fSpace Magazine – A Head of the Curve

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A Head of the Curve

Helping a billion people is an ambitious goal. Meet the man who plans to achieve it.

Words: Jason Normandale, Photography: Sabine Albers

fSpace: There are so many interesting things about your company Curve, from designing technology that improves healthcare; to working directly with leading health professionals, researchers and patients; to having offices on four continents. And then there’s that goal: “to improve a billion lives around the world”. 

But before we get into all that, let’s talk about you. How would you introduce yourself?

Mo Jaimangal: That’s a good question. From a business standpoint?

No, just generally …  

Hmmmm, well … I’ve never actually thought of that. You’ve stumped me on the first question! (laughs)

(laughs) Fantastic! And the questions get harder!

I’d say I’m Mo, and I’m a big believer in trying to make the world a better place, trying to help those who are in need. I started this company because I wanted to help people who don’t have access to healthcare or the ability to improve their lives, to release some of the pain they’re in. I wanted to see if I could use the things that I’ve learned from school and industry, and apply them directly to help people in tough situations.

I’m a pretty competitive person, I love sports. That goal of a billion lives will drive me to spend my life trying to achieve it. If I get to it sooner, great, but then I’ll probably go for two billion. And given technology, its impact, and how quickly it can get to people, maybe a billion isn’t such a crazy target.

You have quite the education mix with Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science and Mechatronics. Take me back to your decision to study those degrees – was it a master plan back then, an extension of childhood interests, or some kind of torture from your parents?

I’ve always been a tinkerer. I was always playing with computers, taking bikes and equipment apart and putting them back together. I was always curious how things were built.

It’s probably an immigrant family thing but my parents wanted me to be a doctor, they really pushed me to be a surgeon or a doctor in healthcare. They bought me doctor books and games, where I’d have to operate on something, so that kind of medical bend grew early. Though when I got to high school, I just thought I’d be playing basketball –

Right, in the NBA with Lebron …

(Laughs) No – the NBL. I wasn’t good enough for the NBA, but the NBL … maybe. But when I started getting serious about what I was going to do in university, I put medicine down as my first choice, but secretly wanted to study engineering. And mechatronics just sounded cool.

While you were studying, you were also starting some small businesses. One in particular had strong social components such as breaking barriers, employing disadvantaged people and having a strong social reinvestment. Where did this interest come from? Why is it important to you? 

I guess coming from a third world country, a pretty dangerous country –

Which country is this? 

British Guiana in South America. It’s part of the Caribbean mainland south America. Lots of violence, really poor, a situation you want to escape if you can. My parents left with pretty much nothing and came to Australia when my brother and I were little boys.

There weren’t many other immigrants during the early 80’s where we lived and as a result, we experienced a lot of racism and felt alienated or substandard to everyone else. I think that feeling stuck with me for a long time, a feeling of trying to get to equality.

I have this thing about trying to make the world equitable. I think that by helping create access to things that everyone else has access to, opportunities will grow from there. That’s part of my upbringing and my experience coming here as a little boy. The experience of being different really shapes you, makes you tough. It makes you a fighter – a fighter for a cause I felt I had to overcome.

Shortly after graduating, you found yourself in Detroit as part of a leadership team for innovation and development for General Motors. Developing future technology for one of the largest automotive companies in the world sounds like a pretty sweet job with a lot of potential, but you left to start Curve. A lot of people would feel reluctant to leave the stability and security of a high profile job in an established company. What motivated you to make that decision?

Yeah, it was kind of a dream engineering job – unlimited budgets, traveling the world, cool tech, cars 10 years out. I mean you dream about that stuff as an engineering student, and I love cars so it was right up my alley.

But a problem with working on innovation in big corporations is that it’s really hard to get something that helps people or the planet into production. Those production lines are driven by business, by making as much money as you can out of each car. That’s just how most corporations are set up, to make as much money as possible for the shareholders.

It’s really disappointing when you work on stuff that would make a positive impact on the customers, like improving their driving experience or safety, but then those things don’t make it into a car. So I was never able to close the loop of building something and see it impact people. That’s why I wanted to leave and do something where I knew I’d be in control, even if it would be on a smaller scale.

You’ve told me that building companies also helped you appreciate the value of working with friends. Even now, several of your friends are directors in Curve. Talk about this value of working with friends – what is it and why is it important to you?

Friendship is bigger than running a company, and as long as you have similar goals, working style and ethics, then it’s easy. If your goals are about making money, then it’s harder. But if your goals are about improving the world, and you make money as a consequence of that, then it’s easier to work and make decisions, because everyone is passionate about making a positive change.

We just share a vision of what we’re here for. We’re not trying to dominate the world. Our vision is about those one billion lives. We can argue and have disagreements on how to get there, but as long as we keep it to a level that isn’t personal, our friendships remain intact.

We check our egos and make sure that no one is above anyone else. We’re in this together and we try to succeed as much as we can, rather than ‘I want to be bigger or better than you’. I have a lot of admiration around their morals and how they go about work.

That ego checking is backed by the team page on your website – it only shows faces and names. Why are job titles avoided in your company?

I think titles can box people in a bit and create barriers where there don’t need to be any. Particularly if you take an executive role where, if I’m CEO or CTO and you’re a developer or engineer, it automatically creates this barrier that I’m more experienced or better than you, that ‘I run the company, so don’t waste my time’.

I’ve worked in organisations like that, where people are afraid to go two levels up. For us, we want a graduate or a student to come up to us and say ‘hey, I think you guys are running your company like shit’ and I would sit down with them and say ‘tell me about that’. I want to hear what they see that we don’t. We really want to foster that openness where at anytime, anyone can call us out on anything.

That is very rare.

