A social enterprise start up story

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A few weeks ago I went to dinner with a bunch of hustlers and future thinkers, one of them was Racheal Herlihy, she told me about her social enterprise that she runs and I was pretty amazed – we’ve had quite a few Q & A’s lately so I thought I’d take the interview questions I asked Rachael and leave you with just her voice. 

So here is her start up story

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[Squawk Squad began when] I went along to Auckland Startup weekend last November. The theme was social enterprise and among many of the pitches was one by Fraser McConnell (my now co-founder) who pitched this idea of sensor-connected traps to help make NZ pest free. I’ve always been more driven by businesses making a positive impact rather than profit so I was drawn to Fraser’s pitch. Over the weekend the idea morphed and grew into what we now know as Squawk Squad.

[Squawk Squad is a social enterprise which fearlessly defends our native birds and motivates everyone to do the same] I was attracted to helping protect our birds as it’s our nature and wildlife that makes New Zealand so unique. I mean we are even referred to as Kiwis! Who would we be without them? We set a goal of $20K with the hopes of raising more. We were over the moon though when we hit this target in 10 days of our campaign! The point of Kickstarter for us was to test the waters in a sense and if it was well received, which it was.

Many of our birds are at high risk of extinction, even our most iconic (and possibly most supported) bird the Kiwi has been seeing a 2% decline per year! The Kakapo has a population of only around 150 while possums in New Zealand are estimated to be at 30 million! Not to mention how many rats and other predators there are. Of course upon doing this research and learning these things my passion for not only protecting our native birds but helping to see them flourish for future generations has grown exponentially! We aim to engage with 100,000 people in the next three years.

When we spoke to people about giving money to charities and other causes an interesting thing we discovered was that a lot of people were skeptical. They wanted to know where their money actually went and in a lot of cases, there is no way to tell. We wanted to be as transparent as possible. We want people to know where their money has gone and they will be able to see this eventually right down to the geolocation of their trap within the sanctuary and will be reminded of the impact they are making every time that notification pops up [through the Squawk Squad app].

I have always been passionate about doing work that makes a positive impact. To be quite frank, I think I was like a lot of New Zealander’s and was mostly unaware of the problem our native birds are facing. Each year 25 million native birds are killed by predators such as rats, possums, and stoats.

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We have a tonne of other ideas for keeping it interesting for users on the app side and we will be looking to roll those features out over time. We also are excited to be collecting all this real-time data that we can share with sanctuaries, researchers, and pest experts in the hopes of discovering new insights and more effective approaches to trapping and the protection of our birds.

With the ambitious goal of New Zealand being predator free by 2050 I think it’s awesome that Squawk Squad gives anyone the opportunity to help achieve this goal by breaking down the cost and they can do their bit from the comfort of their home with a device.

Find Squawk Squad by clicking the pink links. 

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