You’ve got THE big idea. Now what? Join entrepreneurs Pete Horsley and Naomi Simson for an idea-sparking conversation about the importance of invention and bringing great ideas to life. Are we investing enough and willing enough to try, fail and then have another go? How can you become a great innovator and how did a solar power wheelchair come to be?
Pete Horsley is the founder of Remarkable, an organisation that’s harnessing the power of technology to drive inclusion for people living with disabilities. Pete and his team accelerate disability tech start ups and help founders and ideators fuel their vision, develop tech, gain seed funding and build their businesses. Check out Pete’s work at remarkable.
Naomi Simson is an entrepreneur, blogger, business leader and the founder of Red Balloon. Building businesses, working with teams and solving problems are all key to Naomi’s work, the heart of which is bringing people together and shifting the way we experience life. Learn more at naomisimson.com
Listen to Episode 10 here:
Find out more about Naomi Simson on her website
Listen to Naomi’s podcast: Handpicked With Naomi Simson
Listen to Naomi’s podcast episode with Medistays, a Remarkable cohort
Find out more about Remarkable
Are you a tech startup with an idea that could unleash human potential? Build it now with Remarkable. Apply for their 2022 accelerator. Applications close 11:59PM AEDT, January 22, 2022.
Ben McAlary: Hello, and welcome back to Cerebral Conversations. My name is Ben McAlary.
Andy McLean: and I’m Andy McLean. Hello. In today’s episode, we’re talking tech, innovation and we’re getting down to business. Our guests are Naomi Simpson and Pete Horsley.
Ben McAlary: Now, many listeners will already know Naomi as the entrepreneur, a former shark from the Shark Tank reality TV show and of course, the founder of Red Balloon, the home of a gazillion and one amazing experiences and things to do in Australia. And Pete? Well, Pete’s, the founder of Remarkable, a tech accelerator program made possible by Cerebral Palsy Alliance, which is building an ecosystem of innovators focused on tech solutions that will unleash human potential.
Andy McLean: Now the two of them get along like a house on fire. It’s a great discussion. Together, they talk about how a bunch of things, including the power and potential of technology, to change lives for the better. Why businesses and entrepreneurs need to stay close to their customers and communities. How Pete and Amy get themselves in the zone to create and innovate. And how many businesses are missing out by not harnessing the problem solving skills and ingenuity of people with disability. Because really, they’ve had to hack together solutions all the time because the world wasn’t built for their needs.
Ben McAlary: Andy, I was so surprised by how much tech we have access to today that was actually created or originated from a place of necessity by someone with a disability.
Andy McLean: Yeah. And oh my gosh, there are so many useful tips in this episode for anyone who’s trying to overcome challenges or start a business or just think of it differently.
Ben McAlary: Both Andy and I run our own businesses, so we’ve been furiously taking notes while listening to this episode. We hope you enjoy it. Let’s get into it.
Pete Horsley: Naomi, I’ve I’ve been a big fan of yours and your role in the innovation and startup ecosystem for a long time. A lot of us know the Red Balloon story, but what are you up to now? What’s happening in your world right now?
Naomi Simson: I continue to be passionate about the difference I can make to other human beings, and you know, most people know Red Balloon in the start up story from home and creating and pioneering one of the first marketplaces in Australia. And most people know that story. But what they don’t realise is whilst Red Balloon is a gifting site and we, you know, package up experiences and people to give them for gifts to friends, family or work, for instance, it’s about the impact that we’re having on community and as a marketplace. Every single one of those represents a customer for small business. And we’ve delivered literally millions, like eight million customers to small businesses around Australia and New Zealand. And as Red Balloon has grown, so have those small businesses. We gave them a brand and we deliver customers to them. And in small business right now, it is really, really hard to get customers. And that’s not just during the pandemic. We find that it’s very expensive as people try to navigate how the digital platforms work. You know, one day they spend five bucks and they get a customer. The next day that’s been 10 bucks and they get zero customers and don’t know why, because they’re facing or they’re trying to understand algorithms that are almost impossible to understand. You know, I keep loving what I’m doing, but also after working in my business for 20 years and we created the Big Red Group with my business partner, David Anderson, about four years ago with the intention that we could use the same supply base but serve it to different audiences. And Big Red Group is the house of Adrenaline, Lime and Tonic, Red Balloon and others. And we’ve done that really, really effectively. But after 20 years of being operationally driven within my business, as well as doing other things on the side, it’s time to do something else. So as of the 1st of July 2021, I became a non-executive director of my own business and started taking on other directorships. I continue with my speaking and my podcast, my blogging, because part of what I do is be role model, which is why I did Shark Tank and why I write books and why I do podcasts. But the other thing is that I want to share what I’ve learned and really impact other communities. Another reason why I’ve chosen to be a part of an entrepreneur in residence program for schools called Aspire. So there’s very much a synergy in what I do, which is about how do I take what I’ve learned and share it in as far and wide in our community as I possibly can? So, Pete, I love the Remarkable story, but share with our listeners what is the remarkable story that moment? You know that first idea, but where did it all start?
