John Hancock – Founder of The Elephant Magazine

Born in 1970 and of Irish descent, John Hancock had an interesting upbringing which included surviving the ferocious Cyclone Tracy in Darwin as a baby, and attending 19 different schools around Australia. He has also lived in Nepal and Sri Lanka. He is interested in painting, camping, singing, writing, dancing, travelling and playing with his beautiful 2 year old daughter.

Publish the stories from people working in social enterprises and spread these beyond the sector forums, whitepapers and journals. @elephantmagAU facebook


Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?

I have a dual background in media and social development; including work in child protection, working in Nepal with AusAID, as well as running a newspaper and later a media company in Australia. This year I’m stepping down from my role as CEO of EzyMedia in order to launch The Elephant Magazine (print and digital), which will be written by the people actually doing the good work for others and the environment. We are currently crowdfunding The Elephant Magazine on StartSomeGood.

Please explain your business model.

The magazine will be funded by advertising and subscriptions to digital and print editions.

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

Building the new website. Creating the marketing collateral for selling advertising and subscriptions. Establishing agreements with printers, distributors etc. Fundraising efforts via crowd-funding service Start Some Good. Laying out a 12-page mockup for the first edition.

I am excited to be bringing together my two passions – publishing and social enterprise; especially the phone calls and emails connecting me to other like-minded professionals who believe in doing good.

How do you make ideas happen?

Set out a strategy, establish resources, work day/night, review strategy… eat-sleep-work-repeat!

What does your typical day look like? (please also include a photo of your workspace)

At the desk in the lounge-room from 8.30am with a hot cup of good coffee. Few hours at the laptop (emails, articles, project managing web build etc), some time with the little one, a few more hours at the laptop, bike ride, more play with little one… then an evening session from 8-11pm. I don’t tend to have many phone calls or face-to-face meetings, but have been getting invited to a number of upcoming conferences on social enterprise.

John Hancock - Workspace

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

Generally funding is the biggest hurdle. While enterprises can be launched on a shoestring, unfortunately the bills don’t wait and a lot of stuff that would be great to get stuck into simply have to go to the backburner until funds/resources permit. Australians also tend to be a more conservative culture for adopting new products. Canberra is the toughest market in Australia and one of the toughest in the world to break new product, which is why even some global companies use Australia/Canberra as test-bed markets.

Generating buzz beyond a slap on the back and ‘good onya mate’ is probably the next toughest challenge. Australians like to consider themselves entrepreneurial and creative as a culture, but the truth is that most good ideas head overseas fairly early.

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

Double-sided flags, eg. in Australia you would have on one side the Australian flag, on the other the flag of  buyer’s country-of-origin. Immigrants already have to forsake a lot to live here and something like this would not only sell well ($4 at the cheap dollar-shops) but also allow our citizens to proudly identify with two countries. was a website I registered that was going to be an online shop for a range of these type of products.

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

Social Traders and Social Ventures Australia

What about internationally?

Pioneers Post

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

Publish the stories from people working in social enterprises and spread these beyond the sector forums, whitepapers and journals. The general public has little idea of what is happening in social enterprise or how to get involved. The Elephant Magazine will be the ‘Cosmo’ of social enterprise, engaging more laymen and investors.

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? (follow link for complete list)


Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.

Argh, it’s really up to what interests them. Tough question.

Business Angels


Pioneers Post

Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?

We need your help to crowdfund the first edition of The Elephant Magazine.

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?

How would you get this fundraiser on the ‘most popular’ front page section of Start Some Good?

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

Don’t go out enough to have a favourite public venue, most funnery tends to be in friends’ gardens with a beer or a good coffee.

We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?

30-min private consultation on media publishing.

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