Deb Kan

Being Patient - Deborah Kan, Being Patient

In this episode, I speak with Deborah Kan about her work to build Being Patient. Born from her own need to understand the disease, Deborah called on her background as a journalist to build a platform to help bring clarity to the families of Alzheimer's about the challenges, research, and treatments.

While operational for less than a year, Deborah's community is already beginning to come together, and through this interview we dive into how she has approached the development (And delivery) of the content, how she is building community, and the importance of remaining impact focused.

To learn more about Being Patient, please see the links below.


"I really wish people would ask me how many lives have you helped today? how many people have you helped today? For me, that's a better measure of success."


About the Entrepreneurs For Good Series

Through this series, we speak with Asia based entrepreneurs whose mission it is to bring solutions to the environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced within the region to learn more about their vision, the opportunities they see, and challenges that they have had to overcome.

It is a series that we hope will not only engage and inspire you, but catalyze you and your organizations into action. To identify a challenge that is tangible, and build a business model (profit or non) that brings a solution to the market.


About Deborah Kan

Deborah Kan is a new media entrepreneur, media speaker and award-winning news anchor and journalist.

Executive Editor and Founder of Being Patient, she seeks to redefine health media by creating single-subject platforms around specific health topics. Being Patient is launching a news site this July solely dedicated to covering Alzheimer’s disease.

Kan was previously the Managing Editor for News Deeply’s Women & Girls, launched in partnership with the Gates Foundation. Women & Girls seeks to cover important female issues in the developing world, around health, education and crisis and conflict. Previously Executive Producer at the Wall Street Journal, Kan launched the Journal’s video and multi-media operation in Asia and grew it into a substantial operation, spanning nine countries throughout the region.

Follow Deb and Being Patient:
Website: https://www.beingpatient.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/beingpatientalzheimers
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/deborah-kan-36b2716/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/moms_got_alzheimers/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Being_Patient_/a>


About Rich

Driven by the belief that change begins with a single step, Richard Brubaker has spent the last 15 years in Asia working to engage, inspire, and equip those around him to take their first step. Acting as a catalyst to driving sustainability, Brubaker works with government, corporate, academic and non-profit stakeholders to bring together knowledge, teams, and tools that develop and execute their business case for sustainability.

Follow Rich
Website: http://www.richbrubaker.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rich.brubaker
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richbrubaker
Snapchat: http://snapchat.com/add/richbrubaker
Instagram: https://instagram.com/richbrubaker
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/richbrubaker

Contact Rich
social@richbrubaker.com


Full Interview Transcript

RICH: And so welcome back everybody. I'm here with Deborah Kan, who is the founder of Being Patient. It is a new media company that is basically trying to help those with questions about Alzheimer's to answer those questions about he research. She trying to develop a community. It's really engaging and learning from a personal issue. So thank you very much for your time. Greatly appreciate it.

First off can you please briefly introduce yourself. Your personal history and then also what your working on now.

DEBORAH: Ok, so my name Deborah Kan. I'm the co-founder and actually, sorry again I'm the founder and executive editor of Being Patient. Being Patient is a media company, a health media company where we are building single subject platforms on longer term illness to really go deep into a topic and give people the right type of in formation they need that is completely editorially independent.

GETTING STARTED
RICH: Great, so how did you get into this. Like what's your personal background and what drove you to start this new company?

DEBORAH: So, I was an editor at the Wall Street Journal and worked there for quite a few years. I was responsible for video and multimedia in Asia and building out the video operation. At that time, my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. I didn't know much about Alzheimer's. I actually didn't really have any contact with Alzheimer's other than friends who had told me their grandparent or their parents had suffered from the disease. So I didn't' really know a lot about the disease. I did what most people do which is to do a simple Google search and found that that lead to actually more confusion around making sense of where this disease is at, where the research is, is there going to be a cure? All of that information I found it very hard to figure out on one page. It was like you would get bits and pieces.

So I decided...actually I didn't have..I started to call people as a journalist would and I was calling researchers. I was calling all sorts of people and asking them questions about this disease and I ended up mapping it out. I mapped the pathology of the disease and I started to plug in information that I had found out through talking to so many people. I learned very quickly a lot that wasn't readily available to me or in a comprehensive way.

THE CHALLENGE

RICH: What was the problem? You said you had pieces. I mean everything's on the internet, it's all available. Is it just too much? Too conflicting?

DEBORAH: Part of the problem is there is too much information out there and it's hard. We've almost lost the ability to give people basic information and knowledge. Instead we just grab articles and they come at you so quickly, right? I found, especially when you're talking about a disease that doesn't presently have a cure, there's so much research out there but there is a lot of contradictions. That's what makes it really difficult. For example, one research study would say drink two glasses of wine it's actually really good for your brain. It clears the plaque from your brain. It offsets the onset of Alzheimer's. Then you'd have another study that says don't drink at all it's really bad for your brain.

That's how main stream media will cover these topics because they are not in these topics deeply, right? They're covering them on occasion. So it leads to a lot of confusion. What I found is there was no one who was making clarity of the topics. So with that example, there's actually a lot of differences in those studies, right? There's the difference in demographics. There's the difference in location. There's the difference in you know how they were measuring drinking. There's just a lot of differences.

So our editorial approach is actually one where we give people the information we feel is necessary in the context of where the disease is at.

ADDRESSING UNIQUE USER NEEDS

RICH: In that sense you mentioned the demographic of some of these studies are always different, so for example. Would you say that in a sense you have to make your way through the information knowing the context of your own, say your mother, being from a certain place at a certain age of a certain ethnicity, like the different biometrics. Is that helpful sothat you can make your way through? How are you trying to make sure that people get the right context for their situation.

DEBORAH: Ok what we are doing is creating an entirely different media model. Prior to launching Being Patient, I spent almost a year just surveying the community of patients and caregiver, primary care doctors and researchers. Understanding where information was failing people and depending on who you spoke to, the case was you know most of the patient care giver population were angry at their primary care doctors because they felt like they weren't getting the time and the information they needed to truly understand.

I mean you get a diagnosis of Alzheimer's, it impacts the entire family. It's not just the patient. How do I deal with this disease? Is there going to be a cure? Where is this disease and what does this mean? How does it present itself. So we mapped where information was failing people. The researchers for example told us that they didn't have enough connectivity to the care giving population. The caregivers hold a wealth of information to them. So there there...when we mapped all this out in the information problems, we found a lot of it was connectivity. It was addressing the right type of information.

So actually what we've done is we have a constant feedback loop. We not only go out to groups that we've aligned ourselves with now to tell them that we're there, but we go into their forums and we say, give us your questions and we'll get the answers. So our editorial directive actually comes from a community of people in need of information where they are directing us on the topics they want to know about rather than us telling them what they should know about.

RICH: How do you do that? Like what is the best medium for people to learn and feel like they are getting the right answers, but also in a way, like....

DEBORAH: Well, and that's why we feel like what we do is we're explaining the research to people in a very digestible way. I mean part of the problem, and what we've found interestingly enough, people...a lot of people assume that oh when you're in a disease like Alzheimer's people don't care about the research unless you have answers so what's the point. But what I have actually found is that's not true. People do care. They care, but they don't understand, right? And so there is no place they go where they can, where they feel like that makes sense now, now I understand it. So we produce a lot of our own content, but some of it is aggregated. When we aggregate content, we always put our editorial ...you know we always put context around it. So, you know when we feel like there is more explanation that's needed, when there is context needed and how it relates to the disease or what aspect or how science is approaching this, that is where we are providing the context.

RICH: How important is it for people of this community to see people that they recognize from their own challenge, but then also have access to the doctors that make...can they ask you questions and you can then ask them?

DEBORAH: Absolutely and that's one of the things we do. We call it "you ask we got the answer." So,and you know you mentioned a gentleman with early onset named Brian ______ he is featured in a podcast that we've created. The reason why we're featuring stories of patient and caregivers and hence the name Being Patient, is I've often feel like a huge conversation exists about how health and a disease like Alzheimer's. But the patient's voice is often in the background. So I felt it's really important to not only elevate what their need is for information, but elevate their voice into the conversation on health. So, it's this happy marriage between giving people a platform to tell their stories, but also giving them the answers to the information that they are seeking.

BRINGING EXPERIENCE & TOOLS

RICH: How did your background as a reporter help to you know...what tools were you bringing to this that were just immediately...I'm going to do this, I'm gong to do this so you can start to build that platform.

DEBORAH: So I think a couple of things. One was you know I've always been very entrepreneurial and I've only worked in the context of big companies for launches. So years ago I was hired to launch/start TVs first English news cast and that was a whole launch. Later, I went to Thomson Reuters to launch Reuters Insiders. Which is a proprietary financial news channel for Reuters. Then I was hired by the Journal to launch the whole video operation in Asia, which didn't really exist. So I have always been extremely comfortable taking nothing and turning it into something.

I...when I was at the Journal and I was realizing there was a huge opportunity in health that wasn't being addressed and I was experiencing that first hand, I kept thinking that this was the...this was something I wanted to do. This was something I could do because it was an information problem and I know how to solve information problems. Interestingly enough, I never worked out of the context of a big company, so in the year where I was formulating how to do this, I worked with this company called News Deeply. They build single subject news platforms and I launched in partnership with the Gates Foundation a whole platform on woman and girls in the developing world.

So that actually gave me that year, gave me the skills that I needed to fill in ok...like I've always worked for organizations tat had huge followings and huge platforms for me to address the content, but now when we launched Woman and Girls, I learned quickly how you cultivate a community around a topic and bring them to your platform. So that was hugely useful.

RICH: So you get to play a little bit with somebody else's issues that you were....and bring those skill sets and learn through that.

DEBORAH: Yeah. Completely. It taught me a lot. You know that's in part, I'm very grateful to News Deeply because our model is a little bit different from what they are building, but it really taught me about how you get people on your platform and you engage them through information.

ON-BOARDING NEW MEMBERS

RICH: I mean you have Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, a blog and a podcast. What are some of the lessons you've learned about how you bring them onto the platform and are you trying to get them onto all 6? Or are you...is there a major one? What are some of the tactics you've learned through this?

DEBORAH: You can't get them all, all there at one come. But what you can do, you can engage them on one that will hopefully turn into unique views onto the other one. But what we've learned quickly is, you know what's been amazing to me is the huge amount of support I've gotten. We're only two months old. The thing I wasn't expecting was the scientific community has really rallied behind me and a lot of the associations have because what I'm giving to the equation is something they're not given, which is really credible good content that's editorially independent.

So what I've learned is those people, you have similar intentions, right? Our intention is to get better information to people. I'm the content creator. They have a platforms with huge followings. So it's the ability to have them incubate you and so I become a content creator almost to help some of these organizations. Therefore, growing my base. But I think with media in general, it's like you need to have a clear cut strategy, but you're not going to be...you're not going to be everything to everyone. It's just impossible.

DEPTH OVER SPEED

RICH: That's actually....cuz a lot of people would run into the fire right now and try and do it all. It sounds like you're guarded in a sense like you don't want to dilute the quality of the content and maybe fail....what are some of the things you struggle with in terms of how fast you go? You must want to answer these questions for people as fast as possible, but also make sure that you do it in the right way for them because it is such a personal thing. What are some of those balances at?

DEBORAH: This is where we are at right now. We are putting, I mean we are only two months old, right? In some ways it's a really fun time because we are testing different things. But again, we're going to let the community tell us which direction to go in. What works, you know then that's the direction we are headed into. The Q & A, what we're trying to build right now is my instinct from people asking...we're already being viewed as an authority on the matter so people are automatically sending us questions. I got a message from a reader who wanted me..asking us if we knew of any scientific studies on a specific herb that he used that really helped with his mother's hallucinations, right? You know, right away we got an answer.

So it's that type of connectivity and having people view us as a credible source to give them good, reliable information. There's surprisingly a lot of mistrust in this space. I think that's along the lines to look at fake news, not so much fake news. It's not so much blatant fake news, but what you do believe and what you don't you. What's attached? Like everything we report on is attached to a credible study. We're not going to put anything out there that maybe someone thinks this works, but who knows. It has to have a substantial study attached to it.

KNOWING WHAT WORKS

RICH: Then how do you think from a business model, the media system right now is really struggling to find its next business model. How does this dynamic challenge you or how is that your opportunity going forward?

DEBORAH: Well, I have a approached this and whether it's right or the wrong way to do it is I'm not going to be specific about my business model until I know exactly what's working. So we have, I have a great...I have several great advisors we're on the phone probably with one of them every day. We're hashing out different scenarios. For me though, my mission is to leave the information free and open to all. I don't want to put it behind a lock and key. I want people to have access to this information.

One of the things we are modeling out is, is there a room for a premium model for this where we enhance that connectivity through virtual and live events. But again, we're so early that I'm very much focused on growing the traffic and understanding what's working before I say this is our business model.

RICH: How do you know it's working? Is it because the website numbers are going up? Because you get more questions.

DEBORAH: Yes. All of the above. So what we're tracking is we are tracking how many likes and followers we get. We're tracking how people are utilizing our content. How many subscribers we're getting for our emails. It's early days, but I have to say that I had the instinct that there was a huge need and the numbers are proving that. Our growth is incredibly healthy for a two month old company. Yeah, I mean we're you know, we're plowing the course. You know we are seeing on a weekly basis about an 8-10% growth. In media numbers, that's huge. But again, we're still early days. So is that great sustainable? I think it is and I hope it is. So we will see.

SUCCESS

RICH: Last question. What's success for you? As you look out. I know you are only two months old, but....what's success for you?

DEBORAH: I'm so glad you asked that question because I was having this conversation with my husband and I say you know the weird thing about being an entrepreneur is the first thing people ask you is what's your business model? What's your business model? You know, I never got into this to make a billion dollars. That's the farthest thing from my mind. I get frustrated sometimes because I'm confronted all the time with what's your business model? How are you going to modernize this? I really wish people would ask me how many lives have you helped today? How many people have you helped today? For me, that's a better measure of success. It's not, it's not oh are you going..how are you going to turn this into the next unicorn. Maybe you're not supposed to say that as an entrepreneur, but it's truly how I feel. I'm not doing this to be the next unicorn. I'm doing this because there is an entire population of people who need better information.

So if I can change just a percentage of those people and make it a better place for them when they're going through a disease, along term illness such as Alzheimer's, then I think that's success.


For more interviews from the "Entrepreneurs for Good" series, check out the playlist here.

Stay tuned for more clips and full interviews in the coming weeks.


Lisa Genasci

Scaling Impact Through Collaboration and Partnerships - Lisa Genasci, ADM Capital Foundation

In this episode of Entrepreneurs For Good, I speak with Lisa Genasci about her journey building ADM Capital Foundation, an organization that has been widely recognized for its impact across a number of important issues and for their work supporting (and incubating) some of Hong Kong's leading organizations.

It is work that that required a commitment to her vision for change, remaining focused, and finding ways to collaborate with others to bring scale of effort and impact.


About the Entrepreneurs For Good Series

Through this series, we speak with Asia based entrepreneurs whose mission it is to bring solutions to the environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced within the region to learn more about their vision, the opportunities they see, and challenges that they have had to overcome.

It is a series that we hope will not only engage and inspire you, but catalyze you and your organizations into action. To identify a challenge that is tangible, and build a business model (profit or non) that brings a solution to the market.


About Lisa

Lisa established The ADM Capital Foundation ten years ago as an innovative philanthropic vehicle to support critical research and impact-driven approaches to promoting environmental conservation in Asia.

ADMCF has been widely recognised for its work on solutions to some of our most intransigent challenges: Our depleting oceans, the nexus between forestry and development, air quality and public health, the intersections between food, energy and water.

Lisa advises ADM Capital to shape its investment principles and provides ESG advisory services to ADM Capital funds. Lisa holds a BA degree with High Honors from Smith College and an LLM in Human Rights Law from HKU.

Follow Lisa and ADM Capital Foundation
Website:  http://admcf.org/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/admcapitalfoundation/
LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisa-genasci-35ab7640/


About Rich

Driven by the belief that change begins with a single step, Richard Brubaker has spent the last 15 years in Asia working to engage, inspire, and equip those around him to take their first step. Acting as a catalyst to driving sustainability, Brubaker works with government, corporate, academic and non-profit stakeholders to bring together knowledge, teams, and tools that develop and execute their business case for sustainability.

Follow Rich
Website: http://www.richbrubaker.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rich.brubaker
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richbrubaker
Snapchat: http://snapchat.com/add/richbrubaker
Instagram: https://instagram.com/richbrubaker
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/richbrubaker

Contact Rich
social@richbrubaker.com


Full Transcript

RICH: Welcome back everyone. Rich Brubaker here with Lisa Genasci from ADM Capital Foundation. We're here to talk about working between non-profits, finance to work on the biggest problems of, that I think the Asia region is facing. We hope you enjoy this, we hope you find value and inspiration from the discussion we just had. I know I certainly did. If you did, please remember to like, share and comment.

INTRODUCTION

LISA: My name is Lisa Genasci and I set up ADM Capital Foundation for the partners for ADM Capital, which is an investment manager based in Hong Kong 10 years ago. The partners, four British partners, wanted to not just be giving in terms of their own philanthropy, but they wanted to set up a foundation that be impact driving. So right from the beginning they wanted to see systemic change in the environmental sector particular.

Initially we had a strong children at risk program, that we've morphed into the space that we saw for ourselves was more in the environmental sector because there was less work happening and the environmental sector would oversee a lot of need for change.

EARLY AREAS OF PASSION

RICH: So what are the issues that you initially came in on, drove you personally or that were align with the partners?

LISA: We started an initiative on shark finning. Because 50% of the shark fin trade was through Hong Kong and people said that we need we can't make change in shark finning. People will continue to serve shark fin at wedding. We supported initially all of our work begins with research. We supported cultural trade and market research which showed actually that people were not necessarily wedded to the consumption of shark at weddings. It was more of a sort of a habit. It was a questions of showing faith of affluence, or showing affluence and that is not so difficult to the change once people understand the consequence of the consumption. So it became an issue of consumption and how to change behavior

Rich, you have INTRODUCTION here as the title....are you sure? It is also above.
RICH: So you did the research, you identify the consumption, then how did you take it forward and what impact...are you able to look back on it hey, we had this much impact or we did this much?

LISA: In that case, we supported the research, we brought together NGOs working in the sector. Obviously, everybody has their own strategy. It's not a matter of NGOs necessarily working in the same way. Everybody has their place, which is fantastic, but we all work to divide the message so this buy consequences of the consumption. That was a main message in Hong Kong, which is a bit different than the message in China. Which is much more around cruelty.