Pete Horsley: Moment and actually started with a bit by accident, actually. And colleagues of mine, we were running a global awareness day for cerebral palsy, and we didn’t just want to run a day for a day’s sake. We wanted it to have some kind of purpose. And so again, colleagues of mine came up with this concept of what would be one thing that would change someone’s world, and they had to kind of state it in a very short period of time. We want to kind of pick the, you know, problem areas that we could solve for. And so we called this campaign Change my World in One Minute, and we actually had people kind of inputting from all over the world. People with cerebral palsy were putting problem areas up, and one of the ones that actually got quite a lot of votes. One of the highest levels of votes was a man by the name of Alper, who was living in a small country town in Turkey. And and he said the one thing that would change his world is if someone could create the solar powered wheelchair. We’re like, Okay, interesting. It ended up getting a whole bunch of votes, and lots of other people said, Yeah, that’d be a really exciting thing to do. And so and one of the things that he had said that he did have a powered chair by his chair currently didn’t hold enough charge to to get him very far away from where he was. And he was stuck in this Catch 22 situation of where he could afford to live was outside of town. It was a little way out of town. And of course, where all the jobs were were in town. So in order for him to earn enough money to buy a new chair, he had to be in where the jobs were. And so he was stuck in this Catch 22 situation. And he also said that he wanted to worship at a temple on the other side of town. And so his is his current chair was kind of limiting his life in so many ways. And so we put it out to the world wide maker community and said, can anyone make a solar powered wheelchair? And we had the University of Virginia in the US actually put their hand up and said, Yeah, we can, we can do it. So we awarded them some money and they created this thing. And it is to this day probably what I think is one of the ugliest prototypes I think I’ve ever seen. It was literally some solar panels on the top of this frame. But you know what? It worked. And. We we gave them some money to ship the prototype over to Alper in in Turkey, and within days of him getting that wheelchair, he sent us selfies back of him outside the temple. He said this is the temple that I wanted to worship at, and about six weeks later we found out he had a part time job. And so we got this inkling that this is technology changing the life of someone with disability. This is technology removing those barriers. But it was just one person and it, you know, it wasn’t kind of going into production line of producing many, many solar powered wheelchairs. And so we then started thinking, how do we actually do this at scale? And that was where we started to say, You know what? We could support these early stage ideas, give them some, some some enterprise money so that they can actually build out some of what they’re doing and give them the support to think about the business model. The approach that they might have to the market and how do they actually create themselves as a business that really was the seed of what is now called Remarkable.
Naomi Simson: Oh wow. It is such a beautiful story, and it just goes to say sometimes it’s the functionality of the design, which is important and he just needed to get from A to B and get where he wanted to be and needed to be. And look at the transformation, you know that that the ability to earn is one thing that I also wanted to talk about that for COVID. You know, people with disability can work anywhere. And, you know, often transport is a big issue of getting people to and from a workplace. So it’s a real opportunity for employers to open their eyes, their ears and their hearts, knowing that people with disability who no longer have to present, you know, nine to five and struggle with public transport. It’s a real opportunity, and we’ve got incredible research around the productivity of people with disability in terms of being truly present and really loving having fulfilling and wonderful careers. And when you take out that notion of having to commute. It’s a really, really great thing. And one thing that I’m encouraging employers to do is just think differently. When you no longer need to know where somebody is they you just need to know they’re going to be brilliant in their career. And when they come with so much passion and determination, I think it’s it’s a wonderful opportunity.
