Two Feet Profile: Speakers Bank

In the countdown to our Two Feet Showcase, we are profiling some of the teams we’ve been working with over the last six months. Next on the list is Speakers Bank – a platform of professional speakers who experience disability or old age, who aim to inspire people with their shared experiences.

We sat down with Mimi Laurilla, the co-ordinator at Speakers Bank to hear more.

What problem is Speakers Bank tackling?

We live in a world where people are defined not only by the way they look, their ethnicity or cultural background, but also on the basis of whether they have a disability or not.  One in five Australians has a disability, and 88% of those disabilities are invisible. Most of us probably already have people with disabilities in our network of friends, family or workplace and we should know more about them! Misconceptions, stereotypes, and a lack of awareness around disability still exist, and impact the rights of people with disabilities to access services that should be made available to them, including opportunities to participate in meaningful pursuits such as being gainfully employed and living their lives to the fullest.

What is Speakers Bank’s solution?

Our solution to this problem is to break down those barriers through the power of communication. Speakers Bank members are people with disabilities, older people (with or without disability) and carers who have lived experiences that are able to talk about the issues and challenges that they face. Through their stories, they can help raise awareness, provide information, and assist in bridging the gap between what the community knows and how we can further work together to create a more inclusive society.

Ultimately, we want to address different groups to foster acceptance of disability.

Is there a highlight of Two Feet you’d like to share?

What we loved about Two Feet is that the structure of the program is in a sequence that enables us to think through what we have to do without being too overwhelmed. It engages us with new ways of thinking through and analysing what we need to do, and the Two Feet team are so engaging and committed to our success as well. They are upfront and honest about their ideas and this sense of openness is something we needed so that we could challenge ourselves to dig deeper into what we want to achieve and how we want to get there.

Two Feet was very instrumental in giving us the courage to push on as it helped clarify our sense of purpose and who we want to be within the social enterprise sphere.

“What we loved about Two Feet is that the structure of the program is in a sequence that enables us to think through what we have to do without being too overwhelmed.”

What’s the big vision for your enterprise?

I will be bold enough to say that I would love to see Speakers Bank as a leading organisation that continues to promote advocacy for people with disabilities through public speaking and educational programs like training and professional development.

I hope that in 5 – 10 years’ time, we would have been able to fully establish within Victoria, and expanded to other states as well. I would like to see growth not just in the number of speakers that we support and provided with opportunities to speak, but also increased connections with other organisations and businesses who find value in the work that we do.

In doing so, I would hope we’d have contributed to becoming more a more inclusive, open society.

If you’d like to meet the Mimi and her team in person, be sure to sign up to our public showcase.


Two Feet Profile: Farmwall

In the countdown to our Two Feet Showcase, we are profiling some of the teams we’ve been working with over the last six months. First up is Farmwall – they are transforming our cities into food-growing ecosystems.

We sat down with Farmwall’s co-founder and chief communications officer Serena Lee about her experience.

What problem is Farmwall tackling?

Producing food for our cities causes a number of different problems, from climate change, to pollution, to deforestation. The inefficiencies in the way we produce food creates food waste and further waste from the plastic packaging it is stored in.

Within the hospitality industry, there aren’t a lot of options for herbs and microgreens, meaning there is a real lack in consistency and variety, and by the end of the week the microgreens served in our restaurants aren’t as fresh as they could be, and a lot of produce goes to waste due to improper storage.

What is your solution?

Farmwall is an urban agriculture company that aims to transform our cities into food producing ecosystems.

We have designed indoor, vertical farms for restaurants and cafes. Farmwalls produce microgreens that are picked on site, meaning our restaurant partners have the freshest produce possible. It only takes two minutes to go from farm to plate, drastically reducing waste, packaging and food miles.

We are also building an urban aquaponic farm that supplies naturally-grown, spray-free, fresh and delicious greens to the restaurant/cafe door while providing us with a base for delivering our social, educational and environmental programs.

Is there a highlight of Two Feet you’d like to share?

Hmm… this is such a tricky one to answer! We’ve been so lucky to have benefitted from the resources, expertise and connections that TDi has been able to give us along the way, it’s hard to pick a particular highlight.

