Entrepreneurs seek opportunities by looking at problems with an innovative gaze and questioning the status quo. This particular combination of tight problem solving boundaries, divergent thinking, and a determination to succeed is often how our most ingenious solutions are born.
I’ve always loved problem solving; it’s been my entire career. My drive to problem solve for society is as simple as wanting to know that when I lie in my death bed I feel like I did my best to leave this place better than I found it, to elevate humanity.
I believe there are two main vehicles for change in society- Governments and Corporations.
It took a while, but I’ve come to understand that although almost all persons entering politics do so with the best of intentions in advancing our society, our liberal democracy is very restrictive, intentional so. Governments more often than not are reactive, in order to keep the people’s love for a little longer with the hope of effecting change in the long run.
This avenue will work for some, but I’ve been impatient since the day I was born, so I needed a way of being at the front of change. For me this came to mean utilising the capitalist market as firstly, it’s a world I know & secondly, whether you agree or disagree with the changes Corporations have made to society, they have made change and plenty of it.
While gazing on the social world looking for an opportunity, it struck me that I shouldn’t be looking for a solution to the social problems as we already have most of these; aid organisations are out there enacting them. The real problem is the lack of funding to effectively execute the solutions. My problem had now become, how do I use a corporation to raise funds? This is a post in itself, but the short answer is I decided to generate an easy way to turn the everyday consumer into a philanthropist by using the social enterprise model.
In order to elevate humanity, I had decided I needed to create a business which was socially conscious, financially viable and operated with a higher purpose. It is also very important to me to encourage other entrepreneurs to enter the social space, multiplying my effect, showing it’s possible to do good and earn well. I was creating a social enterprise that practiced conscious capitalism.
The basic steps where: a) locate a segment within an industry which would prove financially viable with disruption and b) use a percentage of the profits to effect change in a social area. Preferably the two agendas, industry and cause, would be related in some way.
What I found were a number of industries begging for both social and financial disruption within them before even linking them to an external cause, the most compelling for me was the sex industry, namely sex toys. Financially it is a large and fragmented market, it lacks good business data, and the Australian market especially lacks sophistication. Socially it practiced objectification and oversexualisation. Society in general lacks the maturity to discuss sex and pleasure; and the sex toy market itself is an extremely limited shopping experience.
I knew operating in this industry would be difficult, but I also knew I had the personality required to pull it off – passionate about politics and innovation, never been one to be swayed by society, extremely thick skinned after near 20 years in heavy industry, and an inordinate amount of determination.
The next component of this formula was to match a social cause. I researched a number of causes including power poverty, but SRHR was the area which I felt had the greatest ability to create equality of opportunity, it’s an extremely underfunded cause, and I found a certain irony in linking SRHR with the sex industry. I also see these issues as fundamental to universal equality of opportunity.
Vävven’s conception and involvement in the sex industry was due to my desire to problem solve in the social space. To find new and innovative ways of problem solving you just need to put on a different pair of glasses to view the world. I’ll end with Garry Vee’s words as I cannot say it better.
“If you’re romantic about doing things how they’ve always been done… You are going to lose.” Garry Vaynerchuk.
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