The fact is, this is an exciting time, as now, more than ever, so many innovative businesses are using technology for the greater good.
We believe that by harnessing our creativity we can help. We call this Design For Good. Each year we work with those working towards positive change, and dedicate a percentage of our income to pro-bono community-focused branding projects. This is in line with our brand pillar of goodness.
Put simply we work with good humans, doing good things with ideas and projects that are close to our hearts.
One such human is Marty Dill. Entrepreneur. CEO. Environmentalist and turtle enthusiast. We have had the pleasure of working with Marty on his main focus, the digital agency Luminary. He then came to us in need of a brand for his other brainchild, Redux, an app which helps to clear waterways and save marine life.
When it came time to present his brand, unbeknownst to Marty he came along wearing a turtle t-shirt in the brand colours we were about to present. Coincidence or fate?
Hi Marty! Can you tell us a bit about Redux? Every start-up has an elevator pitch – what’s yours?
Redux allows you to positively impact the environment by hiring someone in a developing country to clean up a designated street. The rubbish is weighed and disposed of thoughtfully. You create employment and can share both the weight of the rubbish you saved from going into the ocean and a video of the before and after that you can share with your friends.
We know that a garbage truck of rubbish enters the ocean every single minute killing turtles and other marine life. Our mission is to reduce this amount and restore nature to its original state.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey so far? What inspired the idea?
For the past dozen years or so I have played a game of picking up at least five pieces of rubbish on the way to and from work, every day. This was designed to improve the state of the street, reduce the number of glass bottles in particular that may impact bike tyres, and ultimately reduce the amount of rubbish that enters the ocean. The oceans were filling with rubbish and I wanted to do my part.
Nearly four years ago I opened an office in Bali for another business and on the walk to work the sheer volume of rubbish there was so big that only picking up five pieces was completely insufficient considering the amount I was confronted with. There was rubbish everywhere.
It had become so normal in this landscape that it was clear to me that people could not even see it anymore. I started picking it up and realized that it was a lost cause and that I could not pick it all up by myself.
I could not stop thinking about it. What if I could pay someone to clean up the whole street? It would be a short-term fix and would provide some employment, but would likely be the same in a week. What if found funding to hire many people to clean it up? There were problems with the sustainability of this model.
Then it struck me – what if we could apply the gig economy model that companies like Uber or Air Tasker use, to clean up rubbish in developing countries. It would allow for scale, it would provide employment, and it would save the oceans.
A new idea of using the on-demand marketplace model was developed. We needed a brand that represented the essence of what our intention was: the ability to clean up streets, rivers and oceans. To save turtles and all marine life and ultimately restore nature by removing all the plastic rubbish. Redux is Latin for ‘restore to original’ and so was a perfect fit for the Foundation.
What advice would you give to other people wanting to create change through digital right now?
The challenge with any idea is finding the people who believe what you believe. Brands are essentially ideas that have a following. A brand allows you to stick a label on it saying that this is who we are and what we stand for.
People are other aligned to it or they are not. If they aren’t, keep moving until you find someone who is. Spend less time on convincing and more time on inspiring. A brand to fulfil on its purpose can take years or decades. However, for a brand to create change it can happen on a very small scale. In the case of Redux, we create change every day with every kilo of rubbish that is collected. While it has not gone to plan, we are creating change because we are getting out there and doing it.
We see now more than ever tech start-ups with a strong social conscience. How do you see that being a part of a way we do business in the future?
There is a consistent view that without a social conscience, tech start-ups cannot survive. I think that there are likely to be many tech start-ups that survive who do not have a strong social enterprise focus.
For example, if a tech start-up provided a way to alert the closest driver to a car space and reserved it for them, reducing the amount of time they spent looking and ultimately reducing the number of cars doing laps in the CBD, would that be a good thing? Absolutely, it provides a service and reduces time. It also happens to be better for the environment. This may be a by-product, but it would be a benefit that you would absolutely sell to a council when seeking their assistance to roll it out.
So, you do not need to have a social conscience to survive, though it is likely that having a great focus on the impact on society is likely to gain an audience and also solve a social problem.
Further, people want to do business with companies who value what they value. Product innovation that has a social conscience is going to attract people who value the impact on society or the environment. Another example is Tesla which is having a major impact on the electric car market. However, right now, it is still only a very small percentage of cars that are sold due to the level of investment to buy one. They have a strong audience and as prices come down they will be able to grow it. But will they grow it because they have a social conscience? Probably not. But if they can reduce their price and focus on the feel-good factor of becoming an environmentalist as a car owner, they may succeed in changing our reliance on fossil fuels and dramatically reduce our impact on the environment.
And the future of Redux? What’s next for you and this brand?
Redux was shortlisted for the 2020 SXSW Startup Pitch Competition which did not proceed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While it was a major setback, we now see that the timing of the launch of Redux may be better aligned to when we come out of this pandemic.
It is not the right time to launch this brand at the moment. There are too many people struggling with their own finances and concerns about the future.
The additional time has allowed us to see what Redux is actually providing. On the surface, it may seem that Redux just provides people with the ability to pay someone in a developing country to clean up a section of a street or river. We now look it a bit closer and see that Redux is actually providing people with the ability to be an environmentalist in a tangible and measurable way. And this applies to both the person paying for the rubbish to be cleaned up and the person cleaning it.
During this process, after many drafts writing about Redux, I have finally arrived at its purpose: to create and empower environmentalists. This is not what I thought it was originally, and that fact that it has evolved is a positive point from not presenting at SXSW and delaying the launch. This purpose frames the brand’s content and images in a different context.
Redux will soon seek a major backer to fully develop the app and seek to launch it later in the year. For now, our staff continue to test the process. In April we passed a milestone of five tonnes of rubbish collected. We can’t wait for lockdown restrictions to ease so we can celebrate.
Find out more about Redux.