So with NGOs, we established targeted campaigns focused around hotels, which is where there was obviously a large consumption of shark fin, wedding banquets. The other focus was companies for the official banquets. Then of course government for government events and fast forward many years later we've ended up with about 150 companies signed up to WWF corporate pledge not to consume shark fin. Then in the terms of hotels, we most of the 4 and 5 star hotels, 62% of the 4 and 5 star hotels and actually it's more now have taken shark fin soup off their menu or serve it only upon request.

RICH: How long did it take, how long has this been going on? When did you do the research? How long has it taken for this 30% reduction?

LISA: I guess we started this year, I'd have to check the figures, but we started to see the reduction in 2012-2013 Id' say and we started in 2006.

IDENTIFYING PROGRAMS

RICH: You have a lot of it issues that you work with from forestry, fishery, obviously air pollution. How do you figure out what issues you're going to work with and why not just stick with one? How do you make those decisions as a group? How do you maintain a 10-12 year commitment, I'm sure of money and of human capital to each of these issues?

LISA: We have really programs across five areas now so at quality for conservation and finance, water in China, a seafood initiative and wild life trade. But in each of these areas really we've evolved slowly I would say. As one issue... has we've seen our pick, taken interest or action or results, then we've been able to move to develop that issue and go deeper into another aspect of it. We've set up teams around each of these areas. China water risk is a good example where they could take forward those issues for us.

Where we don't see NGOs already engaged, we've been willing to step in and create initiatives sort of ADMCF initiatives that can and take the issue in 1/2 and they have run with that issue. So it's not as though ADMCF is sort of going deep in each one of these areas. We've set up teams to go deep into each one of these areas.

RICH: But how, like how from the outset how do you actually pick the issue? How do you know if you're looking at 10 things that you should go forward this one? What is the criteria that you try and layer in so you can understand? Now's the time.

LISA: We have to deal with the timing and also a sense of the people working in that space. We're not in it to be competitive. We're in it to be collaborative to work with others and to really bring together others that we feel that is the moment. We have an opportunity to...we have an opportunity to go deeper into that particular issue.

SETTING UP SUCCESS

RICH: So when you look at these, what are some of the key..and you want to have that mindset. you want to have a life after your support, after your direct involvement ends. What are some of the things you do in the beginning to maybe set that up?

LISA: Make sure that the support for the initiative...well, first we start with research. Really have an understand of what the context is and how we're going to address it, establish the theory of change. So really understand how we are going to, what the impact is going to be what we ant to see, how we are going to address that via research and make sure that you have a broad base of collaborators. NGOs, companies, government whatever is the mix that's going to help make that change.

Then what is the funding source? It's not just us. Broaden that funding bucket. What is going to be the source of funding that is going to support that for a long time? Where it's appropriate we can step back. Once we feel that something is on it's own, we don't' need to be in that particular initiative. We can step back and let it take it's course.

BUSINESS MODEL

RICH: Speaking of funding, you are the founder of the foundation. They gave you the money to start the foundation. How is your funding changed over time? Is it a continued endowment that you can pull off of and you can only use a certain percentage or does the capital growing? Or have you actually developed a business model so that you are selling reports, your selling service, like how is that evolved over the last 10 years.

LISA: The partners absorb all of the core costs of the foundation and we direct cofunding into partner projects. So that has been our model every year and certainly a lot of funders have appreciated that because they feel that their money is supporting whatever the project is. But the reality is, that does ya know limit our own growth to a degree.

So we are thinking of about what are the alternative sources of funding. So the tropical landscape finance facility we've started, I hope in the future could potentially generate all sorts of revenue for the foundation. Then we have a couple of other sort of revenue driven initiatives that could provide a source of support to the foundation in the future. But all of our information and research is open source. We believe that it should be open source.

RICH: On the funding, if you think now or maybe things that you've tried in the past, what are the pools of funding that are the most aligned to you? Are those the ones you really need over time? Sometimes you need a lot of money and you have to make a change of tact and compromise so you can get that in. What are some of the considerations you have when you are going through that? You're creating a business model after years of not having..I mean you have to have the budget, but you don't have to have the business model. How do you make that work? What are some of the core things you have to have in place in order for there to be great partnership on that.

LISA: Well I have to say we have been very lucky in that we've had that course of source of support from the partners. We've also been very lucky in that we are...there aren't many other foundations in Hong Kong that provide in then sense the same service to other US foundations or local Chinese foundations who are interested in environmental issues who want to get involved, want to see impact. We can deliver on what, we can deliver on our programs. We can deliver on action in our programs.

So they've seen us as very useful so actually we've been able to set the agenda which has been really important for us. So we haven't diverged to meet funding, funding has come to us.

SOURCES OF FUNDING

RICH: What's the best kind of funding for you? Is it corporate? Is it foundation? Is it government? Each one has different strings. Each one you can..what's been one or the best one that you're more natural to?

LISA: Most of the funding, the cofounding, has been throughout the foundations. Actually either US or local foundations. The best collaborations for us have been those where there is obviously a similar mindset and it's been an understating, a very clear understanding, again impact and what we want to see. So being aligned with our funders in terms of what the results should be has been very important and we've been lucky.

KEYS TO A GREAT PARTNERSHIP

RICH: What are some of the key things that make for a great partnership or a great collaboration?

LISA: Being aligned in terms of I think the message what you want to see. Not always how you get there because everybody has different ways of working. But understanding where you want to get to and understanding what that sort of general messages is I think is extremely important.

SCALE

RICH: What are the issues that you want to take up next and how are you going to go about expanding on the organization when you are already talking about budget verses business model?

LISA: I think we've got enough issues.

RICH: I mean is it ok to say it's enough? Or we've had some conversations about you need to constantly scale. Probably the most abused term in our entire ecosystem. What does scale mean to you in that sense?

LISA: Exactly. I thought about that a lot. I've come to the conclusion of no need. We are happy and we can be impactful in the space we are working in now. I don't feel the need for us to be a huge foundation. I would like to build more resources to be able to do more in the work that we do.

LESSONS TO OTHERS

RICH: In an ideal world, every investment group here would have their own foundation that is in hose supported in the same way. If you were speaking to someone who is looking to create a similar model as yourself, what are some of the key things you would tell that individual when they are talking to the LPs or the banks how to create a bit of autonomous unit that does the exact same work?

LISA: So it's all about the people. Make sure you hire people who care about the issues who are really have the same sort of nsync with you in terms of what it is you want to achieve. Give them space to create and allow them to take risk. Because you can't make change in this sector without being able to take risk. I think a lot of foundations forget the need to take risk.

That is the beauty of philanthropy. We can see the initiatives. We can support research. We can take risk in ways perhaps private sectors can't and we can create change that can magnify by bringing along the private sector.

TAKING RISK

RICH: You said you could take risk that the private sector can't. That's kind of the opposite of what we are trained in this space. So what, can you give me an example?

LISA: Yes. For example, the tropical landscape finance facility that we've started. So we got a very generous grant from Convergys. Which is a Canadian government supported entity that supports innovative finance. The developed initiative finance to build a team that could help us develop tropical landscape finance facility, which as I said said is..to marry a development agenda with...to drive a development agenda with private sector capital.

It would be very hard to find a fund manager who would be able to put their own money and time into developing the type of projects that we are developing around tropical landscape finance facility. It think we'll be able to show these transactions are real and the transactions at scale. These transactions are at scale will achieve what we want them to achieve and that they will have financial returns. But we needed the space to be able to build that.

RICH: Right now you're not sure there will be a financial return. Let's assume there is.

LISA: No, there will be financial return. They're being structured as commercial, fully commercial transactions, but they are difficult and complex to build as you can imagine.

SCALABILITY OF PRODUCT

RICH: If you prove the model, what then do you think is the scalability of that same financial instrument? Because at the end of the day it's a financial instrument. Do you foresee that you could label this thing and maybe more foundations, more both management groups, more banks would get involved and buy this product and maybe drive your issue foreword? Is that a goal? Or do you want to just get this one project done and show that it can be done in the right way?

LISA: First transaction which is a 17 millions dollar transaction in Indonesia benefits from a 50% U.S.A. guarantee. So, it does allow the private sector a certain comfort. So we believe that maybe in the future other transactions wont need that sort of comfort. That private sector will be more comfortable with this type of transaction that has a very clear environmental and social agenda as well as the financial return.

RICH: It's really interesting actually. It also in that sense, you really are just drawing off the financial capacity...that structuring background of the group itself marrying it straight into the issues that are important to the foundation. But I have to be honest, I'm not sure where the line is between is the two groups.

LISA: Well, on this project there isn't one. What has been amazing is also to see BMP capital market team steping up right behind us. There are structuring partner. They are arranging the green bond that will be.. is the results of...the securitization of the loans. They are selling that product to private sector. It's been a fantastic partnership for us and hopefully there will be many others. We have quite a strong pipeline of products that will sort of be following behind.

RICH: Last question following up on that. You mention that you liked having that firewall between, but in this product it doesn't seem like it exists.

LISA: No, you're talking about core funds. That was how we were established. Our offices are here. ADMA Capital offices are elsewhere, but for this particular product there is no line. We are working to the same agenda.

RICH: If that one really scales out, would you say that actually that might be the next..like that's an ideal way to go forward. Where you can bring the two organizations so close together they are actually one product and scale out as long as you remain autonomics in a sense?

LISA: I think it will be product base. Like with this product, it works well. Then as I said the 16:24 fund has a very clear environmental and social agenda. At the same time they are still our core ADM product, which work to obviously ADM Capital's investment principals. But, this is a different type of product. It needed the grant funding in order to be able to lift it off the ground. It needed the very clear sort of ENS support initially. But hopefully future transactions so we will be...it will be easier and will be smoother I guess.

RICH: Last question. How do you keep yourself focused with so many big issues? How do you keep yourself inspired by looking at so many big issues that really are, I mean there is not a lot of happy news some days. How do you keep focused? how do you keep inspired?

LISA: I have an amazing team working across all sectors. It's not me, it's honestly the team. They are passionate. They take great ownership in each of the other areas in which they are working. None of us could do any of this work without that sort of determination to make change. I would say I am at heart an optimistic person. I really do, I can see the incremental change we've been able to make. Because of the partners ADM Capital has given us that long time horizon, I can see that we can make change over time. I remain optimistic.


Pol Fabrega

Urban Farming in Hong Kong - Pol Fàbrega, Rooftop Republic

In this episode I speak with Pol Fabrega about his experience building Rooftop Republic.  Interviewed on his own rooftop, we dug into the movement of urban farming, the potential for urban farming in Hong Kong, and building his business.  It is an interview that is full of tactics, and lessons of resiliency, patience, and building a movement towards something better within the confines of today's economic models and consumer expectations.

 


About the Entrepreneurs For Good Series

Through this series, we speak with Asia based entrepreneurs whose mission it is to bring solutions to the environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced within the region to learn more about their vision, the opportunities they see, and challenges that they have had to overcome.

It is a series that we hope will not only engage and inspire you, but catalyze you and your organizations into action. To identify a challenge that is tangible, and build a business model (profit or non) that brings a solution to the market.


About Pol

After graduating with a MA in International Relations, Pol devoted the first years of my career to the academic and non-profit sectors where he worked in Europe and Asia on a wide range of issues from education to human trafficking, gender equality, or human rights.

In 2012, life brought Pol to Hong Kong where he had the chance to connect with the local organic farming movement, where he realised the potential of urban farming to transforming the way we currently grow, consume and think about food.

At Rooftop Republic, he am mostly responsible for business development, programme management and finances.

Follow Pol and Rooftop Republic
Website: https://www.rooftoprepublic.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pol.fabrega.9
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pol-f%C3%A0brega-vilella-b1002040/
Instagram: https://instagram.com/rooftop_republic/


About Rich

Driven by the belief that change begins with a single step, Richard Brubaker has spent the last 15 years in Asia working to engage, inspire, and equip those around him to take their first step. Acting as a catalyst to driving sustainability, Brubaker works with government, corporate, academic and non-profit stakeholders to bring together knowledge, teams, and tools that develop and execute their business case for sustainability.

Follow Rich
Website: http://www.richbrubaker.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rich.brubaker
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richbrubaker
Snapchat: http://snapchat.com/add/richbrubaker
Instagram: https://instagram.com/richbrubaker
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/richbrubaker

Contact Rich
social@richbrubaker.com


Full Interview Transcript

RICH: I'm here with my friend Pol from Rooftop Republic. It is at night, but we are here to talk about rooftop gardens in Hong Kong. I wish you could all see the garden that he has, but hopefully you're enjoying the background. Remember if you like this, if you find value, if you enjoy his story, please remember to like, share and comment.

Thank you very much, Pol. Appreciate your time spending with us. So, do me a favor and introduce yourself and introduce Rooftop Republic.

POL: My name is Pol Fabrega and I'm the cofounder of Rooftop Republic. Social enterprise that promotes urban farming in Hong Kong. Our main vision for Rooftop Republic is to integrate urban farming into our city lifestyle. So we set up farms on rooftops. We help to maintain those farms and we organize a lot of workshops and programs around urban farming and around food and around sustainability as well.

URBAN FARMING IN HONG KONG

RICH: What is an urban farm and what does urban farming look like in Hong Kong right now?

POL: So an urban farm is basically a farm within the city limits. It can be right in the middle of the city, like right now right now here on this building. Or it can be within the _____ (1:32) urban areas surrounding of a city. So in the surroundings of a city. The particular like case of Hong Kong is quite interesting because we live in a very densely populated city. We have an area out there called the new territories. There is a little more of a rural sort of land and there is more farmland, but here in the city is a very dense, very sort of concrete jungle kind of city. What that means is that when we set up farms within the city, generally we do it on rooftops just because that's the most widely available space in Hong Kong.

THE GOAL OF URBAN FARMING

RICH: Are we gonna feed people using rooftops? Like what's the goal of urban farming at it's central core right now?

POL: There is a university professor here in Hong Kong who has been doing a lot of research on rooftop farming. He has estimated that there is around 600 hectors of rooftop space that could be available, could be suitable for rooftop farming. That almost equals the amount of farmland that is currently farms in Hong Kong. So, only with the rooftop space we could double, you know the amount of, not necessarily double the yield because we might not get the same yield, but double the amount of space that we using for farming today.

CAN ROOFTOPS FEED HK?

RICH: Yeah, and actually that's kinda my question. Ok you have 600 hectors potentially, but it's spread out over a little 20 square meters, 50 square meters. It's actually really an efficient space, so how do you make this work?

POL: So for us, our model, like we were with a wide range of clients and they have different interests. They have different, they come to us for different you know with different approaches I guess. So we work a lot with property developers obviously to set up farms within their buildings. This can be within commercial buildings, this can be within industrial buildings, part of residential buildings and but we are also with hotels and restaurants to supply their you know to supply their kitchens in this case. But we also work with schools more for educational purposes. We work with corporates more like employee engagement and sustainability and corporate social responsibility. We work with community organizations more for the community and social aspect of having an urban farm and we work with individuals. This is my rooftop and I have a few planters where I'm able to grow my own vegetables.

So you know different kinds of people, different kinds of clients from our perspective have different kinds of interests and we'll use those spaces and those yields for different, for different reasons I guess.

RICH: We're in Hong Kong. It's pretty tropical year round. What are the types of plants or vegetables or like what can you do on a rooftop like this. What works, what doesn't?

POL: So in Hong Kong, we mostly divide the seasons in to two main seasons. The cold season or the warm season. Now we're entering the cold season. So between September/October all the way until April/May, it's the time of the year where we can grow wider range of things because the temperatures are little bit more mild and bit more or like it doesn't rain so much, it's not so hot so humid. We grow all kinds of things. We grow everything from tomatoes, carrots, beet roots, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, speed roots, all kinds of things.

Then in the summer in the warm season, we grow maybe a little bit less variety, but we can still grow a lot of things like beans, eggplant, squash cucumbers, peppers, bazo, chili, sweet potatoes, water spinach. So this basically it's always a season for something. What we try to educate the people is that you need to know what to grow when. To be able to be a successful farmer.

RICH: How did you get into this?

POL: So I'm originally from Barcelona. Before coming to Hong Kong, I absolutely knew nothing about farming, about food, about growing. Certainly I would not have imagined to be coming to Hong Kong to become an urban farmer. But I came to Hong Kong 5 years ago and I had the chance to connect with a local organic farmers here in Hong Kong. There's actually a lot of farmers in Hong Kong There's around 450 organic farms in the new territories, different sizes. Some are a bit smaller, some are a bit larger, but I started to kind of learn from them. Started to become more interested in growing, in food, and our food system started seeing all the problems associated with our core and food system. Started thinking about together with my cofounders, started thinking about how can we bring this movement, which is kind of developing in the new territories to the heart of the city and make it accessible to city dwellers.

GOING ALL IN

RICH: How did you know this was more than just a hobby that you come up on a Sundays and you pick you beans? How did you know you could make money? How did you know you could build organizations? Like what did it take before you made the jump on your own?

POL: I had no idea basically. Sort of like had no business plan, had no you know this is something quite new, it's quite an infant sort of industry especially in Hong Kong. It might be much more developed in other countries, but here we didn't have any reference really. Is this gonna fly? Is this gonna work? Are people going to like it? Are people going to be willing to pay for it? Who are going to be our clients? We had an idea obviously, but we had no idea whether or not the market would respond to our assumptions. Luckily enough we were able to quickly realize that there was, there was the demand for our services. From there obviously that was a lot of iterations, developing your services, improving them, getting feedback from your clients, learning as you go along and sort of fine tuning your business model and your business as a whole.

EARLY LESSONS

RICH: What were the early lessons that you think were just super critical to either learn from failure or like wow, we got that right. Like we had that.

POL: The technical side of farming was something we were not really familiar with. So we needed to overcome that by surrounding ourselves with some you know with some expert organic farmers that were working with us and that still work with us. So I would say would one of the main challenges.

The other challenge was how are we going to market ourselves and how we market ourselves to different kinds of clients Because like I said different clients come to us with different, very different interests. Everything from a school, who runs a school programs to a corporate who wants employee engagement and sustainability sort of program initiative. So these are very different clients, different users at the end of the day of our farms.

SEGMENTATION AND FOCUS

RICH: Is it a good thing to go after so many different types of clients or should you just focus...like each one's different so how so how do you make sure you maintain quality for all of them?

