Evolve Podcast
A podcast about heroes solving the world's greatest challenges.
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How To Start Some Good By Crowdfunding

Featuring Guest -

Tom Dawkins

Headshot of podcast host.
hosted by: Brandon Stover
March 29, 2021

Tom Dawkins is the Co-Founder & CEO of StartSomeGood. Tom has been the founder of 5 nonprofits and social enterprises and built the leading platform in cause-driven crowdfunding, innovative partnerships and social entrepreneur education. Since its conception in 2010, the platform has enabled more than 1000 projects to raise over $12.5 million to make a positive impact in the world. Their projects have an outstanding 53% success rate compared with 39% on Kickstarter and 9% on Indiegogo. In addition to their technology platform, they created a one stop shop for social entrepreneurs with accelerators, a social enterprise design course, live crowdfunding pitch events, a network community, and everything to help people design and launch social enterprises and impact projects.

But this social entrepreneur does not stop there. With a love for building community using technology and culture, he has organized everything from dance parties and film festivals, youth journalism projects and new media conferences, to co-working spaces and Burning Man theme camps.

As globally recognized leader in social entrepreneurship he has spoken at events such as South by Southwest, powered startup accelerators for organizations such as the United Nations Development Program, and created the world’s biggest online event for social enterprise, the #StartingGood Virtual Summit, with 6,000 participants.

He was recognized with awards and fellowships from the World Summit Youth Awards, The International Youth Foundation, Nexus Australia, the Social Enterprise Awards and the Australia & New Zealand Internet Awards. And to top it all off, his business is among the top 10% of certified B Corps.

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Scroll below for important resource links & transcripts mentioned in this episode.

Want hear another founder who had $380,000 crowdfunding campaign? - Listen to Episode 042 with Dan Demskey, Co-Founder of Unbound Merino, who is traded in his Friday nights to start grinding away on a crowdfunding campaign which raised $380,000 in its first 2 months. After just 3-years in business, they are now doing $4m in revenue selling to over 100 countries around the world.

what you'll learn in this episode

  • The little known secrets from over a 1000 successful crowdfunding campaigns
  • How to fund ideas facing the innovation paradox
  • How to convene, not convert, your idea’s first audience
  • The 5 heart grabbing hooks to get people raving about your crowdfunding idea
  • Why the world’s biggest challenges are the biggest business opportunities
  • The 4 phases of social entrepreneurship
  • How a unique exchange program put Tom on the social entrepreneur career path
  • Why Tom started two organizations in high school and college
  • Why Tom started his first non profit Vibewire
  • What 8 years of running a nonprofit taught Tom about fundraising for innovative ideas
  • The unexpected turbulence Tom had launching his MVP for StartSomeGood
  • How to share your idea clearly and effectively
  • How to expand your crowdfunding campaign beyond the initial audience
  • How to gain people's attention
  • How Tom initially attracted people to his organizations and StartSomeGood
  • The 3 existential challenges Tom believes the world faces right now
  • Why everyone in society must play a role in fixing global issues

How Tom Believes We Can Push The World To Evolve

Social enterprises alone can't make a wholesale shift of power generation. We need to put a price on things like pollution in order for the market to correct issues. People's self-interests need to line up with the reality of the world. There's no single social enterprise that can really change things systemically in the way that we need, but collectively through our voice, our activism, through harnessing our audiences, by building communities of people who share our values, we can begin to also exert, some of that pressure on government that will hopefully lead to that big shift.

Selected Links & Resources From This Episode


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Tom Dawkins

Tom Dawkins: [00:00:00] It's got to take all of us. It's got to take all the means at our disposal. Like this huge business opportunities here as well. Yeah. That you looked at something like the sustainable development goals and it's things like clean power for everyone. Governments are not going to make all that power profits are not going to make all that have businesses. They're going to have to figure out how to make enough clean power for seven and a half billion people.

Everyone has access to good food. Again, this is huge opportunities. Who's going to make enough food for seven and a half billion people in a way that doesn't destroy the. The environment and the ecosystem . Real problems are real business opportunities.  

Brandon Stover: [00:01:01]  Hey everyone welcome to evolve. I'm Brandon Stover and today's guest has been the founder of five nonprofits and social enterprises and built the leading platform in cause driven, crowdfunding, innovative partnerships and social entrepreneur education. Since its conception in 2010, the platform has enabled more than 1000 projects to raise over $12.5 million to make a positive impact in the world. Their projects have seven, an outstanding 53% success rate compared to the 39% on Kickstarter and the 9% on indie Gogo.

In addition to their technology platform, they created a one-stop shop for social entrepreneurs, with accelerators, a social enterprise design course, live crowdfunding pitch events, and network, community, and everything. To help people design and launch social enterprises and impact projects,

social entrepreneur, doesn't stop there with a love for building community using technology and culture. He has organized everything from dance parties and film festivals, youth journalism projects, and new media conferences to coworking spaces and burning man theme camps

as a global leader. Yeah. Recognized leader in social entrepreneurship. He has spoken at events such as South by Southwest powered startup accelerators or organizations such as the United nations development program and created the world's biggest online event for social enterprises. hashtag starting goods, virtual summit with 6,000 participants.

It was recognized with awards and fellowships from the world summit youth awards, the international youth foundation, nexus Australia, The social enterprise awards and the Australia and New Zealand internet awards. And to top it all off his business is among the top 10% of certified beef

today's guest day is co-founder and CEO of start some good Tom Dawkins. Now growing up Tom's father was an academic and his mother was in public broadcast, but both were heavy activists from an early age.

He was shown what it meant to stand up for things that mattered. Eventually an opportunity Rose for him to take up an exchange program, allowing him to travel from Australia to Washington state. And during this time he had a transformative experience that opened his eyes to the possibility that even as a young individual, people can make a difference.

And before long, he was launched into a career to make the world a better place.

Tom Dawkins: [00:03:10] So, I guess, I was like, yeah, lots of students in high school.

