Making an Impact with Zoë Condliffe

Zoë Condliffe is CEO & Founder of She’s A Crowd, as well as a PhD Candidate at Monash University’s XYX Lab, researching the digital democratisation of the female narrative.

She is one of Women Weekly’s Women of the Future (2018) and her company is listed as number seven on Smart Company’s Smart 30 list. Zoë was named one of the Top 100 most influential, creative and provocative people in Melbourne by The Age in 2011 for her work co-founding an NGO in Cambodia, and she then went on to gain a Masters in community cultural development and work in international development.

Zoé has taken a lead role in developing the digital mapping tool for street harassment – Free To Be – and creating Plan International’s National Youth Activist Series.

She is a Young Social Pioneer with the Foundation for Young Australians, a fellow of the Oaktree Leader’s Trust, and a participant in She Starts, the leading accelerator for female founders of global tech companies.

Read more: Making an impact – Foundation for Young Australians

 

What program are you currently working on?

80% of sexual assault goes unreported, but decision makers still use crime statistics to understand the problem. We know that if we can’t understand the problem then we can’t even begin to look at how we fix and prevent it.

Imagine if women could report their stories of harassment, assault and violence in a way that did not re-traumatise them but instead connected them to each other, and those stories could be used for data to really help decision makers understand the problem?

My dream is that every woman, anywhere in the world, could access a platform to share her story in a safe way, and those stories will be heard by people who have the power to change the story.

I’ve been lucky enough to be selected out of 500 women to be one of six female founders of global tech companies to complete the She Starts Accelerator – the leading accelerator for women. I’ve been able to  develop my new program, She’s a Crowd, with the support of this program.

My aim in launching it is to fill a data gap that currently exists, by creating a storytelling platform for women. She’s a Crowd will then use those stories to create data, allowing policy and decision makers, influencers, and those with positions of power to better understand and interpret real-life stories and trends surrounding gender-based violence.

 

What is the background of She’s A Crowd?

I quit my full-time job in March to start my company, She’s A Crowd, a tech company building a global dataset of women’s stories about sexual assault and gender-based violence. We have a storytelling platform that allows women to share their stories in a safe and meaningful way. We’re connecting the dots when it comes to data about violence against women.

I am in a unique position, and I want to use that to make an impact.

I have worked for the last three years in youth and gender advocacy, making partnerships with decision makers like law enforcement, government, universities and engineers to help them understand how gendered violence plays out and address it in a proactive and preventative way.

I digitised global safer cities programs for girls into a digital mapping app for street harassment, that was rolled out across five continents.

I have my Masters in female collective storytelling. I really understand how and why women share their stories. I’m passionate about women’s stories, and I know women can get a lot from telling their stories (we saw this with the #metoo movement).

On a personal level, I have experienced sexual assault and an abusive relationship – when I tell my story I feel powerful and connected, and I know when I speak about it other women feel permission to do the same.

My biggest challenge is definitely balancing out the social impact with building a company that ultimately can support itself financially.

Coming from a non-profit background, it’s like learning a new language, and I’ve been living out of a van to save money while I start the company – that’s been really tough.

It’s hard to have a double-bottom line, but I know that if I can build a company that is financially sustainable and can grow that this will allow me to make a bigger social impact. But this presents lots of challenges in the early stages because it’s so important to build a product that has the best interests of the community and women in mind. But this means that we don’t have as many avenues for seed investment or income from an early stage unlike other more profit-oriented startups.

Read more: 10 Things All Startups and Small Companies Should Do

 

Why do you like working out of Hub Australia?

I love it because there are always heaps of places to go to change it up. I’m not one for routine, so having lots of different nice spaces to work from is important – I will often sit in different areas. I also find the lighting and ambience to be really helpful for productivity – it’s the small things. Also the lattes!

 

What makes Hub Australia a good partner for She’s A Crowd?

Hub is an ethical company and a B Corp so I feel like there is great alignment. Hub has sponsored She’s A Crowd with office space this year as part of their Pledge 1% program, which is a huge deal for a small company like mine.

I’m just getting started with my company, so it made sense to partner with Hub – it has allowed me to access a space that has kept me feeling like I’m a big part of the community of Melbourne people doing interesting and innovative things.

Interview by Jan Stewart

Jan has been with Hub since the start and is National Impact Lead and EA to Brad Krauskopf. Jan is also co-founder of Tiny Non-profit, an advocacy group for tiny homes in Australia.