In mid-2016, Dom Meredith Hardy and Jo Cruse will be setting off on an expedition from Alaska to Argentina. They hope it will be an adventure of epic proportions – and would love for you to be part of that journey. They, along with many others, can see the face of business is changing. So too is people’s motivation for starting them. This has inspired them to make the transition from the corporate world into social enterprise themselves. Their personal experience has made them want to understand this phenomenon further. So, in May this year they will be leaving behind their lives in London to embark on a nine-month expedition from Alaska to Argentina. They want to find out what is driving people to defy convention and build businesses which are a force for good? What enables them to do this successfully, and, what happens when purpose is pursued as well as profit?
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and what you were up to before MacroAdventure
Dom – I am an outdoors loving, adventure seeking, fun chaser. A keen sailor and part time surfer I can often be found somewhere on the South coast. As a recently qualified paragliding pilot I have also added the sky to my list of favourite playgrounds. I am drawn towards outdoors activities that get the adrenaline flowing, always loved the sea, being outside, and having adventures. I decided early on that I wanted an active outdoors career, rather than a desk job so chose to study Oceanography at University. Four years later – where did I find myself? Behind a desk!
Coaxed by the bright lights of opportunity I had decided to move to London. My first job was in sales, the polar opposite to my Oceanography upbringing, and I loved it. It was a completely new skill that I found I had a talent for. Despite lots of travel and exciting opportunities to progress up the hierarchy I knew deep down I was craving more. I still wanted learn more about the world. I was craving a bigger challenge. I then moved to become a commodities and shipping analyst . I felt this was a good compromise between my sales skills and my thirst for knowledge. I have loved it. This role was fascinating and taught me a huge amount about global trade. I have traveled the world, met some very influential people, and developed a huge range of commercial skills. The problem was that I didn’t like what I was learning about the environmental cost of the world’s commodities industries. Something had to change. I now want to put the skills I have gained through a career in the commercial sector to good use. And so MacroAdventure was born.
Jo – London-born and Cape Town-raised, Jo is passionate about using business as a means to tackle pressing social and environmental issues. She has travelled widely – thanks largely to a childhood in Africa and her family’s time in the Middle East – and the fact that she has yet to explore the Americas is a key motivator for this trip. She has a professional background in politics and communications, and is currently Communications Lead for Stemettes, a social enterprise which inspires girls into careers in Science, Tech, Engineering and Maths (STEM). In her personal capacity, Jo also writes and speaks regularly on topics concerning career change and challenges facing the millennial generation. MacroAdventure embodies her desire to create positive social change, build a purpose-driven career and pursue adventures which test her mental and physical limits.
2) What was the dream when setting up MacroAdventure?
We share a long-standing interest in social enterprise and its potential to effectively tackle some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges the world faces. We also share a love for adventure. MacroAdventure seeks to combine these two passions. The dream when setting up MacroAdventure was to create something good, whilst having fun along the way. Jo and I had both been craving a change in career. We both know that we are ambitious and want to go far in life but we want to use the skills we have and the effort we give from now on to create something that will benefit others as well as ourselves. Part of the dream is to enable others to change their lives in the way we have and give people confidence to follow the path they dream of.
3) Tell us more about your social impact angle and why you’re encouraging the public to be more involved in your mission
We’re encouraging the public to be more involved in our mission, because they are exactly who make our mission worthwhile. We want to disrupt the status quo and show that social impact and profit can and should go hand in hand. In order to create an impact and spread the word about the great lessons we will learn in the next nine months, we need people to take this journey with us. We intend to reach people and communities all over the world, we can only do that if we succeed in creating a movement that is bigger than just Jo and I.
4) Why social entrepreneurship VS conventional business?
We care deeply about many of the issues affecting people, and our environment but feel the existing model is simply not working. The current trajectory we as a human race are on is simply not sustainable and will come to an end if we don’t change. Our traditional understanding of business tends to be that profit is the primary metric used to measure success. However, social enterprises are increasingly showing that making a profit and making a difference do not have to be mutually exclusive. Business is the most powerful force on our planet. If we want to drive change for the better, we must harness this force.
5) What is the motivation behind your crowdfunding campaign?
The motivation behind our crowdfunding campaign is two fold. 1) It will help spread the word, raise awareness of what we are doing and help us build our community. 2) Jo and I have both left our successful careers behind in order to pursue this dream and we are investing all of our own funds to make it a reality. We will make this trip whatever happens. But funds that we raise through our crowdfunding campaign will allow us to reach further, for longer. The value of MacroAdventure is within the people we meet, and the knowledge they share. The more funds we raise the more people, business’, influencers and education centers we can visit and the greater the information we can share will be.
6) What is the one thing you wish people had told you before you started your entrepreneurial journey?
The only thing I was people had told me before we started out would be ‘get on with it’. Everything else you can learn along the way. No-one really knows what they are doing. There are no rule books, no rights or wrongs. Don’t let the idea of embarking on an entrepreneurial project intimidate you to the extent that you never get to make it a reality. It is a constant process of creation and iteration. Failure and making mistakes is an inevitable part of that process. They key is to fail fast, learn from your mistakes, and be able to pick yourself back up and keep going.
7) Any advice for people who want to have a social impact but are reluctant in making the jump?
Make the jump, take a leap of faith, you will learn much faster by doing rather than reading about it. Focus your idea, refine it, refine it, and refine it some more until you can sum up your idea in one sentence. There have also been so many moments when what we’re trying to do has seemed like an unconquerable mountain. There have been points when we’ve been scared and wondered if we are being completely stupid and irresponsible to leave our secure London lives behind. We are only halfway up the mountain ourselves, but seeing how far we’ve come, my advice would be, if it feels to big to handle, break it down into smaller steps, prioritise what’s important and take another step. If it feels too scary, it’s probably because no one else has done it before, which means you’re on the right track. Just keep pushing forwards.
Don’t be afraid or too proud to adapt your idea, we have evolved and pivoted many times along our journey already. But it is important not to lose what is at the core of what you want to achieve. Make sure you are clear on what your end goal is and everything else will evolve around it. Lastly find a fantastic Co-Founder who shares your vision. The only way Jo and I have consistently kept moving forwards is by being strong for each other. Everyone has moments of doubt, luckily Jo and I always seem to time our moments perfectly so we can always pick each other up when we need it.