ShareTree.org was founded by Steven Farrugia as part of his personal life-long purpose to bring about meaningful change to humanity. The idea is to provide seed funding and educate, engage and empower for-purpose individuals and businesses.
Steven has over 15 years of experience in running sustainable social businesses, along with coaching businesses and individuals. ShareTree was founded financially by using 66% of his own personal company profits and shareholding in Vative and its divisions. With his diverse range of experience and knowledge in all aspects of business, he has previously founded Ballistics Entertainment, Vative and Vative Academy, InfoM8, InfoM8Direct and LSSSP, along with the ShareTree Group companies.
Steven is currently acting as a Director on multiple boards with a passion and purpose to help people, businesses, and societies to improve. He has created a profit sharing system within the ShareTree Group to promote a fairer wealth distribution by implementing 30:1 wealth distribution ratio cap and profit sharing business models. ShareTree has now seed-funded and established its business incubators, including a range of businesses in multiple industries.
Steven says the secret is “finding purposeful and capable people and empowering their passion to make a difference through a fair and balanced social business model”.
Can you tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
The idea was born out of the obvious lack of equality of wealth across the globe and having an understanding on how that contributes to so much of the unhealthy disruption that’s in society. What made me take the plunge is that early on, before I started my business, I had a vision of succeeding in businesses and pledged that once I reached the milestone of 1 million dollars, to give those funds to charitable causes over the period of making the business successful.
As I understood more about the purpose of wealth and equality, I developed the business of ShareTree. I pledged not only 1 million dollars but pledged also 66 % of my personal shares towards ongoing support to that cause.
What is your business model?
ShareTree business model is quite unique. The way it’s designed is that instead of investing in fund raising activities in a traditional sense or investing money that’s been earned by the charity into a cash holding, we invest in purpose to create businesses that are social businesses that are half for-profit and capped half charitable. Every business that ShareTree has seeded funded, created or acquired is 50 % charitable entity because ShareTree invests in the business venture.
So now we have funds rolling into ShareTree from every business investment that we have made. We don’t just invest money, we invest in the people. We have a process of developing people into philanthropic leaders, but we also give them business skills, social skills and intellectual/psychological skills to lead effectively in new age businesses.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months?
Right now we are building the 3 parts to ShareTree: “Educate, Engage, Empower”. We are in a process of building an online social media platform that allows us to connect people globally. It is an enabler or ‘empowerer’ to drive the global shift in equality and change. We are partnered with a B-corporation, virtues project international, which will also be driving change in our future leaders by creating disruption in education to bring about virtue character awareness in education into primary and high school sectors. So in the next 3 months, mostly I am excited about the online platforms that will enable all of these initiatives.
How do you make ideas happen?
The way we make ideas happen is, first of all, finding people with purpose. Because purpose is an endless source of fuel which drives the passion of outcome. Second to that, we have the capability. So we create those skills and capability through mentoring, guiding and coaching process and incubating them through a business hub where they are surrounded by people who are competent and effective in achieving goals. Lastly, it is giving them an opportunity to create. We do this by giving them time or money to enable them to be free from day to day needs of earning enough to survive and using that free time to create their purpose.
What does your typical day look like?
My typical day doesn’t look typical. Every day is different. I break up my time during the week into set chunks of focus times which is key part of achieving, so I have set amount of time when I work on strategic goals. My week is a mix of sales/fund raising opportunities (because every sale we make, half of it goes to charity), while the rest of week is working on creating the ShareTree system and platform and people. Then a small chunk of time is spent on supporting initiatives of existing companies, including Vative.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?
The challenges I faced when I started my first business, which I self-funded, is that there is nothing actually out there that exists like what we have created. There is no incubator that helps a person take a purposeful idea and turn it into a profitable business with them being investor. So we have something quite unique.
There was a COMET program back them (commercialisation of merging technology), but they were more of angel or shark investors that want to take share of the business. But there was no social business model or incubator business model that holistically challenges the evolutionary stages of businesses development, taking it from survival right through to becoming independent. There was a fragment of it, but nothing that is connected in the way that we have created. So the challenge was to learn and to create at the same time, which is something that we have eliminated for our people. For example, it took 5 years for me to get to business profits, whereas people that join our incubator are achieving in 2 or 3 years.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
There are many that I am willing to give a way for free, but ultimately any success comes about by self-evolution and self-development and connecting to your purpose.
What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
Through one of our companies, Vative, I am privileged to see that in over 300 different companies, I see so much of the sameness… So there is not a lot of brilliance we see going on. However ANZ is one that is doing some interesting things using innovative new technologies and breaking down the traditional culture of businesses. Ozforex also has an amazing culture, along with systems and processes.
What about internationally?
Richard Branson’s group (Virgin group), and Google.
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
Businesses’ role in social change is that it can create the greatest impact for social change. Business currently is the biggest perpetrator in creating wealth in inequality. Global wealth is corralled into the hands of a few and its the role of businesses to manage fair flow of money and wealth equality to people and create opportunities so that they can live purposefully and bring their greatest potential to the world.
Speaking of affecting social change, is there a particular charity you’d like our readers to support?
I would like to support our own charity, ShareTree.
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?
We are looking for entrepreneurs, leaders and organisations that want to engage in a new way of social business that is proven to be more lucrative, more efficient, more sustainable, and has the highest retention rates by inspiring people to work purposefully and grow.
If you have a business idea, have a purpose, work for an organisation and want to change the organisation, or you own an organisation and want to make a difference in the world, then they are the people that we are looking for.
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?
The question I would want to ask is at start up stage:
“How to effectively market your product and services to reach sustainable customer base?”