Yeah, it creates a shared responsibility model. Even though a handful of us run the company, as directors we want to share what we’re doing and why.

We set goals as a team – like x revenue or y profit – and we don’t hide that stuff. We want to be as open as we can. We want everyone in the company to feel comfortable sharing what they think we’re doing right or wrong.

There are a lot of products showcased on Curve’s website. One of these products is a free app, Headcheck, that helps parents and coaches identify concussion symptoms in children. There’s another that’s for health professionals to quickly and accurately diagnose behavioural conditions.

How do you decide which projects to work on? Do you strive for a balance of big long-term projects with some that are more low-hanging fruit? There must be some that are tempting because they might develop relationships or increase awareness.

Yeah, it’s a combination. There are some low-hanging apps that we get out, then there are some products we build that show what we can do, to help open doors. But because we’ve been around a while now, we’re moving into a place where we can ask questions like ‘how serious are you to getting this out to people?’ and ‘how many people will you impact?’ Our big driver is that metric, and if we’re true to that, we have to look at all our contracts through that lens.

For instance, if a project is a million dollars but it isn’t really going to get out and help anyone, whereas another project is a hundred thousand dollars but is going to impact 5,000 people, we seriously have to look at that. The million-dollar project, while it would give us great revenue, we’re probably not going to take it because it’s not going to help anyone.

When you have these large visions and goals, it’s the projects you say to no to that you prove how real you are.

Curve partners with leading hospitals in Australia and you’ve had interesting opportunities, such as observing surgery as part of your research. How did that come about and what it was like?

You can really live in a bubble where you don’t know all the things that are going on. Actually having an office inside a hospital is amazing because you’re confronted with what’s happening every day. Seeing kids who have cerebral palsy or are suffering through cancer treatment, that really motivates you to do something to help them go through their journey and have a better life.

I’ve been lucky enough to follow the head of surgery for The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne into his theatre. And it wasn’t just watching the operation – it was meeting the parents and the child beforehand, talking with them and understanding what they’re going through, their emotions. I got to experience that whole journey from all points of view – the doctor, his team, the parents and the child. It really opens your eyes to the health system, where it’s great, where’s bad, where it can be improved.

It also gives you motivation from an innovative, engineering perspective: how can we take our system in Australia – one that has some of the best medical minds in the world – how can we make it better? How can we make it available to those who don’t have it?

We think about all these things, but also about really understanding the emotions people go through. When we build products, it’s not just to solve a technical problem. It’s about how do we make this person feel better about their life.

Within Fremantle, there are a lot of inspiring people helping others or promoting healthy changes. But moving the public consciousness, whether it’s for health, education or the environment is always challenging. Dealing with various levels of government as well as public entities like hospitals and universities must present some additional bureaucratic and political challenges.

Yeah, it’s hard, especially working with government or big not-for-profit organizations – they’re all very strict on how they do things. We know things can be slow and take time of slowly moving the needle and building trust. Once you’ve started to deliver and show that you’re true to your word, the doors open more easily, and people begin to trust. But that takes time and we haven’t found a way to shortcut that process.

What’s next for Curve? What are you most excited about?

We’re starting to get more visibility with government and some of our projects are getting out there and getting a lot more use. Impact is one of the key things we measure and we’re starting to see our impact numbers grow.

We’re always looking how we can accelerate the growth of our impact to people. Whether it’s through different marketing channels or continuing to focus on projects we know are going to make a bigger difference.

We’ve also started to develop our own projects, ones that don’t have a specific partner or collaborator. We’ve seen so much from the different parts of healthcare that we’ve been asking ourselves: what are we seeing that no one else is seeing? What can we look at and try to put out there? It’s exciting.

 

This interview is from FREMANTLE Space, a magazine that explores work, life and community in Fremantle.

fSpace Magazine – Balancing Act

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The following is from FREMANTLE Space, the fSpace magazine that explores work, life and community in Fremantle.

Balancing Act

The Mayor of Fremantle on acting from integrity, balancing his public and personal life, and building a port town into a vibrant and creative city.

Words: Kristen Marano, Photography: Sabine Albers

fSpace: In 2013 you published a post on your blog and said: “Being the Mayor of Fremantle is a fantastic and stimulating job, but I have come to realize that it comes with the occupational hazard of possibly falling out of love with our amazing city. How’s your heart feeling about Freo now?

Brad Pettitt: Basketball player Luc Longley, who was very supportive when I became mayor, said to me, “the danger of what you’re doing is that the place you love and want to get involved with ends up becoming your patient. And it’s hard to love your patient [laughs], because you’re always trying to fix it, rather than enjoy it.” That’s always stuck with me. Look, it’s really important that I take days when I put on a semi-disguise; I put on my hat and sunglasses and I go into Fremantle, and I’m not the mayor; I don’t have conversations about fixing Freo.

You were re-elected in 2017. What did you learn about yourself in the first two terms that you’ve applied to how you lead now?

I’ve learned the importance of being clear about who you are and what you stand for; acknowledging your weaknesses, but not being afraid to stand up for what you believe in. Then some of the haters will fall away, because they’ll see what they were opposing really wasn’t that bad.

The first two terms were each defined by a strong community battle. In the second term we decided to move our celebrations from January 26th to another daythat didn’t just blow up locally, it blew up nationally. That was hard because there was a lot of extreme hate and anger. But again I knew what we were doing was right, and we needed to stick to the message and continue.

Do your professional and personal values ever conflict?

No, I can’t think of when they conflict. I guess that’s part of integrity, is making sure that what you do is aligned. I remember someone asking me around the Australia Day stuff, “how do you wear it all?” I wasn’t that stressed to be honest. I was slightly frustrated around what I thought was a stupid conversation, and the hysteria and unwillingness of people to have a dialogue. It was pretty clear in the conversations with the Aboriginal community, that it was what they wanted to see happen. It was logical, and it was a conversation the country needed to have.

