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Social Change Champion: Cat Fraser

Cat Fraser has been uncovering emerging needs and markets with social data since 2008. A big picture thinker and creative visionary, she is able to bring new context and ideas that challenges the status quo of business and adopts a bigger picture view of aligning business to society needs, to make it human again. While Cat has a wealth of experience under her belt, she is currently focused on re-imagining the way we uncover and solve social needs to help individuals and groups unlock emerging markets and new opportunities that can be mapped to all organisations and sectors. Cat is the founder of Re-Imagineers which aims to bring to life a new data-driven approach to social innovation. We sat down with Cat to learn more about Re-Imagineers and why creating and applying new forms of social data is essential to identifying and understanding unmet human needs.

What is your social enterprise elevator pitch?

Re-Imagineers is a employee creative innovation platform to unlock human potential and create better futures.

What are your biggest personal and/or professional challenges as a social entrepreneur in Australia?

1. Finding the people who have the right values and mindsets – from team members, to mentors, partners and investors.

2. Having a world view of our business from the outset means it is important to be both global and local at the same time. When I got back to the UK (my Australian visa to stay failed at the last minute), I launched a global community, and future learning/ideas playground for my Australian and UK network. This provided a means to capture their unique social intelligence and perspectives of the future in one place and through the data, design a new social innovation model to ‘map the future’. Dual-time zoning has since become a normal practice for me and although it plays havoc with my sleep, I know that I would lose valuable opportunities and feel dis-connected without that level of commitment

3. Being social in a digital-first world can push you to the edge of work and society. Personally, I have experienced this for a long time now and I have also developed a very big picture view of the world after 12 years of working in digital strategy, across every sector. Seeing the need for a human-centred approach to innovation very early on in my career has informed a path of many, diverse cultural, learning and innovation experiences. Most recently, I have immersed myself in co-working and co-living environments to see first-hand the importance of building value-aligned, diverse communities for collaboration. Unravelling all my ideas into a new strategy and innovation practice I call ‘re-imagining, has taken a lot of time and I have struggled to understand how to do this and fund myself and a company, at the same time. I think this signals a need for a new business model (and possibly even legal model) that doesn’t exist yet. I’ve done things backwards to a lot of start-ups: creating a ready client list, marketing and sales channels off the back of the advocacy of our global community who bought into my ‘why’ straight away. However, until I had a very clear view of what our starter technology product was, it has been a challenge to prove our worth to the market or fit into existing technology-first systems/programmes.

What’s the best piece of advice you have received so far since starting your own social enterprise?

Tides are turning so don’t give up! Business leaders are starting to see that they can make a profit and have a positive impact in the world. There is also a citizen awakening that we need to take control of our futures ourselves (and not expect politicians or employers to do it for us).

If you were to start over, is there anything you would do differently?

By starting with the entire world (we explored and captured the data of 18 different social futures over 9 months), Re-imagineers 1.0 was a future business model – that did not work in today’s startup world. This also meant that there were so many paths to choose from (through the data, I was uncovering new social innovation opportunities everywhere!) and this made it very hard to focus initially. Perhaps if I had limited our R&D time to just explore the ‘future of work’ with our community, and quickly build an app to take to market, we may not have ended up in the same place where we are building a new HR Tech market for employee creativity/ R&D. This also would have meant that we wouldn’t have been able to validate that Co-EQ, our algorithm to uncover unmet human needs, works across every sector and organisation. In short, hindsight may have saved me valuable time, money, energy, pain and low credit scores(!) but I do believe I have created a far more more sustainable business as a result.

Where do you see the future of social enterprise in Australia?

Two years ago, when I was living and working in Australia, I started developing my ideas to design a different type of business, inspired by the BCorp movement and the Future of Work communities I had quickly become a part of. I received a lot of support, mentorship, feedback and advice from everyone I had met along the way, all willing to give me their time without having to show a certain level of success first. Most have continued to be involved in my business. In Melbourne particularly, I found a culture for learning, wellness and collaboration-over-coffee which I feel are all essential ingredients to a more social approach to business. Since I’ve got back, I’ve generally felt this is something that is missing in the UK. I think Australia can definitely lead the world in social value if they set their minds to it!

What appeals most to you about Social Change Central?

Community. A hub where like-minds can help each other grow their amazing social innovation businesses through sharing and harnessing opportunities, knowledge and discovery of the emerging industries. Activism. Through the power of the community, finding new ways to spread and build awareness of the issues facing social innovation businesses in today’s society. Access. The breadth of coverage across the globe sends a really powerful message, that we are without borders and both traditional and progressive funds can co-exist and learn from each other.

The Social Change Central changemaker community is growing at a fast rate. How can our members learn more about you and help support your organisation?

I’m currently raising funds to help me get our first application of our future R&D tool to market and build the team that I need to help me realise our ambitious plans. I am also seeking partners, clients and collaborators to join our team to co-design our science and app over the next 6 months as we test different creative solutions to diagnose and benchmark future of work behaviours. Everyone who contributes will be recognised and rewarded with equity in our company, alongside our global community and partnership with a UK University. You can register here. We’ll soon start opening up and working out-loud to share our product journey and invite industry feedback as we go. It would be great to get PR coverage on how we are re-designing work. Any other thoughts/ideas/suggestions of how we could work Together? Let’s explore! I am @catsocialintel on Twitter or connect with me on LinkedIn.

And finally, what would you do if you found a lottery ticket that ended up winning $10 million?

I would inject it straight into my business to build a company that the future needs most.

Are you a Social Change Champion? Want to be interviewed? Join as a Gold Member.

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