The Two Feet Melbourne Accelerator 2018 is up and running, and our first cohort of the year, Melbourne, is already in the thick of it.
They’ve covered mission, modeling and a variety of other key ingredients that are a part of the Two Feet Accelerator that will help to supercharge their journey to impact over the next few months.
We’ve just announced the 7 social entrepreneurs who made the cut, which you can read here. And now before we do anything else, we wanted to share with you a behind the scenes look at some of the individuals taking part in Two Feet and share with you their journey and their visions to make the world a more just, environmentally friendly and equitable world for us all.
So first up on our blog is Joel, from the social enterprise big little brush, an environmentally friendly toothbrush company.
First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself!
I’ve done a heap of different things from consulting to selling coffee gear online.
For the most part, I’ve worked in and around software businesses. I was self-employed for around two and a half years implementing cloud software for small businesses. I also had a side online business roasting coffee and selling filter coffee making equipment.
These days I work full-time for a software company, working alongside small and medium-sized enterprises in Australia. But the side hustle (and a lot of my ‘spare’ time) is all about big little brush. If I’m not doing those things, I’m probably hanging with my family (I have two pretty hilarious kids, five year old Isaac and nearly three Sunday), exercising or doing something creative (I’ve recently rediscovered how much I love taking photos on 35mm film).
What is big little brush about, and how did it come into being?
big little brush is a social enterprise based in Melbourne that sells beautiful bamboo toothbrushes and uses 100% of the profits to help fund primary health programs in Indigenous communities in Australia.
It’s a bit of a long story in regards to how it came into being, but I’ll give you the short version!
I had a busted wisdom tooth that I let get infected because I was too broke and too busy to get it fixed. It ended up getting pretty nasty and I was in quite a bit of pain (and actually really crook), so my friends and family forced me to go to the dentist to get it sorted. My dentist pulled the tooth out, gave me some antibiotics and I was totally healthy again within a few days. I felt incredibly lucky that I could access the help I needed. I started thinking about how that may not be the case for most of the world, and it turns out it’s not.
I wasn’t content knowing those facts and not doing something about them, so I started to think a lot about what I could do to help. I had a heap of ideas, but none as good as ‘get toothbrushes, sell toothbrushes, use the proceeds to help people who need it’. Once I landed on that idea, I talked it over with a heap of people, a few of which are now on the big little brush team. The idea seemed to click with most people immediately so I knew it was a strong idea. There’s more info about this stage on our blog.
What is the issue you are working to create positive change on, and how does little big brush help?
We believe good primary health care and a sustainable future are fundamental human rights, and unfortunately, both of those things aren’t a reality for all Australians.
We make sure everything we sell is as sustainably procured, produced, packaged and transported as sustainably as possible. We also use all of our available profit to help fund primary health programs and education in remote Indigenous communities in Australia
What are you looking to get out of Two Feet?
Two Feet presents so many opportunities for big little brush, and for me personally. Aside from all the technical/hard skills, I’m going to gain (business modelling, writing a solid theory of change etc.), I’m also really stoked to get to hang out with fellow entrepreneurs who are shooting for the same goals we are.
It’s super helpful to have the support and challenge of other people experiencing the same things I am, at the same time
What is your vision for the world?
I’m really hopeful that one day the intersection between the social and environmental issues we’re experiencing as a planet will hold a first class place in the public consciousness. And that we’ll recognise that when we make poor environmental decisions we are generally creating new social issues at the same time.
What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced, and how did you overcome this?
Ha, that’s a long list! Everything from getting our idea and business model right, to accessing seed funding, to working out how marketing works (a new thing for us!). The key to working through all of this stuff for us has been to maintain our curiosity: ask heaps of questions, don’t let yourself be stumped etc. Also, hustle: stay up late, do the work. I’m a firm believer in the power of work.
What has been your best moment so far with big little brush?
Starting Two Feet of course! Haha, aside from that though, there’s been a few. Holding our early prototypes and then our first actual finished physical product, getting our first selfie from a customer who was stoked to be using their brush, and knowing we’d enabled someone to clean their teeth and they loved it, were all great moments.
I think the most amazing thing for us as a team was when we made our first contribution to each of our program partners: Red Dust and Indigie Grins (both super cool and doing important work). I’d strongly recommend checking them both out and supporting them how you can!
What advice do you have for mission-led enterprises or individuals?
I reckon I probably covered these above a little bit, but my advice is to:
- Be curious
- Do the work
What’s next for your journey and for the journey of big little brush, and how can people get involved
For big little brush, we’ve got so many ideas! Possibly more products, possibly new client types, and we’re also asking ourselves questions like “Why should anyone ever have to throw a toothbrush away?”, who knows where that’ll lead us!
If you want to get involved, every brush we sell allows us to provide a toothbrush to a young person in a developing community, so go buy brushes, tell us what you think of them and tell your friends! But also, use less plastic, it’s consumers that are going to change the future!
We love sharing resources – can you give us 3 websites/resources that have helped you on your journey?
In no particular order:
- Book: The Most Good You Can Do, by Peter Singer.
- Podcast: Humans of Purpose with Mike Davis.
- Website: Australians Together
Keep an eye out as we share with you the other social entrepreneurs taking part in Two Feet 2018 Melbourne, and the progress they make as they work to deepen their impact and develop a strong, sustainable business model from which to grow and flourish.