Pete Horsley: That’s the situation that COVID has created has actually been some of the impetus to to allow people to work from home. And that has been the very thing that many people within the disability community have been calling for for years. So it’s amazing to see the speed at which we can actually make change when we need to and and we should have been listening to our disabled friends and colleagues much, much earlier around this. And so I guess in your work, you’ve also been involved with the Cerebral Palsy alliance over a number of years. What what are some of the kind of key elements that you look for in in how you make change happen? And I guess if we think kind of particularly around innovators and entrepreneurs, what do you think are the key ingredients for a great entrepreneur?
Naomi Simson: I was trying to remember how long I have been involved with cerebral palsy, and I think it’s coming up for 10 years. And I’ve sat as a governor on the Research Foundation and one of the reasons that I do that is because for me, research is the key to change. And if you want to make the biggest difference, it’s about leverage. Everything for me is about leverage. I only have 24 hours in a day, but how do I use those to the greatest advantage? And for me, research makes the biggest difference. So like the work that you’re doing at Remarkable, which is seed capital effectively, and then once you’ve made that investment, it also gives a brand presence for all those innovators because they’ve got your tick of approval. So then if I think about the entrepreneurs I work with, it’s always about leverage. So when they when I think about the energy and time it takes to get a customer, if you spend the same energy and time, could you get more customers by working with someone else, by looking for partnerships, by looking for distribution? So I’m always looking to amplify or leverage the efforts. So when I’m looking for or working with the entrepreneurs I work with, it’s a one to many, one to many, not one to one, because it’s it’s very hard to get a return on the cost to acquire a customer when you’re just going one by one by one. And you know, if I think about how does that apply to your business, I’d love to hear some of the stories about some of the greatest leverage that you’ve got from your invested businesses.
Pete Horsley: Yeah, you know, right back from the beginning, it was really interesting working with some of the founders from a company called Ability Made. That he made they wanted to use 3D printing for the good of people with disability now looking at all of the assistive devices that people were being prescribed and many of those were really quite expensive, and they could see that the power that 3D printing could have to make that much more accessible, much, much cheaper. The story that they came to us was actually a young girl who had been quoted a thousand dollars to get a customised wheelchair controller. She couldn’t quite use the. I don’t know if you remember the kind of the old Atari video games that had the little kind of ball and stick, you know? Yeah, a lot of those are used as controllers for powered wheelchairs, and she couldn’t actually use that one with the way that her hand was because of the cerebral palsy and so had been quoted a thousand dollars and was told to wait six months to have a customised wheelchair controller made for her. And these guys looked at that and just said, that is ridiculous, like we’ve got to be able to do something. And so they sat down with her for literally about 40 minutes and for the cost of about 37 cents of material that I had given her a customised , they’d given her 10 actually customised wheelchair controllers. And we said, That’s a great story. That’s fantastic. But in thinking about kind of leverage, we said that, you know how many other people around Australia or even, you know, around the world need customised wheelchair controllers? And the answer was probably a relatively small mark. And so we said, well, how about we try and find another market that you can utilise this technology so that that can be the base of your product line? And and we introduced them to one of our board members who they had told the story of of the day that her daughter, who had cerebral palsy, had been fitted with an orthotic. So an orthotic , OK, I’m sure you know, this is an ankle and this one was an ankle orthotic. So it’s a little piece of plastic that goes over the ankle that tries to correct kind of where the muscles might be pulling the foot in a different direction. So for her daughter, she would stand up on a toe and should also have one of her feet turned inwards and now trying to correct that with the use of orthotics. They said that the day that she got that orthotics fitted was probably the second worst day of their child’s life. Literally, they had to have four grown adults holding her down while they they physically manipulated the foot into the position that they wanted it. She was screaming in pain. She was scared. They then take a plaster cast of that, have to wait there and have to hold it there while the plaster sets then cut off the plaster cast. And that’s incredibly scary again for for a young girl. She was only a couple of years of age at this stage, and when I heard this story, they said, we can do something about that. We can we can actually create a way of digitally capturing that foot rather than having to physically manipulate that foot into the position. And so they captured I used a 3D scanning process and created a 3D scanner at the very early stages. And this is a much bigger market that they can leverage for for their purposes. Now, Ability Made has gone on to raise some capital. They’ve raised a few million dollars in capital. They’ve they’ve got clinics all over the country with orthotists who are using their technology, and it’s really exciting to see the way that that business has grown. And, you know, I think that it’s so rewarding, and I’m sure you would have seen this as well where you help kind of with with one part of what we can give that ends up kind of directing that, that organisation or that that company into into a set direction. Have you got kind of examples of companies that you’ve mentor over the years that have done similar sort of thing?
