So how did the Yume app come about?
At SecondBite we have a program called Community Connect. We realised that we couldn’t just keep buying more vans, so I wanted to try and find a way to move food without having to send a van. Someone would ring up and say “I’ve got a box of apples” and then SecondBite would ring around community food programs in the area and see if anyone needed a box of apples. They’d then organise a volunteer to go down and pick them up. That’s really effective and works well, but technology’s moved on.
We need to continue to innovate and for me, Yume is just putting Community Connect online, but also giving businesses the opportunity to sell food. With Spade and Barrow, we brought food directly from the farm to cafes and restaurants. I realised that a lot of small businesses do it really tough. Not everybody has the luxury of donating, some people really need to see a return on their food costs. So Yume gives people the option to either sell or donate.
And everyone loves a cheap meal…
Exactly. I can’t really see a downside to it. We’ve created the tool. Now it’s over to the businesses and the public and the not-for-profits to say whether it’s a tool that they can use.
I’m curious to know more about what drives you. Do you think you’ve always been a leader?
That’s a hard one. [Long pause]. I’ve always done my own thing, I think. I wouldn’t be very good in a job where I’d have to do the same thing every day, I get bored very quickly. I’ve never felt fear about trying something out. My five-year-old son Archie reminds me of me, he’s just a bull at a gate. I’m exhausted just looking at him. [Laughs]. I’m quite impatient, I like to see things move quickly. I quite enjoy seeing where there’s a market failure and then trying to come up with a solution that’s really simple. I’m not looking for any complicated answers. It just shows that anybody could do it.
Do you think working with volunteers is a motivation in itself?
I’m very lucky that I’m constantly reminded of people’s generosity. No one makes people give. I think inside humans, there is this sort of genuine desire to contribute and be part of something. A lot of the volunteers at SecondBite were actually people who accessed the food services, there were a few people who would go have a feed at St Mary’s House of Welcome and then come to SecondBite and volunteer.
Really? That’s amazing.
Yeah, and I think there’s dignity in that. I always used to say that if we can work to a world where SecondBite doesn’t need to exist any more, that would be the ultimate goal, because it means you’ve solved the problem.
Absolutely. You’ve spent most of your career in the not-for-profit sector. What has working in this environment taught you?
That you’ve got to be entrepreneurial and resourceful. No two days are ever the same. And whatever cause you’re working for, you’ve got to find a creative way to present that to get people on board—to donate their time or their money or their services.
Who inspires you?
The people that inspire me the most are those that have been through some of the greatest challenges and still have an ability to give back. Also, anyone that’s trying to swim upstream and willing to sacrifice themselves for a cause. That’s inspirational. Selflessness inspires me.
You say that if everyone in the world lived like Australians, we could need four planets to sustain us. What habits do consumers need to change, aside from throwing away food?
Buy local. It completely baffles me how we ship oranges from California when we have amazing oranges here. It’s really important that we understand exactly where our food comes from. We saw that with the berry scare, people suddenly started looking at the labels of where their food was coming from. It’s sad that it takes that, for us to wake up and say, wow, I’m putting this in my body, I’ve got no idea where it was grown, who grew it, what it was grown using, what fertilisers were put on it… I’ve got no idea and yet I’m feeding this to my children.
Do you think the same principles should apply to buying meat?
I don’t eat meat myself, and haven’t eaten it since I was 18. I think we eat far too much meat. We’ve become so accustomed to having everything that we want, when we want it, how we want it, in the quantities that we want it. We’re literally eating ourselves to death. So I think it’s about knowing where your food comes from and knowing what’s happened to it. If you’re going to eat factory farmed chicken, go and see a factory farm, see if you still want to eat it.
I do think that we have a responsibility to not walk through life with blinkers on, choosing to only look at the things that are pretty. Listen to your instincts. Most people are intrinsically good. Most people would not want to see an animal in pain and distress, and sit there and happily watch that. I just think we need to be responsible.