POL: So we had to develop, we had to develop tailor made solutions and this took a while obviously. You know we didn't have curriculums to give to schools for example at the beginning. So we were you know putting together workshops, curriculums and learning from other trainings that we had undertaken ourselves, consulting with farmers and so on to actually deliver something that would be suitable for a school for example. We need to try and build customize solutions that could be applicable to different client segments. We didn't focus like our range of clients was a little more limited at the beginning and then we kind of expanded gradually as we went along.

PERFECTING THE GRIND

RICH: So the core. What are some things you have to do every day to make it work to like, to succeed to have a valuable proposition that's stable? What are two or three things that just have to work every day?

POL: One of our key services is so we set up farms that's one main service. We design and install these farms, but also we do the management of these farms. It this is actually very critical especially from a business perspective. So when we set up a farm we have a client and we design it an set it up, that is one of the bit of revenue that we get. But what happens afterwards? How can we ensure that project is successful, sustainable and it's achieving the objectives that is has and it's making you know the client happy with it.

That's where our second service comes in where we provide a farm management service where we need to, not only is it a technical sort of support we provide where we send organic farmers to all of these farms to do some maintenance, but it is also managing the client's stakeholders. All of the users of these farms and how do we successfully and effectively engage them in the day to day running of the farm. How do we build an understanding? How do we build their passion for it? How we keep that momentum goin?. That is the most challenging one and that is where we are putting in a lot of energy.

PERSONAL RISK

RICH: You live in one of the most expensive cities in the world. How do you make this work for yourself personally?

POL: Obviously as an entrepreneur when you start on this journey you take a lot of risks and there are a lot of uncertainties. Together with my cofounders we invested some of our savings into this without necessarily knowing whether it was going to fly. You need to kind of be able to take that jump and have confidence that you have something that might be valuable and might work out and keep working on it.

It has worked out for us. Today we have 3 cofounders, we have 2 staff and we have a lot of people that we work with on a more part-time basis more on a project basis. So if you're able to pay five salaries, fulltime salaries. We are able to pay several part-time salaries by building our pipeline, expanding the client base, doing a lot of business development, putting the word out there, a lot of marketing and also media, media attention, media coverage that definitely helps to sort of reach different audiences. It has been working out so far. We've been around for 2 years and half and we're still kicking so.

RICH: Kicking is the first step to thriving right? So that's ok. You're still alive.

SCALE

RICH: You've got over 30 rooftops now?

POL: Over 30, yes.

RICH: Over 30, where do you go from here? Like how many can you achieve here? How many do you want? Then is scale something you talk about, something you dream about or is 30 a good number for you?

POL: No, I think 30 is just a start. We feel like potentially in Hong Kong we specially see a lot of potential more working more directly with property developers and architecture firms to actually integrate urban farms in spite of their designs. So entering like the history, like the life of a building at the design stage where we can actually fully integrate it into the whole building. There is a whole trend towards green building in Hong Kong and also abroad. There is a whole trend towards well being, promoting well being and building environments. So this fits very well with general trends we seen in the architecture and the property sector.

So we see a huge window of opportunity there to develop our business in that direction. Both in Hong Kong and abroad. We already have a couple of projects in China. One in Hunan, in Wong Dong and we get inquiries from other regions, Shanghai, from ____(12:49) from other parts of China and also from other parts of Asia. Mostly like bigger cities and we see that there's a lot of potential to develop, expand our operation here in Hong Kong, but also tap into some of these other nearby markets that have similar markets for that.

RICH: Very Good.

MEASURING SUCCESS

RICH: How do you measure success for your organization. How do you measure the impact that you are trying to have?

POL: We have a lot of quantitative indicators that we are tracking. Everything from how many arms have we set up, how many square feet of underused urban space are we transforming into urban farms. Yields that we are getting form some of our rooftops. Number of workshops and programs that we are running. Number of participants that are attending these workshops. Number of people that we are training to become urban farmers because we are also doing some trainings for different groups with sort of underprivileged backgrounds to provide them with job opportunities and employment opportunities.

So how many have we trained, how many of them actually employed at the end of the program, etc, etc. So there are a lot of more quantitative indicators that we are trying to track to measure how much impact we having. But then there's also a whole range of quantative data that we would like to also dig into and collect although it is much more complex arena, but trying to see how people are reacting to this project. Ok, you been part of part of this project as been participating this urban farm for a year. How do you feel different about food? How do you...have you changed your behavior in shopping?

RICH: So you're trying to measure the immeasurable.

POL: Yes. Like the quality, like mindset change, behavior change.

RICH: That's the tough stuff to measure. People talk a lot about that.

POL: Yes. Do we try and do survey's before and after the program. How have you changed your perspective of food? On farming, etc, etc.? Trying to capture that change in their behavior.

TIPS TO VIEWERS

RICH: You have an aspiring entrepreneur watching this. What are three pieces of advice you give to someone when they're starting this process? Like what are the three keys to success? Like what are the three things they should avoid? Or what are the three challenges they should persevere through because it's fucking hard! Right?

POL: It's a very lonely journey. It's a very hard, you know it involves a lot of hard work. I don't want to paint like a pink picture of what being an entrepreneur is because it has a lot of nuances being an entrepreneur. It's incredibly gratifying and it's incredibly rewarding on many levels because you're building up your own thing and you're creating your own. You're sort of developing your own visions for something. So that's really exciting and that's what drives me and that's what keeps me going and what makes me sort of overcome all the obstacles.

But you also need to be aware that there will be hard times. There will be a lot of uncertainties. There will be a lot of risks you will have to take and sort of adventure into the unknown and be able to navigate through that. Find what works for you. Find that balance that works for you in managing this feelings, this emotions and this...

RICH: When you're navigating that, what's your..what is your flashlight? What is your compass? What are the things that you....what are the tools you have when you're really trying to navigate through that when you're uncertain? What are the things that you have to have to get through that?

POL: One of the things that we really have been working on is since you're a startup, you only have so many resources. You only have so many people. You only have so many skills sets. You have so many gaps. You have to change hats and double, you know, double up to do everything a business or organization needs to achieve. So you need to surround yourself. You need to build your network. You need to build a pool of people that are there to support you when you need them. So you need to really establish those relationships with advisors. With people who are at good with finance or people who are good at market. Or people who are good at different aspects of your work that you might not be necessarily very good at and sort of trying to find how you can think creatively about...ok, I don't have money to pay someone fulltime to be my marketing manager, but I need marketing. So how do I creatively find a solution for it.

One of the things we tried to do is surround ourselves with good people around us, good advisors that can fill in the gaps when we need that can support us along the way.

RICH: Thank you very much for your time.

POL: Thanks Richard, it's a pleasure.


For more interviews from the "Entrepreneurs for Good" series, check out the playlist here.

Stay tuned for more clips and full interviews in the coming weeks.


Karen Farzam

Know What You Want to Build, Iterate, & Build Community - Karen Farzam, wHub

In this episode of Entrepreneurs for Good, I speak with wHub founder Karen Farzam about the work that she has been engaged with developing a community of entrepreneurs in Hong Kong and in changing the perceptions of women (and girls) in STEM and tech through conversations with academics and families.

It is a journey that had no plan, has had several iterations, but over the course of the last few years has grown tremendously, and I hope you enjoy our conversation about the work that she is doing.


quote


About the Entrepreneurs For Good Series

Through this series, we speak with Asia based entrepreneurs whose mission it is to bring solutions to the environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced within the region to learn more about their vision, the opportunities they see, and challenges that they have had to overcome.

It is a series that we hope will not only engage and inspire you, but catalyze you and your organizations into action. To identify a challenge that is tangible, and build a business model (profit or non) that brings a solution to the market.


About Karen Farzam

Karen Contet Farzam is the co-Founder of WHub, Hong Kong’s biggest startup community. She is a community builder, connector and passionate about Tech and Startup.

Karen is a founder and board member of the FinTech Association of Hong Kong, international speaker (Vivatech, Web Summit, RISE,), a French Foreign Trade Advisor, ambassador of the FrenchTech, community leader for Techstars and mentor for several accelerator programs.

Follow Karen
Website: www.whub.io
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karen.farzam
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/karenfarzam/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/chleozam


About Rich

Driven by the belief that change begins with a single step, Richard Brubaker has spent the last 15 years in Asia working to engage, inspire, and equip those around him to take their first step. Acting as a catalyst to driving sustainability, Brubaker works with government, corporate, academic and non-profit stakeholders to bring together knowledge, teams, and tools that develop and execute their business case for sustainability.

Follow Rich
Website: http://www.richbrubaker.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rich.brubaker
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richbrubaker
Snapchat: http://snapchat.com/add/richbrubaker
Instagram: https://instagram.com/richbrubaker
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/richbrubaker

Contact Rich
social@richbrubaker.com


Full Interview Transcript

Welcome back everybody, Rich Brubaker. I'm here with Karen here, who has started a couple of organizations here in Hong Kong. A Hub platform for startup entrepreneurs, but also she started or was part or core to the woman's echo system here. Fantastic conversation about her own journey as an entrepreneur, but then also aspiring and learning from that process. So, thank you very much Karen, this has been fantastic.

KAREN: Thank you very much.

RICH: So thank you very much for joining us. I really appreciate your time. I know this is a busy city. You're a busy person. Do me a favor and give me a little of your background and what you do in Hong Kong.

KAREN: Ok, so I am French. I grew up in Tokyo and I'm an engineer, studied computer science. I moved back to Tokyo for JP Morgan to be an creative electric trader. Then moved to Hong Kong, switched to web development and build my own startup.

RICH: Before you made the jump, do you spend time with the ecosystem at all? Or was it a complete like there's a whole different pool and I'm going to jump in. What was your process to get into this?

KAREN: Basically, totally randomly we, the co-founder and myself, met a lot of entrepreneurs and they were so passionate about what they do that you know, we were like ok it seems they need a lot of help to recruit or to get new users, early adapters. How can wee help them based on the passion that they have? Because when you hear an entrepreneur, you want to help. You're totally into it. So that's why we build Whub

HONG KONG STARTUP SCENE

RICH: What are some of the things you've seen over the time since you started that because when you started it was a very different time. How have the needs changed? Was your first idea the right one?

KAREN: No, my first idea was definitely not the right one. We iterated a lot like every startup. You really need to be flexible, but in terms of the ecosystem. So when we started them it might have been maybe one event per week. Less than 10 co-working spaces. We didn't really know who was doing what. Which is really why we build Whub. We are not talking about syntax or edutech or anything, it was more just about tech to start with. People were saying that 3 years ago there was about 1,000-2,000 startups and on the platform we have like 1,700 startups. Just ya know, on our own platform. It means that it grew so much over 3 years, it's just amazing.

RICH: How many of those startups are going to be foreign backed? How many of them are going to be local,Hong Kong backed? Is there a difference between the two in terms of their own, like the access to resource or the challenge that they face?

KAREN: So when you are looking at the ecosystem you feel like there is about 50% local and 50% foreigners. I think we all face the same challenge. The difference is where you want to expand whether you want to go to China because you have your own connections or whether you want to go to Southeast Asia. Because at the end, Hong Kong is just a spring board for something else and a good place to ya know, start, iterate and test your product or service.

RICH: Why not just go into Shanghai, Beijing where they have a real deep....

KAREN: I agree. I think if your end goal is to target China, you need to go and start directly in China. But you know sometime its a matter of also connection, and who you meet that will lead you to once place or another.

WOMEN WHO CODE

RICH: So you are the founder of Woman Who Code. Tell me a little bit about what that is and why you started that.

KAREN: So basically I switched from you know, really financial background, into web development. I attended when I started a lot of web development events and there was like 50 guys and 2 women. So we were just really were wondering where all the girls were because there must be like more than that. That's why we founded Women Who Code.

RICH: So what is it..like how were you trying to promote, or what were you doing to maybe build the ecosystem and what's the output sense?

KAREN: Basically for Women Who Code is was really here in Hong Kong about bringing more women into web development. Because you know its the sectors that is really booming, a lot of job opportunities and a lot of women who were considering it. They wanted to have more information about it. So they came to us and that's where the knew their first started to code and learn about new things. So that's really how it got started. Then it was also going to universities and talking to students. Because it needs to change from there as well.

RICH: Ok, sorry. It's a little bit younger than say...what I would see in the press about women and tech and the challenges that women face.

KAREN: Yeah because Women in tech was more studied in Europe or US where you have more mature system, but here tech was just starting so it was a little bit different.

CULTURAL (&OTHER) BARRIERS TO WOMEN

RICH: So, what was some things that you found maybe in the education system, or in the culture or in general that were holding women back from getting into.

KAREN: I think at the end, we need to education the parents. You know that actually it's good to have your daughter try to code, maybe it's not for her and it's totally fine with it, but just to try and you know to think that it's not only for boys. I think that this thing even when it's high school and you have a coding class and suddenly it's like 99% guys. That's really a problem for me. I never felt any discrimination here in Hong Kong or in Asia. The truth is that you have less women studying STEM class anyway, in general. So it's more about telling them that they can try it, but it can also be for them. They need to have more roll models.

RICH: What do you think is behind that? Because in many it's up to the individual to sign up for the classes in school, right? So why do you think that there's a disparity? Is it?

KAREN: I think it's just this pressure that we have without even knowing it. It's always there and you feel like it's just not for you. I think that's one thing. It's how the media also advertise. When you have a women you know raising 20-30 million for a startups the title is like "a woman in tech raised like money." It's not like...whoa, there is a new startup with this amazing product that just got released. You know, it's all about the fact that it's a women. That for me is really an issue.

TACTICS FOR BETTER ENGAGEMENT

RICH: So, like at the tactic level, how are you trying to deliver that to the communities that you are trying to reach? Like what was the things that worked really well?

KAREN: I think going to talking to university works well. Even when you're talking to 50% and only one them you know after that is writing to you saying oh this was great I'm going to look into it. I was not sure I could try, but this is something that could change. You have the Woman foundation which is doing an amazing job. You have a lot of small communities that are really making a big impact. I just think that it takes time. It's difficult.

KNOWING WHEN TO ITERATE

RICH: So when you got started albeit with the hub or with the network, did you have a plan for either one? Like how, like what were the things that you started off doing and how did you know when you need to iterate?

KAREN: So for womanhood there was absolutely no plan. It was just like there must be more woman in tech or codding somewhere, let's try and grab them. Thanks to Facebook. So this was one thing.

For Whub, it was more like about really gathering a community and trying to showcase all this passion for entrepreneurs. Then we ya know expanded with like job opportunities. We did talent database with an event we were organizing and more partnership. It's always about you know, finding new way to reach more people.

BUILDING COMMUNITIES

RICH: How do you do that? You know because you mentioned Facebook. But in both cases there communities that are surrounding that for support. How did you, what were some of the things that you did that really worked to bring community into your cause or onto your platforms.

KAREN: That's a good question. That's a very good question. I don't know. We organized alot of events. We were very present within the different communities here in Hong Kong. There were like small communities, but they were all very fragmented. For us it was more like how can we bring it all together. Without doing what they were doing. How did we do that? I cannot have a real answer. It's time.

It's like ok, for example. I'm a runner and I think what makes a difference is being very consistent. I think it's exactly the same thing. You are consistent week after week. You keep trying. You keep pushing. You keep making new connections and trying to bring very great content. You need to make a difference. It's not just the talking, but really doing something that can help people, in real. I think that's really what makes a difference and really that why you know, people came to us and how we grew also.

RICH: Are there certain things that you have to remain consistent on all the time and some things that you can....

KAREN: There are some things that you can pivot. I mean for example, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. You need to try them and see. You cannot do it all. It's impossible. It's way too much work. So you need to try them and see which one will work. Which one won't work and for like which purpose. Then you can just push it so definitely you're not doing the same thing again. It's about really having KPI from the start knowing what you are going after from the beginning. Otherwise you will feel like you are always getting it.

EARLY LESSONS

RICH: Like if you just have Facebook, you're developing your community. What are the some of things you did early and look back like, oh wow that was really not helpful. But then what are the things you did that you actually started to learn. Like what were the key lessons from there?

KAREN: I think we tried a lot of different things, different type of inspiration of talks or tagging and some of them really didn't work. I think also in terms of blogging, so like we switch at tome point to medium instead of having our own we have help also to promote. I think it's really having a strong branding that people can recognize from the start. And it's evolve (??? 10:46) When I look at the first design of the website I'm like oh my God!

LEARNING FROM FAILURE

RICH: So, need to learn. What was the biggest I mean, learn from failure. What was your failure that you think that you learned the most from?

KAREN: I think sometimes you need to learn to say no. Because at the end of the day, it's just 24 hours a day. I have two kids and you cannot say yes to every event, every coffee, every lunch, every new connection. You cannot do it. So you need to learn to say no. You need to learn to delegate not to do everything by yourself. Because when we start, I mean when I start my co-founder so we really doing everything. Which was great because it's the best way to learn and to you know, to try to get it right. But then you know you grow, you have a team so something's you need to let go, you need to trust people they do it in a different way. You need to say no.

RICH: What does balance mean to you?

KAREN: The good thing I think about what I do now compared to trading is that I can do it from anywhere. So I just my laptop and that's it. So I can go back home at 7, spend time with the kids and go back to work at 9. So this is really, really great in terms in finding balance and finding the right time to work. So I think now with new technology, you can definitely find it.

ADVICE TO ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS

RICH: For anyone like watching this video, we have aspiring entrepreneurs, we have want-trepreneurs, we have mid career entrepreneurs who are trying to make their way through the weeds. What are like a few pieces of advice that you would give to someone about getting through it? About growing? About, ya know achieving, driving impact?

KAREN: I think first is that when you're an entrepreneur you have a lot of people giving you advice. At the end you need to make up your own mind. it think that is one thing that is very important. Always list listen, but in the end it's your decision and you have to be actually liable for it. So that's really one thing.

Second thing, whatever you have in mind it's going to take more time. Whatever you have in mind. But it's good to have a target, ya know? That's the second thing.

The third thing is, it's really a rollercoaster. I mean you know people say it all the time I know. But it's true. Sometimes like oh my God it's amazing things are going so well and sometimes like why am I doing this? It's never going to work. So I think what really makes a difference is to be surrounded by the right people. It's life changing. My co-founder is also my best friend. My team its people that, we've met we had relation with and really grow together. There is a huge trust. We're really going in the same direct. That's what is the most important.

It's really the people that surround you. When you are surrounded by amazing advisors or mentors or people that are really pushing you up, that makes a lot of the different. I know it's what everybody says, but it's true that and one thing I'll tell you that you cannot do alone. It's so hard. Being able to find the right partner for this is really key.

GETTING GOOD ADVICE

RICH: You mentioned advisors,. You mentioned giving good advice. Can you give me some insight to that? Because there is a lot of good advice that's actually not applicable. How do you find your mentors? How do you find your advisors or do you really just pick and choose?