Naomi Simson: You know, what I hear so clearly in that story is when you see the impact that you have on other human beings, that’s what drives our purpose. And often we see that the larger an enterprise becomes, the less connected they are to the humanness of business as they begin to use algorithms and, you know, smart technology to review their reviews and so forth. And nothing ever beats understanding or listening to and hearing customers. And you know, as a founder, I’m always customer obsessed. I need to know their stories, and it’s the stories that we don’t often get to hear will drive the biggest change or the biggest difference. You know, there’s those will tell you how much you’ve had an impact and they love you, love you, love you. And then there’s those who we didn’t meet expectations and they’re pretty quick to have a crack at us, but it’s the 90 per cent in the middle that really is the opportunity for most businesses. And many ideas and innovations come from those customers. So when I’m working with entrepreneurs, I always say now, are you listening to your customers when you know you’ve got to kind of nurture them and have listening posts other than the standard, you know, how is it for you or the, you know, net promoter score or the will you rate my product is to hear the impact of your product, but then to say, how could we improve? What ideas do you have for us? And I say that also with the enterprises who have teams, it’s often the people who are in the front line who was serving customers who see processes. And when we were coming back out of the 2020 COVID earlier in the year and we had at Big Red Group, a big, you know, all hands and everybody coming together, and we said there is nothing sacred. So just because we’ve done it for 20 years now is the time to make material changes. We might have been doing things in certain ways just because it was easier back then, but now there’s technology or platforms or other things that can support us. And once we took the shackles off and sit and asked for everybody’s ideas, we were an innovation machine. And I would argue that, you know, in the last 18 months, we’ve produced more innovation ourselves than we have in the five years earlier because it was a mind shift. So my job when I’m working with entrepreneurs is to help them shift their mind. And as you know, any business owner, they’re so busy, sometimes just chasing their tail and working through their inbox. Then they’re working in their business. They don’t get that energy and that chance to reflect ask questions, be deeply curious and set aside that time to understand and learn from those people around them. You know, they do say the new CEO is really stands for customer, employee and outsider because it may well be community that has those ideas for your enterprise to make sure you stay really connected with community and that you become, you remain relevant. And I think relevance is equally important if we look at the technology in your particular space. You know, what do you see coming down the line? What what some of the most exciting things that you see that you see that you’re working on? And what’s this year’s cohort like?
Pete Horsley: Well we’ve just finished this year’s cohort, so we are on the hunt for next year’s cohort, which is really exciting. But you know, I think that, you know, it’s interesting hearing your reflections around, you know, the context allowing us to think differently. And and I think that, you know, COVID has really been a huge disruptor everywhere, obviously in the world. And and it’s really allowing us a chance to to rethink perhaps some of the assumptions that we’ve made. And you know, I think that if I think about this space of disability, I think some of the assumptions that I definitely hear time and time again is that that, you know, disability is the realm of of charities and not for profits and well-meaning people. And that’s all really great. But you know, there’s there’s actually this this incredible opportunity before us right now where not only do we see incredible changes in technology all around us and we need to harness that for the for the use of of all human experience, not just kind of those with with certain kind of human character traits. I think it needs to be used for all humanity. And then we’ve also got a really interesting moment in Australia right now where this thing called the National Disability Insurance Scheme is is if you like creating a marketplace or a market for for people with disability and their families to make choices themselves, whereas previously they hadn’t had the opportunity to make choices. So the things that I’m excited to see kind of come down the pipeline are really about harnessing some of that technology that that we’re starting to see kind of in other parts of our lives, things like AI and robotics and wearables, sensor technology. So things like, you know, seeing the the role that robotics can have around personal assistants, seeing the way that AI could be used so that environments could could look at an individual and understand who they are and respond to that individual. So imagine if you’re a wheelchair user that as you come into a room, it recognises that you’re a wheelchair user and all the benches all of a sudden drop down 30 centimetres, or you’re someone who is neuro divergent and don’t like kind of really bright colours and perhaps the colour of the paint actually changes in the room. There are incredible ways that we can harness this technology, be able to see the use of that technology and apply it to a problem space that I think has been really, really underexplored. And that, for me, I think, is incredibly exciting. And we’re now starting to connect to innovators all around the world and see that we can potentially have access to that technology here in Australia as well. We’ve got incredible connections into research laboratories in different parts of the world and much in the same way that there wasn’t a real focus on cerebral palsy research a number of years ago, we felt that there’s been a real under-resourcing in in research and development around technology and disability as well. So we’re incredibly excited to see what this kind of new disruption, I guess what’s the new normal going to look like on the other side? And so I’m really excited.