I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn't really have a sense. I wasn't kind of terribly motivated. And then I stumbled upon this opportunity midway through you get 10 to go on a student exchange program. To Spokane Washington. Well, that's where I ended up. That's wasn't I have to say the moment I heard about it, I wasn't like fantastic.

I'm going to Spokane, but I was, but I was blown away by the idea that I could get out of kind of the situation that wasn't really very fulfilling for me at the time high school go away somewhere else. And I guess, you know, take some time out to, have an adventure and to, and to get away from all that.

All that stuff. That was bugging me down me and my through high school. And so I spent a year in the U S which would have been for sure, a life-changing formative experience, no matter what. But then I had a particular opportunity during that year to attend a conference in San Francisco called the state of the world forum.

And it was this kind of like post cold war. Pow-wow about what are we all doing here? What are we all doing today? And out of the cold war is over it's, you know, a bit before our time, but. But the cold war was the preeminent was like the only frame for every conversation about international relations.

You know, that you couldn't talk about war and peace factor about Caldwell. You couldn't talk about sustainability and environmental ism without talking about the cold war. You couldn't talk about trade and fair trade without the cold war. And then suddenly it was over and literally no one knew kind of what we were doing anymore.

They wouldn't, there was no kind of agreed global agenda. And so that led to a whole series of conversations that ultimately kind of ended up with the millennial development goals, which then became the sustainable development goals, which on the wall behind me as which, you know, serves as the world's to do list.

But this was during that kind of, you know, that phase where there wasn't a great to do list and what should I have to do this be? And what are our aspirations as a global civilization and so on. And so this is, this is an incredible five day event in San Francisco that brought together. You know, seven different Nobel prize winners and McKell Gorbachev was there and Ronald Reagan and the, the leader of the Vietnamese Buddhists and Taba and Becky vice president of South Africa.

And then they thought, well, gee, you know, if we're talking about the future, wouldn't it be nice testing, young people here. So they didn't have the time, the inclination, the budget to do this like global search for worthy young leaders. So they, they do what they do, the smart thing and that sort of a circumstance.

And they partnered and they partnered with. An organization called AFS, which is an exchange student organization to select from 28, young, sorry, 32 young people from 28 countries, but who are all conveniently located in America already. And so by some time, like I just did the series of kind of like random happenstance.

Kind of allowed me to have this experience kind of bewilders me really, you know, that someone had to live, I need to discover the students changes. Cause someone had dropped a brochure in a corridor at school and I then got kicked out of class and picked up that brochure because I was bored. I'd never, I might've never.

My school was very academically focused, not very big on that sort of extracurricular stuff. So they never would have like, introduced that idea to me. Then I just happened to go with this particular program who happened to partner with this particular event. And then they happened to select me as someone they thought would benefit from the experience.

And here I found myself. Kind of completely undeserving having not really done anything, you know, to, to be a young leader or to make a difference. But nonetheless, I found myself in San Francisco having these incredible conversations and, with these amazing people and, and what was really profound about that for me was that they listened to me was that they were interested in what I had to say, that they were interested in my story, despite me not really knowing anything about anything that, my perspective still had value. And so, and I think that's at the heart of all empowerment is feeling like your story has a value.

Your voice should have value and it's impossible to feel valued. No one's willing to listen. And so that was an incredibly empowering experience for me. I felt a strong sense of, I guess, Agency that I could make a difference. And I felt a strong sense of responsibility because it had been drilled into me. You're here to represent the youth voice. You hear wherever the young people.

Brandon Stover: [00:06:50] So, this is what led you to starting several organizations, including junior state of America and the future leaders of Australia.

Tom Dawkins: [00:06:57] It was kind of in reflecting back on that experience in the, in the weeks immediately afterwards, that kind of set me on the current course, because what I realized is that I had just been the beneficiary Oh, I'm kind of a typical youth leadership experience. Yeah. And this is what youth leadership in inverted commas tends to look like still today. Really, it looks like it's a tokenistic, it's haphazard and it's biased towards wealth because I realized that while the youth delegation had this surface diversity well and real, real diversity, you know, boys and girls and black and white and.

You know, developed world and developing world. I realized that every single one of us had parents who could afford to send us to America for a year on exchange. You know, that every single one of us was the global 1%, I guess didn't have that language then. But and it got me thinking a lot about what would it look like if we could give everyone the experience that I just had.

If every person could know that their voice matters, if every person could have opportunities to tell their story, that everyone could have a chance to define the kind of future they wanted and then to participate in collective action. To bring that future into being, and that's more or less what I've been working on ever since it's taken a variety of different forms.

I mean, the first thing I did was set up a chapter in my local high school of it organization called junior statesmen of America, which is kind of like playing, you know, kind of doing kind of play, acting really at politics, but learning about, you know, practicing using your voice, practicing, having opinions, getting involved in discussions about the future.

I got back to Australia and there was no equivalent to that Australia doesn't have in the U S at least. In my school in Spokane, there was a strong kind of a culture of student clubs at high school politics, clubs, and social clubs and hunters and fishers clubs, all sorts of stuff, you know, chess and just everything that there was none of that at my high school, they said kind of, if you weren't, you know, there was, there was sport and then there was studying and that was kind of like, That was meant to be live.

And so I set up an equivalent organization with the grandiose title, future leaders of Australia and that spread to have membership in 50 schools across Sydney. And we were holding conferences in the, in the parliament house for our state parliament. And we were having this incredible experience of, you know, calling up and booking the actual like chamber, you know, the actual congressional team, but, and holding hosting conference in there and we'd turn up and they'd expect to see a bunch of.

Teachers and adults, but in fact, the entire thing had been organized by year 12 students for year nine and 10 and 11 students. And they were like no adult supervision at all, but no one realized until we all turned up guys. And so that got me started, I guess we've kind of making things happen and that then led to a university student organization.

