Side mirror of an accelerating car
Housekeeping, Sustainability, Work


Well, it’s been quite a while between posts here… so a bit of explanation is in order.

Shortly after I presented at the IxDA drinks last year, a number of my colleagues pointed me to the Energy XO program that was being launched by Western Australian electricity utility Horizon Power and (now defunct) startup accelerator Pollenizer.

It seemed like a great opportunity to connect with industry folks and participate in a two-day “microhack”—essentially a workshop to develop up business ideas in the electricity sector and to be introduced to the “startup science” process that Pollenizer had developed around Lean Startup principles.

Little did I know at the time that I would be one of four people selected to enter into the 12 week accelerator program! Continue reading


Holiday trading hours

Just a quick note to mention that the Zumio office will be closed from today 18 Dec 2011 through to 2 Jan 2012 inclusive — we’ll be back on deck from 3 Jan 2012.

All the best for the holiday season from the team here — we hope you stay safe over the break. And please consider supporting a charitable organisation over the festive period — we’ll be supporting some of the inspiring and amazing Kiva entrepreneurs as part of our giving program.

See you in the new year :)


Queensland flood appeal

There was no second-guessing where we were going to make our quarterly donation this time around.  At the time we were making our decision, like many others, we answered the call for Australians to dig deep and donate to the Queensland flood appeal.

When I first saw the images of the “tsunami” my first thoughts were, OMG, where is that? Only to read the headline “Toowoomba Flooding”.  Like many I was shocked and in a bit of a state of unbelief, that it was actually happening in our”back yard”.  My next thoughts were, we had just been declared drought free for the first time in ten years and now this!

Since then we have seen many images flash before our eyes, from the shear force of the flash flooded, to cars being swept away, to people being stranded on their cars, animals being stranded, homes, businesses and lively hoods being lost, to the shear devastation caused by the torrents.  As the water recedes the true reality of the loss, the damage done and the mammoth task of the cleaning up and the repairs that needs to be done, is unveiled.

Many stories of heroism, bravery, heartache, desperation and courage emerged; like 13 year old Jordan Rice, with a trembling voice, pleaded to his rescuer to save his brother first, only to be swept away along with his mother and perishing before being able to be rescued.  To the tug boat operator, Douglas Hislop, who, without being asked by authorities, when he saw the 300m piece of walkway floating down the Brisbane river attached his tugboat to it and guided it to safety, averting further destruction. To the helicopter pilot who helped save many lives plucking people out of raging torrents, while his home was being flooded and his family being evacuated.  To the devastating story of the mother –  Stacey Keep,  who held tight on to her baby Jessica, until the unrelenting force of the current weakened her arms and she lost her grip, just minutes before she was winched to safety. And the pilot, Mark Kempton, who unselfishly winched many to safety  when the waters around his home was rising and his family had to be evacuated.

I don’t believe any of us, that were not directly effected by the floods physically, were unaffected emotionally as we watched on TV or on the net, this disastrous event unfold before our eyes. Feelings of horror, disbelief, sorrow, urgency, hope, heartache, hopelessness and more flooded our hearts.

We can not  just be affected emotionally neither should we succumb to the thinking what can my little donation do to help? It’s all the little donations added together that makes the figure become great.

The cost of the QLD floods is estimated at $30 billion by IBISWorld

However we can never count the real cost, as cost is measured in so many ways, monetary, physical, phycological and emotional.  Image the dilemma of the family who has lost everything including the primary income earner and the other not having the skills to earn the same amount of income.

It is awesome to see the great Aussie spirit, not only with raising money $145 Million at last look, but those who have been helping out with the aftermath of this disaster. Flood Aid [site no longer available] is a great place to start if you are seeking, or able to offer, non-financial support.

And as I type this I realise that Victoria is looking at there worst flooding they’ve recorded in 200 years…

Design, Housekeeping, Sustainability

PDC 2010

Today was the first day of the Participatory Design Conference being held at UTS.  Just a reminder about the Industry Day that’s happening on Thursday, for which Zumio is a sponsor.  (I’ve been unable to attend the entire conference due to work commitments — if you attended, please drop us a comment with your thoughts!)

The programme for the day is looking great — I’m very excited to see Mariesa from Inspire is presenting the opening keynote.  In talks and conversations I’ve often singled out Inspire as a great example of involving young people in their processes across the organisation, so I’m really looking forward to hearing more about their work in the participatory design space.  And of course I always love to hear from the folks at Digital Eskimo and CollabForge, who I know are doing great work.

But I’m also very excited to hear from some new (for me) voices in this area — and there’s plenty of very interesting folks in the panel and research sessions in the afternoon.  In any case, I hope to see you there…


Micro-financing Rwanda’s Coffee Farmers

As part of Zumio’s quarterly giving program of donating 1% of net profit to organisations doing good within the community, we have chosen to support Project Rwanda Coffee Bikes.

Coffee Bikes was founded in 2005 by Tom Ritchey after he visited Rwanda in 2005. Being a bicycle enthusiast himself, he soon realised that the bicycle could be a important tool in rebuilding the country.

Rwanda has nearly 500,000 small farming coffee producers who have an average of 200 coffee trees each.  Each small plantation is managed like a small garden, and is owned by a family. These farms produce the highest quality coffee bean, as the soil is a rich volcanic grade and the farmer is able to give a high standard in cultivation.

As a farmer can not afford to buy a vehicle or an animal to transport their harvest, they are forced  to carry their load and walk  to a collection point, taking them up to 12 hours to do so.   Unfortunately the coffee bean begins to deteriorate from the time it is harvested until the time it is pulped, thus reducing the profit for the farmer if it takes too long to get to market.   By providing the farmers with these specially designed coffee bikes, it dramatically reduces the transport time to 2-4hrs, thus yielding the farmer a higher profit for their harvest and supplying a superior bean.

It is a micro-finance system and designed around the pay it forward concept, where you invest $300, the farmer pays it back over 2 years and once the debt is paid the money is recycled, allowing another farmer the opportunity to finance a bike, with the cycle continuing.

The coffee bike (aka cargo bike) opportunity is not only for coffee farmers but is also extended to farmers who harvest other crops and other goods, such as potatoes, cassava, milk etc.  50 donated cargo bikes were also used to distribute mosquito nets and malaria treatment to help prevent deaths, their goal is to Eliminate Malaria Deaths by 2015.

Cargo Bikes are  helping farmers to rise above poverty, giving Rwanda the potential of creating a prosperous rural economy.