Naomi Simson: Amazing. Really, really amazing.
Pete Horsley: Absolutely. And it’s kind of I always like to tell stories about, you know, necessity is the mother of all Invention is a famous quote that’s attributed oftentimes to Plato, and you see this space as being one that is full of different necessities. And I guess if we look at some of the technology that we’ve now got access to, a lot of those, or many examples of those were actually created from a place of necessity by someone with a disability in the beginning. So we think about the World Wide Web. Vint Cerf is one of the forefathers of of the World Wide Web, and he was a researcher who was working with a team of people and happened to have a hearing impairment. And so he was trying to figure out ways that he could avoid talking on the phone to the rest of his research team and ended up developing some of the earliest protocols around the internet. And SMS was created by a couple of Finnish inventors who were trying to see ways that they could communicate better with with deaf friends of theirs. And so this kind of, you know, place of how do we look at this place of necessity as being one that that enables us to look for solutions in those places? And I guess I love hearing your example of of saying COVID being a really rich, fertile ground to think differently about the world in front of us.
Naomi Simson: Yeah, I do. Because, you know, if we look at it as a gift, you know, it’s very hard sometimes, but it’s not often in life that we get to reset. You know, it’s absolutely well-documented that often the greatest ideas pop into somebody’s head when they’re when they’re at peace, when they’re not under any stress, when they’re able to just be quiet and allow the brain to do what it does best, which is to link disparate and varying ideas. But in my early days, I was just run, run, run, and what I was doing to keep fit was, you know, more of the same, really. I had a heart rate monitor on I was long distance running, and I was going to the gym and us pumping this and the other thing, and I finally worked out that I actually I needed the complete opposite for the outside, you know, so that’s why I paint and that I do yoga and meditation. I just need to counterbalance for what is a very busy and I don’t say stressful because very busy and productive. But that’s one thing that I would say to any innovator is, have you got that counterbalance? Have you got that open brain space? So what is your best creative space?
Pete Horsley: That is a really great question. How am I going to answer that one?
Naomi Simson: I like the killer question.
Pete Horsley: I do completely agree with you that you need space in your life, and I often find that we run in seasons, so we run these things called accelerator programs. And that’s kind of, you know, about four months long. They’re incredibly intense because we’re working kind of, you know, daily with our founders, and I really love that period of time just after the accelerator. We’ve kind of wrapped things up a little bit, and it’s actually this kind of period that we find ourselves in right now that I’ve just got a little bit more headspace that that allows me to kind of lift my eyes a little bit and to kind of refocus on the horizon again. And I think, you know, for me personally, the spaces that I love that end is when I get out into nature. So I do have a dog. We bought a pandemic puppy during during COVID a year ago, and and and she’s a very and energetic dog, and so I love to get out with her in the mornings and and be in nature. We live just near a kind of beautiful big area of forest in near Manly and and so I love to to be out in nature and to see the water, to see kind of nature around me. That’s a place where I feel really energised. But it is for me. I think about having that, that that mind space, that that allows you to bring in as you say, I love that kind of concept that you talked about of those disparate ideas. And then bringing those disparate ideas together to make something new is something that’s really incredible. And I love that process. We’ve invested in in 39 companies so far. What would you advise startups who are kind of at that on that journey? They’ve taken on some investment? What are some of the other things kind of beyond having that space in their life? What are some of the other things that you would advise them to to think about?