Then I realised the reason I wasn’t stressed was because, if you’re doing it from a space where you don’t feel internally conflicted, then it’s easy. There are a lot of small battles you could have out with people and I think, where’s it going to take you? I don’t always succeed at that, but that’s certainly the goal I try and set for myself.

Yeah. You’re present in the community. You’ll enjoy a drink at Who’s Your Mama, stroll around MANY, and DJ at events around Fremantle. Does being open work for you? Do you ever feel suffocated?

Occasionally but not often. I still go to a café at least once a day and read the paper and do some emailing. Sometimes people come up and ask a question, or they come up and say hi and leave you alone. That’s pretty cool. The balance still feels okay.

How do you like to spend your time at home?

I enjoy pottering and making things, whether it be making a sand pit for my daughter, which is what I did last weekend, or little things like gardening. But, I also like writing; that’s one of my new ambitions for the next 12 months is to make a lot more space for writing.

The idea is to step out a bit more and think bigger picture about, what does leadership for livable, sustainable cities look like? What are some of the lessons that Freo and Freo’s journey can share with other places, and what can we learn from other places?

How isn’t Freo realising its potential?

Oh, hugely, in so many ways. WA as well. We haven’t realised our potential as amazing destination for tourism with a heart. We get a sense that international tourists are really fascinated by WA and it’s uniqueness; a big part of that uniqueness is the fact that we’re home to the oldest culture on earth.

We have potential for an amazing city where jobs can be next to where people live, which is next to where they recreate, and we can really build a community on that basis. But we don’t, we have everybody traveling by car to the same location for a job…we wonder why we have congestion. They’re a result of the choices we make, but all those can be fixed and solved.

Fremantle is an accessible and welcoming place for creativity. How do we keep people here, so they don’t go off to Sydney and Melbourne where they think a larger population will create more opportunities?

That is our challenge: we’re isolated and small. But, I think there’s enough here. So, this is where it’s got to be part of a plan. It needs affordable spaces. You need creative structure, Internet, and those sort of things. You also need housing. We don’t want people, who are working here to live half an hour away. How do we actually make it, so that one of the reasons that you chose to work in Freo is because you live a 10-minute walk away?

This is what has been exciting about fSpace. There’s a sense of momentum building towards Fremantle becoming a hub again for people who are creative, who are innovative entrepreneurs, who are willing to try new things, and fail fast and willing to be in Freo.

Look out until the end of your term in 2021. Where do you wish for Fremantle to be?

I want Fremantle to be a real beacon for others, because it says look, here’s a place where you really can live in interesting housing, work in interesting diverse jobs, and play in great new bars and cafés all within walking distance of each other. Because that’s rare in WA.

I want Fremantle to be a vibrant community, but one that celebrates its difference in diversity. One that’s really welcoming and inclusive. And part of that difference is it will be a leader in sustainability and renewable energy and non-car based transport and good clever, urban density.

You’re a new dad. What’s important for you to show Aoife in her first few years?  

Having a daughter you think about the future much more, and it makes you see the city differently again through the eyes of somebody else. It’s kind of that sense of what it’s that she loves in the city…mostly just swings, but you know [laughs]. She loves people. She loves going to places where there’s people, there’s life, and there’s movement.

I want Freo to be a place she loves as well, but also one where, when she’s 20-something, she can afford to live in by herself. I don’t want Freo to be one of those places, where it just gentrifies, and it’s a place for a small elite and a lifestyle seeps out of that. The other really big challenge is really working hard to keep affordable working spaces and affordable living spaces in the heart of our city.

fSpace Magazine – In Case of World Health Problems, Please Call

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The following is from FREMANTLE Space, the fSpace magazine which celebrates the people who have embraced the ethos of small coworking space in the heart of Fremantle.

By Alexei Tsallis

It’s 9:05 am. You’ve just spent an hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic on your way to work in the CBD. You’re late for a meeting. You speed walk through the foyer past strangers who don’t make eye contact. You scan emails on your phone as you wait for an elevator. You push forward into an empty carriage before the ding announcing its arrival fades. You stare ahead, your thoughts alternating between your meeting and why the damn lift won’t go faster. Finally, the doors open to your floor, but your freedom from containment is short-lived as you sit in your small office. Rapidly pulling some papers together, you glance at a quote you printed on your first day: “You have to be the change you want to see in the world.” You cringe, knowing that yesterday was the same, and that tomorrow will be no different.

THAT is the type of workspace that the coolest company you’ve likely never heard of wanted to avoid. Fremantle-based Ausvet, a team of consultant epidemiologists, is the company which get calls from governments all over the world to explain the science of diseases and to discover solutions. I sat down with founder Dr Ben Madin to find out what Ausvet has been up to since they left fSpace, and also what they actually do.

“Global health is not about separate beings. It is the interrelation of all animals, humans, fish and plants. When one fails, so do the others.”

(Ausvet Team)

Many things can cause a disease: bacteria, a virus, a toxin and a nutritional deficit are just some examples. When Ausvet is called on to consult on a situation, the company takes everything into account. Says Ben, “Epidemiology strictly means the study of disease across (epi) people (demos), but in our world it really means the relationship between the affected person, animal or plant, the environment they are in and the agent that is causing the disease.” There is often a crossover as agriculture problems affect humans, which is why Ausvet is increasingly doing more plant work. “Most diseases in the world affect more than just one species.” Ben begins to laugh while adding, “And humans, whether we like to believe it or not, are just one of those species.”