KAREN: It's really about your good feeling. The one advisor that I have, the first day I met him it's like we clicked so well. It was such a connection. He really saw exactly what I was going to do, the missing, where we were going to be in 5 years, the whole plan I had in my head, he saw it right away. So we have a really like deep connection. I don't know it just works super well.

RICH: Then how much do you, how much information do you get about the business so he can make a good decision for you or give you, like do you give him the financials or...

KAREN: Yeah, I can share everything.  You need to trust people. Also the thing is that when you're talking to and advisor or somebody who's like, they're' not as emotional about your business as you are. Because for you everything is so personal. So they can...how do you say in English when you step back and it's good sometimes to speak to people that can step back from your business and say, ok take a deep breath an look at the whole picture. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? That's also what is important because when you're working on it like all the time, sometimes you just need to breath a little bit.

RICH: If you're gut doesn't agree with what your advisor say?

KAREN: I won't do it?

RICH: You won't do it?

KAREN: No because at the end, it's still my company right? I mean me and my co-founder of course, but at the end we take the decision. So advisor are there to advise, they are not there to run your company. So at the end as I was saying, it's your decision.

RICH: Any last words you want to give to our aspiring entrepreneurs?

KAREN: I think being an entrepreneur is just really great, but I think also we need more people that join startups. Not all of us have the right ideas, the right time, and even though its really exciting to build your own company, there are still a lot of companies that are recruiting and that need talent and still be part of an amazing adventure by also joining a startup. It think that's also really important as I was saying it's all about the team. Like me, myself alone....like it just would never be this. It's because of the people I'm surrounded with. It's really important.

RICH: Anything you would say differently to a woman entrepreneur? Or an aspiring woman entrepreneur?

KAREN: It doesn't matter if you are a woman or not. So that I think that's really the first thing is like just don't take it...right now, it's good to be a woman because right now there is a lot of things to apply for, diversity so lets just embrace it and you know, go for it.

RICH: Thank you very much for your time.

KAREN: Thank you very much.

RICH: That was fantastic.


For more interviews from the "Entrepreneurs for Good" series, check out the playlist here.

Stay tuned for more clips and full interviews in the coming weeks.


peggy chan

Building a Vegan Movement in Hong Kong | Peggy Chan, Grassroots Pantry

In this episode of Entrepreneurs For Good, I interview Peggy Chan, the founder Managing Director and Executive Chef of Grassroots Pantry, about her mission to bringing the vegan movement to Hong Kong through a strong ethos, her passion for food, and delivering an amazing menu that reminds her customers of their favorite food memories.

As always, I hope you are inspired and engaged by the conversation!


Peggy's story is one of a passion for food, and the commitment to delivering on that passion every day


About the Entrepreneurs For Good Series

Through this series, we speak with Asia based entrepreneurs whose mission it is to bring solutions to the environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced within the region to learn more about their vision, the opportunities they see, and challenges that they have had to overcome.

It is a series that we hope will not only engage and inspire you, but catalyze you and your organizations into action. To identify a challenge that is tangible, and build a business model (profit or non) that brings a solution to the market.


About Peggy Chan

Peggy Chan is the founder, Managing Director and Executive Chef of Grassroots Pantry, a homespun restaurant in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong serving innovative plant-based cuisine with the highest standards of hospitality. Through Grassroots Pantry, Peggy shares her passion for organic produce and supporting local sustainable agriculture by educating the public about the issues that face our food systems today. Grassroots Pantry, as a result, has grown to be more than just a restaurant: it is a highly regarded platform that highlights pressing issues and encourages all to make a difference through action and collaboration, while providing a world-class dining experience.

Since opening in 2012, Grassroots Pantry has enjoyed great success, community support and media coverage in publications such as CNN Travel, Cathay Pacific Discovery Magazine, Travel & Leisure SE Asia and National Geographic India, and Peggy remains determined to create an independent business that will continually challenge the way diners view food production and consumption.

Follow Peggy and Grassroots Pantry:
Website: http://grassrootspantry.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peggygp55
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/peggy-chan-a15a1649/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chefpeggychan
Twitter: https://twitter.com/peggychan55


About Rich

Driven by the belief that change begins with a single step, Richard Brubaker has spent the last 15 years in Asia working to engage, inspire, and equip those around him to take their first step. Acting as a catalyst to driving sustainability, Brubaker works with government, corporate, academic and non-profit stakeholders to bring together knowledge, teams, and tools that develop and execute their business case for sustainability.

Follow Rich
Website: http://www.richbrubaker.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rich.brubaker
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richbrubaker
Snapchat: http://snapchat.com/add/richbrubaker
Instagram: https://instagram.com/richbrubaker
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/richbrubaker

Contact Rich
social@richbrubaker.com


Full Interview Transcript

RICH: Welcome back everybody. Rich Brubaker here with my friend Peggy from Grassroots. An amazing story about a young executive chef who has opened up a very unique place here in Hong Kong that serves only plant based foods. We speak about her journey, what drives her, how she stays humble and...thank you very much. The food is amazing.

Peggy thanks for meeting with us. Tell me a little about yourself as a individual and also Grassroots,which we are sitting in here.

PEGGY: Sure, thank you for having me. My name is Peggy. I am the executive Chef and founder of Grassroots Pantry, also managing director. We are a five year old vegan vegetarian organic restaurant. We source as much as possible locally and over 90% of our ingredients are certified organic. I've been an avid sustainable consumer or conscious consumer for the past 17 years, so that my lifestyle. So for me it's about how do I balance my food intake and nutritionally but also create food that is fun, interesting, and innovative.

RICH: How does that work in a city like Hong Kong where consumption is at a whole another level. Why did you choose this city to get started?

PEGGY: The challenge was really to take on what the city needed. The city that I grew up in, the city that I know and that I've worked in for many years. Take that challenge on and really to offer, offer our city and community something that is different.

RICH: How did you come into this?

PEGGY: Well, along with what I was doing in hotels in corporate, I was always on the back of my mind really wanting so badly to do something about the food industry and what was or raise awareness about what was going on thin the food industry. So back then, 12 years ago, was when I first read an article on Gourmet Magazine. That was in 2005 and that was the first article that had actually showed me what food was and where food came from. That was the first time I'd heard about Monsanto and genetically modified organisms. That really led me to do my research.

Throughout University in Switzerland I was continuously doing my research and figuring out what was going on with the meat industry, watching gorilla films. It was always in the back of my head even though I was working in corporate, I would be talking to my colleagues. They would ask me why I was vegetarian and I would tell them, do you know that? How cows are actually raised these days? No, well they're being pumped with RB/GH growth hormones. Do you know any of this? No. It's scary.

RICH: Why didn't you just become an activist for ya know for the human society, an existing NGO? Why didn't' you go that route? Why go into a restaurant business?

PEGGY: I really thought that I was going to leave the industry for good and go into academics and go into social work. Which is very normal for a lot of people, but I knew that I had my passion was really and my career ya know. Everything that I've honed for 12 years was in food and beverage and my craft is culinary. It's hard to leave all of that when, you know, it's kind of like a part of you.

I decided that after my Eat, Pray Love moment of traveling to Bali and India and everything, I really just felt that there is a way for me to do this. I can combine my love for culinary and running restaurants with my passion and activism for sustainable agriculture and combine that together and make Grass Roots Pantry my first pantry business and something that is more of social entrepreneurship base.

RICH: When you set this up, I mean the entire menu is completely Vegan, what were some of the core principals when you said you were going to build this restaurant that you had to adhere to and how challenging...what was the opportunity with all the challenges of sticking to those principals?

PEGGY: When we opened Grass Roots 5 years ago, we weren't opening it to become a vegan restaurant. It was only over the years and last year was when I decided after watching cowspiracy was when I,not realized that I really decided that.

RICH: Because you knew, but you like that was it.

PEGGY: Exactly. It was getting that push in. These food documentaries are so crucial to getting people to just, ya know do something. Plastic Oceans as well. So I really, with that we I decided to get rid of all the dairy. Not that we used a lot anyway, I just said we'll get rid of it overnight. I think many times when you're an restaurant operator and a chef with a big ego, you do what you want to do, but you fail to see what the market wants. If I made those decisions overnight and I made all these like funky stuff all wrong, all ya know cold foods and you know cold press all very like too hippy and stuff. I think It would deter people from trying.

RICH: Because whether they think... I mean to me it's like tofu. There's a preconceived notions that you can break through. How did you...like what was your process for once you knew that it was a problem, how did you then create a menu or how did you look at that part of the business.

PEGGY: In order for us to get our consumers to...our customers to really feel like they are a part of that experience, I wanted to create a menu that was something they could recognize. So let's say if I were to make a Thai dish, I would make it as authentic as possible but give it those Grassroots tweaks. Which is to make it plant based, super food laced, all wholesome foods, 100% organic, all of that. So when they eat it, they're like oh, I remember this flavor, oh I remember that. But actually it's actually something so much more healthier than you would normally get. So like one of the examples that we do is popcorn chicken that we do which is super popular here. It is my memory from middle school after school we would go to KFC and buy these buckets of popcorn chicken and pop them in our mouths.

So the taste and the memory and the flavor and fragrance, all of that, just made me realize that I can recreate that with an ingredient called hedgehog mushroom. Just batter it, toss it in galangal powder and there you go. So everyone who comes here they eat it are like this is just like chicken.

RICH: So are you trying to fool them? Like the beyond burger it's actively trying to fool you so that you'll just make the switch more readily. But how much for you is just looking at the food and going this just makes amazing food, but the flavor speaking for themslevs and hopefully....the tica I just had, **** amazing, how much is just you looking through food and this is what I can do and I know that this will be amazing. How much is people is people like pop corn chicken and I'm going to created it and fool everybody and they're going to keep coming back?

PEGGY: I wouldn't use the word fool though. I'm proposing an alternative. So actually we have a catering arm called The Alternative Caterer. What I'm doing is really proposing you a different option as what you would normally have and still have it taste just as good. You're experience won't change whatsoever. You can still bring your friends who are meat here and everyone can have their own meals, different style of food. We can have India, Thai, Italian, Chinese, all on the same table at the same time. But you'll will experience something that is memorably.

RICH: What are the best ways for you to break through the noise of what's happening here in Hong Kong food and dining. How do you get your message out and how do you attract new consumers that are outside your friend's circle, the people you are actively going after? You need the masses to come here to make sure you have a stable business? Is it Facebook, is it events, is it speaking, is it everything? What's worked well for you as a story teller?

PEGGY: When we were smaller, social media definitely worked, but now that we are at the stage of business, our public relationships team really does help us give us a push. But most importantly, I think it's the messaging, it needs to be consistent. So no matter what channel you use, the message needs to be consistent. So we do this thing called the Collectives Table. It's an initiative we started a year ago and the whole idea is to get, ya know the restaurant is great as a platform to touch to the community, our guests. Change the ways that they think.

So most of our guests who come here, they are not vegetarian/vegan. But the collectives table is really to tap within, infiltrate within the industry so that we can get the suppliers, the chefs, ya know the big restaurants, the corporates to start changing their systems, system change. So what we do is challenge them to cook plant based over one special dinner and part of the proceeds goes to a certain charity. We created a lot of buzz, a lot coverage for them because everyone is talking about plant based food now, vegetarian, putting more like wholesome foods on your menu. So we kind of help them as well tweek their image to the public and vice versa.

So we're doing it globally and we've been able to successfully change some of the chef's, like not purposely, but they are so inspired. Through that pop up, through that collaboration, they've been able to feel so inspired that they will change, maybe the percentage plant based verses meat dishes have shifted.

RICH: What are the big challenges that you face? Like day to day, like your vision perspective. What are the challenges you are facing and how do you get through them everyday? How do you wake up like alright look, we've got all these problems and we can get through it?

PEGGY: Well, the biggest problem in this industry no matter where you are, big corporate hotels, or small startups...people. We are a human intensive human based industry where everything is based on communications. That is always a problem and we have a massive shortage of qualified skilled workers in this industry right now because no one wants to go into food and beverage. Noone wants to go into hospitality. So that is one thing.

RICH: How do you fix that? Robots? Right!!

PEGGY: Gosh, how I would fix that is really just to go back internally and say how do we become better. How do we attract quality staff? We have to be role models for what we do so if we...we say all these things like...we do all these things, but we're not really good with our work ethics and even if I attract great people they would see us as they're just ya know, it's just all poster, messaging. So I first of all make sure that my team, the ground team, the skeleton team is strong and they are ya know, their ethos is exactly like mine that if I say segregate your ways, you have to segregate your ways. That has taken a lot of time. Like 2 years ago was not like this. There were a lot of chefs who came in and there were multiple shortcuts. So it takes time to build.

So that's one way that we're tackling why, how do I wake up in the morning and feel 100% to go to work and continue what I do? I see everything with a bigger picture and the bigger picture here is we need to do something about the system here.

RICH: What inspires you about the food sector right now?

PEGGY: What gets me the most excited is really to be a part of that system change. So because I've worked in food and beverage for 17 years, it's really knowing the industry from inside out and knowing how to fix it, know how to change it. Of course, I don't know everything around the world, but I'm starting in Hong Kong.

RICH: How do you measure your successes? How do you measure impact?

PEGGY: That's a good question. People have their conceptions about you a certain level. To me it's all about my confidence within. I don't need someone else to tell me who I am or whether I'm doing well or not. As long as I feel confident and comfortable with the correct feedback and being open to accepting feedback, staying humble with humility and then just focusing on doing better than I have before the previous day. Then I know I've done my job well.

RICH: What advice would you give to a young woman about how to be yourself, get it done,...?

PEGGY: One of the things the words that was used on a chef's table, I don't know if you watched it, but Chef Nikiama, she uses the word, it's a Japanese word Kreashi, which means to allow the negative energy that people give you drive you to prove them wrong. I mean that sounds reactive, but actually if you have that mentality all the time, it can become proactive and become a part of you. So, let any doubt, anything that is negative that enters you be produced back as something productive and positive.


For more interviews from the "Entrepreneurs for Good" series, check out the playlist here.

Stay tuned for more clips and full interviews in the coming weeks.


Pat Dwyer

Jumping from Corporate into Social Entrepreneurship - Pat Dwyer | Entrepreneurs For Good

A few years back, I met Pat Dwyer, founder of The Purpose Business, at a friend's conference in Singapore. We were on the same panel, and we had a BLAST sharing our experiences and insights to the crowd, and given neither of us were invited back to speak again it is safe to say that we left a lasting impression on the crowd.

This interview is no different. It is a pretty raw discussion about entrepreneurship, starting with Pat's decision to leave her role as Sustainability Director at one of the leading hospitality groups and covering a range of topics that flowed.

It is a high energy discussion, and one that I am comfortable will leave a lasting impression on those viewers who are aspire to enter this space or are already in it and looking to be inspired to get through their day by seeing how Pat is developing an organization that brings a lasting impact to the challenges that she sees faced in the Asia region.

 


This interview is about finding purpose, scaling impact, and believing in the tools and capacity of entrepreneurs to change the world


About the Entrepreneurs For Good Series

Through this series, we speak with Asia based entrepreneurs whose mission it is to bring solutions to the environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced within the region to learn more about their vision, the opportunities they see, and challenges that they have had to overcome.

It is a series that we hope will not only engage and inspire you, but catalyze you and your organizations into action. To identify a challenge that is tangible, and build a business model (profit or non) that brings a solution to the market.


About Pat Dwyer

Pat Dwyer has fifteen years sustainability leadership experience, most recently as Global head of CSR & Sustainability for Shangri­La Hotels & Resorts.

She holds a BA in European Studies from Ateneo de Manila University and an MA in Globalisation and Governance from the University of Birmingham. She just completed a Certificate for Transformational Leadership, at the University of Oxford SaÏd Business School under the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders Programme.

Pat brought Shangri­La to the forefront of responsible tourism operations, making it the only Asian hotel group to be recognized in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. She developed programmes across 89 hotels in 22 countries covering a broad spectrum including carbon management, diversity, environment stewardship and employee engagement. She equipped over 40,000 colleagues to understand sustainability issues through a training module and worked with local organisations to benefit more than 30,000 children globally. Previously, Pat was the first CSR head of Ayala Land, Inc. in the Philippines.

Follow Pat and The Purpose Business:
Website: http://thepurposebusiness.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TPurposeB/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/patdwyertpb/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tpurposeb


About Rich

Driven by the belief that change begins with a single step, Richard Brubaker has spent the last 15 years in Asia working to engage, inspire, and equip those around him to take their first step. Acting as a catalyst to driving sustainability, Brubaker works with government, corporate, academic and non-profit stakeholders to bring together knowledge, teams, and tools that develop and execute their business case for sustainability.

Follow Rich
Website: http://www.richbrubaker.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rich.brubaker
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richbrubaker
Snapchat: http://snapchat.com/add/richbrubaker
Instagram: https://instagram.com/richbrubaker
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/richbrubaker

Contact Rich
social@richbrubaker.com


Full Interview Transcript

RICH: I'm here today with Pat Dwyer who is with the Purpose Business. She's come out of corporate 2.5 years ago. Jumped into her own thing. Didn't have plan, but definitely has attacked the world. This is a fantastic interview. You will...you don't have to, you will like, share and comment. So thank you very much Pat. This has been fantastic. We hope you, we know you will, so stay tuned.

BACKGROUND

RICH: So do tell us about yourself. What you do and why you love doing it in the city.

PAT : So the last time I saw you was when I did that job that was 7.5 years with Shangri-La. Then started my own business. Why did I do it? Why didn't I do it sooner I guess, is a bigger thing. The premise is really if I could do it with one with a massive team of people, imagine doing it for so many more. Basically said right. We need more Asian stories in sustainability and that's what we are as a team that works in Asia-Pacific. We are lucky enough o have landed some iconic brands, mostly in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

Would I change anything of what we did? I am not an entrepreneur, so I guess the biggest thing or like if there are students listening, go get your entrepreneurial degree. I never had myself as a business owner. I'm used to working in big organizations, whatever they may be, nonprofits and all that.

RICH: So how did that feel. You used to I need to do computer.

PAT : Yeah, it's nuts. There's no chart for this. There is no kind of manual for it. For constant learning, but I think the number one thing I've learned is to surround yourself with people who are experts, who are much better than you. There is a professional heads I'm selling anyway.

TAKING THE LEAP

RICH: Why did you choose 2.5 years ago to make the jump? What was your catalyst to leave? What was probably a really cushy job, why would you jump out of that and into something you knew nothing about in a sense a product you have to develop, fine-tune it....what made you....