Naomi Simson: So I’ve said a few things on that already, one is obviously to have some space in their life. Secondly is to understand how they’re listening to customers and learning for innovation. Thirdly is how are they connecting to community? And that’s all about relevance. Fourthly is team members and employees. They can be the greatest source of innovation. And I suppose the next thing is is about being prepared to dream because often, especially when you’re in startup phase, it’s hand to mouth. It’s Oh my goodness, can I put what is on the table for my family? And often you don’t dare to dream. So that means that you don’t necessarily set up the framework frameworks, systems and processes to allow your business to scale. And as exciting as about, but sound it systems and processes that allow your business to scale. And you know, for instance, being able to do businesses in other countries has become so much easier. And, you know, back in the day, if you wanted to do business in the UK, you kind of had to open an enterprise. They had to have a directory of local addresses and so forth before you could even open a bank account. Similar in the US, an Australian innovative company, Airwallex makes it easy to open bank accounts in any country. So what I’m finding with my Shark Tank businesses as exporters being an exporter has become so much easier because it was all of those kind of, o ne would say red tape or whatever. But of those things really slowed down t he innovator or the entrepreneur, because, you know, you start with this idea, you’re spending all of your energy on that. Then before you know it, you’re so busy just doing the administration and they, you know, you sometimes wonder if you’re moving one step forward. So, I encourage my entrepreneurs to say, what would global domination look like? And if so, how are you setting up the processes and systems now? And if so, how? You know, what is it that is not your strength? And is there a piece of software or platform that does that for you? I’m very envious of the entrepreneurs now. You know, when I started, we had to build everything because you couldn’t buy a marketplace. Now you can just buy marketplace off the shelf and customise it, you know, so. So I’m challenging people to say, how do you keep a mind to other people’s innovations that you can add to your own enterprise to make sure that you’re scaling? Because often we only work in the realm of which we’re working in and we don’t even know what’s available. So being prepared to dream having the big, hairy, audacious goal that is truly audacious but not unrealistic. So really challenge people to dream. One of the things that I would do way back in the day is create a painted picture document, and that paint a picture document is a dreaming document. It’s not a business plan. It’s allowing yourself to say, what would it be like if X happened? I used to put funny ones in there, too. What would it be like if Hugh Jackman just loved our business so much? He did an ad for free? Or what would it be like if Qantas put the Red Balloon logo on the back of every boarding pass? And I must admit a few years ago, we did do a joint promotion with the Qantas, and they did do that. So, you know, you never know what’s going to come through are still waiting for the Hugh Jackman one. But, you know, allowing ourselves to dream is equally important and enjoying that because often that’s where the energy comes from. And it’s the energy that keeps us in flow and flow is where we get our productivity from. And I love that, you know, when you’ve got no idea what happened to the day because it’s all just disappeared and that’s one of the joys of working in your purpose is feeling that energy and that passion, which I think is, you know, absolutely gorgeous. So where do you believe Remarkable is going to get to, what you’re dreaming? What’s it going to be like? What impact is it going to have on a global stage?
Pete Horsley: We’ve seen technologies like cochlear implants and powered wheelchairs that are really transformed the way that people with disability have autonomy and control and and can exercise their own freedoms. And I guess we dream of seeing the next game changing technologies being being designed and created, potentially here in Australia. We’d love to see that, but increasingly what we’re also doing is is reaching further networks in other countries. And so we’ve now got partner organisations in places like Kenya and London and India and China and Canada and New Zealand and in the US. And so we’re we’ve got some great activities coming up that’s actually going to involve all of those partners, which we’re really excited about and really we want to be able to see rather than this just being thought of as the realm of charities and not for profits that we start to see this really being thought of as a sector t hat’s that’s to be taken seriously. You know, we talk about fintech and edtech and AG tech. I would love to see disability tech as being kind of one of those that that is reported on by the Fin Review. I would love to see that Remarkable technologies actually don’t become remarkable anymore, that you know that that we actually see big companies that are designing in ways that actually fit the entirety of human experience rather than just designing for the middle 50th percentile. I really do believe that we are missing out when we’re not harnessing the the creativity, the problem solving skills, the ingenuity of people with disability who have, you know, I’ve got a friend in Canada that talks about people with disability, were the original life hackers. You know, they’ve had to hack together solutions all the time because the world wasn’t built for their needs. And so I want to be able to harness that population of entrepreneur and innovator, and I want to see greater focus and attention on this space, greater investment. See those really, really cutting edge exciting technologies we want to, as an organization, continue to push the boundaries of of what’s possible. And like you say, let’s let’s dream big, but let’s allow our friends and neighbours with disability to be the ones that are dreaming big and not to have all of these barriers that are continually put up in front of them. And we see those barriers in lots of different ways that are kind of played out through, you know, worse education rates, through unemployment rates for people with disability are much higher than than in other populations. And so for us, it’s about how we continue to to push over those barriers so that we see that Remarkable technology is no longer remarkable anymore.
