In 2011 Lachy and Bridie teamed up to co-found Dismantle, a social enterprise, to empower people to adopt cycling as a part of their everyday lives, for the betterment of the individual, the community, and the planet. The Dismantle concept centres around the notion that bicycles are a powerful tool for social change – enabling people to be healthier, happier, more environmentally-friendly, and connected to their community. Among its activities, Dismantle operates a community bicycle recycling workshop and empowers disadvantaged youth, ages 15 to 20, to refurbish used bikes. The youth not only gain valuable life and technical skills but work experience. Through its corporate wellness program, Dismantle educates and encourages company employees to integrate cycling into their day-to-day activities. Revenues from the program support Dismantle’s charitable work.
Find wise people and learn as much as you possibly can from them, offer them a share in your startup as reciprocity for their assistance. – Lachy
Lachy and Bridie have recently teamed up again in 2013 to launch a social business called Halfglassfull, a creative marketing agency that champions cause-based businesses, social enterprises and not-for-profits. They grew up in Victoria and now live and work in their adopted home, Fremantle WA.
Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
Halfglassfull is a creative marketing agency that champions cause-based businesses, social enterprises and not-for-profits. We believe in the businesses who strive to benefit society. Because lets face it, working for profit alone, just isn’t working!
Lachy: Having founded a Fremantle based NFP social enterprise called Dismantle we have both experienced the challenges of the not-for-profit world first hand. One of the biggest problems we can see is a disconnect between working-for-money or working-for-good. The status quo is that people work for financial gain (doing whatever) and then do other things like volunteer or donate money to ‘do good’.
Accompanying this is an expectation that not-for-profits are expected to survive without sustainable business models. So there are two false categories of organisation NFP (for good) or for-profit (for bad) that people must choose between, and it has traditionally been frowned upon for someone working in NFP to be paid a decent wage. The rise of social enterprise is reshaping the status quo drastically and its clear that the line between these two catergories has been blurred for a long time and will hopefully soon disintegrate altogether. Doing good should be cumpolsary in all business, and people should be allowed to pursue their passions and make a decent living by doing ‘good’ work everyday.
Bridie: We have started a creative marketing agency because its the clearest overlap of our individuals skills and passions. We have chosen to exclusively work for social business, social enterprise and not-for-profits, and we have big a challenge ahead of us! This is a sector that generally doesn’t spend a huge amount of money on marketing. We think that orgs dont need to have massive budgets to be effective at marketing, because cause-based organisations can use inbound marketing strategies to their advantage.
So we are out prove that servicing the social-sector can be a viable niche in the mainstream market, in the hope that others follow this lead. We hope that more and more companies choose to put energy and effort into organisations that are making a difference in the world. After all, who wants to try to sell fizzy-lolly-water for a living?? Not us……
How do you make money? (please explain your business model)
Lachy: Halfglassfull is a social business (or for-profit social enterprise depending on the definition you choose) that derives its revenue from sales. The difference is that we choose only to work for organisations that are making a positive difference to the world.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months?
Lachy: I’m still focused in my role as CEO of Dismantle, we are developing a strategy to improve our social enterprise model and are ready to expand into Perth CBD. I am also spending 2 days a week with the back-end of business systems and procedures at Halfglassfull (exciting stuff!!).
Bridie: I’m flat out delivering on some of our first client projects. Including a couple of websites and a big kahuna job that will involve a full scale brand development and marketing strategy (design + implementation). Pretty much getting my hands dirty in the new business.
How do you make ideas happen?
Bridie: as a partnership ideas tend to happen a lot sooner. Our different skill sets compliment each other, and we can pull each other up when one is wandering or getting a little lost in an idea. We are pretty opposite on a lot of things, so that creates a really healthy balance in how we work. We are much much stronger as a team.
We also really strongly value the support of mentors, so much so that we have enticed two people onto our team with ‘wisdom equity’. Basically we have given them a slice of the action in exchange for mentoring us personally. Learning is vital to our ability to deliver on our ideas.
What does your typical day look like?
Bridie: We work in a studio space in central Freo, so a typical day would be Lachy getting in at 7-8am, me rocking up at around 10am (if im lucky). Lachy is also a bit all over the place with different jobs and is often in and out of the office, but collectively most of the time is spent busting out work in front of the computer in our share office. I tend to spend late nights in front of the screen to compensate for my love for sleep ins. Lachy is the early bird and I’m the night owl. We also work one day per week at Spacecubed coworking space in central perth. Which is brilliant for networking and gets us out of ‘the shire’ as its affectionately known by Freo locals.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?
Lachy: Apart from all the usual cashflow issues and start-up struggles we have also battled with the fact that the term social enterprise is still gaining traction in WA and its been hard with Dismantle and now Halfglassfull to explain our business model to the wider public. As we mentioned above there is still some value based conflict in WA with the idea that not-for-profits can charge for services, and also that social business is a legitimate career option. Lots of people still view it as some sort of way of ‘cashing in’ on social problems etc etc, which is a tad ironic in a state built on mining, which contributes to many of the social problems that we are accused of cashing in on!
With that being said there has been a huge shift in the past 12 months and it really feels like the floodgates are opening and the social enterprise sector is about to blossom in WA. It feels like exciting times ahead!
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
Lachy: Wisdom equity. Find wise people and learn as much as you possibly can from them, offer them a share in your startup as reciprocity for their assistance. It will accelerate your growth like crazy!
What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
Lachy: Where to start?
Useful inc, Spacecubed, enterprise learning projects, hello sunday morning, streat cafe (using equity to grow social enterprise), pollinators, Myed online, POWA institute the list could go on and on and on.
What about internationally?
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
Bridie: A huge role, thats what we are all about. Solving social issues through business just makes perfect sense! We believe that business is meant to serve a social need, after all thats how it started in the first place! So its logical that business is best placed to address social challenges. We also recognize the challenges of the not-for-profit sector and genuinely think social business is better placed to make a positive social impact that the old charity/welfare model of NFP.
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers?
Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter?
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?
Bridie: Good techies are worth their weight in gold, and interns would be rad 🙂
Our readers are smart, creative, talented and good looking. Here’s your chance to ask them anything.
Bridie: Tell me your secrets, how did YOU become so smart, creative, talented and good looking?!
What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?
Bridie: Possibly the hardest question ever! Look we have to go with X-wray cafe in Fremantle, many ideas have been hatched, build and cut down, whilst perched in this cosey courtyard with a glass of red in hand. Staff, menu, setting and ‘vibe’ are all awesome!
Lachy: Yep same. Its the birthplace of all ideas!
What is your favourite song by an Australian artist at the moment?
Bridie: I’m a Mama Kin fan! Big ups to fellow Fremantle-ite whose souly tunes rock my socks off!
Lachy: Polo Club – She will never know
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?
Bridie: I’m happy to give a lifetime of high fives and Lachy will give the winner a smooch.
Lachy: Well if the readers are as smart, creative, talented and good looking as promised. Then heck yeah…