Brandon Stover: [00:09:23] Is experience lead you to your first major organization? Vibewire

Tom Dawkins: [00:09:27] Vibewire, is about. Initially kind of about leveraging technology to help young people express themselves on the issues that matter. And then that evolved into kind of supporting young adults 16 to 30.  but supporting them to gain entrepreneurial skills to make a difference. And as part of the work there I have in the first coworking space in Australia and a variety of other projects that sent youth reporters out on the campaign trail during the federal election and ran a couple of very early semi-daily online culture sites or what we used to call back then portals cultural portal.

And so that you know, I spent eight years there working really hard to raise money in order to support a bunch of projects that no one had done before that there was no evidence that they would work, run initiated by young people who had no track record or runs on the board, prove that we knew what we're doing.

Brandon Stover: [00:10:10] yeah, didn't working in a nonprofit for eight years. Teach you about raising money for innovative ideas.

Tom Dawkins: [00:10:15] You might not be surprised to hear. It was really hard to raise money for unproven ideas led by unproven leaders. But of course that's what. Innovation often looks like, and that experience has really, I guess, informed what we do now. It starts some good, which is all about trying to help emerging social entrepreneurs and leaders, to get their ideas out there, to gain, you know, to build the skills they need to, to build community, to build, to sell their idea, to pitch their idea, and then build the infrastructure.

They need to do that as well through our crowdfunding platform. And part of that is just me having experienced what it feels like to try to be pitching genuine innovation because genuine innovation is unproven. You can't guarantee how it's going to work. You can't point necessarily to specific impact metrics or someone yet until after you've been able to try something and collect those metrics.

Yeah. And so one of the things I realized was, what a truly pro innovation ecosystem looks like. And it looks like. What it looks like is a lot of failure. A lot of people trying stuff that doesn't work. And then that is only possible because there's a bunch of people willing to support people with ideas, not yet proven to work.

And one of the key types of support you see in the commercials talk about is, is angel investors, backing people. And what I realize is there's no equivalent. The social impact that the world like social impact investment is a world of all VC equivalents. You know, so what's, you know, kind of angels are investing their own money, able to investing from conviction rather than data usually fueled by optimism and upside and curiosity.

And passion and so on. Whereas VCs their job is to be more dispassionate, not just to do things because they personally are inspired. They need to they're spending other people's money. And so they have to justify their decisions to those people. So they want to be able to point to data and say, you know, this is why we made the decision.

You know, it stacks up, you look at the debt, you know, we assessed it and we're smart and we're sensible. And we decided that it makes sense. And I realized that. Funding for social impact is all that VC equivalent it's people's spending other people's money and therefore trying to be sensible and make decisions that can be justified.

And particularly when it comes to social. Good. I think there's a real feeling of scarcity. No one feels like there's enough resources or enough funding. So no one feels like they have enough money. To waste. And what has to happen is that innovation is seen as wasteful because it involves failure. It involves risk.

And so people tend to gravitate. And this is very natural. You can understand, you have limited resources. What are you going to do with your limited resources? You got to back things that are proven to work. I know that if I put my money there, that's going to produce certain outcomes because that's already proven.

Whereas I've had to put my money here. Maybe it would make a big difference, but maybe. It would be a complete flop contact that risk got to put my money here every time. That's great. Of course, if the world was very stable and very predictable and didn't change very quickly, but in a world that is evolving as fast as ours, it's never enough to just.

Work with things that were already proven to work, we need to constantly kind of, we need to build an ecosystem, a muscle, a culture that is capable of constantly reinventing how change happens in a world. That itself is constantly changing. And so that's a big gap for the social sector, like, you know, and start some good as it's trying to fill that.

through crowd funding these days through a lot of capacity ability design courses, accelerators a big focus on skill development, as well as providing infrastructure. But that's ultimately what we're trying to do is increase the pace of innovation for social change.

Brandon Stover: [00:13:19] this is Brandon Stover, and you're listening to the evolve podcast with Tom Dawkins. Co-founder of start some good. You're going to hear about start some good and the heated race Tom had with other competitors as he launched his MVP. First, I wanted to let you know that all the resources and lessons from this episode are available as a free worksheet@evolvethe.world and clicking on the worksheet button in the upper right-hand corner.

All the lessons from Tom's lifelong career in social enterprises are super valuable, but they're only as valuable as the ones that you're actually going to put in execution. So that's why I distill all the action items from each episode into one, easy to use step-by-step worksheet. So you can immediately start applying these to your life and business.

Lessons like how to fund innovative ideas, how to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign and where the biggest opportunities in social entrepreneurship is in the coming decade. And so much more. All these lessons are available@evolvethe.world and clicking on the worksheet button in the upper right-hand corner.

That's evolve the.world, or you can follow the link inside the show notes of your podcast app. Now let's get back to the evolve podcast with Tom Dawkins. Co-founder of start some good as he shares how during his MVP launch I've started some good. He had some unexpected competitors launching at the same time and started to run up against some challenges, bringing this to market.

Tom Dawkins: [00:14:43] Yeah, our launch was a bit of a disaster to be honest. I, but we didn't really know what we're doing either. We had planned, I guess we didn't do any kind of. Free yeah, we had no kind of coming soon. Or, and I think that if I was to do it again, I would have done a bit more. I think one of the things that we often see this with crowdfund, as well as people scared to kind of declare their intentions yeah.

Were worried that someone will instantly kind of steal their idea and run with it and, and whatever. And you know, people mentioned that all the time with crowdfunding. What if someone, what if someone takes my idea? And I think that's actually a very low risk in, in most, in most instances, the much greater risk is that no one will pay any attention whatsoever.

Right. That's the much more likely problem is that like desperate for someone to pay attention. Not that people are paying attention and stealing your ideas, but that no one's noticing you at all. And I think that there's something very powerful in declaring what you're about to do that can attract interest and support and so on and, and kind of put a line in the sand.