Naomi Simson: So tell us, Pete, where is the remarkable story up to now?
Pete Horsley: One of the things that I’m also super excited about is that we’ve just launched an international network of organizations that are really trying to promote the opportunity that we’ve got to see inclusive technology come to market. It’s called the Inclusive Innovation Network. It involves startups from around the world. It involves accelerator programs and ecosystem enablers, kind of people working with startups and also wanting to get investors on board as well. And so far, we’ve got partners in Kenya, in London, in India, China, New Zealand, Canada and the US. And we’re really excited about bringing more attention and focus on this space so that we can see more innovation brought to the people who need it most. Naomi, I was going to ask you, what are you excited about on the horizon? It sounds like you’re going through a really, really significant kind of life change yourself at the moment. And so what are you excited about? That’s on the horizon for for you personally and then for kind of innovation in small business as well?
Naomi Simson: Now, look for me personally, I, you know, I’ve always wanted to have a little bit more time to contribute in different sorts of ways, so, you know, now I will have more time to do boardroom briefings on the future of leadership. I’ve got more time for speaking engagements for the entrepreneur in Residence in Schools program and even supporting small businesses through my podcasts. One thing, and it’s a surprise to me I probably shouldn’t be, as more people have watched the Shark Tank Australia YouTube channel than I think ever watched it on air, 3.3 million people kind of watching each episode. So it’s just the show that keeps on giving . u know, I cut the delivery guy the other day, Oh, you know, the Red Shark, I can’t believe I’m delivering something to the Red Shark you know. So that’s exciting. So I guess because I have this role and community, it is to make the most of it and to be a role model and to be a thought leader and to challenge people. And how do we change people’s behaviours? And that is the most challenging things. And especially as we’ve seen people coming out of the pandemic, it is the small businesses that have done it the hardest. It’s not the biggest businesses who have people who are able to work remotely. It’s the service people. The people who need to be in front of customers are serving our community, whether it be health and so forth. So I think there’s going to be a big job for me to do, also to support how we reinvent small business and give it the voice it needs in our community. And to not forget, not forget, it’s the largest employer in the country, and yet it’s the toughest job. And being a small business owner can be really, really lonely. When you go home, you’ve had a pretty tough day and home might be just the spare bedroom by the way, if you’re working in lockdown situation, then you come out and then the family is going to say, Did you make any money today? And it can be really, really hard. So I think mental health for business owners is going to be an increasing need. And so connecting people, supporting people will be one of the things I continue to do. I will. I’ve got a few non-executive director roles and I’m sure I’ll do one or two more just to keep my hand in and exciting times. And it is the biggest change I’ve ever had, I think, since I left a corporate career.
Pete Horsley: Naomi, thank you for spending some time with us today and for your continued support of Cerebral Palsy Alliance, and I really appreciate having a conversation with you today.
Naomi Simson: It’s so fantastic to hear where you’re up to it and I look forward to getting to the next Remarkable day, innovation today and I look forward to seeing who you uncover. Maybe some people listening to this podcast are thinking, let me know about this Remarkable program, about the work that you’re doing may want to be part of your next cohort? And I’m really excited to see who joins. Thanks so much for having me on the show.
Ben McAlary: You’ve been listening to Cerebrally Conversations, a podcast produced by Cerebral Palsy Alliance
Andy McLean: To learn more, check out the show notes to this episode over at Cerebral Conversations
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Ben McAlary: The music for this podcast was kindly supplied by Ocean Alley. Check out the band’s music on Bandcamp or visit oceanalley.com.au
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