Social Change Champion: Joshua Ross & Adam McCurdie
Three years ago, high school best friends Joshua Ross and Adam McCurdie left their jobs in finance and management consulting to start a purpose-driven enterprise that could scale – Humanitix. So far Humanitix has signed up major clients such as Football Federation Australia, Westfield and the Australian arm of UN. The boys say they are on track to more than double the turnover for the business next year and hope to expand internationally. We sat down with Josh and Adam to find out more.
What is your social enterprise elevator pitch?
Humanitix is the first not-for-profit ticketing platform that donates 100% of booking fee profits to ending global inequality and education gaps, and allows fellow not-for-profits to use the platform at cost. Humanitix is also on a mission to make events more inclusive through accessibility.
What are your biggest personal and/or professional challenges as a social entrepreneur in Australia?
The first 18-24 months were very lonely and it was during this time that we’ve both been very grateful to have had a co-founder to share the mental burden with. We very much felt like outsiders, we were unsuccessful in applying to a lot of the social enterprise programs/incubator hubs, and had very little interest from the not-for-profit sector, so it was very tough at the start! Fortunately in the past 12 months this has changed. The other major challenge has been that both of us have given up really good jobs to give this a full-time crack, and Sydney’s a very expensive place to live, so its been very tough financially – there is no ownership in Humanitix its a fully-fledged charity, so its been a lot of volunteering to get it to where it is today.
What’s the best piece of advice you have received so far since starting your own social enterprise?
The best piece of advice to date has been to stay focused on our core – ticketing – and not consider other product launches for the first 10 years. We have customers who are always asking us to launch complimentary products, and I get where they are coming from, but its dangerous for us to try and be the best at two pieces of software from the get go.
If you were to start over, is there anything you would do differently?
We’d give a bit more focus to marketing and storytelling from earlier in the journey. Our first 2 years we just focused on product and the ‘business model’, which was damn important, but I think we’d be stronger if we’d balanced it a bit more with marketing & better storytelling, which we are trying to catch-up on now!
Where do you see the future of social enterprise in Australia?
Good question – we are hoping that government will lead the way with social procurement and accessibility, which could really improve the competitive landscape for social enterprises that can scale.
What appeals most to you about Social Change Central?
When you’re in the trenches founding a social enterprise its incredibly hard to find the time to see what’s out there to be agile and opportunistic. The great thing about Social Change Central is it succinctly presents to you a shortlist of opportunities that may be relevant which you simply don’t have the time to search for yourself.
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 (e.g. are you looking for funding, PR, marketing support, volunteers, interns)?
At the moment our biggest challenge is we are looking for staff – we are hiring for sales and account management roles, with the hope that on a 18-36 month view these hires develop into management roles as we grow and move into international markets. We’re backed by Google and Atlassian, we have a model that is innovative, scalable and sustainable, and our main focus now is ramping growth. Its very hard to find people who are ‘doers’ as opposed to ‘high-level strategy’ folks – we have built a culture around the former so want to attract this type of person.
The other area we are looking for help is in votes for the Google Impact Challenge – it takes 2 seconds, just hit vote and confirm. Humanitix is a finalist in the competition, so we are just a few votes away from a guaranteed $1m grant from Google, please take 2 seconds to help us! This grant will allow us to develop market-leading accessibility tools to improve the experience for disabled people at live events, as well as expand Humanitix into international markets.
And finally, what would you do if you found a lottery ticket that ended up winning $10 million?
We’d go for a surf break in the Maldives for a few weeks (neither of us have taken a proper break in 3 years), put a couple of million into software development and innovation, and the balance into international expansion.
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