When an industry has a problem or a disease within their production, Ben and his team look at all the potential factors. “Other than doing laboratory work or pathology work, we are asked to come out and look at the bigger picture.” A lot of the work he does involves comparing and contrasting healthy properties with unhealthy ones. “Sometimes it’s a difference within a person or animal and sometimes it’s a difference within the environment in which they live.”

Ausvet also deals with human diseases. One such example is Goitre, a thyroid disease that is mainly caused by an iodine deficiency. The disease had not been an issue in Australia since salt was iodised, but Ausvet was brought in to investigate a resurgence. They discovered several reasons for its return, including the fact that much of the iodised salt in our diet has been replaced with rock salt and sea salt over the last thirty years. This loss of iodine consumption contributed to an emergence of the disease not seen since 1930.

With six epidemiologists working from their homes around Australia, it wasn’t until 2014 that the business decided to add a fulltime employee. That’s when Ausvet joined fSpace to have, as Ben puts it, “A workspace that wasn’t just my kitchen table.” Growth took off and it was little more than a year later that Ben decided he needed to employ more people in WA and would need a larger space of their own. “We now have 10 people in Western Australia and 30 people globally, with key offices here and in Canberra, and a growing presence in France.” His team mostly travels to their clients to conduct investigations and collect data, but they occasionally stay longer (up to 7 months!) to implement solutions.

(Ausvet project in Namibia)

Although growth continues to be a goal, Ben doesn’t want Ausvet to become a massive corporation. “We’d like to have a staff of maybe 60 to 70 across three or four offices, so we’re about halfway there.” Ben wants enough in-house people with different backgrounds to develop a unique solution to each problem, while still contracting relevant specialists.

Through diagnostic work and subsequent trials, Ausvet is often involved in making significant changes to processes and policies in both business and industry. Focusing on research and solutions that can make a difference, Ausvet’s final reports include practical policy options so that changes can actually be implemented.

They strive not only to solve problems but to inspire the owners of the problems to manage them, regardless of whether the problems are found on a farm, in an industry, even a country. This affirms the value that Ausvet places on sustainability and why they always keep the big picture at the forefront. They are particularly pleased that after working in Indonesia to develop a national animal and public health system, it is now fully managed by Indonesia, receiving thousands of individual messages a day from across the archipelago.

“Change is useless if we cannot empower people to manage it themselves.”

Ben’s team can collect an incredibly high volume of data during their research. Dealing with upward of three million samples a day, they translate the data into workable information so that the right decisions can be made. “We used to think our clients wanted more data, but actually they want us to translate ‘data’ into ‘information’ so they can make evidence based decisions.”

Ausvet reinforces their community ideology by creating solutions that actually work in practice, not just in theory. Making a difference to the health of a community is not just an aspiration; it is a prerequisite of their work.

“We don’t want to be just another cog in the wheel.”

Our planet is one huge eco-system. The impact of humans on this ecosystem is undeniable, and we expect to see new diseases emerging continuously. Ben, although optimistic, realises that Ausvet can’t change everything. “We are not trying to solve all the world’s problems, but we feel very strongly that we can have an impact in some way.” Ben’s team is actively trying to change perceptions of those in power that there will be a single silver bullet solution, and those who treat the symptom instead of dealing with the often-complex causes of the problem.

(Ausvet project in Cambodia)

Ben believes a workspace can have major impacts on lifestyle and happiness, as well as on the focus and determination of a staff. Ben also believes that just walking around your area can remind you of what is important in life, adding “If you just drive your car into a basement of the office you work in, you’re not engaging with your community very much.” This engagement with community and sense of purpose are cornerstones of his business philosophy.

Ben’s time at fSpace influenced him to engage with others, which in turn became an important aspect of his business. When Ausvet moved into its own space, Ben focused on creating an environment that would inspire his team more than a paycheque. By treating them as members of a community rather than reinforcing a hierarchy, Ausvet is more focused on solving problems than running a traditional business.

According to Ben, basing their operations in Fremantle is “probably a mix of pure practicality and slight idealism.” Ausvet wanted to avoid the congestion of the Perth CBD while remaining connected to public transport to limit their use of personal vehicles. Heavily involved within the agriculture and aquaculture industries, they are close to Murdoch University and the hospitals with which they work. Fremantle’s port city artistic heritage also provides a beautiful scenic place to walk around with ample options for lunch and coffee; all of which contribute to the revitalisation of spirit and focus.

Ben’s vision for the future includes a public understanding that health problems are multifactorial and there is rarely just one cause. The reality of the agriculture industry is that many of the health problems Ausvet solves are economically caused. For instance, giving more space to animals such as chickens and pigs would help to reduce some problems, however the costs of such changes are often more than consumers are prepared to pay. Ben believes in a healthy equilibrium: “Consumers need to realise that environmental balance has a cost. If they want it, they have to be willing to pay more.”

“Will it work out in the future?”

My final question hung in the air between us and Ben thought about it for a moment. “Humans are where we are today because we managed to solve all the problems that have been put in front of us so far. I have enormous faith that humans can solve these problems. My only real concern is that people seem to be increasingly focused on ‘What is in it for me?’ and not in ‘What is in it for the broader society?’

With a vision of ‘one world, one health’, Ben and Ausvet will continue to do what they can to solve health problems and encourage decisions that lead to a healthier and more sustainable planet.

fSpace Magazine – Smart Living

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The following is from FREMANTLE Space, the fSpace magazine which celebrates the people who have embraced the ethos of small coworking space in the heart of Fremantle.

Smart Living

Words: Sabine Albers, Artwork: TRAM

Living Smart is a behavioural change program that helps people take action in their own homes to improve their quality of life and reduce their environmental impact.

 

Sabine: How would you introduce yourself?

