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Optus Future Makers: Q&A with Helen Maisano

Helen Maisano, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, Optus, tells us more about the Future Makers program at Optus to uncover some tips for those looking to apply.

In case you’re not familiar with Future Makers, it’s a capacity building and Accelerator program that empowers innovators to use technology to address social challenges for vulnerable and disadvantaged people. Finalists will be coached by Optus people throughout a four-month program, plus, will have an opportunity to pitch for tech and final grants from a pool of up to $300,000.

So, Helen tells us answers to four key questions about the program, check out what she said:

What is your favourite part about this program?

I absolutely love seeing people’s ‘light bulb’ light up. Whether it’s a new technology piece they didn’t think was possible, or an expansion of their solution, an opportunity to scale, the connections they make with people who believe in them, or, seeing it all become a reality – it’s quite a powerful program.

What is different about the program this year compared to past years?

With two years and two full programs of experience under our belt, this gives us the opportunity to seek feedback from previous program winners and stakeholders to review what worked and what we needed to refine. This has had an enormous impact on the program has evolved.

We also now have an Alumni Group that stretches across Australia, Singapore and Philippines where we can tap into other Future Makers networks and leverage insights and opportunities as part of the Singtel Group.

Lastly, we’ve implemented some new tools around social impact measurement and reporting which is an exciting new addition to the program in 2018. There’s also a few other differences, such as we’re tapping into our Innov8 initiative to present a three-hour segment and focusing on technology for an entire day to provide insights into what’s next in this space and how Future Makers’ solutions can evolve.

Why should entrepreneurs / businesses apply? 

If you have a great solution that leverages technology for social good, you’re already in the right place. So, if you are willing to learn, open to be challenged, committed to giving your best, and need resources to help you advance your social solution, you should seriously look at applying for Future Makers.

We also encourage charities and not for profits to apply. We believe there are charities who do amazing work out in the community but are still not harnessing technology to deliver their solutions, so it’s a great opportunity for this sector.

What are some tips for applicants?

We’ve tried to keep the application form simple and easy to understand. We highly recommend checking out some of our Future Makers videos to hear from past winners and get some key insights into the program.

In terms of where you’re at in your journey, please note that we’re looking for more advanced solutions, so if your idea is still a drawing on a napkin, you may want to look at applying in 2019 when you have got a working prototype solution.

To learn more about Future Makers, visit here.

Social Change Central
Social Change Central

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