But we were very, I guess, stealthy. And then we were. Unveiling on March one. So actually we're almost up at the anniversary. And our plan was to release a press release that literally had the heading, you know I forget the exact phrasing, but basically we'll, we're arresting on the Kickstarter for social change line, you know, which is that classic where the X for Y exactly where the Kickstarter for social change which we very directly were, you know, we're very inspired by Kickstarter.

We thought they were, solving a very similar problem for. So creative entrepreneurs, which is how do you get around the gatekeepers in a given industry? So for creative and you know, for, for musicians, that was a record label, say it not so long ago, you had to have a record level or else no one would ever hear your music.

Whereas of course, today that's not the case. You may still want a record label, but there are places there are ways to build relationships directly with listeners. Who liked what you're doing and want to help you do more. And we thought that's what social entrepreneurs need as well. Not just, you know, not to endlessly bang their heads against the doors or the Gates of, of foundations and government and grants and all of that.

But instead build a relationship directly with entrepreneurs. So. So that line really worked for us. What, what really killed us a little bit at the start was that two days before us, another platform launched using the exact same line, we are the keys. That was actually what was extra knowing that that was that they weren't, in fact, the Kickstarter change, they were a different model that was trying to do like which was, which was declared illegal.

Like six months later, they're essentially kind of a an end run around the laws restricting online equity. Investing at the time that instead of being equity, it was, you would get a share of future revenue. And so anyway, it was an investment was more like a. I don't know what they call it like an angel list maybe for, but it wasn't a Kickstarter wasn't, you know, it wasn't kind of project focused deadlines, the same sort of dynamic deal or nothing model that we were using.

But of course, with them launching, you know, they got that the traditional round of startup press Kickstarter for social science lectures. And then two days later, we're like where the real Kickstarter associates ran this story. So we really, we really launched to a whimper, got very little Major attention, but nonetheless, we just got on with it, I guess, from that point. It's certainly never been kind of a hockey stick type trajectory, but for almost 10 years now, we've been working hard and plugging away and slowly building our community and  they're still very ambitious about what we want to get to next.

Brandon Stover: [00:17:39] Yeah. A big part of that was just sharing it around, as you said, like when you're first starting out, share that idea with as many people as you can. Is there some best practices or way to take your weight and clearly state this to other people that you could share?

Tom Dawkins: [00:17:54] That's interesting. I think there's a few different ways.

You know, the question is always there. I mean, one of our real, Beliefs or observations when it comes to fundraising, is there is no one perfect formulation because people are very different. Right? So I think people are often looking for that kind of like, what's the perfect formulation, but it's always going to be, who are you talking to?

And then what are you trying to make them feel? And then we can start to think about how it is that you might achieve that. And I think a lot of people miss that, particularly purpose-driven entrepreneurs are very driven by their own message of, you know, very passionate about their message. And they can sometimes become a little bit monomaniacal about a very specific message and they can also get caught up in, and this is often a kind of a recipe for failure at a launch is they can get caught up in trying to convert people to their way of thinking, Hmm, this is why this matters.

You should care about it. But the trick too, I think. Successful launches. And really this is the business we're in these days because most crowdfunding campaigns on a site represent a launch. And one of our key principles is convene. Don't convert. Don't spend any time, particularly early on, like down the track, they make that maybe an important part of what you're doing.

You know, if you're a, if you're a renewable energy startup yeah. At some point you need to convince people to switch. From, you know, from carbon intensive energy to clean energy. So you will need to convert people as you go. But the launch is not normally the time to do that. And the crowdfunding campaign is not normally the time to that.

It's where you gather the true believers who want to help you achieve that goal. And that normally means that, you know, by definition, they already agree with it. They already believe in it. And so the way they talk about that on the, in the commercial startups is obviously looking for product market fit.

That you genuinely want to solve problems. People know they have, right. It's not impossible to create desires. Of course, some companies are very good at that. I think Apple's really good at that. Like literally no one, I like I was in technology at the time and literally no one ever said to me, God, Tom, I'm so frustrated.

I really need a screen. That's midway between my phone and my laptop. And no one ever said that to me. And yet, you know, Apple was able to launch the iPod iPad and it was very Pilsen like, Oh, this is, yeah, look at this. This is cool. I want it. And so Apple are in the business often of creating desire. But that's not normally where any of us want to be when we launch it.

Wasn't where Apple launched either is worth observing. They built up a skill and a capacity and a cache that enables them to do that over time. Where do you want to start though? Is figuring out who already gets it. Who already knows they have this problem? You know, if they're In any instance, you know, if you're, if you're publishing a book, teaching people how to add purpose to their company, who's already thinking about that.

Who already wants purpose, but doesn't know how find those people, rather than spending your efforts, convincing people, you should be embracing purpose. You should. So, one of the things I often preach is don't tell any, I, I violate this in the very sentence. I say, you shouldn't ever tell people what they should or shouldn't do.

I'm telling you that because you know, I'm, I'm here teaching you the mechanics, but when you get out there teaching telling people, you should care about this as a re like, automatic turnoff, tell me what I should care about, but that is what a lot of people do, particularly for social purpose campaigns.

Cause they are, you know, they're very driven by an often accurate belief that the key to making progress is that more people should care, must care. And that, and that may be the job of your enterprise, but it's not necessarily the job of your startup, but it's not usually the job of the crowdfunding.

Brandon Stover: [00:21:05] Do you have an example of someone who successfully launched a crowdfunding campaign to an initial community of people who were already getting the message

Tom Dawkins: [00:21:13] We had an app that's successfully fundraised on our site, I think last year. And it was essentially an app that gamified eating less meat. Okay. That kind of a, and so you'd have building up streaks of meat-free days and you know, it wasn't necessarily don't have to go completely meat-free, but the less that you can eat and let's kind of game-ify that.

And what have you, so the question, so, you know, who's the market for that? The, the ultimate market is people who eat meat. But who, you know, are kind of open to the idea that they should eat less of it. And they want to build up more of a habit, I guess, around that. And they're therefore willing to, but who do you imagine with a support?