Dr Stephanie Jennings: I’m Steph and I’m someone who’s decided to live life at a slower pace, a more sustainable pace. A pace that gives me more time to do the things I love, like spending time with my young children, commuting in environmental friendly ways, and enjoying the vibrant community I live in – Fremantle.

I’m a scientist with a focus in energy efficiency and building design and am privileged to be part of Living Smart, a Fremantle not-for-profit that has won national awards and has increased its reach beyond WA.

Living Smart is a behaviour change program that helps people take action to improve their quality of life and reduce their environmental impact.

It’s about connecting people too. It’s about building community, which is hard in this day and age. fSpace is part of that too so that’s a nice cross over.

People who take our courses also meet others who are looking to take action, which creates new friendships.

What makes Living Smart so unique?

There are so many programs out there that people just dip in and dip out, and it barely causes a ripple in their lives. What I love about ours is it really works.

Part of it is we use behavioural psychology to effectively build capacity within individuals to make change. It’s not just about technology – it’s exploring how you live, how you want to live, and what makes you happy.

Within the course there are some traditional education elements, but a lot of time is spent discussing solutions. It’s very interactive, but there’s also time for reflection.

It’s really about moving off the problem and looking at what can we do. There’s no shaming. It’s all about positive actions we can take and every action, large or small, is celebrated.

Living Smart focuses on ten topics that can make a change. What are some key points people can work on?

It gets people to start on whatever point is relevant them. It might be waste, it might be what’s happening in their garden, it might be their own health or improving their home.

You get exposed to the full content of the course and you might be surprised by what you don’t know. With that content, the goal setting and reflection time, you can find a topic that really fires you up, that you can put your energy into.

We share ideas like practical ways to remember to take a bag to the supermarket so you don’t use plastic bags. We also talk about the global waste issue and how together we are making a difference. You don’t feel alone with it.

So the focus is on helping people find a place to start and reminding them that small changes do make a difference.

That’s exactly what it’s about. It’s working out where you want to start or progress to, then taking some fresh actions and seeing that you are not alone. The conversations are very positive.

Due to its broad nature, people typically start with one topic and then it flows onto another. Someone might start by just turning off the tap while they’re brushing their teeth. And then they might start to think about their choice of toothbrush, whether it’s compostable or disposable. And then they might start to look at cleaning products in the bathroom. There’s a lot of flow on things called spillover in terms of behaviours.

Change can be difficult. What can help start to make a change within a community?

Our lives are so busy with so many distractions that a key step is just slowing down and making time to ask the important questions that are often ignored. Questions like are you actually heading where you want to go? What are the things you cherish? Are you giving those things enough time? Are you living the way you want or just dealing with the guilt of not living the way you want?

That’s an example of what people go through on this journey. They may realise that they need to downshift, to simplify their lives, to create some space.

So is looking after the planet also looking after your own health?

It is. Part of the impact on the planet comes from people trying to do a lot and the resource consumption goes with that – doing a lot, driving a lot, consuming a lot. Slower lives have smaller footprints.

I just do what I can to inspire people to tread gently on our planet.

fSpace Magazine – A Crazy Dutchy

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The following is from FREMANTLE Space, the fSpace magazine which celebrates the people who have embraced the ethos of small coworking space in the heart of Fremantle.

A Crazy Dutchy

Words: Sabine Albers, Photography: Anna Duwe 

At its best, community is an experience of deep connection and awareness. It allows us to be ourselves and focus on things that are valuable. When we are in the right space, feeling safe, respected and supported, we are more confident. We flourish.

 

Our world is beautiful, but it carries a lot of weight and can feel disconnected at the best of times. I love creating beauty, to add it to our world, to help reconnect it. I take great joy from connecting people and seeing them thrive together. The energy from that is beautiful and powerful.

It’s hard to believe that our Fremantle space is five years old. I started fSpace with pure joy and crazy enthusiasm. I wanted to meet people and connect on a creative level – to share, collaborate and inspire. So many things have changed over the years and there are many things to celebrate, but what I love each time I walk into fSpace is the experience of being part of a community – of bringing people together around ideas that we believe will bring joy and growth on a personal and global level.

A community also creates opportunity – not just to collaborate or land a new client or project. A community can connect you to others and raise your level of inspiration. Conversations can help you evolve and expand your vision, and great things can happen from there.

A community can be a space where you really meet and connect with others. A space where you share thoughts and ideas, from helping improve the lives of others, fighting legal battles for the disadvantaged, or creating stunning designs. A space where you’re part of a more empathetic society.

Communities like this aren’t specific to a religion, culture or identity. They are inclusive around passion, ideas and interest. fSpace doesn’t fit in a box.

We are young and old and in-between. We are men and women. We are locals and we are from all over the world.

For me, success is to go into the world and create something that is part of the lifestyle you want to live. Our common goal is we want to make a positive change in the world and we seek inspiration to do so.

I’m delighted, excited and honoured to celebrate five years of this. Sincere thanks to everyone who’s been a part of our small space in Fremantle, and for sharing their awesome, extraordinary selves.

 

fSpace Profile – Julia Jones, Newborn Mothers

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In a new series, fSpace is profiling members of our coworking space. We begin with Julia Jones, Founder & Director of Newborn Mothers.

Written by Belinda Teh

Julia is an author and entrepreneur who runs her business Newborn Mothers from fSpace two days a week. She started her journey as a postpartum doula, a non-medical professional who provides emotional and physical support during a woman’s transition into motherhood.

If you’re sitting there thinking: I’ve never even heard of a doula before – you’re not alone. And this, Julia says, is exactly what needs to change.

In most western societies, the needs of mothers after childbirth are often overlooked as the needs of newborn babies take centre stage. However, this is not the case in all countries.