PAT : Go through the trouble of.....I guess I called my company the reason why I did it, which is purpose. It sounds trite, but we're lucky to have landed that website then. But, you feel like you've done all that you could changing the mother ship isn't always easy and I've been blessed with an amazing support top down, sideways, and all that, but it was time to kind of do more of this with a bigger set of team and beneficiaries and you know the real change you wanted to see. You can say you've probably done all that you could at the time you could and it was the perfect time to leave. If I didn't leave then, I think I would have spiraled in a different way, and that's, you know, that's not good for you. And you know what they say about failing fast and failing cheap, I think that was the part....

RICH: Failing cheap in Hong Kong?

PAT : Well, there are ways! Next up. No, but there are ways to kind of do that in the most minimal ways possible. I was not going to wait any longer to kind of go and try that. So trying that at that time was perfect.

RICH: Did you start with partners? Did you start by yourself? Did you have your first client in hand? Or was it really like...I've gone as far as I can with this organization. I've gone as far as I can with sustainability. I know I have to go and chart a new path. Like how much had you done in advance and looking back, was it enough?

PAT : I think the market is ready. Was ready then. Any earlier I would have been starving. So, if I did it now, there's too many, too many consultant in this space and too many good ones like expertise and all that. Did I start with partners? Lets say, not being an entrepreneur, you surround yourself with people who are better than you in certain aspects. I knew what I could do, but I knew who I needed to go to for help. So there were people who helped me think through what that was going to look like. I used my notice period to kind of set all that up. Most people would say, why don't you moonlight and keep your day job and stay sane and pay the bills and then shift it once you've already got a market for it. I didn't have that luxury and I guess what I've done it differently, sure. But nothing has failed fast and cheap since then. So, we've learned our lessons in a fairly cost-efficient way I would say.

RICH: And just immediate, when you made the jump, what did you think it would be and how different was it?

PAT : I have no idea. . I think I had no expectations of what it would look like. The only expectations were are you going to open a hot desk or you going to be co-working? All the physical expectations were there so I guess in a good way, that was easy to handle. Anything you did was more than what was expected. There are certain things that you don't expect, like the way clients behave, good and bad. The way decisions are being made, how fast, how slow.

I guess, I've never lived the life of a consultant, so I didn't know what it was like to be a consultant. But I do know what it's like to be in-house and a lot of us in our team knew how it is to be in-house. You know exactly the excuses or the bureaucracy that you need to navigate. The length of decision making. I would like to think that makes it a little bit more accepting on their side to work with people like us.

DEVELOPING FOCUS

RICH: People like us. Are we all crazy?

PAT : Yeah, kind of. I don't know why we do what we do.

RICH: Part of the challenge, and I've found this out with my own agency, you could be like be asked to do everything. What has your focus been and how have you developed that over time?

PAT : So, the tactic in year one was suck it up for what the market is ready for. It may not be what you want to do. It could be reporting. It could be anything that is basic, but that's what the market is about. But, over time, kind of build out, there's a center line of the product. There is an MVP, youre most valuable product that you want to go for and if there are no buyers, make the buyers. Because they don't know what they are looking for and this is the beauty of sustainability. I think because it could go into meaningful products or services. It could go strategy, government.

Yes, we have said no to certain clients who have asked for..Oh, can you do this? Can you do this? They tend to kind of, if they like you, they want a one-stop shop. We're very, I guess we've set ourselves up to be a very humble brand and we know what we could be good at. But the way we set up the purpose business is a network of experts as well. So if we don't have it in-house, there actually a second layer. I know everyone says partnerships and all that, but they are within the team. So there is expertise that we know we can pass on and you front that best kind of team to the client.

We are now working on frame works that are branded, or IP hopefully under our name and all that and that could not have happened if we tried to do that in the beginning. So you can prototype and you can test, which is what we did the first two years. Very exciting times in the next year. I would think something that is on brand it's gonna come out.

BUILDING A BUSINESS

RICH: As an entrepreneur you can have big aspirations. You want to build a team in six offices in six countries, da da da. Some are like no no. I want a lifestyle business. I want to be able to work out. I want to be able to have the family, like how are you and the business and how does it effect how you make decisions on how to build, hire, cash flow? All these things can add pressure. How do you building your business? What is your mindset? What are you really focused on doing?

PAT : There is a vision that we all share. So, working towards the vision, but I think one thing that has made us really different is the setup with the people. So every single one of us has a life and sustainability. Once a marine biologist. One is an ethics professor. One does mushroom farming on rooftops. Another on is a carbon manager. So we don't want to take that away from them because that's what makes them relevant. The last thing you want to be is, I used to do that and therefore hire me and because I know what I'm doing. I know what I'm advising you of. That is what everyone does. We are active in that space, hands dirty. But we can tell you if you are going in that direction, we are actually in there. You know like we are pushing regulation or we are figuring out what the price of the next resource is and we'll figure it out with you.

In that sense, there's a bit more balance. The way we hire people, if you wanted a secure full-time job, 9 hours, 10 hours in an office, you're not going to work with us. In fact, we've had prospects who've said to us, you are too disruptive. We're not ready for that yet. I take that as a good thing. Because then you filter out who it is you can work with and not. That said, we're not being flippant about setups and minimum compliance and things and such. Everyone got a life in sustainability and everyone pursues that while being on the team. I think that's the reason why we attract the people we are working with right now.

SELLING SUSTAINABILITY

RICH: Now, when you have so many players in the market, I'll talk about sustainability, how do you differentiate yourself? How do you create definitions that are engaging to clients, just at a product level? How have you found that problem?

PAT : Well, I think that's two questions there. Once, is how do you differentiate yourself from all the others. I think our model is very, very different. The way we work is very different. Having that setup allows us to be cost efficient with the highest level of expertise. So we'd like to think we're not up here with a you know whose are most expensive number of zeros and down here with interns kind of thing. So that's one.

Two, the specialization and sustainability is away from just the technical environment assessment or just what are my community programs going to be. Let's bring it back to purpose so that is what is very, very distinct with us because we know...oh, profit is not my purpose. There is still that kind of enlightenment with some businesses. But when you link it to what is the legacy air China create. What was your business there in the first place? It then becomes unnecessary to do a materiality assessment sometimes. Because if you stick to that, then you know exactly what you should be focusing on.

When we work with SMEs, it's really encouraging because everyone says what, they have no money startups. They have no money for sustainability, but actually it's a café or chain of restaurants..bang, it's food safety, it's packaging, it's sourcing. They know their issue. That is such a joy to work with because the worse thing is when a prospect just wants to do everything and doesn't know which one and wants you to figure it out and you kind of...your job is to show could you do this, could you do that, and yea.

REDEFINING WORK

RICH: How do you feel now that you are on your own? You get to pick and choose. You don't have to appease the masses. You don't have to appease your boss. Does that bring you personally, a very different feeling about how you go to work everyday?

PAT : First of all, we do not get to pick and choose all the time. I mean, you're still beholding to clients, right. There are still clients you love, love, love, to work with. Clients that are not ready for you yet. But yes, you get to pick and choose your battles the kind of work sometimes. Every day is a different day. There is no...I think in the first week or maybe even the first month, there was...I began to realize there was no weekday and a weekend. Sunday is proposal day, but what you all I am running on Tuesday. You're all miserable in your 9'oclock work hour. You're still there, right?

That is fun. We look forward to that. I think again, with our setup, there's a lot of us who do virtual offices. I have three or four mother who have got two or three kids a piece and they run a program on GHG emission training with a baby in had. That's just you, know it's good. It's cool. It's very cool to s see a client that you didn't think would be okay with that, to be hundred percent all over it.

WORDS OF WISDOM

RICH: What advice would you give to them? Being inside the machine, having a comfortable life, maybe the kids and the package and the blah, blah blah. What advice would you give to them if they are considering making that jump?

PAT : Again, I'm not an entrepreneur so it's not as if one day I'm gonna go sell this room and I didn't even think of it like that. But in hindsight, intrepreneurial thinking, why, why this all that when you've got all the perks right? If you can do, be the change agent internally absolutely do it. I think my advice is to speak up and find the kindred spirits that can make that happen for you. If that doesn't work and you've tried relentlessly and you've found you know the c-suite that will give you the blessing to go and do it and there is still none. Then you gotta think about the practical stuff. Paying the bills, balancing the family and all that. I don't think I really thought let me go and set up my own thing in fact, I probably even said is there someone who I could just join and help that girl because that's the easy route.

ROMANTICIZING ENTREPRENEURSHIP

RICH: Now, a lot of people they romanticize the idea of being entrepreneurs, owning their own time, okay. What are some of the things that you may have romanticized about to start off with that have become reality?

PAT : I guess you've got an image of your day in your head, squeezing a bit of running I here, I can go catch up with a friends and you can do the work in between and that's enough. When you're setting up your own, whether you're alone or with partners, you've gotta accept that there is no you outside of that. That this is consuming even when you're on the treadmill, or swimming in my case, that's the time you kind of you know recover but that's also your creative side so there is no switching off I guess. You can't have, you shouldn't afford that luxury, but then again if you don't work it's not going to get built. So you can have the four hour day and ya know sixteen hours on the side that you're doing whatever and it will only grow that space.

So I guess if you romanticize, oh in two years you're going to do a series and in five years I'm gonna be bought out aint gonna happen if you're not going talk in the hour. But like I said, I had no expectations. I think for me it was more the reverse which was, oh my God where is it going now? Like what are my options and everyone saying go this way, go this way, go this way. There's no one way in fact we should take that offline and have the okay what do I do now? Its year three.

GETTING GOOD ADVICE

RICH: Ok, then that's a different question then. Who do you trust to give you advice that's useful? Everyone will give you advice, everyone will say what you should do, but how do you, how do you find the people to trust? Are there people you absolutely trust? Like people who've gone through it? Are there people who are entrepreneurs? Like who do you go to?

PAT : I deliberately created a circle of entrepreneurs, ex-entrepreneurs, semi VCs and people who are just really good at shit I'm not good at. So whether it's super hardcore finance, or if it's you know, it's certain aspects. I have them in like a panel in my head and I can go phone them up. They're not on the board, they're not, they're not necessarily with a discipline on how they speak to me, but they are my biggest critics. These are the people you know we'll just call it what it is and tell you to stop. Or if you're, you know flip flopping on a decision they're just gonna call my bluff out and force me to do it.

I actually have one who is on the finance base kind of advising me, and I've known him since before Uni. He is serial, he is lethal, he says and I quote, "my job is to take you to hell, but make you want to go for it before I even ask you." It's just that. Or take you to heaven and make you wanna go before I even ask you. They're very, very spot on like that. I'm lucky to have circles like the World Economic Forum, YGL who have all done this who are all amazing. I kind of feel like I'm this teeny, tiny brownie making businesswoman and you're all these tech and everyone is going through the same thing.

COMPLAINING & FEAR

RICH: What room in your life do you have for complaining about your situation? How much thought do you give to failure and maybe the lessons from...like if this doesn't work out I have this. Or if this project doesn't, do you like to learn from failure? Do you fear failure? Are you someone whose little hesitant? How does that fit in your life?

PAT : I think its breathed in and out every day because again, this isn't my comfort zone. The fact that that if all goes apes and this isn't working then I gotta go plan B, plan C. I think it helps to have that attitude. I didn't do that deliberately. This is kind of the way that these things have fallen for me, but do I embrace failure? yes. Do I seek it? I try to avoid it of course, but you know, let's say that every scenario you know how its going to fail. That's here's kind of sense check of whether you're ready for it to succeed or not. Has it failed in certain respects, yes. Sometimes its just a genuine failure. Let the wind blow as it says. Let the wind blow and then you know life moves on. It's not as if you could belabor that and say I'm never gonna try that service again or that system again. I'm not gonna do it this way because it really depends on the way your clients and you're people want to work with you. so.

RICH: I like it though. Embrace failure, but don't seek it.

PAT : Don't seek it. Fail fast.

RICH: Fail fast, but learn faster.


For more interviews from the "Entrepreneurs for Good" series, check out the playlist here.

Stay tuned for more clips and full interviews in the coming weeks.


Francis Ngai

Dream Big, but Act Small - Francis Ngai, SvHK

In this episode of Entrepreneurs For Good, I speak with Francis Ngai about the work he is doing to build community centers in some of Hong Kong's most vulnerable areas.

Work that is difficult, but as he says more than once, while you need to have big dreams, you need to be focused on taking small steps.

It is a fantastic conversation about approaching big challenges, the role of purpose, and maintaining continued momentum through small steps.


It's important that you keep on dreaming. Dream Big, but Act Small.


About the Entrepreneurs For Good Series

Through this series, we speak with Asia based entrepreneurs whose mission it is to bring solutions to the environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced within the region to learn more about their vision, the opportunities they see, and challenges that they have had to overcome.

It is a series that we hope will not only engage and inspire you, but catalyze you and your organizations into action. To identify a challenge that is tangible, and build a business model (profit or non) that brings a solution to the market.


About Francis Ngai

Francis Ngai is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of SVhk. He is the Co-Founder of Green Monday, Playtao Education and RunOurCity.

Francis believes that everyone can be a changemaker. Seeing ‘ME’ as the reflection of ‘WE’, he hopes to bring together more people to re-imagine our city and pursue big dreams to make a difference to the community we live in.

Prior to establishing SVhk, Francis was the Head of Strategy in a listed technology conglomerate in Hong Kong. He graduated from the City University of Hong Kong and was conferred as an Honorary Fellow by the University in 2013. He was selected as one of the 100 Asia Pioneers by The Purpose Economy in 2014, a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum in 2012 and one of Hong Kong’s Ten Outstanding Young Persons in 2011.

As an ultra-running veteran, Francis completed The North Pole Marathon in 2013 and the 250-km Gobi March of the 4 Deserts race series in 2012.

Follow Francis and SVhk:
Website: http://sv-hk.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/francis.ngai.90
LinkedIn: https://hk.linkedin.com/in/francis-ngai-87915831
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Ngai
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/socialventureshk


About Rich

Driven by the belief that change begins with a single step, Richard Brubaker has spent the last 15 years in Asia working to engage, inspire, and equip those around him to take their first step. Acting as a catalyst to driving sustainability, Brubaker works with government, corporate, academic and non-profit stakeholders to bring together knowledge, teams, and tools that develop and execute their business case for sustainability.

Follow Rich
Website: http://www.richbrubaker.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rich.brubaker
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richbrubaker
Snapchat: http://snapchat.com/add/richbrubaker
Instagram: https://instagram.com/richbrubaker
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/richbrubaker

Contact Rich
social@richbrubaker.com


Full Interview Transcript

Welcome back everyone. Thank you for you very much for joining. I am here with Francis Ngai who has worked in across the spectrum of issues in Hong Kong, Very inspirational. We're talking about how your children drive you to change. To the future of millennial purpose. Then how to bring business skills to the social sector for impact. So we hope you'll enjoy this. If you do, please remember to like, comment and share.

BACKGROUND

RICH: Francis, thank you very much for taking the time to meet with us. Please do here and maybe introduce yourself and the work that you are doing here at SVHK.

FRANCIS: I am Francis from Social Ventures Hong Kong. I founded the organization since 2007. So we are practicing that philanthropy. We invest, incubate and invent social innovation in Hong Kong.

VENTURE PHILANTROPY

RICH: What is venture philanthropy? What does the impact investment?

FRANCIS: I think those are some terminologies that can explain more briefly. I think overall to access things like an applications of all good resources in the community So come capital owners they don't they prefer not just writing check. They want to participate more. I use them, their networking expertise, professional volunteers. So people with good ideas...social entrepreneurs or corporate. We try to reshuffle all these resources coming together. So we threw ourselves to always to be an applicative.

GETTING STARTED

RICH: So how did you start SVHK? Like what was your background? Why get into the venture philanthropy area when you probably had another business you were working on?

FRANCIS: I start with business, around 15 years of business or experience. Having two kids and I quit my job. So probably a lot of self interest I think to my kids future wealth. So I think that and current world is not that good. Also I think we are not using enough idea to work it out. I think we have a lot of resources in the community impacting. We will always just prefer to wait for the government to happen. I think obviously original idea that we try to do something else.

CATALYST FOR CHANGE

RICH: I know when you have children, everything changes. So, what were the major concerns you had about the world that you were like you're looking at your kids, oh my god I don't' know what I'm going to do?

FRANCIS: After having kids, you reflect. So what is the current role? What is the society? You read about some education brings about how to see some, but I think at the end of the day I think that it's how you are doing is influencing their future. So I'm asking myself, what is the most important thing to teach them. I think at the same time I am asking myself whether I'm dreaming or not. Maybe not. I'm helping some rich people to fulfill their dream, which I don't think hopefully can agree with that dream. It's just profit sometimes over purpose. So how can we turn it around? Around society we see that we're not talking about purpose.

RICH: I struggle with this. I really view business as a medium to, I wont say find purpose, but to deliver purpose. At the end of the day, what you have here is a community center. People will say, oh it's a non-profit, but it's still a business. You still have rent, you still have staff, you still have P&L, you have everything. The question is what do you do at the end of the year. When you started this, when you started getting into this, obviously you probably had a very different view of what venture philantropy or whatever. Like social entrepreneurship, whatever that it might have been. How did you start like, kind of starry-eyed, and then what do you feel now after you six to ten years of being in this space?

FRANCIS: I would say at first is static bubble that we shuffle around a lot of all that seeing philanthropy. How social investing is doing things. Just trying to form that kind of entity to do things. I think in the long journey we discovery more. I think could be summarized as the purpose. I think at first I think we all remember that. When we're doing business in doing something in the world, even non profit, they got a purpose. But ultimately we become more resources driven. We just see something that into more rich as KIPs and then we lost something else.

RICH: Now when you go back...actually I'm going to take you back a little...you talk about when you started in business. Like I started in business and was like, I'm going to change the world. I'm going to do this and this and I'm going to grow and I'm gonna grown and that's like my goal. Then you get a little bit more, practical. You start going wow, I have bills to pay, I have staff to feed. You become very practical. You don't loose your dream. You don't loose your purpose, but you definitely get into the business and it becomes a very different thing.

I found the same thing for social innovation as well. I'm' going to save the world. I'm going to help these children. I'm going to educate the elderly, whatever it may be. But then you get into the business side of things. How has your own perspective changed from really kind of idealistic into the practical? What are the practicalities now that you didn't think you had before?

FRANCIS: So I think at first I think we started off with do engine thinking. So I think social enterprise is all about social business. So we didn't think that what was one thing was more important than the other. So when we find the purpose, the social side how was the problem that we were are more cared about. I think that's it. So after that, I think we had a whole attitude on the business side. We have to make it sustainable. Make it work. Make it a public so everyone gets to know it.