Who do you imagine? Invested in the crowdfunding campaign who were that first supporters? Vegetarian. Yeah. Vegans people who literally don't need the app, but whom already believe in the premise, do we need to convince people to eat lesbian? Yes, we do. This app might help, but no one invests in someone to convince them to change their bike.

No, one's like, Oh, my values are, so my values are all wrong. So maybe I'm going to fund your crowdfunding campaign. And then when you come back to me with your thing, you'll like, Teach me the right way to it. I mean, I don't have the word. Everyone thinks there's current values are the right values. And so you've got to connect with people around their existing beliefs.

Brandon Stover: [00:22:20] Once we have successfully connected with people that our crowdfunding campaign aligns with, um, in their existing beliefs. How do we start expanding to the other key audiences?

Tom Dawkins: [00:22:30] The other mistake people make is even if they get that, they tell any one story focusing on one audience, this comes back to your original question, you know, what's the right way of formulating it. There might be different ways of formulating it for different target audiences.

And so one of the principles we teach people is this idea of different hooks, their campaign has a core story, but that story can contain different hooks. What I mean by hook is that this is kind of out of all the detail of this story, what's the one thing that you're foregrounding for a particular audience.

So let's say I'm setting up a social enterprise food truck. And we're going to create job opportunities for homeless people by serving North African cuisine in a food truck in Sydney, who should I be pitching this to? Well, obviously I should pitch it to people who care about homelessness and so on, but that's, that's often where people leave it.

They go, I I'm doing it because I care about homelessness. And I've realized that jobs are the key to getting people out of homelessness, not just providing services, you've gotta give them opportunities to like get their life back on track through the power of. Work the dignity and so on. So that's, that's what gets me up in the morning.

That's what I'm doing. It's not that I'm like, I'm less passionate about maybe food or other things. That's, that's what I'm all about. And so a lot of people will launch a crowdfunding campaign on it, and they'll just bang on about that thing. But that's just one, one reason why people can, should believe there's all sorts of other reasons why someone might resonate with this campaign.

Other than that, they are deeply focused on providing employment to homeless people. They may love North African cuisine, right? They may just think food trucks are super cool. I used to live in San Francisco. I love food truck. They should just be more interested in seeing me. I'm just trying, like you tell me your logic, but truck I'm interested instantly.

Cause I just, I just truly believe more food trucks would make Sydney. I cool applies. And so through our coaching. What we often do is help people kind of architect these different hooks. Okay. We have a hook around food trucks. Where are the people who already care about food trucks?

We have a hook around. Kind of helping people who are suffering homelessness, who are the people who care about that. We have a hope maybe that North African cuisine would you like to see North African cuisine be more available in Sydney? That's a specific thing. There's another hook around social enterprises.

You know, that there's people out there myself included who are just, just interested in social enterprises as a whole model, as a whole approach to creating change. And so let's say, you know, I've got those four hooks. And then we'd sell it as a geography hook. So while food trucks are interesting, they're more interesting if they're across the road.

In other words, they're more interesting if they're really local. So you may be launching a food tracking Liverpool, which you won't know, but it's like an hour to the West is in Sydney, but like miles away from where I am not a place I ever go. Noticing, well, just a little bit out of my way. So obviously I'm in North Sydney.

And so obviously launching a food truck in North Sydney is more exciting to me than in Liverpool, so that, so the five hooks that we teach people to think about other issue hook. So in this case, the issue hook is addressing homelessness through employment. The geography hook. So Sydney, but more local is better.

That's like, I'm going to be here on Wednesdays here on Thursdays here on Tuesdays, I'm focusing on those three. It was very local geographies. The team hooks mostly relevant here. I'm not a very interesting story as a founder, you know, then like a white middle class too. I had myself been previously homeless.

And now that would be a great founder story. Brian is less, less powerful in this instance. The how hook, how are you making a difference? So that's where food trucks come in. That's where North, North African cuisine comes in. That's where the idea of social enterprise comes in. And then what we call the way hook that's when people support you.

By our pot. That's like giving money to your your, your university alumni association, that kind of active identity. I am part of this community, so I'm paying into it.

 And so my job then would be to design specific pictures for those specific audiences and then make sure I get them to the right audience. So the heart of crowdfunding really is that architecting of different hooks and then the matching of hooks to audiences, because your hook's only as good in some ways like audience and story at two hearts of the same coin, right.

You've got to match them. You know, it's why. You can go to the movies and some people will laugh at the same point that other people cry, exact same story on the screen, but we're reading it differently because we have different backgrounds, different values, different. Different lenses. And so the Cape of fundraising is to understand that people are diverse, that people care about different things.

And then to really try and meet them where they are, tell them about the thing they are interested in.

Brandon Stover: [00:26:31] So now we have a bunch of different hooks to start spreading our methods. Where should our outreach strategy be in order to raise money while simultaneously building a community?

Tom Dawkins: [00:26:40] I think what people don't realize is that there's two key conversions. When it comes to any fundraising, there's converting attention, then converting money and people focus. You people assess on the last one, how to get people to give them money, but you can cause can't get money out someone if you haven't got them to pay attention.

And it's really actually quite hard to even capture a moment of someone's attention. We're all overwhelmed all the time by all the media flowing fire. And when it comes to competing for attention, we're competing with everyone right. Competing with. Coca Cola. You're competing with the New York times.

You're competing with Joe Rogan. You're competing with the NFL. You know, you're competing with everyone for people's attention. So you better get pretty focused Brit. You can't take it. You can't take it for granted. People don't owe you their attention. You have to win the right to tell them about what you're doing.

And you only do that by actually being specific to them or their niche, their interests, and saying, you know, you love food trucks. I love food trucks. You're passionate about helping homeless people. I'm passionate, helping homeless people. You're, you're interested in social enterprises. I'm interested, social enterprises.

What's so cool about the world today, though, is that you can find people in all these niches, you know, the world is so we're also connected and we all. We all essentially tag ourselves up with the things we're into, through our online behavior. If you are, if you're really into food trucks, you probably indicate that.