In China, the custom of ‘confinement’ is widely practiced where the mother remains indoors to rest, breastfeed and bond with her baby for 30 days after giving birth. A ‘confinement lady’ cooks, cleans and does the dreaded nights of broken sleep each time the baby cries.

Similar post-delivery practices exist in countries all over the world including India, Japan, Mexico, Korea and many in the Caribbean.

In Malaysia, there are postpartum professionals who specialise in massaging mums who have just given birth. “These countries see the postpartum period as an enrichment process,” says Julia.

“Mothers are pampered and celebrated, she’s expected to ask for as much help as she needs and most importantly, she’s allowed to make mistakes. It’s a period of loving and learning.”

Unfortunately, these practices are a far cry from what many new mothers in developed western countries currently experience. Far too many feel confused, guilty and inadequate as they struggle through the first few sleepless and tearful months.

“There’s no village,” says Julia. “After giving birth, mothers generally receive little guidance and training from the mainstream healthcare system beyond practical baby care and breastfeeding. As our society is built on nuclear family households, the isolation of mothers is systemic. They feel that they should be able to do everything themselves. They live with a lot of guilt for not meeting their breastfeeding or sleeping goals, and we glorify this idea of being a super-mum.”

For Julia, it is concerning that so many new mothers are expected to adopt a ‘business as usual’ attitude. And what she finds the most concerning of all is that the leading cause of all maternal deaths within 12 months of giving birth is suicide.

Despite this challenging landscape, Julia envisioned a society with a completely different approach to new mums. She realised that in order to get there, she would have to do more than just working as a doula with mothers on a one-on-one basis. Real change could only come from educating the greater community on the value of supporting newborn mothers and sharing that knowledge with as many postpartum professionals as possible.

For Julia, that meant pulling together her a radically new paradigm of her own and training midwives and doulas who could then go out and be advocates for change.

“At the beginning of my career, I completed five different doula trainings, but I knew it just wasn’t the answer I was looking for,” says Julia. “None of them really addressed how to support new mothers through this major life transition, this rite of passage. So I drew on my knowledge of brain science, anthropology and Ayurvedic medicine that I’d gained on my own journey of motherhood, and it turns out it’s what many professionals in the postpartum industry have been searching for too.

I’ve had emails from experts in the field who have been working for 20 years tell me they’ve never seen anything like this before, and they’re 100% behind me.”

Julia now has over 200 students in dozens of countries around the world who take her courses online. Apart from her professional development course that is accredited by the Australian College of Midwives, Julia has also written a cookbook, created a postpartum course for pregnant mothers and will soon be launching a book due in January.

She’s currently running her most ambitious crowdfunding campaign to fund the launch and has plenty more projects planned for 2018.

So how does Julia maintain a balance and sense of calm while running her business, juggling three kids and still having a life of her own?

Julia practices what she preaches and has built her own village: she has a babysitter, a cleaner, her mum helps, her husband does school drop offs.

She pays for and asks for (and accepts) a lot of help. She also has two assistants that help her run the business. “Forget being a super-mum!” Julia says. “Identify what drains you and delegate.”

Coming to fSpace is another essential part of running her business. Julia realised early on that she needed to find a dedicated workspace when her third child was banging on her office door while she was trying to get her work done.

She sat down with her husband to discuss the idea of committing to a coworking space, and they worked out that having Julia out of the house and leaning into her business two days a week would ultimately benefit the whole family.

When asked what the best thing about coming to fSpace is, Julia laughs: “It’s quiet! And I can drink my coffee while it’s hot! I’m very blessed, I’ve got three kids and the house is constantly full of people, but fSpace is quiet and calm and grown up. It’s opposite to home.”

But despite all that she’s achieved in the last 10 years, Julia says there’s still so much work to be done. “Doulas are currently all employed out of small private businesses. But ideally, doulas should be publicly funded. Recently, the child health nurse has been pushed out of public funding. In light of such terrible statistics about maternal suicide, depression and anxiety, we can’t be pulling back!”

At the same time, Julia points out that having more women in positions of power are an essential part of the puzzle. “In New Zealand for example, there is a much higher representation of women which means that women’s issues are given attention and women’s perspectives are considered. Australia’s got some work to do!”

On a more personal level, Julia says that the mindsets of mothers everywhere also needs to change. “Mums these days don’t think they deserve to be happy or feel that they can claim they’re a good mum. It’s ok to ask for help and it’s ok to talk about it when you’re struggling. Most importantly, don’t disappear into your role as a mother. It’s important to have your own dreams outside of your baby.”

“I’m certainly pursuing mine, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Learn more about Newborn Mothers at www.newbornmothers.com.

fSpace Talks – MOJO Digital Studio

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Miles Noel of MOJO Digital Studio has an interesting background and an interesting collection of skills.

Miles counts graphic designer, illustrator, painter, artist, photographer and muralist amongst his talents.

Leveraging a passion for heritage and architecture, Miles looks at the commercial side of design and uses his artistic side to explore ideas.

A love of variety, change and new challenges precipitated yearlong travel through Europe and South America. That travel, along with 18 months of living in Montreal – quietly one of the coolest cities in the world – inspired Miles and his work. It also gave him international perspective and European influence on his designs.

His love of science has also impacted his work. One such example was the Science Fiction/Science Future project for BHP Billiton where he developed an exhibition and then photographed it as part of the development of marketing collateral.

Science was behind another exhibition with his collection ‘SCI-POP Portraits’, which was commissioned for National Science Week 2013. The exhibition showcased silkscreen portraits, stop-motion and time-lapse info videos of Western Australian scientists who made significant contributions to science from 220 years ago to present day.