So I think how do you keep the balance is not easy, but I think always and still in 10 years of journey, one thing is important, keep on dreaming. Dream big, but act small. So we hold up to with persistence on every thing we are working on. But every day we still try to think about fine tuning our model. Because we find that if we lost that dream that could keep us forever, we lost the momentum. So I think that also feeling feed back along is the passion. Where's the passion coming from? So every day I think still we are asking ourselves in the morning, why we are coming into office again today. I think that is the most important question. If we have that, we will keep on dreaming. We don't mind the niddy gritty things. We don't mind the hard work. I think if we lost it, we're done.

STAYING FOCUSED

RICH: You have a lot of different issues. You have Diamond Cab, that is kind of challenge access - wheelchair access. You have Green Monday, Meet. Is it a problem that you're all over the place? Or do you think that it would be better if you were focused on one issue? Is it part it....because you have to maintain your passion you have to move things around? Or is it that the best way you think you can get things done?

FRANCIS: Definitely a challenge on my team especially. Ten meetings in a day. In the morning you're talking about kids. But the other meetings talking about elderly. Then we move onto the climate change. So we keep on shifting. I think that is exactly our role. We don't need to be under the spotlight. Someone has to do it.

FUNDING MODEL

RICH: So you're basically investing into other entrepreneurs and their ideas and then you also start your own. Where does your funding come from?

FRANCIS: I think first the two or three of years it was my own resources, time, days, nights, kids, etc. But I think later we got some philanthropy money coming in. So I think all along I think partially we are relying on these resources to build that up because they are committed in incubating more social innovations in Hong Kong. So we are using that resources. But I think in long journey we also be our own income through some program, some incubation program. For the deals we don't ride on primarily on the profit. So I think it's not the short time we can get any repayment. I think whatever we get back, we just put back in the fund.

RICH: So are you making equity investments then? Or do you prefer debt or is it grants? Like what's your median?

FRANCIS: Mostly equity.

RICH: Ok.

FRANCIS: Grant money would say that a lot of foundations would like to do more new things now. So when we, whatever we get these we go approach them. So we invest very little in the very early stage. So if you're sustain on the prototype stage. But after that, we try to find true investment even in equity as well. But we have to be bigger equity stakeholders some times because we need to have a safe interactions, great for sure. Invest in more.

MAINTAINING FOCUS

RICH: Actually you mentioned something I kind of struggle with. They're always looking for something new. For me, the problems never really change. So how hard is it for you to focus albeit the entrepreneurs, the donors funders on just getting the current work done? Like how do you manage that?

FRANCIS: It's difficult. I think more philosophically sometimes we follow the flow. So we're seeing that one entrepreneur seeing that problem Something that we always keep in mind is that apart from the direct impact, which is confined to the scope within the entity, we always see the impact of that. The rippling effect. How that have the implications from policymakers. How with that them with an implications to the other industry people. Like Diamond Cab, there are two cabs. We get ourselves sustainable, and then another taxi licenses only. But end of conflict, 80 cabs. So like being affordable housing model, right now a couple different NGO's replicating it. Even in the media they call it...

RICH: That's okay right?

FRANCIS: That's what, that's how. So what we see right now at the juncture of ten years, we are shaping our 10 year plan. We are seeing a long journey, if we talk bout housing we talk about poverty. What kind of partners we need in that cab. Not all the things we need to invest ourselves. But we coordinated as one cabs. We need Avengers instead of Iron Man.

RICH: But what fuels your continued dreaming? You start off you're really passionate, you meet the challenge, but you are still executing it on a daily basis. What has been your impact so far that you look back and go I feel really proud about this? Then, do you still look in your kids eyes and go I still have a lot of work to do?

FRANCIS: I still do a lot. I think that learning from the journey whether change system or change mindsets. So like the interview today. I think using the small works that we have, how can we spread it out? Changing more minds is so important. I think maybe the ultimate goal is changing more mindsets. So I don't see that we need more people quit their job to be social entrepreneur is hard. So why we're working on business 2.0 or something else.

I think there are a lot of entrepreneurs can work together. So we're definitely in the world I think the society we're migrating from 1.0 to 2.0. If 1.0 is more resources drive in, 2.0 is more about a shared mindset, more value driven.

RICH: But do you see that happening? Are people more shared mindset now? Or are they getting more...cuz we have so much challenges of where we're all pulling back from each other. Is it...

FRANCIS: Main streamers do not. But I think all the movement start with quite a few city people like us. So I think we if we don't work it now, 10 years later when my kids are really grown up they will not see it. But I would say that at least the biggest gain that I have in the last 10 years...also feeling all my passion as the people that we see. I suspect that the mayor all the people got some good DNA in them. It's just that we don't have innovated enough to think about some platform for them to come up.

RICH: Well, and what the way to catalyze that? Like, how do you tap into that hidden gene or into that thing that's just sleeping for right now? How do you drive it? Like what does it take?

FRANCIS: Baby step. Green Monday. We are now asking people to be full time with charity. Although it made more sense for one individual for their health and things. I myself am a vegetarian, but I think we just take one day. Just start with one meal. By the way it's a beyond burger. It's delicious. Its fulfilling. So after that, we talk about you create an image. Use marketing.

If a marketing company can get someone to buy a bag, which is manufactured in Shenzhen, but paying several tens of thousands of dollars. How can I...can we use the same thing to your fake people to get them on board to try on hew things first? But after 10, you tell them oh by the way you're saving the planet now. All of them will become entrepreneur. They will internalize what the good habits. So I think these kinds of things is what we're learning now.

But I think all the more we start with small. Start with something small. After the engagement, they become part of the adventure too. That's more important.

RICH: Okay. Kind of going back to your marketing. What are the tools that you found most reliable. Like from your old days in marketing, what do you go back to every day in the office...yeah, this is what I used to do for this client? We can use that here. Like are there some standards tools that you've continued using.

FRANCIS: I think not very formal. I think at the end of the day I think it's more result of thing But I think one thing that we use a lot when I am at the time of them, in the business world, I also discovered one new trend that I invented some model is on the collateral collaborative marketing tracking. Collaborative strategies so that we always apply. Basically these partnerships. Especially social entrepreneur, I highly encourage you to try build more leverage.

In the past hierarchical world, you find resources, feeling somewhat intermediary finance and partners and paying them and it worked a lot. I think not now. We're all in a circular positions. Then we come out in the middle where the value people came around. There's no high and low. We don't back for resources. They just come. They're fulfilling their own self resources and self interest. So I think we all fulfill thinking about the mutual benefits. We got corporate, they're funding it through charity anyway. But I think it's good for your brand.

We work on something that they don't demand for even. But for some company, people can come in here, they're just get a service. I don't know we take them through to empower them later. I think it's kind of more...think about neutral. So everyone we collaborate, we think about what is their benefit first.

RICH: What are the resources do you think that we're missing right now in the social space? Like if there's things that you could attract business people of any stripe or something else. It could be government, any other like what do you think that we're missing? What do you think that could take our challenges and solutions to scale?

FRANCIS: If there is one thing you want me to mention, I would say we have need to encourage more links. We need to build more links. So I think we are not having innovative platform enough to aggregate resources. So ticks around.

So I think for example, Green Monday. I take that example that we can both understand more clearly. So I think when we work with some caterers and we think about ways for them to participate. So when we work with some food manufacturers, we think about some of the waste. So if you create more different vehicles, so that could help them to come in, come on board much easier.

So for fund raisers, even. I would say talk to some vendors. If your funding directly on the impact or _______ (16:07) social enterprises, we can choose to fund the links. How can you encourage them to work more with the corporate.

So for some early pilot in some innovative, I always called them infrastructure innovation. So when you need to invest into innovation infrastructures because right now we're at the juncture of migrating to a new world, if there's an new world. But if I think if we do not have enough links, we cannot carry over all resources for people to come on board. That's so much important.

TALKING TO DONORS

RICH: I was wondering....people really don't want to invest in the infrastructure though. They want to invest in the shiny building, not in the pipes, the wiring. Ya know, they don't' want to invest in research. They want to invest in the program that has no research. Like they want to fund the idea, not the amount. So how do you, I mean, because you come from the business world, because you have your own resources, is that where you spend...you build the foundations and you don't have to worry about what the donors want?

FRANCIS: We definitely get better language to talk to them. We know people, but I think most important thing is it makes sense for them. So I think it's around, I will say that. The most important thing is the kids. How can you illustrate that with them. Like especially we imagine a lot and infrastructures.

We need to go back to the funding and educate them and share with them. Tell them if that works perfectly. So I think without case, it's all empty talks. By the way I would say that younger generations for some big families they're changing the mindset. They don't believe in the name on the building anymore. They are migrating into a new generations. Within 10 years, I would say a lot of the younger generations would take over.

RICH: I think that's actually how we met. Through the family business network. Probably I think way back when way back when because I spoke with you at Bernie's event. So actually that kind of brings a really interesting point. Like the next generation of Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a city run by families, largely. At least in the business world. As you mentioned a lot of the names on buildings. Albeit the business school or the different buildings that they own.

THE NEXT GEN

RICH: Five, ten years ago the second gen was either trying to leave the family business, but now they are trying to come back. I know a few people are coming back. Like what are they doing? Why would they want to change now? What do you seeing that makes them want to change the family business?

FRANCIS: I would say no matter what is their background, they are all citizens of Hong Kong. They are all people involved. So I would say the millennials especially, when they grown up, they have a lot of education on a sustainable world. On how to be build a better society, it's in their blood.

So I also think they are documented entrepreneur. They're not that resources driving. They're not that profit driven. They see more differently. In terms of wealth, I think they would think that I'm ok for the next, next six generations. So ....That number is just a number in the game. So I think for them, the more fulfilling thing is while they are doing their own business or doing their own land. They want to see the real impact.

So I think its shifting, but again I would say that we need more infrastructure. More different ways. Sometimes more cool way when we talked about charity of philanthropy, sometimes its way too old fashioned. So we need to move on as well.

RICH: Thank you very much for your time. You have a line of kids lined up outside. I don't want to hold them out! They're like I want to color. Thank you very much for your time. Very inspiring.


For more interviews from the "Entrepreneurs for Good" series, check out the playlist here.

Stay tuned for more clips and full interviews in the coming weeks.


Ada Yip

Shifting Consumers Off Plastic - Ada Yip, Urban Spring | Entrepreneur For Good

As the world may be finally waking up to the challenge that plastic is presenting out environment, and for many, the plastic beverage bottle is one of the products that is front and center.

In Hong Kong though, the people at Urban Spring think they have a solution that will help reduce the number of plastic bottles that the city is sending to landfill. Something that over the last two months has grown more urgent as China has closed its borders to waste imports.

To learn more about their mission, and how they are attacking the challenge of getting consumers to act more responsibly, I spoke with their CEO Ada Yip to learn more.


This interview is about solving one of the biggest problems we face through sustainable consumer change.


About the Entrepreneurs For Good Series

Through this series, we speak with Asia based entrepreneurs whose mission it is to bring solutions to the environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced within the region to learn more about their vision, the opportunities they see, and challenges that they have had to overcome.

It is a series that we hope will not only engage and inspire you, but catalyze you and your organizations into action. To identify a challenge that is tangible, and build a business model (profit or non) that brings a solution to the market.


About Ada

Ada is the Executive Director at Urban Spring, a purpose-driven start-up with a mission to reduce the consumption of single-use plastic in Hong Kong through the provision of safe and modern water drinking experience.

Ada is also a co-founder of 43 Ventures which invests financial and human capital in innovative social start-ups.

Follow Ada and Urban Spring
Website: http://www.urbanspring.hk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ada.yip.18
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ada-yip-hongkong


About Rich

Driven by the belief that change begins with a single step, Richard Brubaker has spent the last 15 years in Asia working to engage, inspire, and equip those around him to take their first step. Acting as a catalyst to driving sustainability, Brubaker works with government, corporate, academic and non-profit stakeholders to bring together knowledge, teams, and tools that develop and execute their business case for sustainability.

Follow Rich
Website: http://www.richbrubaker.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rich.brubaker
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richbrubaker
Snapchat: http://snapchat.com/add/richbrubaker
Instagram: https://instagram.com/richbrubaker
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/richbrubaker

Contact Rich
social@richbrubaker.com


Full Interview Transcript

RICH: Welcome back everyone. Thank you for joining. We are here with Ada Yip who is with Urban Spring and we are standing in front of their Well product, which is just going out to the market. We're here to talk to day about social entrepreneurship, building a project that changes mindsets and really just maintaining a positive attitude as your building your enterprise going forward. So we hope you enjoy this episode, if you do please like, share and comment.

BACKGROUND

RICH: So do me a favor and give us an introduction about yourself and about Well.

ADA YIP: So I'm born and brought up in Hong Kong. So home grown sort of Asian girl and you know I've been in actually in a corporate world for more than 15 years. The four years ago I decided that I want to explore social entrepreneurship and got to network with a lot of people you know, meet the fonder of Urban Strain, which Well is our first product. That's how I got into you know starting to work with the company two years ago and develop the product. Well is basically a new design water station, which we hope that people would refill. You know, really develop, redevelop that trust with drinking water outside home and offices. So the mission really is to reduce consumption of single use plastic bottles. We want to provide that alternative.

RICH: So you're trying to basically get rid of the plastic bottle at the end of the day.

ADA YIP: I hope so.

THE PLASTIC PROBLEM

RICH: Why is that a problem? I think we've all seen on the news, in the oceans, but is there a particular problem with plastic and single use plastic in Hong Kong itself?

ADA YIP: Every single day we've got 5 million tons of plastic waste just a day in Hong Kong. Majority of those are actually plastic bottles. The majority of the plastic bottle is actually water bottles so that's why were' coming from so it's really a huge problem and we're just talking about Hong Kong. As far as I know, all the major cities in the world each year is a double digit increase in bottle sales.

RICH: Now I kind of think like when it comes to these issues, we've had NGOs for years tell us that we should reduce, reuse, recycle that we should bring our own bottles, things like that. It hasn't worked. I mean, honestly, we're still using more and more plastic every day. How is your approach different? I mean you're using your building product, you're bringing a business solution, how is this different than just pure advocating? How do you think this might change the market?

ADA YIP: I think you know Richard, you hit the point. I mean, we are providing a product i.e. an alternative. So I think that nonprofit world actually has done a fantastic job basically educating and bringing that awareness in the past you know decade actually. But bringing you the bulk bottle, it helps, but then if I'm really thirsty in the middle of Causeway Bay or Central, I cannot find water I cannot refill. I'm really thirsty. I have to go into convenience store and supermarket and buy.

Today I am offering an alternative, i.e. if you bring your own bottle, or if you buy your first disposable of the day, you can actually go and refill as opposed to buy another one. You know, if no more like in a really hot day, people buy 2 or 3 but ends up only buy one for laze people that don't bring their own bottles, we're already saving a lot. So I think having that alternative giving people that choice is important. So I think we worked, I see it as a collaboration with the charities basically did they very good with advocating working with the government on communication and education and we focus on the product and work with them on that communication and awareness and all that.

More importantly I think what we try to do its really bring the product. i.e not everyone is environmentally friendly, but every one wants to look cool. Everyone has got an attitude how they want to live a sustainable life and we hope to provide that option.

MARKETING THE IDEA

RICH: How do you change the mindsets? I mean you know we talked about, I was actually kind of thinking I've started carrying my own hot and cold bottles now. I'll go to Starbucks with one if I want a hot or cold coffee. How do you get people to think that this is cool? Because eventually, even not just cool, like I'm not going to embarrassed by carrying this bottle around with me to a meeting. How....is that because you like try different bottles, you try different cups? But at some point you still have to carry the thing around, so how do you help people just realize that it's ok to carry this around?

ADA YIP: I mean as you say the toughest is actually not the product all those were quite painful to do product development. The toughest thing for our business is changing peoples behavior you know to a point about actually carrying a bottle. So I think a couple of things I think one is from a sort of branding perspective and how we position ourselves. I'm not fighting against convenience. You know because whether its Hong Kong or some other country, buying and dumping more recycling it's so easy.

So I think it's about how carrying that bottle or cup, it's basically a reflection of who you are. A lot of consumer brands are actually doing that. So, if people feel that you know a gentleman with a suit on for you that they are kind of cool carrying you know that chain store cup, you know around and you know almost a display of their way of life having that morning coffee. Why would they not feel that if I portrayed also saved with a certain image.

It's very tricky. But, I think the younger generation definitely have already bought into the idea. So, I think it's how good the infrastructure.

EARLY ADOPTERS

RICH: Who's the easiest to turn over right now for you? Do you just focus on them only and then work on the harder people later or do you invest into the people because the return is so much greater later? Like upfront it's more difficult. How do you make that decision?

ADA YIP: You know its tricky. I would say the early adopters would be the younger people and the people who are doing sports. People already carrying the bottle. Almost I'm basically providing the convenience for them. Then for corporate, that's also who I want to target, but probably the corporate who want to get consumers or want to be in line with the younger people sporting people. So that would be my early adopters and then I move on to the semi convert and then the hardest one ya know they were further down the line. I think just like any products, I can't aim on day one to the selling and basically influence in every single person. So I think it's really up to us with the resources that we have, how do you strategize and work with different parties to make a bigger impact and they're showing maybe a long time.

FUNDING SOURCES

RICH: Who's going to pay for this at the end of the day? Because you walk up...do you walk up, pay for this with your phone? Like how does this work?

ADA YIP: So today, its paid by the venue that holds. So for example the shopping center they see it as part of customer service. For schools it's part of the facilities. Later on we would develop which to reach the payment feature because as we roll out to more space I can imagine there would be a common shop that cannot basically provide this for free to use it. But I do you know if this is a good replacement of them selling bottled water, they were great they don't have to keep inventory, you know soo ..

RICH: So they can sell this.

ADA YIP: Yeah so they can sell basically per refill. So you know so they're different payment models. This early stage we're lucky to be working with people who would be basically hosting as a subscription. We trying not to sell the product the reason so that like a photocopy machine. That we are, we can maintain the brand basically do our own servicing, make sure everything is good system and standard servicing.

DEFINING SUCCESS

RICH: So appear to look out say 5 years from now, what do you want your kep metrics of success? So if you look back and you say we succeeded, what would success be for you? The number of bottles? What's....

ADA YIP: I think the answer is I see situations where people are competing, how good looking the water bottles are. Or people you know in a group of friends, someone being you know making a comment say what are you doing with a disposable? That will be a scenario that I would like to see if that's the sort of part of a movement that we are part of. I will be really excited.

