Driving social impact at Remarkable

Remarkable is on a mission to harness the power of technological innovation for driving inclusion of people with disability. We’re passionate about this purpose and work together as a team, with our mentors, startups, supporters and partners, to achieve this goal. A clear mission and hard work should ensure we create the social impact we want, right? Almost!

To really drive social impact, purposeful organisations like Remarkable need to build the capacity to understand their impact and how they create it, and to start measuring their social outcomes. Armed with that knowledge, organisations can improve what they do, focus resources, communicate results with stakeholders, and attract resources. So that’s what we did and now we are embedding impact capability into our Accelerator Program so our startups can do it too.

Understanding Social Impact

Social impact is defined as: “the net effect of an activity on a community and the well-being of individuals and their families” (Source: Centre for Social Impact). This includes immediate short-term outcomes as well as broader and longer–term effects. These can be positive or negative, planned or unforeseen. Any purpose-led organisation has social or environmental impact as its main reason for being.

In 2017 we conducted our first Social Impact Review that brought together our first 18 months into a robust theory of change and outcome measurement approach.

Our social impact in a nutshell

Remarkable aims to improve the lives of people with a disability and their families by catalysing a market for inclusive tech products. Technology has the power to improve the lives of people with disability in ways such as; independence, living environment, physical health, financial health and social and emotional wellbeing. Remarkable drives more inclusive tech products to market through the Accelerator Program, Enabled by Design-athon, and network of influencers. This ecosystem engages people with a disability as entrepreneurs, employees and consumers. Articulating the mission-aligned impact you want to have and how you are going to achieve it is the first and most important question to address when designing any project, program or business.

Measuring Outcomes

Measuring your overall social impact is extremely difficult to do, but measuring the outcomes that lead to your desired impact is achievable and essential. For example, it would be impossible for Remarkable to measure the growth in the global market for inclusive tech solutions that we have influenced. But we can measure the number of successful inclusive startups that have graduated from the Accelerator.

Measuring our outcomes is important to:

  • maintain a continuous feedback loop for improvement of program outcomes
  • demonstrate impact to program partners, sponsors and beneficiaries
  • inform the development of a proven, effective model for increasing economic inclusion for marginalised
    groups through fostering technological innovation and entrepreneurship
  • inspire other organisations to adopt outcomes measurement.

We evaluate the outcomes of our activities through collecting the following data:

  • Event data and attendee interviews
  • Participant surveys and qualitative interviews
  • Startups’ own outcomes measurement
  • Stakeholder interviews (mentors, partners)
  • Most significant change stories.

Impact embedded in the Accelerator

This year we are including social impact measurement as part of the knowledge building and coaching for the startups in our Accelerator Program. The founders have come to Remarkable with a clear mission so the impact thinking resonates instantly.

“We are driven by purpose so it is great to have our outcomes clear. We even ask ourselves if a new product feature is going to help our impact and if not we don’t pursue it. It really helps us to say focussed.” Thomas , co-founder Spacee

For the startups, deciding on how to start measuring outcomes requires some careful thought so that the most important information is gathered without creating an overly ambitious and onerous data plan. We think that there is no better time to evaluate what works than while you’re building your business model and it’s evolving.

Getting started

If you’re wondering where to start with measuring impact we recommend you start with truly understanding the problem you’re trying to solve. These questions are a good start:

  1. Who are the one or more groups of people that are your beneficiaries?
  2. What is the problem you are trying to solve for them?
  3. What do you want to change in their lives?
  4. What are the important parts of your product/service/business that will make this change possible?
  5. What evidence can you gather that will tell you if you’re achieving your desired outcomes?

Measuring impact is essential for any purpose-driven organisation. We continue to evolve how we measure our impact and use it to improve. If you have a social enterprise or you are thinking about one, CSI’s compass guide is a good place to start and you can check out the events and free resources offered by Social Impact Measurement Network Australia (SIMNA)

About Kathy Hoyt

Kathy Holt, Impact Coach and Lead Mentor for Remarkable
Kathy Holt, Impact Coach and Lead Mentor for Remarkable

Kathy Hoyt is an Impact Coach and Lead Mentor for Remarkable and our startups. Kathy has been working with Remarkable for over a year to help Remarkable and our startups to measure impact. When Kathy is not working with Remarkable, she is running Woronora Advisors where she advises non-profits and social businesses on innovation, scalable business models and impact. Kathy is also on the Board of the Social Impact Measurement Network (SIMNA).

Meet Xceptional Mike

Mike Tozer is the Founder & CEO of Xceptional, a tech services firm that recognises the unique strengths of people with autism. Over 150k people with autism in Australia are unemployed and this is not only costing the economy a lot of money, the bigger issue is that there is talent that is being overlooked, which could be costing businesses.

What inspired you to start Xceptional?

The Xceptional team
The Xceptional team

All our team each have experience with autism either through a family member, a close friend or they themselves have autism. This is the primary point of inspiration for us; we are all profoundly motivated to create a better world for those we know and love.

We have watched our siblings and friends struggle with employment for, in some cases, decades. For me, it’s my sister. She has amazing ability yet struggled her whole life with finding a job.

Our goal is to make employers aware of this talent pool that’s currently being overlooked and to inspire them to focus on the strengths of people with autism rather than perceived weaknesses.

What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing with building your startup and how do you think Remarkable can help you overcome this challenge?

Mike Tozer and Tim Walton, Employable Me
Mike Tozer and Tim Walton, Employable Me

Our biggest challenge at the moment is harnessing the incredible interest that we have had since the ABC TV series Employable Me featured our company. Following the program, our pool of candidates grew by 7 times, our website and social traffic went through the roof and we’ve had a huge increase in businesses contacting us to find out how they can employ people with autism. Remarkable has been helping us with this in a number of ways: giving us frameworks to focus on the the most fruitful conversations, helping us put in place systems to manage that growth and connecting us to mentors who can advise on the work we are doing.

What parts of the accelerator are you most looking forward to? Are there any parts of the program that you’re nervous about?

I’m really looking forward to demo day. We are excited to be profiling some of the companies we have worked with through the accelerator as well as demonstrate some of the new products we have been working on. What am I most nervous about? Any time there’s any media or public speaking. I take the opportunities as I know they will help us grow and impact more lives, but I’m still learning to channel my nerves!

Do you have any tips for startups who are trying to get on an accelerator program?

Get on TV! I’m saying that tongue in cheek, yet there is a principle here: if you can get the media interested in your idea or product then that’s going to help.

On a broader level, focusing on getting traction would be my top tip. Whether that is getting media interest or winning more customers or growth in other areas, that traction will help show the accelerator that you are doing all it takes to make progress.

What is your top tool, blog, book or podcast that you’d recommend others look at?

Zero to One, by Peter Thiel. I’m re-reading this book at the moment. I’m finding it an excellent companion to the Remarkable program. The book has an awesome combination of practical advice and profound thinking, both of which I appreciate. On one page Thiel compares 19th century physics with the maths of economics; and then the next page he gives a super helpful tip for startup job interviews. I also like this book because he advocates for hiring people with autism, as he thinks their unique perspective is so valuable for startups.