That said, I think for myself and Geert (another co-founder) we really found the session on intent with Bessi (Graham) so inspiring. Working on that helped us frame our story as a team, and was a grounding point that we could continually go back to.

 

“We’ve been so lucky to have benefitted from the resources, expertise and connections that TDi has been able to give us along the way...”

What’s the big vision for Farmwall?

First and foremost we want to really establish ourselves in the market here in Melbourne first, but then we would love to take Farmwall to international markets. We’re also thinking how to expand beyond the hospitality sector, maybe into residential or aged care facilities.

We could even see us expanding the technology to have an even greater impact in communities that suffer from food insecurity. We’re just really excited by all the different possibilities!

Food is a real connector that binds us, and the Farmwall model is just the first step in our bigger vision for what this could be.

If you’d like to meet the Farmwall team in person, be sure to sign up to our public showcase.


Undercover at Two Feet: Investment

Welcome to the sixth instalment of Undercover at Two Feet, where we cover each Two Feet topic as they unfold. From Intent, to Funding and Pitching, to Team and Governance, our Two Feeters are covering a lot of ground this year, and we want to take you inside.

This week was all about investment with Ishani Chattopadhyay, read on to find out what was was covered…

Date: 1/8/2017

Location: The Academy, 50 Miller St, North Sydney

Facilitator: Ishani Chattopadhyay

Session: Investment

Vibe: It should come as no surprise that as soon as the topic turns to “how to get more money into my business”, entrepreneurs’ ears prick up. After the last session on Finance fundamentals, today’s session switched to viewing the business through an investor’s eyes.

There are all kinds of investment out there (equity, debt, mezzanine etc.), so it’s important to think through the pros and cons of each investment type and which might be right for your business given the stage you’re at.

The teams got the chance to play their hand at being discerning investors, grilling Ishani on a real world case study. Judging by the quality of the questions, I think we had some savvy potential investors in the room!

Lunch: Wraps and sandwiches

Playlist: Folk, rock, chill (a collection of chilled classics)

“If you take on investment without a sound business model, you may turn a paper cut into a haemorrhage.”

Key Takeaways: Nobody believes in your idea like you do. As an entrepreneur you have a vision and the drive to make it happen. For an investor, their view of your business is going to be very different. There are investors of all types, with different appetites for risk, differing focuses and different values or specialty areas.

Having a key understanding of the risks in investing in your business and demonstrating that you know how to face these challenges is paramount in helping you secure the capital you need.

At the end of the day, investment is not a magic fix. Without a sound business model and a deep understanding of your customer, investment may only delay the end rather than be a catalyst for growth.

Key Moments: The teams really got into the role play, asking very deep questions and really testing Ishani’s knowledge of the business. It’ll be very interesting to see how they handle the pressure when their own business is probed deeply in next week’s funding and pitching!


Undercover at Two Feet: Business Finance Fundamentals

Welcome to the fifth instalment of Undercover at Two Feet, where we cover each Two Feet topic as they unfold. From Intent, to Funding and Pitching, to Team and Governance, our Two Feeters are covering a lot of ground this year, and we want to take you inside.

This week covered Business Finance Fundamentals, and was facilitated by Ishani Chattopadhyay, read on to find out what was covered…

Date: 12/7/2017

Location: Donkey Wheel House, Melbourne

Facilitator: Ishani Chattopadhyay

Session: Business Finance Fundamentals

Vibe: There was a little apprehension in the room at first because a lot of people dislike numbers. That said, Ishani quickly got people in the groove with her practical and ‘real life’ view on numbers and finance. She told everyone about her love for numbers and how good numbers actually tell a story that brings light to the effectiveness of your operations.

By the end, people were fist-pumping and high-fiving, having learned how they can choose the right numbers to make decisions and were eager to get going on their own business financials. An incredible transformation really!

Lunch: delicious Japanese-style soups to warm our souls from the Melbourne winter chill.

Playlist: mood-lifters and party starters to keep us rolling through the numbers with excitement

“Don't interpret numbers, understand them and make decisions using them. Numbers don't lie, people do!”

Key Takeaways:

Using three simple statements well, you can tell a story about your operational performance, what your business is worth at a particular point in time and how funds flow through your business.
When taking numbers to project or forecast you should always be thinking about “what decisions am I trying to make?” and “how does this connect with my operations?”.
In turn, this should all help you understand risk and figure out how to mitigate it.