Obviously is from business perspective and the traditional matrix will be around how many of this get installed. To me, I think the behavior and how people see disposable, how people are embracing news, it is probably more satisfying. But from you know obviously form the financial standpoint, it would be basically how many of these get in stores and also not just number of installation, but that how many get saved. How many water get dispensed as opposed to you know what if you consume through the plastic bottle.

EXPECTATIONS vs. REALITY

RICH: So actually I want to change here a little bit. You come from the business background, you came into the social entrepreneur background, or social inner space, what did you think about social entrepreneurship before you got into it? What do you think about it now?

ADA YIP: It was more out of interest. How does that work? I think that I'm still very positive about that. I mean I hope one day no one talks about social entrepreneurship because there is just entrepreneurs and that's it right? So and I think the interesting thing is although we have gone up sort of that, this field called social entrepreneurship, but actually people who are in it a lot of them are not really believing in it. i.e. they still not just struggling with the business and the social impact, but really you know they don't believe in it and the sense that they are still running it like a nonprofit.

So I think there's still a long way to go although I'm on the positive side. How we set up not the majority i.e. we are set up as a limited company by shares. We are very, we believe in actually not distributing, not limiting the distribution of profit like some ____________(11:51). Because we truly believe we can, you know we can have a sustainable business and attracting the right investors in. You know we don't' have to set up a particular way so that people feel that wall is doing good some money is set aside to do it like that. It's just this is the way we believe this is the reason we set up the company is because of that social mention and that's it. Obviously governance, operation it needs haltering. It all needs to support that, but it doesn't need to be restricted by certain financials.

IT's JUST BUSINESS

RICH: Especially when you would have been starting this, there was still a premium to be called a social entrepreneur. That was actually an attractive feature, but what you're saying is you're actually flipping it. You see more the value and saying no, we're just a business. Like, we have a social mission. We're trying to solve it, but were' not going to play the social entrepreneurship card.

ADA YIP: Yes and no. So I'm not playing that card so for people who are not understanding social entrepreneurship, I don't call myself social enterprise. It would just confuse them more and then I got them to think so are you a charity? So, I'm just a startup with a very clean mission. That's it. They just focus on what I am selling and operating.

But the no part it, I think we still need to have this subject or this category called social entrepreneurship because I don't think we're in a world that people believe business and social can come together or actually have a greater value if they do both. So we almost need to have this category so that people focus in thinking about I, discussing about it, until everyone is on the same page. Then we probably can get there and just talk about entrepreneurship. But we're not there yet. So you know that's why farm like this its a good channel to really just have a healthy debate . You know of different schoolof thoughts and how people approach it.

RICH: Great, I think that's all. Thank you very much for your time. It's been a pleasure.


For more interviews from the "Entrepreneurs for Good" series, check out the playlist here.

Stay tuned for more clips and full interviews in the coming weeks.


Nissa Marion

Sustainable Luxury and Social Entrepreneurship | Nissa Marion

In this episode of Entrepreneurs For Good, I speak with Nissa Marion, a lifelong environmentalist who launch EcoVision magazine from her apartment floor in Hong Kong.

Looking to convert readers to a sustainable lifestyle through a link between sustainability and a luxurious lifestyle, she set about the work of identifying brands, writing stories, and build a community of followers who would support her work.

As we discuss in the interview, the work wasn't always easy, and she did not always know what to do, but that is the path of entrepreneurship and one that she was committed to.


Quote


About the Entrepreneurs For Good Series

Through this series, we speak with Asia based entrepreneurs whose mission it is to bring solutions to the environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced within the region to learn more about their vision, the opportunities they see, and challenges that they have had to overcome.

It is a series that we hope will not only engage and inspire you, but catalyze you and your organizations into action. To identify a challenge that is tangible, and build a business model (profit or non) that brings a solution to the market.


About Nissa Marion

Nissa Marion is a Hong Kong based environmentalist. Born and raised in Canada, she deeply loves nature and wild places, and believes that education, engagement, and collaboration are the keys to sustainability.

In 2003, Nissa’s passion for conservation led her to work with Ecovision, a fifteen-year established non-profit social enterprise specializing in environmental education and events. From there she went on to cofound and direct the well-loved Hong Kong Cleanup (HKcleanup.org), a large-scale community environmental event that has engaged more than 250,000 participants and cleaned up over 17 million pieces of trash. This successful initiative raises awareness of personal, community and corporate environmental responsibility as well as advocating for sustainable government policies regarding waste management.

Nissa was also the Cofounder, Editor in Chief and Event Director of Ecozine, Asia’s premiere guide to modern sustainable living, which produces a quarterly print magazine, a daily-updated website (Ecozine.com), a weekly e-newsletter and world-class events such as Hong Kong’s own Zero Waste Week, successfully launched in 2015. She is committed to using popular media to focus the world’s attention on environmental issues and inspire change for the better.

Follow Nissa:
Website: http://onpointhk.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nmarion
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nissamarion/


About Rich

Driven by the belief that change begins with a single step, Richard Brubaker has spent the last 15 years in Asia working to engage, inspire, and equip those around him to take their first step. Acting as a catalyst to driving sustainability, Brubaker works with government, corporate, academic and non-profit stakeholders to bring together knowledge, teams, and tools that develop and execute their business case for sustainability.

Follow Rich
Website: http://www.richbrubaker.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rich.brubaker
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richbrubaker
Instagram: https://instagram.com/richbrubaker
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/richbrubaker

Contact Rich
social@richbrubaker.com


Full Interview Transcript

My name is Nissa Marrion. I am the co-founder and editor in chief of Ecozine magazine and also the co-founder of an NGO called The Hong Kong Clean Up. My mission in life is to make the world a better place, no really. To be a contribution in my personal and professional life and I've been really lucky to create a career where actually my job is about that too.

IT'S PERSONAL

I've always been an environmentalist. Like I grew up in Canada, camping, canoeing, all that wonderful stuff. And just communing with nature. I went to a pretty progressive high school, so hung out with a lot of hippie, dippie, fantastic people who just got it. That kind of planted the seed for me of wanting to make sure that I do my part in protecting the planet. And it sounds cheesy, but like I'm just a real tree hugger, ya know? I love nature. It makes me really sad the way that our development as a people has destroyed the planet in many ways and continues to do so. So honestly, I just wanna see people care about nature. So that's one side of it.

Then, I've always been interested in the publishing world and one day, four years ago now, my best friend came to me and said hey I 've got this idea. We know so many people in the environmental sector, and so many small startups and great companies and cool NGOs and fantastic campaigns that need a platform to reach the public. Why don't we be that platform? Why don't we start a magazine? It just made sense. I was like yeah, ok! I had no idea what it was gonna take. Like what that would actually entail. But, it sounded really cool and excited and right up my alley, so I said yes. And we co-founded Ecozine.

GETTING STARTED

We have this NGO called the Hong Kong Clean Up and we've been running that since 2000. My best friend and business partner, Lisa, founded that. And through it, you know, we engage corporate, schools, community members and other NGOs, and government. So we were able to create this incredible community of companies, especially but also other sectors that were doing great things. I had great CSR profiles or launching cool eco products, or just you know, wanted to make the world a better place. At the same time we were seeing more and more sort of evidence that consumers, the evidence that consumers were interested in more than just a label on a product, or the price of a precut. That they really wanted to see products of province and responsibility from companies that they trusted. And wasn't necessarily in Hong Kong a really strong publication that connected those two worlds. That brought, you know, the people with the great ideas and products and CSR initiatives to the consumers that wanted to buy from those companies.

So, we decided that we wanted to be that crossroads because we had such access to both sides of that. So at the same time, having always been passionate about magazines and publications and popular media as a means to convey important messages, it just made sense for us. To start a magazine.

We started by launching an online publication, Ecozine.com. That name came after a good 3 months of thinking about names. I mean this process was very much of a backburner, sort of passion project for us, in our spare time, late nights, mid night coffees, that kind of thing. Just creating what we thought would be cool. The website was the result of...(not noisy at all! (ha, start at midnight coffee's. A lot of helicopters today)). And the website was a result of literally nights of just sketching and drawing what a cool website would look like and referencing hundreds of other websites and you know. We had no experience in this whatsoever in building websites, in developing media, in editorial and advertising. So it was a really fun, but challenging journey. A really steep learning curve and that was just for the website.

So we got that launched in 2012. The model was sponsorship. Because that's where we had experience from our NGO background. But it turned out to be more challenging than we expected to get companies here in Asia to sponsor a page in a website. It was a quite a new and innovative model that wasn't...people weren't ready to embrace it just yet in Asia. So we did some asking around and we thought about what to do and we decided that okay, a print magazine might be a good addition. And people thought we were crazy because so many publications are going from print to digital and cutting their print publications because of costs, because of change to the industry. But we found that here in Asia, although a lot of companies were saying they wanted to do more digital marketing and be online and take advantage of the digital world, actually when they saw a proposal with a full-page ad cost this much will be in this many issues and seen by this many people, they really got it and were able to say yes.

So the print magazine turned out to be a terrific thing for us in so many ways. One, it was self indulgent. I mean, so nice to hold a product in your hand and say I made this...every font, every page, every word, every photo, the size of the margin, the texture of the paper, it's all...we created it. So that was pretty gratifying. Also, as a revenue stream, the online just wasn't cutting it at that time so having a print edition gave us a way to bring in dollars and make this a real company and not just a side project. And also, a marketing tool. So now that the print magazines on shelves and in cafes and all over the place, we're able to say hey, you like that? There's more online, come visit us. Our online traffic has increased.

WHY HONG KONG?

We chose to do this in Hong Kong just exactly because this is Hong Kong and it is struggling with sustainability and it is behind in a lot of ways. There would be no point in launching a magazine like Ecozine in San Francisco. They get it. They're there. Okay, the market has arrived. Whereas in Hong Kong, it's such a huge opportunity. There is a niche for a thing like me, a magazine like Ecozine. There are people who, who really want this kind of content and aren't able to access it easily. And also, we really embrace a challenge and so, we also we love Hong Kong.

Ecozine is created by two people who chosen Hong Kong as their home. We weren't born here, we moved here. We chose to stay here because we love this place.

BRINGING GREEN MAINSTREAM

It's easier to start by sharing what we didn't want Ecozine to be. We didn't want Ecozine to be a magazine for the deep greens, for environmentalist, for people who already, like me, love hugging trees. We wanted it to be a lifestyle magazine for the general public. The idea of Ecozine is to create a sleek, sexy, appealing, even aspirational package for sustainable living. So you know, we put celebrities in our covers. We talk about food, family, travel, cars, lifestyle, you know? We just slip in the sustainability angle, it's trough a green lens.

But it's not a magazine that's pitched for people who consider themselves environmentalist. It's actually designed to bring green mainstream, is one of our taglines. To brig it to the masses. To show that sustainable living can be aspirational and not just something that you have to give up some part of your life or attend protests or wear Birkenstocks or live in the forest. You can live more sustainably and have a terrific life. That was what we wanted to bring because Hong Kong is very much about consumptions. What can I buy next? Where can I go next? What can I see next? Whose coming to town...what celebrity? So we want to bring sustainability into that lifestyle aspect that Hong Kong embraces.

What we find actually is that there isn't a consistent element between every story that needs to be maintained. There needs to be a thread, of which in our case is our voice. Our voice we maintain sort of light-hearted, layperson, friendly, slightly tongue-in-cheek lifestyle a voice. So we always try not to be too corporate, to use too much jargon, be too green, assume that the readers know everything there is to know about a certain topic. So that thread is our voice. But the subject matter and the way that we treat each topic varies widely. Because we have everything form you know, great advice from CSR professionals in really successful companies to taking great strides. To you know, top 5 veggie cafes to go to this weekend. So it really varies. That way we're able to engage a wider audience because some people like the sort of....the top 5s, and the way's to and the how to's, and some people really like the meatier stuff. So we do offer a variety.

BECOMING AN ENTREPRENEUR

For me, one of the biggest challenges of becoming an entrepreneur was that I, I didn't feel like I had an entrepreneurial spirit. Like I, I'm risk-averse. I'd rather just have stability, a steady income, I work hard, I take home my paycheck. At least that's how I thought I was. So for me, just embracing the idea of being an entrepreneur was a big challenge to cover come. I think I have. It excites me now. But there's still you know...I'm a natural worrier and so you know, that from time to time comes up for me.

In practical terms, just learning how to do this business. It wasn't like...I know I have expertise in something, I'll start a business in it. It was, I'm passionate about something and I've zero expertise in it, I'll start a business. So, learning about pagination and selecting paper and printing and the whole production cycle of a magazine and what kind of roles need to be filled, HR. I'm not an expert of running a business either. So not just a publication, but any type of business, you know? Steep seat learning curve, but exciting because I love learning so that was part of the appeal.

IT NEVER STOPS GETTING SCARY

It's funny, because I was asked to give a talk a couple months ago on risk at an event called Creative Mornings. I was like, risk...I'm not really sure I'm qualified to talk about that because I'm risk-adverse. Then they were like, but you're an entrepreneur right? So, okay, that's like oh yeah! I should probably...I could come up with a couple of things.

It never stops getting scary for me. Like it's always my hear plummets or my stomach gets tense, you know, when there something for example hiring people, you know? When it's just you and your business partner and your own late nights and your own you know, tears and bloodshed and sometimes laughter at stake, that's one thing. When it's other peoples livelihoods at stake, it just feels like...it's just such a huge responsibility for new entrepreneur and the there's lots of us out there. Who've just been a one man or two man band for a while who suddenly take on staff . That was one of them, you know? It was and still is as we're still growing and continue planning to grow....plan to continue growing our team, that was and still is you know, a terrifying thing in some ways. But, you can't grow a successful business without hiring people. So the impetus, you know, is obvious. Like it's do it or fail. Or work yourself to the bone and burn out. So you, know.

Oh my God. We have asked for so much advice over this journey and will continue to because we fully acknowledge that we don't know crap about some of the things or didn't know that we're doing. So, for instance, when we decided we wanted to start a magazine. We reached out to a magazine publishers that we knew. Models that we knew that met modeled for magazines. People that we knew who wrote for magazines. Luckily, we have a really strong network and some incredible friends. And even you know, people who in some terms could end up being competitors, just giving just the most generous support and advice along the way.

I'm such a proponent of just ask. Ask for help. There's nothing to lose. I don't think I've ever been told no. I've been given weak advice or advice I didn't take. Lisa and I, as business partners you know, from time to time we're like...did that make sense to you? No, okay that's fine, you know. But ask. Why not? I totally am all for hearing other people to have other people have to think. Especially people who know more than I do about a topic. Oh gosh yea.

GETTING GOOD ADVICE

So we've...the best advice we've been given, I think, are from two pools. Again, we've asked everyone we know, you know various points along the journey. But people who are already in the business we're in. So in our case, publishers, editors, writers, people in the magazine business and then investors. Whether or not we're seeking investment, investors know what companies need to have ready, need to look at, need to have in their business plan for success because that's what investors look for.

So, people I have in my personal network, who are investors, angel investors or fund managers or whatever, tend to have terrific business advice for, for startups and entrepreneurs because they're looking for other startups and entrepreneurs and they know what to look for in a successful, or in a successful business model.

PERSONAL RISK AND BUSINESS DECISIONS

So when you ask what my worst fear is, I don't tend to give a lot of time of day to thinking about my worst fears because it's really defeating. But if I were to give it a second, I'd probably say my fear is I'm on a persona l note, planning to you know I just got married last year. Planning to start a family and that needs to be a stable situation and the entrepreneurial world is always one with you know, instability and risk.

So, I guess my worst fear would be not being able to provide for my family because of a choice that I personally made or one of my staff not being able to provide for their family because of a choice I made with the business. I hope to god that never happens. You know, that's a new fear for me. So I wasn't driven by it before. Before my own personal life you know? Before I got married and decided I want to start a family, the only thing at risk,really was me. My time, my energy, my, my...maybe chance of dying younger. But there was no sort of other things at stake.

So as your, I realize now that as your life evolves and your priorities change, that can cause, that can be an impetus and a catalyst for making smarter decisions about your business. That's where I'm at right now actually. Is knowing that I have something more at stake causing me to be...wanting to be wiser about how I approach the business.

So, practically I don't think comes into it because we always have a practical hat on. You know, we always make sure that bills can get paid. And because you know the priorities that I mentioned are my future family, for instance, the main mission of the magazine is still the most important thing to me. Because I'm now talking about future generations and the planet we leave them. So for me, that aspect of the business is absolutely vital for my job satisfaction.

ALIGNING INTERESTS

Our advertisers for the most part are not just , are not bad companies doing a couple good things, but good companies. I mean we're...and there's more and more of them. Like I said we're very fortunate working with companies that are, that I genuinely...that I buy from, that I admire. I mean, those are the first people I reach out to ever issue. I put my sales pipeline together to reach out to advertisers and the people top of that list are people, are companies that I genuinely respect and admire.

It turns out that the companies that I genuinely respect and admire happen to be the company often times that want to reach the audience that we have. So, we haven't had to really give up anything in terms of our morals and ethics and mission. We've been able to meet that, that requirement. So, far anyway and I can't imagine this changing, our advertiser pool matches the, you know, aligns with what we want to create for the planet.

TELLING THE RIGHT STORY

Where the challenge lies, is that companies we think are doing good things, but that have been burned by accusations of green washing or that you know 100% of their business isn't sustainable. Like maybe they're...maybe they're saving millions of liters of water, but they still haven't figured out their dyeing process exactly yet. Or, they're a luggage company that makes products for life for the lifetime guarantee, which is think is very sustainable instead of like fast fashion. But, they don't market themselves as eco luggage, they market themselves as luxury luggage so they don't see the fit.

So that's one of the challenges that we see, is you know, convincing these companies. Or even like, let's say a fast-fashion company like H&M that is taking huge strides to try and be a sustainable business. When you're a business that big, it is challenging to do and they've been burned by green groups telling them that they're doing it wrong and they have done things wrong. But they're really making efforts in this journey. So at what point along the way can they say, yes we're doing good things and feel comfortable about it, you know? And even that applies even more so for the companies who've never tried to say anything about doing anything green, but that we perceive as a business that we perceive are doing something right. So sometimes it's about convincing the advertisers that they deserve to be in your magazine.

So, we're lucky that we have quite a bit of flexibility in our content. I mean luckily because we....we're lucky that we have flexibility in our content because we can then, you know. Some of our content is, its consumer facing in the sense that it's not even about the story of the companies, it's just about what you can do as a consumer to be more sustainable in terms of you know, seeking products with less packaging or saying no to straws or not even you know recommending certain businesses to work with, just lifestyle options.