I mean, maybe not, I don't belong to any food truck communities on that podcast, to be honest, but I have a latent passion for food trucks as you're hearing, but in general, people who are really passionate about something will reveal that passionate through their online activities. Through the, the hashtags they use or follow through the podcast, they listen to through the Facebook groups, they're members of and that's, that's really amazing. That's really different from, you know, 20 years ago.

Brandon Stover: [00:28:17] Can you show her how maybe you attracted people to your organizations and start some good.

Tom Dawkins: [00:28:23] When I launched Vibewire that I'd say about eight university. It was really important to me because we were doing work online that we weren't just a bunch of students from one university in Sydney. So I thought, but we thought university students where we're at being a key target market, initially university students who like had something to say, and we, you know, active and want to be more active and people like us essentially at the time.

Well, how do we find more people like us somewhere else? And that was impossibly hard to do in 2000, like finding you did. I mean, I don't know how active you are on message boards. And so on at the time they were just starting. What was, what was the first question people would ask when they would meet people online?

No ASL to Mark was often, which is age sex location. Why do people have to ask that? Because they didn't know a single damn thing about the person that they were interacting with. There's this classic new Yorker cartoon that I often show people. It doesn't make any sense to people below a certain age.

It's that old? No one on the internet knows you're a dog. Because 20 years ago, there was no identifying features. People would just be Wolf Wolf, seventy2@hotmail.com, AOL or whatever. And you'd have to like individually be like, who, who are you? Where are you? What are you into? And then you'd have to like trust that they aren't, you know, they aren't a golden retriever on a laptop somewhere lying to you.

Whereas, and so what we did at the time was As I like to tell people, we use this nifty piece of technology, and then I showed them a picture of of of a Greyhound bus. And I took the overnight bus down to Melbourne. I spent a day in Melbourne sticking posters up at four university campuses overnight bus back and went straight back to uni.

The next day it was a very brutal 48 hours, but that was now we found our first collaborators in Melbourne so that we would begin beginning to build a more national Melbourne in Victoria. You know, the, of the second biggest city in Australia, after Sydney, where we were so. Whereas today, of course you don't need to do that.

When we launched, when we launched that some good, we launched with projects in six countries, and that was just through our personal networks, through, you know, through social entrepreneurial communities and so on. And it's even a lot more developed now than it was then. And so the beauty is that you can get really specific.

You can get really tactical and focused on particular people that you want to hit with up with particular stories, It takes that effort. It takes that focus. It takes been, you know, rather than just these kind of spray and pray approach that so many people take of. I just want to tell everyone about my story, but telling everyone is almost the functional equivalent of telling no one.

Right. If you're not targeting the right people with the right story.

Brandon Stover: [00:30:41] Hey, this is Brandon Stover and you're listening to the evolve podcast with Tom Dawkins. Co-founder of start some good. And just a moment, you're going to hear about how the biggest problems we face now in our current society can actually become the biggest business opportunities.

First, I wanted to let you know that all the resources and lessons from this episode are available as a free worksheet@evolvethe.world and clicking on the worksheet button in the upper right-hand corner.

All the lessons from Tom's lifelong career in social enterprises are super valuable, but they're only as valuable as the ones that you're actually going to put in execution. So that's why I distill all the action items from each episode into one, easy to use step-by-step worksheet. So you can immediately start applying these to your life and business.

Lessons like how to fund innovative ideas, how to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign and where the biggest opportunities in social entrepreneurship is in the coming decade. And so much more. All these lessons are available@evolvethe.world and clicking on the worksheet button in the upper right-hand corner.

That's evolve the.world, or you can follow the link inside the show notes of your podcast app.

Let's get back to the evolve podcast with Tom Dawkins. Co-founder of start some good as he explains the opportunity. social entrepreneurs have by addressing today's biggest challenges.

In 2021, we've seen quite a paramount of a need for innovation from the pandemic to social issues, to climate crisis. And you've said that each one of these is not only a social challenge, but a business challenge as well. Why is it of necessity for founders to create startups to address these and what opportunities do you think that they get for doing so

Tom Dawkins: [00:32:19] right question Brandon?

I mean, I just think it's. I think it's two things. I mean, one is that these are some very profound challenges that we have ahead of us.  I think there's three relatively existential challenges before us climate is one.

Democracy is another, I think when I was growing up, it felt like democracy know end of history. It was kind of a year of end of history that liberal democracy, liberal capitalism and democracy has won the world. And that's just the end of it. I can't tell you how much a spunk it's spins me out now that like Nazis are thing again.

That was, you know, that was the 20th century. But I think democracy is, is actually going backwards. We've been losing democracies for the last thing is I worry that, you know, my childhood might've been the peak. If we're not careful. And that requires that we re-imagined democracies. We see massive loss of faith in the democratic process and in democratic legitimacy. And that idea that you lose an election, but you're like, we'll get you next time in the U S that that's gone.

I think that's a, that's, that's a massive crisis. And then the third, I think is inequality. And these all feed together, of course, inequality is fueling. Is is, is breaking out democracy because while we all have one vote, we have vastly unequal access to power and to influence and to sharing our voice, our voices have become very unequal and very matched with capacity.

That inequality, I think, challenges at democracy. And then I think the loss of democracy is a big part of it. It challenges our ability to, to make progress against things like climate change, because It's hard to make profound changes when no one can agree on what they are.

And so. I just think that those are too big and too important to be considered just the work of not-for-profits or even just the work of governments. Businesses are like, I forget the exact amounts, but like two thirds of everything from a resources, point of view in terms of like all the money and capital and resources washing through the system.

But government's obviously a big and have a huge chunk of it, but businesses are the vast majority of all the resources currently available to deploy in any way, shape or form. And so I just think these problems are too big to be left simply. To the traditional community focused part of our society.

