Pete sat down for another edition of ‘On the Couch’ and this time with the team from Neurodiversity Media, to find out where the idea for their startup came from and how the accelerator experience has been so far.
Check out the full Q&A responses from Rachel and Issy…
Rachel, can you tell us a little bit about Neurodiversity Media and why you started NeurodiversitY?
Rachel: I started Neurodiversity Media actually around this time last year so it’s sort of our first anniversary. I went to Symposium in Brisbane about neurodiverse employment and found a lot of interesting people talk about neurodiversity but to me it didn’t feel like there was a way for them to get their message out there more effectively. So I started the business providing content marketing services to organisations involved in that space to get their message out there and along the way, because of my medical journalism background I was reading research papers about ADHD, autism, dyslexia and realised no one’s writing about how these conditions affect people in the workplace and there were solutions but they weren’t being communicated. So I ended up starting to work with cadet journalists to get that research out there, it picked up a lot of steam and and basically that’s how we ended up in Remarkable.
Employment rates for neurodiverse people are generally shockingly low, how would you like to see Neurodiversity Media reframe that problem?
Rachel: I think for us we looked at the issue from the first principles of what is actually stopping people from getting employed? And it’s not necessarily lack of jobs, in fact a lot of people tell us it’s prejudice or stigmas and these types of issues are usually tackled through education and the best way to educate people is through storytelling. Because I come from a journalism marketing background and Issy comes from a marketing and graphic design background we know storytelling comes in all sorts of forms and we thought the best way to help raise the employment rate is to simply educate people through different formats such as text, video, visual audio etc. We also found research papers and other sort of areas as well to educate people about the power of neurodivergent people and their potential in the workplace because it really comes down to once you’re aware, any preconceptions you may have had just disappear and then people can thrive at work.
So you applied for Remarkable and you got in how did you hope that Remarkable would help you?
Rachel: I really wanted to find a program that was going to provide support and had a focus on founder well-being but also very connected to the disability technology space and Remarkable had backed quite a few companies in that autism space like Xceptional, Autism Swim and we thought this accelerator should be a great fit for us.
How have you found the Remarkable program so far and do you have any highlights?
Issy: I found that kickstart was a really positive experience for me it was my first real live scribing experience and also just the people that we were able to talk to, Beau Vernon in particular his talk was really amazing. Also the Stakeholder an Investor night and getting to present our video pitch was another highlight.
Issy can you tell us about visual scribes and why they’re important?
Issy: Visual scribing is essentially a way of simplifying complex concepts into a visual style that better increases engagement and retention. Most of the time it’s in a live setting and someone will be giving a talk and I will be mind mapping that out replacing a lot of the complex concepts with visuals that better connect with the core of what people are saying and offers a different way to perceive information, which is really at the core of what we’re doing at Neurodiversity Media, which is providing accessible evidence-based resources that everybody can access and not just geared towards one way of processing information.
Is there anything from the remainder of the program that you’re looking forward to?
Issy: There’s a lot! I think it’s a combination of anxiety and excitement that approaches Demo Day, it’s going to be an amazing experience but just the amount of work to be put into it makes us anxious.
Rachel: We’re looking forward to the storytelling components coming up in the program. It’s always easy to learn from different people about how you tell stories differently and just because it seems like we’re the Masters of it doesn’t mean we don’t have the capacity to learn more about different formats and what people expect and especially how to structure pitches in the lead up to Demo Night.
How have you found working remotely and trying to build a startup during isolation?
Rachel: My biggest tip is being aware that some people actually like working from home and they do like this remote work environment. I also think it’s understanding that there’s got to be balance, after maybe two or three months I must admit I was starting to miss an in-person discussion. My tip is definitely being aware of people’s preferences and catering to them but also agree on a joint goal of when you want to catch up so even before the pandemic struck the team agreed that we had to meet at least once a week in person. I also think with remote work definitely it’s important to have some structure which actually benefits autistic people as we really like structure so for me personally with Autism and ADHD I have liked the fact that more people are more structured communication while working from home.
Issy: You basically said everything I was gonna say except for I’ve started in the last couple months going for a short walk in the middle of the day if I can which has been really helpful and I’ve gotten to know a lot of the cats around my neighbourhood.
Where do you hope to be in five years time?
Rachel: In five years time I hope that it will definitely be truly global as in there will be people employed in different countries and getting the word, information resources in all sorts of formats from international research papers, all across the world because that’s the challenge is that there’s so much information and knowledge that needs to be communicated globally.
Issy: Two things, I really hope in five years all of the things that we thought we were going to do at the beginning of the program because we came in with about a million ideas of what we wanted the platform to be we wanted a forum, we wanted events, we wanted jump board, directory and I just hope that in five years time we’re able to implement all that stuff and do it really effectively so we can become a holistic kind of approach to neurodiversity at work. My only other thing would be I hope we can continue adding to our great team of neurodiverse employees and we talk so much about neurodiversity at work it feels really good to also be hiring neurodiverse people and helping them succeed and including myself of course I’m glad that Rachel hired me and has helped me to succeed and thrive at work, so as long as we keep practicing what we preach in five years time I will be very happy with that.