Then when it comes to telling the states the sustainability story of a given company or organization, every company's story is so different I don't think there's any formula you can use. Some of them are you know really making great strides in work life balance for their employees. Others are just doing incredible things to the environment or the production or this you know the supply chain. Others are making great social strides providing clean water, looking at water waste. There's so many different ways a company can approach the sustainability that there's an equal number of ways that we can tell the sustainability story for them. So it you know it really is so case-by-case.

One of the things that we...this has been a part of our evolution over the development of our publication, is the definition of sustainability that we adhere to. Because it is such, I mean just every throws the word around now right? It's the new eco or green, it's sustainability. For us, it's about, and this is sometimes hard to convey because the name of our magazine is Ecozine, but it's not just about ecology and environment for us. It's about overall sustainability.

So personal sustainability, wellness is a big part of what we talk about. Social sustainability, you know. People doing good for people, looking after themselves and each other. Social issues and of course economic sustainability too. So, that you know, conveying to people that we're not just about trees and animals, but about actually the wider, broader definition of just being a more responsible creature on this planet, towards ourselves, others and the planet itself is something that we often have to bring up in conversation.

STAYING INSPIRED

Yeah, it's pretty easy to say what in spires me actually. I'm just, I love getting out in nature. I mean maybe it's cheesy, like yes, nature inspires me. Nature inspires everybody, but after a long week or three weeks in a row without a break, let's say a work...one hour in the forest, one hike, one afternoon at the beach is just enough to revive me incredibly. So and that's exactly what we're working to protect you know? In a broader sense, so I really need to get in nature on a regular basis or I start to feel defeated by just the vanity of urban life.

In terms of the business itself, the other thing that's really inspiring is when we get emails from people saying you know. I just discovered this product or I sign this petition or I had no idea that my X action had Y impact. I will never do that again. Even when we get emails from people asking for advice, you know. Where can I get, where can I recycle this? Where can I buy vintage clothes? Sometimes I like, go buy the magazine!! But then you know I feel it's really gratifying that people are confident that there's a resource. That somebody will answer them. That they don't have to wonder. So that's also inspiring that people look to us as some place with answers for that kind of question. So when we get individual human responses from people, it's just incredibly gratifying and it gives us that drive to continue.


For more interviews from the "Entrepreneurs for Good" series, check out the playlist here.

Stay tuned for more clips and full interviews in the coming weeks.


Christina Dean

Changing Consumer Mindsets and Persistence | Christina Dean, Redress

Through this episode of Entrepreneurs For Good, I speak with Christina Dean about the problem of waste in the fashion and textile industry, and the work she is doing at Redress to bring awareness and solutions to the forefront.


Quote


About the Entrepreneurs For Good Series

Through this series, we speak with Asia based entrepreneurs whose mission it is to bring solutions to the environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced within the region to learn more about their vision, the opportunities they see, and challenges that they have had to overcome.

It is a series that we hope will not only engage and inspire you, but catalyze you and your organizations into action. To identify a challenge that is tangible, and build a business model (profit or non) that brings a solution to the market.


About Christina Dean

Christina is the heart and soul of Redress. Since she started Redress in 2007 as Founder and spokesperson, and has steered the organisation’s powerful course towards a more sustainable future with less waste in the fashion industry.

Voted one of the UK Vogue’s Top 30 Inspirational Women, Christina delivers the Redress message to the world through talks, seminars, thought-leadership pieces and documentaries.

The indefatigable ex-dentist and journalist consistently drives the organisation towards inspiring positive environmental change in the world’s second most polluting industry. To Christina, Redress is not just the future of fashion but the future way of living.

Follow Christina and Redress:
Website: https://www.redress.com.hk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006862236443
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-christina-dean-7694a652/
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/getredressed/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/RedressAsia
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Redress_Asia


About Rich

Driven by the belief that change begins with a single step, Richard Brubaker has spent the last 15 years in Asia working to engage, inspire, and equip those around him to take their first step. Acting as a catalyst to driving sustainability, Brubaker works with government, corporate, academic and non-profit stakeholders to bring together knowledge, teams, and tools that develop and execute their business case for sustainability.

Follow Rich
Website: http://www.richbrubaker.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rich.brubaker
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richbrubaker
Snapchat: http://snapchat.com/add/richbrubaker
Instagram: https://instagram.com/richbrubaker
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/richbrubaker

Contact Rich
social@richbrubaker.com


Full Interview Transcript

I'm Christina, and I'm the founder of Redress. We are an NGO reducing pollution and waste in the fashion industry. Probably my ultimate mission is just to inspire people to kind of get active with being a part of a solution.

REDRESS

The original problem we were trying to address is the rampant pollution coming from the fashion textile industry and we're still trying to do that. But ultimately after 9-10 years of experience in this sector what we're really trying to do is question human's relationship with consumption and trying to awaken people's minds to better ways of consuming and using and disposing.

EVERYTHING IS A MESS

Well, honestly, the industry is facing way too many problems for me to be able to isolate it. Firstly, taking a whole look at the entire fashion and textile industry, it's the second biggest global polluter and so if you want to look at pollution, you're going to have to address water, chemicals, carbon, green house gases, the whole spectrum of pollution and its all coming out of the fashion and textile industry. Of course, if you wanted to isolate the absolute worst of the worst, I think you could possibly isolate water.

The textile industry causes about 20% of all industrial and water pollution and in China, the textile industry is probably the second biggest water polluter in China. You've got to think, ya know, see China has got a huge industry across multiple sectors. So, even if you look at China the amount of, if you look at China...if you look at the pollution coming from the textile industry in China, the textile industry is actually causing twice the amount of pollution for water than the coal industry. And China's coal industry is actually supplying around 50% of the world's coal. So, I mean that's, that's just looking at textile, sorry, that's just looking at water as being one major problem with the textile industry.

When you start looking at the... I mean cuz there's also chemicals. You know, you need 8,000 chemicals to turn the raw material into a fabric. Eight thousand different chemicals. One pair of jeans requires three kilos of chemicals. And when you just multiply that by the amount of clothes that are being produced out there, it's truly horrific.

CHANGING CONSUMER HABITS

Well, I think if consumers keep going with buying, buying and dumping, dumping, then we're not going to address the problems of the fashion industry. Which will mean, that the fashion industry will continue to speed up, it will produce more and more clothes and it will create a lot of pollution and waste long the supply chain. And we will be continually facing a huge amount of wastage going into the landfill. So what is that going to do? It's going to continue to damage the environment, polluting the planet and killing people.

WHAT'S THE SOLUTION?

I think, from talking to a lot of people in the industry, is that the biggest threat...if you could look the industry is facing almost every single challenge that you could possibly think of. But if you really wanted to nail it down to something, what the industry really needs is a reliable, sustainable, renewable, cheap source of new fibers. Because you know cotton is a mind filed of problems and recycle polyester is wonderful.

I mean we've got a whole spectrum of materials and fibers that you're feeding into the textile industry and the search is on for the miracle fiber that you can feed this monster with less of an impact and that is what fashion brands need. Because they know that most textile garment fashion businesses know that they can't source the way that they did before because there's competition for food, for land to grow food, versus fibers. You've' got under priced resources like water. You've got consumer awareness that has spiked in recent years an you've got a chancing consumer sentiment. So basically sourcing has to change.

REDUCING WASTE. IT'S OBVIOUS

The reason we focus on waste reduction is because it's so obviously an environmental benefit to reduce waste and its also an economic benefit for anyone wanting to improve their bottom line, reduce waste. I mean, come on it's obvious. So that's why we want to reduce waste because we think that we can demonstrate, impact that way. If you want to reduce waste and you want to go talk to a brand and you want to a supplier, the doors open. Because everyone loves reducing waste. So that's why do that. Why we are not trying to find the miracle new fiber, because honestly the solution will probably for that will come from technology and we are not, ya know, I can barely operate Facebook. So you know we are not going to be going down that route.

BUSINESS MODEL

We are an educational organization essentially a social enterprise driven by education. So, in order to do that, we have to make money. The ways we make money are, entrepreneurial at the very spirit, but completely varied according to where we're digging for cash. If we're looking in the supply chain, or if we're looking for cash from consumers and funding. So we don't have any one funding model that actually serves us because we're not actually serving a product or making a product. Instead we're basically incredibly creative about getting money out of people, companies and organizations and governments.

So another model that we're working on and it's a business model, although I'd like to be richer on it. The model is we take clothes from people who use them..the business model is that we get clothes donated to us and then we sell them. It's pretty easy, but we could collect say in a year, year on year is different, lets just say 20 tons in a year, 15-20 tons in a year, But we can probably only sell about 3% of that through our popup shops. so it's a goo funding mechanism. It doesn't really kind of touch the sides of the budget, but it does help a little bit. and Of course, it's not, when you run a social business or a social enterprise, it isn't about the money. Yes, you've got to grow, you've got to make money, but you also have to change people so you can't always value things by the dollar.

CONVERTING CONSUMERS IS DIFFICULT

It's not easy to convert a fashion consumer. It's really difficult because if you look at organic food, it's obvious right? People are selfish. They want the best for themselves, so if you eat organic, you're going to be healthier, hopefully.

But people, to be really a conscious fashion consumer, you have to be very altruistic and you have to be able to think beyond your wardrobe and your daily life. You need to be be able to think of the cotton farms, of the garment workers, of the people living their polluted rivers.

To do that, it requires an emotional kick up the you know what. And you can't do that in one second it takes a lot to really inform someone like that. Inform someone to be able to change, and you have to..the problem with fashion as well as that its so deeply emotive. You know, what we wear is so important and so to ask peole to really make big changes over the outer appearance of their clothing, is actually to ask quite a lot.

The way to convert people is to make them understand that 1, the fashion industry is so polluting. It's not just causing problems with the environment, dirty, dirty rivers, it is literally killing people. That's number 1 and of course, this huge amount of social issues that comes with our clothes.

If you can lodge those two things into people's minds and certainly nail it home by saying every time you buys something, you're actually part of that. Because you're buying that. You're paying for all that suffering and if that's what you want to do...well, no one actually wants to do that. That's the good thing and I do think that most people are great and they truly don't want to be a part of that. They just don't understand that its' that bad.

So the way to change them is that you've got to make them realize that they're part of that. It's changing people and we changed so many people because people who come to our pop-up shops are on the hunt for a deal. They are not kind of green, they don't have a halo shining as they walk through the door. They're looking for clothes. They want nice clothes. They become very inspired that you can actually get great second hand clothes. So we do convert people while they're in our stores.

CARROTS AND STICKS

Now I think, its a carrot and a stick. I think you have to paint the harsh reality of the truth. That is, you know, the stick. The carrot comes in the form of saying, what fundamentally is fashion? It is the most beautiful, creative, expression of who you are as a human spirit. If we can capture that positive, that positive thread of fashion and make it ethical, make it value the planet, then you can actually love dressing in a more sustainable, ethical way. In fact, when you become more in tune with the fashion industry and you dress more ethically, what you...I've discovered that you actually start to enjoy style so much more because it has meaning.

I would love to say that our message resonates with Millennials, because you know that is such a powerful group, but I actually think we are talking much more to the more sort of older group of 25-45ish more woman than men. We talking a lot, I think to people who are searching for something else in their life.

CHANGE THROUGH COLLABORATION

At the end of the day, we're just 10 people. We ya know, we have a huge mission. We are 10 people and we are up against one of the biggest industries in the world, which actually look at the fashion and textile industry, it's the second biggest economic trade. So, are we going to be able to dent that industry if we work alone? Of course not. You have to work with industry to change industry.

So one example of one brand that we have been helping is Shanghai Tang, obviously China's leading luxury brand. We partnered with them for a couple of years on one of our projects, which is the sustainable fashion design competition. Basically competition, we find a winner, the winner goes work with Shanghai Tang, designs a collection and the collection is made using up cycled fabric waste. It's all of the fabric inventory and excess that is lying around from previous collections from Shanghai Tang's business and with our designers who we've trained, we've targeted, we've found them, they create a collection for global retail. Now, why that is great? On the one hand, you're educating emerging designers, you're transforming the ethos amongst emerging designers, but then we flip over and we effect the business. So we are looking at transforming supply chains of some big fashion brands in order to put upcycle products into their store. Ultimately because we want consumers to buy more sustainable options.

Shanghai Tang's reason for getting involved with us is because I think number one, they are a very responsible company who actually like doing good through their business. But much more than that they see the opportunity of working with our designers, who are ya know, Central Saint Martins standard. Incredible designers as reinvigorating the brand with a much edgier collection, actually that's just in-store and also integrating sustainability into their collections. So a refresh invigoration is probably one of the unexpected benefits that we also give to these brands.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Timing's everything. Timing in connections is actually very important you know. We've, had a very big partnership with a Esprit that went on for four years, big global rollouts of very mass mainstream fashion collections. People chop and chains.

These big fashion companies...their CEO's change everyday it feels like. And you can't actually make a long...it took about 20 mins over lunch. Well I went out, see he's a chairman, not executive direction, chairman now. I went out with the chairman Rafa ___, he is a friend of a friend. Sat down for lunch and said do you want to partner with us on a sustainable fashion design competition. And he said yes before I really finished the sentence. And that's because you know what I find and I you know, we speak a lot of fashion brands is that I don't think fashion brands are like, you know the evil people in the world. It takes us all. It's about catching them at the right time, getting in there with the right people, and selling them the right message.

WORKING WITH INDUSTRY

The benefits for us or working with...so for example, Shanghai Tang is immense because through them, we're able to message that China's taking sustainability more importantly and that upcycling is a business solution and that is important.

Through working with a company like Esprit for a number of years, we're actually able to say look, Esprit, one of the biggest players out there in the more mainstream industry is looking at waste reduction in their supply chain. And that actually pushes a lot of the agenda across the industry and of course, reaching consumers as well.

EVOLVE, GO TO THE GAP

I actually think, I know this might sound really unstrategic, but the end game keeps moving. Ya know, we need to be going and doing the hardest work possible so there's no end to this. The fashion industry is always going to be disgusting. It is. I mean, you know who are we kidding. It's always going to be a massive, massive problems, and yes, we can try and do our best to make just some if it better, but I'll go to my grave and it will still be really bad.

So, the end game is to evolve with the deeds of the industry and that has already changed in the last ten years. Like ten years ago we started collecting clothes and selling clothes, trying to inspire people that second hand clothes are okay. Now everyone is doing. The market is crowded with entrepreneurs, startups, for profits. Everyone is collecting clothes. You barely luck to leave this office with your shoes on. Everyone wants your old clothes and everyone is flogging clothes. So there's not a gap in the market for us anymore, but that's fine we are still doing it. But we need to move to where it's harder.

One example of that is for, for example, we provide teaching materials to universities. Because universities around the world really realize that they really need to teach their design students sustainability, but most Unies are way too busy to even think about it. So we've created a teaching module so all they have to do is download it and teach it and I like to say any monkey could do it because...there's your pack, read it out, teach the students.

Now, why did we do that? Because we are addressing a gap in the market. The gap is there's a huge need to educate young designers. The universities don't quite know how to do it. We're there in the middle and that is what a successful social business does. It goes to where there is a gap. There is no point hanging around the gap if it's filled up.

CELEBRATING SUCCESS

It's very difficult and actually quite sole destroying if you're a social business or enterprise because you can have a success every day, but the challenge is still so big. So I'm very proud of a lot of our successes, and even yesterday I felt really happy about a couple of things. Which is quite rare. Because really, if you're pretty driven with your cause, the cause remains this monkey on your back and this monster. And so, yeah small successes along the way, but the challenges are still so big. There's no point in patting yourself the back that much really.

MOVING BEYOND THE FOUNDER

CD: Sustain...no our current challenges are actually strategic, man power, internal systems, efficiency, management and funding. Always fudging, funding is always there that's taken for granted.

RRB: So how do you overcome these challenges? Is it you against the world? Do you have a board that helps you?

CD: Yeah.

RRB: Or do you talk to other entrepreneurs? Like, is it wine?

CD: No, I think...so having...I started it almost 10 years ago and I've been winging it for all of this time, but now as we're growing into a big organization, we can't just winging it. And so about a couple of well, a year ago issues we set up a new board and we've got a much tighter team structure with a new executive director who is reporting to the board. So what we are trying to do is move beyond a founder into a proper set up of a business with an active board, which we do. We have that now.

The problem of course, with anything is that things take time. You can't just set up a board and expect it all to work the next day. You can't just employ an ED, an executive director, and expect that to just happen over night. And so we are in a deep transition stage of moving beyond the sort of passionate founder to a sort of top management board structure. It's not that difficult, it just takes time. You've got to keep working at it. You can't ever really expect it to just happen. It constantly needs attention.

Well, a few years ago, must have been six years ago I went to INSEAD in Singapore and I learned so many things. But the one thing I learned was that the founder can ultimately kill the growth of an NGO and that really stuck with me as my abiding lesson from that entire INSEAD course. It was on social entrepreneurship. So I'm very conscious of being a founder and enabling the team to take it on. Personally, I can't separate my life from Redress because I love it. But I think, I think I can that, I can walk away because I'm not really walking away, I'm just walking away to other opportunities.

IT NOT EASY, BUT IT'S WORTH DOING

CD: Yes, definitely..

RRB: What happened?

CD: Well, you know what, sometimes you can be working on a project slogging your guts out and it's so demanding plus I've got, ya know, three young children. So I work really, really hard and yeah...It's just soul destroying sometimes.

RRB: Why do you beat yourself up?

CD: I think you, I mean it's easy to beat yourself up because when you've been doing it for so long, it's your second nature. You're not going to give up. Anyway it depends on your character. I'm not someone who gives up anyway. Yes, it's not fun. Anyone who says its fun is definitely lying. It's true. It's hard work. Yeah.

PERSISTENCE AND UTTER DETERMINATION

I think another thing I've learned is just how long everything takes. Back in the early days, I was talking from a shaker when I was setting this organization up. You've got to take a 10 year view on it. I thought that's ridiculous. I'll be done with this with in a couple of years and 10 years on I've barely scratched the surface. I think a lot of people who are staring up don't realize A, that they're going to work themselves so hard for so long before you even see impact and even when you start to see impact, you haven't really scratched the surface. So, persistence and utter sheer determination. Otherwise, I don't think there is any point in starting.


For more interviews from the "Entrepreneurs for Good" series, check out the playlist here.

Stay tuned for more clips and full interviews in the coming weeks.