It's got to take all of us. It's got to take all the means at our disposal. businesses, I think have been a key driver of some, of, many of these negative externalities, but can be a key driver of the solutions as well. And so that, I think then flips that that's kind of the, I guess, the moral why, but I think there's also a kind of practical.

Y, which is like this huge business opportunities here as well. Yeah. That you looked at something like the sustainable development goals and it's things like clean power for everyone. Governments are not going to make all that power profits are not going to make all that have businesses. They're going to have to figure out how to make enough clean power for seven and a half billion people.

Everyone has access to good food. Again, this is huge opportunities. Who's going to make enough food for seven and a half billion people in a way that doesn't destroy the. The environment and the ecosystem who's going to make enough power are good jobs. I mean, obviously we need businesses in terms of how, you know, the jobs that create smart cities.

That's, you know, that's, that's all public private partnerships. So simply I think it's, if you look at something like that, it's just the millennium sustainable deployment goals. It's just a list of like the biggest real problems in the world world and real problems are real business opportunities. As well to, I think, and I think there's just incredible opportunities now to, to do well by doing the right thing.

Brandon Stover: [00:35:26] You take advantage of turning these major issues and opportunities through social entrepreneurship, where do you see social entrepreneurship taking our society now? And then in the future?

Tom Dawkins: [00:35:37] Where I think we are right now is I think of kind of four phases. Of social enterprise. The first phase was the niche. And so that's been around for that social enterprises. Aren't new, they've been around for decades, but it was a niche. People measured it in different, you know, different, different ways.

But generally about 15% of the market was thought to be the ethical consumer. And what that tended to look like is that people had to kind of sacrifice. They have to go their way. They had to pay more. You know, so one of the plaque was we used to shop at a little organic supermarket. For instance. And so that was a pain, you know, it was it aligned with our values and so on, no animal testing and organic and all the rest of it.

But, you know, I mean, we had to go out of our way. We had to go to the specialist little shop. We could never do our whole shop there. So, you know, it's a half shop and then you gotta go somewhere else. It's more expensive. That, to me, it was kind of such a low price of 1.9. Social enterprise, 2.0 is.

Competing in the mainstream. So what social life has to point look looks like is that I can go to the mainstream supermarket style, but by social enterprise parks, that they're right there on the same shelves, competing with business as usual and often are competing. And so social enterprises are winning market share across a bunch of different categories, particularly in B to C consumer goods.

So you see them growing and winning market share because being a social enterprise actually provides. Practical real business advantages right now, but just kind of in theory in the future, but it makes your marketing more effective because people are more passionate and more likely to share your message.

It makes you, it makes you better at recruitment because people want to increasingly people with options and talents want to align their talents with their values and their sense of purpose. That means you can recruit better. People, keep them longer, have them do better, more passionate work. Right. And I also think it aligns you around innovating.

On things that really matter. But what I think that adds up to is that we're ready when the big shift comes. When, when that policy change happens, it means we've already invented businesses that are low carbon that are low pollution that are low, you know, negative externalities. So when negative externalities are priced in, suddenly these products that in some cases are a premium product now will actually be less expensive than in everything else.

They get the profit margin. Exactly. Cause they won't have to suddenly pay for all these other negative externalities. We've already done the hard work already sacrificing the short term to do the right thing and to build businesses that we are like social enterprises already measure, measure, or at least acknowledge, or at least think about the negative externalities already.

You know, that's kind of what it means to be a social enterprise is to, is to try to maximize the positive externalities and minimize the negative externalities. And so I think phase three of social enterprise is when. Those tactical advantages, more efficient marketing, better recruitment. Does it become systemic advantages at a pricing level?

When, when, when that shift happens, as it must, it's just a matter of time. At some point, we're going to be like, why are we not taxing the things we want? We want less of carbon pollution, et cetera. And rather than taxing, like employment, payroll taxes and stuff is madness. You want people to have jobs, things you want tax the things you've done.

You want less of we'll get there. And so that will create, I think, a systemic and almost unbeatable advantage, and that people will have to get with the program, whether they are personally driven through their morals or not just the economics will force businesses to adapt. And then I think we get to the final stage where social enterprise becomes the new norm and we actually don't need a phrase like social enterprises, a phrase disappears.

Because it just becomes the new expectation as to how businesses behave. Like just have an expert, which is not new by the way. This is kind of like 200 years ago when businesses were local and responsible to a local community, they had to, you couldn't, you couldn't put sawdust in your bread or everyone would be like, I'm not shopping.

Like what the hell, man, that was the worst ever. You have to be responsible to your local community. You know, th that, that local philanthropy, local leadership was all seen as, as part and parcel. Am I going to, I think. Back to that somewhat, but in a new way at a new kind of globalized level, I'm in that final phase.

And so what I think we are right now is in that second phase, and I think it's a little bit like kind of an analogy that I like is, is like the Japanese car makers before the oil shock in the early seventies.  So in the earliest for those who are the potted history is in the early seventies, OPEC the organization of petroleum exporting countries formed as a, you know, oligopoly of oil producers and reduce the amount of oil they were exploiting in order to ramp up the prices.

And so almost overnight, the cost of petrol gas fuel. Doubled also. And of course this was a massive crisis for all the, all the American car manufacturers who had very inefficient vehicles, because there's been no demand. The market hasn't pushed them to make more fuel efficient vehicles, but the Japanese car manufacturers were already doing it.

Not because they were genius future, you know, like predictors of the future who knew that the price of petrol was going up, but for local reasons, for the particular dimensions of the local market and Japan had already been. Pushed car manufacturers to make smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles. So I think that's where we are with social enterprises right now, where we're like the Japanese car manufacturers, we're doing the work we're creating, you know, the, the, the vehicles, so to speak the companies, the business models that are fit for the future.

And then when that change happens, as it must sooner would be better than later. Obviously suddenly everything's going to flip and these people who have already done the work will be so far ahead of business as usual, which we'll have to catch up and start doing the work. And so that's ultimately where I think that what needs to happen.

