A Brief History Towards isgood

11 Sep 2020
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Our history

The first years (MAX what date did you start?)

– I was doing fundraising campaigns for a huge foundation and discovered they had no idea if they were delivering the change and impact for the end beneficiaries or community, family, etc they had raised the funds for  (endemic in all social/humanitarian efforts / orgs)
– I actively sought to validate how far this issue went. Was it just that type of organisations? Just Melbourne, or  more widespread … how could that be possible?  
– The first 1-4 years were about research and development around the problem, with people, conferences and networks all across the for-purpose and humanitarian sector (and is still ongoing).
– In years 2-4 I looked for solutions (systems, tech, other) that would be able to help. I tested commercial data and analytics solutions I used for commercial clients (I ran a web, digital, marketing agency with small-mid sized organisations and companies so I had access to all the best tech). But I couldn’t get any solutions (everything was wired the wrong way or just not suitable). I was working with lots of people in social/impact/purpose space, as well as innovation & startup.

From 2016 the solution becomes a possibility

– By the end of 2016 I hadn’t found any solutions, but I had validated the main areas needing to get solved and tech (big-data, apis, ai) was getting to a stage that an affordable and workable (conceptually at least) solution was a possibility. I knew the basics of what it needed to do, that tech was on the cusp of being able to do it … and if no-one else was going to solve the problem then stuff it, I’ll just build the thing.
– I was very active in marcomms, tech, startup, social innovation scene (for a few years).

3 proof of concepts were built in 2017-2018

– From 2017-2018 I had multiple student and uni teams of researchers and interns each semester (2 to 3 teams per year) working on different tech approaches that could fit into the required system design and requirements. I registered the domain impactful.ai as the name for what we were working on.
-During this time we developed 3 proof of concept solution builds. They had both commercial development teams and the students working on them and each one was tested with a number of organisations to see how that approach and proof of concept would meet their requirements, as well as the tech requirements.
-During this time we also did a lot of deep stakeholder and requirements mapping, as well as speaking to lots of progressive “purpose” leaders from around the world beyond current state and towards future requirements and what would actually completely and fundamentally change our ability to solve wicked global problems.
— During this time also attended the thirdsector.live conference by free invitation (I was very active in social impact and social innovation scene). We heard what the progressive leaders from overseas were talking about, what needs to happen for the future we want, as well as results from new and different ways of service delivery and operations. It was basically ticking every single box that had been identified and helped consolidate and tweak some of the approaches and theories around how we could do things to ensure results would be as intended. Plus I got to meet, socialise and network with even more great purpose people.

In 2018 – 2019 we formalised our structure & brought in new tech

 – In the second half 2018 (with Kern), we formulated how we could also have a next generation way of working. We developed/formalised the coop (holacracy) way driven by purpose, in the leadup to the formation of a formal team to grow the startup in a proper way in 2019. We had finally worked out how to rewire cutting edge tech to actually solve the problem. (I’m multi-generational tech innovation family, so it’s literally in my blood.)
– The name was changed from impactful.ai to isgood.ai. I started stepping down from my startup/innovation board/committee and other roles, and I divested my commercial clients.
– In mid 2018-early 2019 we had a number of standards/subject matter experts working on collation and mapping of indicators and outcomes against others, as well as ensuring rigour and correctness in the system design and usage around these.
– In late 2018 into early 2019 we started on the V4 (current build) of tech. We gathered together people who I thought would be good members of the team. I started offloading commercial clients (I was starting to close down my other tech biz) to concentrate more on isgood.  We had active dev (I was still paying external devs, with small contributions by others).

In early 2019 a blocker was discovered

– Around March/April we discovered a blocker in the design of the data relations part of the platform (now called isgood_mapper) which is integral to the system design (normal database design/relations can’t do it). So tech dev pretty much paused as we tried to work out the tech resolution to this backend data issue.
– In March 2019 I registered a new pty ltd, for a complete break-off from my commercial tech biz 
– In April 2019 we had a team retreat and formally accepted the first (founding) members to the isgood.ai “coop”
– In mid-2019 I continued my research, dev and relationship building, while trying to find a solution to the data tech conundrum. I was still working on the right people for the team. We had a few non-tech team members in and out and did some interviews with people in the purpose industry and other stuff.
– In August 2019 we had conceptually solved the data tech conundrum and reformed DS and tech team contributors and formalised a lot of base requirements on the v4 build.

In late 2019 productisation and pilot conversations begin

– Around October 2019 I Mark became the CTO in a paid position, to work full-time on the dev build and also coach/guide to other tech contributors. Gareth was working with me as lead DS person on how we could reverse engineer normal DS to meet our requirements. Scott did a lot of the foundation script based on concepts we’d worked out, while we kept on contributors and others working on dev and research.  Around the same time I got rid of my last commercial client (so I was 100% on isgood).
-In late 2019 we started productisation and deployment of all development and DS work onto cloud platform in the right ways to have everything work properly.   At the same time we started lining up pilots to help test and fund faster progress on platform and app dev.
– The Duke of Edinburgh paid the first invoice issued for workshop with Caro (former member) just before Xmas 2019.

In early 2020 bushfires followed by COVID19 derail our plans

– In early 2020 (for Feb) pilots paused due to bushfires, plus some delays on dev due to having to refactor heaps of DS code and discovery some stuff was crap and had to be redone.  Continued on all dev.  Other pilot paused due to external theory of change funding
– March-May 2020 … pilot conversations paused and we refactor how we do things due to covid.  We continue dev and restructured half the DS and tech contributors – we moved some into the analyst team to work on research around mental health stuff, which will feed into platform and help with pilots we are running. We planned to train up some to apply to join back into the platform dev team.
– March 2020 set up (Crisis) Impact Team for rapid response and fast work activities to concentrate on immediate opportunities and challenges under covid (and post bushfires).
– Hopes that a number of pilots and income to help the acceleration towards launch in mid-2020 has been delayed and will now be in late 2020. But we have numerous great conversations happening already that will help get pilots and funds into isgood, to accelerate us forward.

Late 2020

– A new group of contributors join the isgood family and overnight the organisation more than doubles. This helps accelerate us towards launch.

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