More Than A One Night Stand
Monday, 27th March 2017 at 8:49 am
Jamie Green is the founder of social enterprise One Night Stand Sleepwear which supports young people sleeping rough. He is this week’s Changemaker.
One Night Stand was born out of Green’s personal experience.
After the failure of his business left him couch surfing and sleeping on the floor of his cafe for 12 months, Green got back on his feet and made it his mission to help others.
To mark the launch of the sleepwear label Green stood upright inside a perspex box for 24 hours on a Melbourne laneway, managing to secure $27,000 in pre-orders in the process and capturing the attention of Sir Richard Branson.
Since then the brand has continued to grow and formed a partnership with General Pants Co.
It adopts a one-for-one model, with a meal provided for every sale through Australian giving partner, OzHarvest.
In addition 50 per cent of the profits go towards funding projects that provide shelter and employment opportunities for homeless youth.
Green is also a partner of a portfolio of enterprises called Marching Elephants and was behind the recent launch of Carl, an Uber style app for disability modified vehicles.
In this week’s Changemaker Green talks about escaping city life, the importance of a meal and setting up his virtual board.
Why did you choose to start One Night Stand?
I guess it was through a personal experience that I had with a business back in 2012 that actually went south and I ended up losing everything through that process of the business not performing as well as I had hoped, and left me in a pretty hard position. I was sort of couch surfing and sleeping on the cafe floor at that time and that went for about 12 months, and then I was lucky enough to get myself back on my feet. And on reflection of what had just happened, I got really interested in the issue of youth homelessness and I just thought, I wonder how other people get there and I wonder how other people get out. That was really the springboard for the idea.
Why did you choose to focus on giving homeless people a meal?
It took a while to get to this. But I was actually volunteering for a couple of local organisations down in Melbourne that went out on the street and we would volunteer our time and give out meals and just have conversations with people that were sleeping rough and try and figure out their story. Over that journey of doing that, I noticed that they would come for the food, which was really important, but after that meal and after that food then you could actually engage in a really good conversation with them to try and find out more of their story and how they got there and how you could actually point them to other services that could get them back on their feet.
So I found meals as the very basic what you need to survive the day to day, that also allows you to give you that springboard, to have the conversations, because it is really tough when you’re in that place to actually open up and say: “Hey, I’m down and out, and this is why, and this is what I need.” So I found it was sort of a talking point over a meal.
Why did you choose the name One Night Stand?
I was always a big Virgin fan and I thought if they got away with that in the 70s, maybe we could do something similar now.
I guess giving the name some context as well is, when you’re in that situation, you’re actually moving around, almost every night. So you’re sort of sleeping at your mates house, you’re on a park bench, you’re in a hostel, you’re kind of actually moving around every single night so I actually really wanted to try and break, I guess the common thread around what that phrase means and kind of start to give it some more meaning. Along with appealing to our market, which was the millennial generation.
What does a typical day for you look like as founder of One Night Stand?
I guess I’ve found myself in the position where my skillset is almost a founder skillset and I’ve identified that within myself. Playing CEO role or managing day to day isn’t really where I sit well. So I guess I try and find the best people I can work with, and get them in those positions so the companies can then move forward. So my day to day is sort of coming up with pretty new ideas and getting them to market, and identifying those people that might be great at taking those ideas forward. So that’s pretty much what I do on a day-to-day basis. And promote what we’re doing as well.
What are you working on right now?
We’ve actually just taken to market a platform called Carl, which is almost like an Uber for disability modified vehicles. So essentially we came across this issue where we found that modified vehicles were sitting idle 40 per cent of the time and then there were a lot of people living with disability who needed access to these vehicles. So what we did was build a technology platform where anybody who owns a vehicle can upload that vehicle onto the platform and lease it out, or rent it out, to anybody else that might need that in that area. So it is only new to market and sort of getting some traction now but it is quite an exciting time for that platform and business.
The reason it is Carl, is Karl Benz actually invented the car, so it is sort of paying homage to this guy that invented something that changed the world. We hope that this platform can also change the world.