Miles has exhibited his work on several continents. While in Montreal, he exhibited an art project based on Expo 67, the remarkable category one world fair held in Montreal in 1967.

His company, MOJO Digital Studio, offers graphic design, illustration and photography services related to branding and brand consultancy, infographics, stationary and other print collateral.

Specializing in digital design, Miles works with WordPress websites, animated GIFs, HTML web banners and all social media, including e-newsletter campaigns.

Miles’ photography focuses on building interiors and exteriors, portraits, products, food, events and lifestyle.

Miles sees himself as “a lens between his clients and their customers” as he offers design, illustration and photography services.

MOJO Digital Studio has a wide assortment of clients touching on a variety of projects, including collaborations with several fSpace members.

Visit mojodigitalstudio.com to see more projects from MOJO Digital Studio and milesnoel.com to view (and buy!) some of Miles’ stunning artwork.

Business Development Program Open for Applications

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fSpace recently celebrated our 4th birthday with an event that included a visit from Mayor Brad Pettitt.

The mayor was on hand to formally announce funding for a third Business Development Program – a collaborative program between fSpace and The City of Fremantle that provides financial support to businesses within the creative industries.

Mayor Pettitt said, “The Business Development Program is a unique collaboration between the City of Fremantle and fSpace designed to promote the local creative and knowledge economy, assist start-ups and small business to grow and to encourage innovation in Fremantle.”

“This program has been a great driver in attracting individuals and businesses from outside Fremantle, with the majority of participants still going strong here in Fremantle.”

fSpace owner, Sabine Albers, said that over the two previous years, this program has helped over 20 businesses develop and grow in Fremantle.

“In addition to the financial support towards a professional workspace, businesses have benefited from the inspiring energy, collaborations, and strong sense of community at fSpace.”

She added that some former program participants have grown their businesses and are now in larger, dedicated offices in Fremantle.

“Our members, including former program participants, are doing ground breaking and award winning things in a variety of industries, including creative, health, professional services and technology.”

The Business Development Program offers qualified businesses and start-ups three to six months of subsidised workspace at fSpace.

To be eligible for the program, a business must fall within the creative industries sector. These are businesses that are primarily focused on individual creativity, skill and talent.

Curve Tomorrow was one of the first participants of this program when they expanded to Western Australia from offices in Melbourne.

Mo Jaimangal, a cofounder and director of Curve Tomorrow, previously explained during an fSpace Talks Event that they seek to positively impact the lives of 1 billion people by applying their knowledge of technology in health and medical services.

 

When the mayor asked for an example of this, Mo spoke about the work they’ve done with leading autism researchers to automate the diagnosis of children on the autism spectrum.

He explained, “We’ve taken what they were doing – a very manual process with psychologists observing children playing with toys, timing them with a stopwatch and making notes with pen and paper – and created a game that can be played on an iPad.”

“In addition to a quicker and more efficient diagnosis that leads to earlier treatments, this assessment can be done anywhere. We collect and store the test results on a secure cloud, where psychologists can look at them and decide on treatments.”

The Business Development Program is available to new business start-ups as well as existing businesses that are looking to develop and grow from Fremantle.

This year’s program has added optional coaching and mentorship towards developing a formal business plan – a crucial step for any new business start up.

Sabine Albers said she loves the diversity of the people who share and make her fSpace what it is.

“It’s really exciting to have such a mix of passionate people doing so many interesting and helpful things. The energy this creates is just fantastic.”

Sabine added that values of empathy, respect and support continue to create an inspiring atmosphere that not only helps maximize productivity, but also creates an environment that people want to a part of.

To learn more about the Business Development Program, visit fspace.me/business.

fSpace Talks – Curve Tomorrow

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Think about the business you have or work at.

What goals does it have in terms of reaching and impacting people?

Curve Tomorrow is a fascinating international business that exists to improve the lives of people by solving challenging problems. Their humble goal is “to positively impact the lives of 1 billion people”.

Mohinder Jaimangal, a founder and director of Curve Tomorrow, readily admits that their goal of 1 billion is incredibly ambitious, but also notes that with the nearby populations of India and Asia, it’s not as farfetched as it might first seem.

Curve Tomorrow was founded in 2009 by a group of university friends in Melbourne, Australia. To understand the business, it’s important to understand a little about these friends and how they came to work together.

After perhaps wisely moving on from dreams of a career as a professional basketball player, Mo studied mechatronics – technology combining software, electronics and mechanical engineering – at The University of Melbourne.

After graduating, he joined Object Consulting, a consultancy that specialized in software development. While expecting to work on robotics, he spent most of his time creating apps for banking and telecommunication clients.

This consultancy led to an interesting role in a decidedly larger company, Holden. Working with a good friend and future cofounder of Curve Tomorrow, Mo helped lead an innovation and development team for Holden and General Motors worldwide.

Working out of Melbourne and GM headquarters in Detroit with eye-popping budgets, Mo worked on concept cars by developing 10-year innovation plans with trend analysis and user interface designs for vehicles of the future.

After Holden, Mo joined Dius, a startup technology company that specialized in pure agile software development. Coming in when there were nine people in the company, Dius has since grown to over 125 employees. It was here Mo experienced the roller coaster ride of how a start-up transitions into a small-medium enterprise.

Throughout all these roles, Mo came to realize the importance of two factors that would influence the direction of his career. One – doing work that contributed a positive social impact, and two – appreciating the value and enjoyment of working with good friends.

Both these elements were present when Mo helped start Bliss, a luxury chocolate label and retail chain in India. In addition to marketing a luxury product, Bliss had significant social reinvestment and worked towards breaking barriers and creating opportunities for the disadvantaged.

This of course led the same university friends combining to create Curve Tomorrow. Now, less than 10 years later, they’ve expanded to have offices in Australia, USA, India, Sri Lanka and France.