Brandon Stover: [00:40:39] Well, before I get to my last question, where can everybody find out more about you and start some good?

Tom Dawkins: [00:40:45] Yeah. Thanks. We'd love everyone to check us out and connect with me. I mean, it's got some good stats and good.com. Is the best place. That's the crowdfunding platform. Our main course that we run is called good hustle, and it's a 10 week social enterprise design program. So it's kind of reverse engineers, everything we've learned over 10 years of helping people launch into a series of, into a set of design principles or things you need to get right in order that you will be launchable when the time comes.

And so it's things like, you know, clarity on your impact model, as well as your business model, as well as your target market, your pH all the way through to personal self care as such an important part of surviving. Excuse me, the longterm journey of entrepreneurship. So that's that good hustle.online. If you want to find that directly, if you want to connect with me, I love connecting with anyone who's doing social entrepreneurial stuff or aspiring to do so I would very much welcome you to connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

I'm my two kind of public engagement platforms. And let me know that you, you heard me on this on this show, if you wanna connect on LinkedIn and I'll approve all of those. Cause I, I love just being in connection with anyone else who's on this journey and hopefully. There'll be something that you have to learn from, from my updates.

And I know that I'd have things to learn from you as well, because we all, you know, as I, as I keep saying, the world is ever changing. And so everything we've learned yesterday may not still be relevant tomorrow. We have to constantly learn from each other as we go.

Brandon Stover: [00:42:02] Absolutely. We'll, I'll put all that in the show notes for everyone.

But on my last question is how can we push the world to evolve?

Tom Dawkins: [00:42:09] That is such a big question. That is a big question. I mean, there's a few key pieces, I guess. I think. So ultimately if I, it made me if I could focus this on social enterprise and the role, I think, cause I think, I think almost social enterprise is the key.

You know, that it's not just, we don't just need a bit better businesses. We need a better style of capitalism. And frankly, you know, I think that people might say, this sounds very socialist, but in fact it sounds like how capitalism should work. I'm actually a really big believer in capitalism and I don't believe that's what we've got at the moment.

The way candles should work is that things cost what they cost and you decide if you're willing to pay for it. But right now, things don't cost what they cost. Most things are based on external externalizing, the negative consequences. So Coca-Cola, doesn't pay to pick up. The trash doesn't pay to deal with the obesity epidemic.

Doesn't pay for the carbon intensity of Alemanian mining and care manufacturing. So they get to just that. So they get to essentially, you know, keep all the positive upside from the product, the money it owns while avoiding all the negative downsides that's broken as a system. And so I've got nothing against co nothing against.

I honestly, I didn't, I don't care if you want to drive a Petro car for the rest of your life, it should just cost $10 a gallon. I'm not sure how gallons work to be honest anymore, but it should just cost a lot. You've got to just be a choice you make, you know, it costs a lot to keep home. Some people love riding horses.

Yeah, that's cool. It just cost me, you know, you just gotta pay for the horse. It should be the same with the Petro car. And if you, you know, and then, and then people can make real decisions. How much do I want this to work? You know, like a can of Coke should cost $10. I love cars. It doesn't matter. I'm going to pay for it.

It's a real trait for me. It's one of my good for you all good. But then you're also paying for all the other things that need that need that will need to be done for that. So I think if we can move to what's called true cost. Economics that would change everything then that real, like everyone acting in their self-interest would actually would actually line up with what the, with what the world needs.

Our self-interests would be that we all move to lower carbon intensive power because it's cheaper as well as cleaner in the long run. Good food should be cheaper than bad food, not the other way around. And so if we could, as why they ultimately that's what needs to change. And I think that what social enterprises are doing, and that requires policy change.

That's not something social enterprises can do on their own. So I think there's a limit. I think it's really important for social entrepreneurs and, you know, purposeful people to get on with it. It's what I love about. It's why I moved, I guess, into social entrepreneurship, from activism and political participation, I worked in politics briefly as an organizer and so on.

And, you know, I think politics has a really important role, which is, you know, we need legislative change personally. I was drawn towards. I guess more doing what I could do with the tools I had at my disposal, which is entrepreneurship for me, you know, you, you, you take what you can and make the best impact you've got without waiting for someone else to do it for you.

Yeah. And so I think that's important, but I also think there's only so far that can go. That social enterprises alone can't make a wholesale shift of power generation. There is going to need to be, we need to put a price on things like pollution in order that the market can correct them, that people's self-interests can line up with the reality of the world.

There's no single social enterprise can, can really change things systemically in the way that we need, but collectively through our voice, our activism, through harnessing our audiences, by building communities of people who share our values, we can begin to also accept some exert, some of that pressure on government that will hopefully lead to that big shift.

Brandon Stover: [00:45:31] Yeah. I love that, Tom. Thank you so much for coming on the show today and sharing everything that you have.

Tom Dawkins: [00:45:36] Thank you so much for this opportunity. And just big shout out to anyone who is doing that work of designing those models for the future, designing those, those positive, positive impact companies. I think that's just the most important thing we could be doing right now.

And I really salute you would love to connect with you and anything we can do to help you get your idea out there, rally the resources you need and ultimately make a difference. That's what we're here for.

Brandon Stover: [00:45:56] Dawkins have started some good leading platform in cause driven, crowdfunding, innovative partnerships and social entrepreneur education, which is enabled more than a thousand projects to raise $12.5 million to make a positive impact in the world. That is an astonishing amount. And I am so grateful for Tom sharing the best strategies for crowdfunding today that made those 1000 projects successful.

I thought it was particularly helpful, how much he emphasized understanding who your audience is and how to start crafting your message for that audience. So they resonate and become champions of your cause and business.

Now, if you want an easy to use a resource full of all the lessons from this episode, they are available as a free downloadable worksheet at evolve the doc world and clicking on the worksheet button in the upper right-hand corner.

You can also find all the show notes and transcripts from this episode at evolve, the.world/episode/tom Dawkins.