benefit of sharing the spoils with local charity Upside Nepal to create and support agriculture enterprise.
The other night I had the pleasure of attending a dinner by Scarf. The social enterprise pops up in a new Melbourne restaurant every season, providing youth who have experienced barriers to employment with hands-on experience and confidence to get real industry jobs.
Kaylene Langford is the brains behind Startup Creative – a young gun from the Gold Coast bringing together motivated youth and connecting them with industry experts, funding opportunities, development programs and mentors. Kaylene is doing a rad job of helping support the next generation of business owners.
What about internationally?
Lately I’ve been hooked on United by Blue – an outdoor lifestyle brand focused on ocean and waterway conservation. For every product sold, UBB removes 1 pound of trash from oceans and waterways through company organised and hosted cleanups.
Too much of my time is spent exploring projects on StartSomeGood. It’s a crowdfunding platform designed specifically for the needs of social change ventures and projects, supporting them in raising the funds they need to transform ideas for good into action and impact.
Innocent are a UK based maker of natural, delicious, healthy drinks that help people live well and die old. I can’t think of any other large company that has me in stitches as much as Innocent does. If we ever scale to a reasonable size, the first person we will be looking to poach is the mastermind who manages their social media and brand imaging.
How much of a role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
A darn big one! For me, it just makes sense for businesses to be at the forefront of this movement. With NGO’s facing the challenges of budget cuts, compassion fatigue and criticisms of a lack of real impact, there is a greater need for social enterprise to fill the gap. It’s so great to see businesses considering the way they can use what they’re good at to become instruments of social change. Ventures such as this are vital to our society, in order to conceptualise systemic solutions to today’s most pressing threats.
Speaking of affecting social change, Is there a particular charity you’d like to support?
So it’s not a typical charity per se, but I’m a big supporter of Polished Man from the guys over at YGAP. Having spent considerable time in South East Asia where a large percentage of these crimes are perpetuated, it’s an issue close to my heart that needs something to change. It’s so great to see such a delicate issue being given the attention it deserves.
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.
Can you name 3 Australians we should follow on Instagram?
What music would we hear in your office?
The only thing more carefully curated than our packages is our Spotify playlist. On any given day, you are likely to hear from Ben Howard, the Paper Kites, Gabrielle Aplin, Bombay Bicycle club and CHVRCHES. We also have an unhealthy obsession with Vinyl – and tend to bust out the groovy jazz tunes when the team needs a pick me up.
What’s your favourite café?
Long Street Coffee – a gorgeous Richmond café owned by the wonderful Francois and Jane Marx. They provide employment opportunities for refugees, teaching them valuable hospitality skills from the ground up. Be sure to check it out before everyone else finds it!
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea?
Always! We would so very much appreciate any support we can get to start our improvement movement.
You can do so by pledging through our crowdfunding campaign on ING Direct dreamstarter (startsomegood.com/powerparcel). For anyone interested in an internship with the Power Parcel team, expressions of interest can be sent to [email protected]