You are also a partner in Marching Elephants, a social enterprise incubator. How does that work?
Marching Elephants is a portfolio of enterprises that have social or environmental missions at the core, they can be any form, it might be not for profit, it might be for profit, it might be social enterprise, a mix between the two. At the moment we’ve only got projects live that were, I guess, our own ideas, or they’re internal ideas with partners, but in the future, after we get some traction in the market, we’ll probably open the doors to other entrepreneurs to bring their ideas in. Because we’ve got a really good skillset around technology, branding, marketing, financial and business knowledge to kind of put on the table, actually help businesses go from ideas stage all the way through to getting to market and then hopefully growing and turning into nicely fully-fledged elephants.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I think one of the best things is, I just had a really nice phone call with Jordan O’Reilly from Hireup, I love that talking to people who are doing amazing stuff in the industry and having that spark conversation. And collaborating with different people in the industry, probably gets me the most excited. Where you draw inspiration from other people’s knowledge, then people that have done some really cool things. Yeah, that’s really exciting.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your role?
Starting up enterprises can always be a challenge, I guess it can take you on a different journey, a journey that you didn’t set out to take on when you thought you were putting your business plan together. You’re like: “Yep, then we’ll do this, then this and this,” and then that path is not working so then you’ve got to be open to the idea of experimenting with a bunch of different stuff and then it’s ok if that one path didn’t work, it is being able to be I guess lean enough to kind of click over and go ok, that’s not working let’s move over to this pathway and try that one and experiment with different sorts of pathways to get your business to market. So it’s actually that letting go of that pathway that is not working, we need a new one.
With all of your projects, what is your ultimate goal?
To be honest, I would love to be working on things that have greater meaning and greater impact than just building revenue and bringing other people on board that can achieve their purpose and their dreams and their goals as well and sharing that with other people.
I think a lot of people get forced down to doing a role or a job just because there’s money involved but if you can find something you’re passionate about and be working on that day to day I think that’s a really great experience to be able to share with other people.
How do you find time for yourself?
Actually, I’ve got a lot of good time for myself recently! We moved to Byron Bay two years ago, my girlfriend forced us up here, to move back closer to our family and it wasn’t until I let go of the city life and came back to I guess a smaller country town by the coast, I grew up in Port Macquarie, so a small place, that I rediscovered surfing and all those other things that are really purposeful and really important as well to actually have. You can’t be thinking about work 24/7 or you’re probably not producing the best quality work that you can.
So I have found this ultimate balance at the moment between making sure I give myself enough time for me and my family and my friends and then being able to give 110 per cent when I’m at work and focused and trying to achieve something. So I think it is really important to find that balance. I know the city folk find it hard. And I sure did. But it is possible.
I got an invite to a meeting down to Melbourne the other day at 8pm at night, I was like 8pm at night, are you crazy? What’s happening?
What are you reading or watching at the moment?
This is a good question. I actually recently, I was finding it really hard to find a mentor in the area that sort of satisfied my need so what I actually did was develop, I call it my virtual board. I’m testing out this theory at the moment where I’m listening to three entrepreneurs or people that I find interesting and seeing if any of my habits change.
So I’m listening to Tim Ferriss at the moment, his podcast. So Tim Ferriss interviews I think it is 150 podcasts with the world’s top performers at whatever they’re doing, so it could be pet training all the way through to acting or anything in between, so I feel like he’s got 150 expert’s knowledge in his data base.
I listen to The True News by Russell Brand every morning. I find bringing humour into your life and also a different perspective is really interesting and making sure that you’re not just following the mainstream, so testing out that theory.
And then there’s a guy called Seth Godin, who’s a marketing guy from the States who’s sort of developed a whole bunch or range of alternative marketing styles as well that I’m listening to at the moment as well. I mainly listen to podcasts or YouTube because my reading skills are not as good as my listening skills!
Do you have a favourite saying?
Above all, try something. Give it a go.