 

Key Moments:

People who had assumed they were terrible at numbers actually proved to know much more than they thought through learning numbers in a more pragmatic way.
Having people leave the session saying they loved it given their initial fears about numbers was a highlight for everyone involved!


Undercover at Two Feet: Theory of Change

Welcome to the fourth instalment of Undercover at Two Feet, where we cover each Two Feet topic as they unfold. From Intent, to Funding and Pitching, to Team and Governance, our Two Feeters are covering a lot of ground this year, and we want to take you inside.

Last week was Week 1 of Two Feet topic 5: Theory of Change, facilitated by TDi’s Anna, read on to go inside the session and find out what happened..

Date: 27/6/2017

Location: Donkey Wheel House, Melbourne

Facilitator: Anna Moegerlein

Session: Theory of Change

Vibe: An incredibly inspiring session and really saw the teams grapple on the spectrum between good intentions and reliable outcomes. For such a tight amount of time, people were really engaged in thinking through the change they want to see in the world, and how they can meaningfully contribute to such a change.

Lunch: Pizza!

Playlist: Songs about change (A change is gonna come, Man in the Mirror, Waiting on the World to Change…)

“Be rough on your plans but clear on your assumptions”

- Scott Anthony, Innosight

Key Takeaways: The world is littered with examples of people that have had good intentions but disastrous consequences. Prohibition for example actually saw an increase in the violence and social issues that banning alcohol was meant to prevent.

Similarly, if a Keep Cup is bought but never used, there is a risk that it creates more harm than the good environmental impact it wants to create. Thinking through your program logic and theory of change is incredibly important in ensuring that you move down the spectrum to reliable outcomes and the change you’d like to see.

Engaging with beneficiaries as soon as possible, and seeing whether they agree with your proposed desired outcomes/vision is incredibly important.

Identifying your assumptions is critical.

Key Attendants: Kate Barelle – co-founder of Streat. Kate came in and shared the incredible story of Streat and how it grapples with it’s Theory of Change, holding the young people they work with at the centre of all decision-making. When they began they thought creating employment and housing opportunities for vulnerable young people was at the very centre of their desired outcomes. As they iterated through the program they discovered that a sense of belonging was the most important thing for their trainees all along.


Undercover at Two Feet: Piloting & Prototyping

Welcome to the third instalment of Undercover at Two Feet, where we cover each Two Feet topic as they unfold. From Intent, to Funding and Pitching, to Team and Governance, our Two Feeters are covering a lot of ground this year, and we want to take you inside.

Last week was Week 2 of Two Feet topic 4: Piloting & Prototyping, facilitated by Ryan Hubbard from the Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI), read on to go inside the session and find out what happened..

Date: Wednesday June 21

Location: Brisbane

Facilitator: Ryan Hubbard from TACSI

Session: Piloting & Prototyping

Vibe: Lots of eagerness and energy in the room as all the frameworks and tools we’ve been covering seem to be falling into place. A lot of sticky notes, people moving around the room, ideas and paper and post-its spread across various surfaces, and a mix of huddling together, bouncing ideas off each other and sitting reflectively in sunny spots for inspiration.

Lunch: Mini sandwiches, bagels and vegan rice paper rolls (yum!).

Playlist: Nick Waterhouse (US) & Clairy Browne and the Banging Rackets (MEL – although recently disbanded); contemporary artists bringing back old school jazz and rhythm & blues!

"If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would've said a faster horse"

- Henry Ford
(apparently Ford never said this, but a good quote nonetheless!)

Key Takeaways: The focus of a startup is learning! Framing assumptions, figuring out where we sit on the learning journey then getting out and talking to people. Small-scale experiments, testing lean and simply, learning and iterating quickly.

Key Attendants: A few designer minds in their element, including Ryan, with his slightly disappearing, pseudo Matthew McConaughey voice. A notable majority female presence of true WonderWomen, coinciding nicely with the box office release this month!

Key Moments: Our 30-second dance party to old school jazz & rhythm and blues; Bronte’s realisation that Ryan was sounding particularly McConaughey; and the round sharing what each enterprise will be prototyping or experimenting over the next fortnight!