Their main focus is currently on healthcare, however they have plans to venture into education and environmental areas as well.

Incorporating best practices from previous businesses, the directors of Curve Tomorrow have implemented three key strategic principles: lean startup, design thinking and agile development. This approach has led to multiple awards, which has raised their profile and opened doors to funding opportunities.

Curve Tomorrow is interesting in that they do not focus on job titles. While each director has a role that relates to responsibilities normally associated with a CEO or CFO, they are in such constant communication that there is substantial overlap. They also promote an open, equal culture where everyone is valued, which is why ‘junior’ or ‘senior’ titles are not used in their company.

Projects range from process automation improvement in hospitals to automating existing research processes. Research into these areas has afforded them full access to all aspects of health care delivery, including even into operating theatres during surgical procedures.

Curve Tomorrow has worked with world-class health organizations around the world to improve efficiencies, solve clinical problems and commercialize intellectual property.

One example is the development of HeadCheckTM, an app that helps parents and coaches recognize the signs and symptoms of concussion in children. Designed by leading child concussion experts in Australia, this app is endorsed by the AFL and is available for free download.

An example of improving efficiencies is their development of a Q-MaxTM, a desktop app that enables a team at the Victorian Clinical Genetics Services to perform research and screening for epigenetic mutations (a genetic condition) more accurately and efficiently.

Q-MaxTM took a practice that routinely took four days to process thousands of samples over multi-step spreadsheet analysis and reduced it to a seamless ten-second task. This new process also eliminated data entry error, which results in better outcomes from the research.

Curve Tomorrow also co-developed PeersTM, an iPad app that is the first digital and objective assessment tool to enable early detection of social disorders in children. Traditional detection processes typically include observing children, documenting findings on a written report, and then inputting the information into a program for analysis. PeersTM is an age appropriate game that children play while being automatically assessed for primary characteristics of autism spectrum disorders. This lets health professionals detect social behaviour problems more quickly and easily, leading to critical early intervention treatments.

It’s work like this that makes it easy to hope Curve Tomorrow reaches their lofty goals as soon as possible.

Check out www.curvetomorrow.com for more information.

fSpace Talks – Ric Cairns, Brandino

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Like many of the best creatives, Ric Cairns’ journey to become a creative director took some unexpected and unorthodox turns.

As a teenager, Ric saw a career as a writer – his true passion – as pie in the sky, so he studied civil engineering at UWA (he followed a high school friend there!). He completed his four-year degree, but his heart wasn’t in engineering, so he took his first sharp turn: via the university radio station into broadcasting.

Radio allowed Ric to combine his love of music with his love of language – he crafted written talk-breaks to make his on-air work as interesting as possible. The approach apparently worked well as he progressed to a regular afternoon session on 96FM (where they obviously rewarded hair growth).

All that creative writing on the run must have whet his appetite, because he started trying his hand at advertising in his spare time. It got serious when he did the industry course for creatives – AWARD School – and took off the WA prize.

This brought a call from the precurser of The Brand Agency, inviting him to give up his radio gig to write for them. In some really awkward timing, the same day he got that offer, the radio ratings were announced, giving his show the biggest audience in Perth. (In true ‘80s style this was referred to as being the ‘King of Radio’…)

Understandably, Ric hung around to enjoy his regal position for a while, but he came to realise there were only so many ways to make the weather sound interesting. So, just the following year, his career went around another hairpin: he left radio to fully immerse himself in advertising as a writer.

In a very memorable first year, Ric won a prize at a Campaign Brief workshop that sent him to Sydney to work and learn at legendary Australian ad agency The Campaign Palace. And in that fateful week, he wrote a risque TV ad for Cleo Magazine’s 50 Most Eligible Bachelors that went on to win Gold at the London International Awards – and be one of the most complained-about commercials in Australian history.

This put Ric quickly on the advertising radar – and on the cover of Campaign Brief magazine…

Three years into his advertising career, Ric became creative director of The Shorter Group, a new agency introducing integrated multidisciplinary creative services. As department head, Ric built a strong team of writers, art directors, graphic designers and 3D designers who all worked together to bring brand strategies to life. It must have been a great pitch, because new business doubled the size of the agency in nine months.

From 2000, Ric also served as president of the Perth Advertising and Design Club, helping promote creativity in advertising and design. He led the creation of two of the club’s most fondly remembered annual award shows.

When the economic party ended, The Shorter Group merged with Perth’s biggest agency Marketforce, where Ric remained creative head on the Shorter’s accounts. He worked on many major projects over almost a decade, including creating a five-year global campaign for Tourism WA.

All those years working with designers eventually saw Ric spending more time on design himself. With a particular passion for identity, he finally stepped out of Marketforce in 2011 to try to broaden the nature of his work. This most recent twist in his story was the beginning of Brandino, his own consultancy that allows him to work directly with clients across all aspects of their brand communications: strategy, identity, design, writing, and increasingly film-making.

Ric is focused on ideas, a passion he has shared through guest lectures at various universities. His design philosophy is about “adding meaning and memorability to what we do”. He looks for visual ideas with potential for diverse applications, to create interesting and engaging brands – his work for Interchange WA is a notable example.

Brandino has consulted across all mediums in most areas of industry. From designing exhibitions, to creating unique business cards or compelling annual reports, to building entirely new brand identities, Ric has done just about everything. His new portfolio site at www.brandino.com.au showcases diverse examples from the last ten years.

Ric concluded his talk by inviting fSpace members to reach out to him, to explore opportunities to collaborate. Working on a wide range of projects, he’s always looking to be inspired by – and learn from – good people.

That way, perhaps he’ll find the next twist or turn on his journey.