Join me for today’s episode where I will be catching up with Rhiana Spring, the founder and executive director of Spring ACT. Spring ACT is an organisation connecting human rights and technology to empower people to take action and eliminate global social injustices.
Their flagship product is called Sophia, the world's first chatbot empowering survivors of domestic violence to gather potential evidence and seek help wherever they are in the world.
I highly encourage you to listen back to the conversation from Episode 37 to be reminded of Spring ACT’s mission and listen to today's episode to hear how Rhiana’s journey has evolved over the past 18 months.
Check out the Social Innovation Tournament finalists that Rhiana mentioned in this episode.
If you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a review or connect with us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Hello and welcome to a new episode of Narratives of Purpose, a place for conversations with inspiring leaders that is all about amplifying social impact. I bring unique stories of changemakers - stories of people who are contributing to make a difference in society. By showcasing these individual journeys I would like to inspire you to take action. If you are tuning in for the first time, my name is Claire Murigande, I am your host on this podcast. In this fifth season, I am welcoming back previous guests to find out how their organisations have grown since they were first featured on Narratives of Purpose. In today's episode, I'm catching up with Rhiana Spring. Rhiana is based in Switzerland, she is the founder and executive director of Spring Act, an organisation connecting human rights and technology to empower people to take action and eliminate global social interest-isms. Their flagship project is called Sophia, it is the world's first chatbot empowering survivors of domestic violence. Please take a moment to rate and review our show. Wherever you listen to your podcasts. This will help other listeners find Narratives of Purpose and further amplify the stories of change we bring on our show. And now let's dive into another fascinating discussion with Rhiana.
So our mission is to connect human rights and technology and our vision is to empower people through innovative technologies to take action and help eliminate global social injustices. I truly believe we have all the resources in the world - financial and information - to help every single person, we just need to connect them. So yeah, like I said, Sophia is the world's first chatbot for survivors of domestic violence, helping them gather potential evidence, assess their rights, and learn about their options. And what Sophia does is She's a chatbot, which is a robot that is designed to have a conversation with a human. She is pre-programmed and the answers are pre programmed so that you can't misunderstand anyone in this very delicate situation. Honestly, like funding is the biggest issue we have, because we're so passionate about getting this technology out there that it's very hard. But honestly, that was the biggest challenge because I was so focused on providing the solution that I'm like, "Oh, yeah, funding will come, they'll see our amazing prototype, and then they'll fund us' '. And then we thought we would get this funding and we didn't and that was kind of... that was a little collapse and and then we got back up and started fighting. But I'd also say dealing with the 'passion paradox' is kind of... you're so passionate, that you just want to work nonstop. But you need to find some kind of balance. I think we're definitely going towards digitalization of human rights. The potential of technology in this field is limitless. It's great for us that we're considered very innovative, it's great for us. But I'm surprised, we're in 2022. It shouldn't be innovative to use a chatbot to fight injustices. It shouldn't be.
That was a short clip of my first interview with Rhiana over a year ago. She was featured in Episode 37, which was published in July 2022. I encourage you to listen again to that conversation to hear about Rhiana's amazing journey, and what led her to create a Spring Act. Like every guest I talk to on the podcast, I have been following Rhiana and her team's work since we first spoke. I caught up with her a few weeks ago to learn more about how Spring Act has evolved in the past 18 months, but also to find out about her personal growth as a founder. Take a listen. So Rhiana, welcome back to Narratives of Purpose, it's great to have you again. And this time we're actually recording face to face here in Bern, and last time we spoke you were in Peru, and I was in Switzerland. So how are you doing today?
Hi, it's lovely to be back again, it's an honour to be back on your great podcast. And yeah, I'm doing great, and looking forward to talking to you.
So before we start Rhiana, can you please remind our listeners what Spring Act is?
Spring Act is an organisation with the vision to connect human rights and technology to empower people to take action and help eliminate global social injustices with our flagship product is Sophia, which is the chatbot that empowers survivors of domestic violence to gather potential evidence and seek help wherever they are in the world.
As a reminder, ACT. So it's act - A C T.
So some people say 'act', but it's act as an "acting", taking action and it stands for Action, Compassion and Technology, and the Spring part, which is my name, but it's the symbol of new beginnings. So that's why we chose that as the name - the symbol of new beginnings. And through that take action, with compassion, through technology to make changes in our world.
Oh, nice. Thanks for mentioning that because I always associated that with your name, basically, because Rhiana Spring and Spring Act.
Yeah, we decided on “Act”. So that was very quick, very clear. And ACT obviously, was taken and we didn't know "What should we add to that?" And the team was like, "Put Spring Act, that makes sense." And I was so against it, because at that time, I had a team. So if it was just me, I might have more easily chosen them. But it's weird to take my name if we're a team. Until my mother came to me and said "Rhiana, don't be silly. You don't own the season." I'm like, "Well, fair enough." That was the deciding moment.
Makes sense. So last time, we spoke, as I mentioned, you were in Peru, you were launching Sophia the Chatbot. That was a year and a half ago, and I'd like to know where Sophia is today. In how many countries? And how far have you come? I know you've won a number of prizes - I think I have made a note here, so when we spoke last time, you had won the Swiss Future Prize 2022. But I see here "MIT semifinalist 2022", "Global Impact Award 2022", "Innovation in Global Security Prize 2022", as well, "Social Innovation Prize 2023" by the European Investment Bank, and I believe this was the last one that you received just a couple of weeks ago in Stockholm?
Yeah, just a few weeks ago, yes.
That's a lot. And that speaks volume, obviously, to the product that you've developed, and how impactful it is. So one part of the question is, where is Sophia today, in how many countries? How many people are you able to reach? And then the second part of the question, give us a sense of what all these prizes mean? Is it prize money? Does it help you develop things further, just give us a sense of that.
Yeah, I can't believe that was one and a half years ago, and I was in Peru. We launched there, which became quite a big event. We went and wanted to launch and we got the Swiss Embassy in Peru as our partner. So we actually launched at the residence of the Swiss ambassador. And through that, of course, the guest list became quite prominent, and the Minister for Women and Vulnerable Populations in Peru came with two vice ministers and ambassadors came and it was such an incredible event, we translated Sophia into the indigenous language as well, which is always very important to us when we launch somewhere, we always partner with a local organisation who knows the customs and laws, and then always the translate into the most important languages, either national or the most important migrant languages as well. And I just remember holding the speech and kind of introducing Sophia and saying that we've also translated into Quechua, which is quite an endeavour, and the audience broke into a spontaneous applause because it's just so important to include that for everyone. So that was a really, really special moment for us as well, especially because I worked with foreign ministry in embassies around the world, so that was very special for me to come back on the stage there.
So I think the biggest thing after that happened last year was our partnership with different organisations that we animated Sophia to make it more accessible to people that can't read or have difficulties reading. So you can now chat with Sophia, not in all languages, but most of them at the moment, in video message, so you start chatting to Sophia, and she asks A) what language you want to speak in, and then secondly B) Do you want to receive your messages in video? So we collaborated with DID, which uses generative AI to animate and we partnered with Microsoft, and the UN Women to do that. And they wanted us to translate Sophia into different UN languages. So Sophia speaks English and the Swiss languages except for Rumantsch yet that's going to come to Quechua as well and Spanish at that time, but then they wanted... with this collaboration, also all the UN languages. So that was Russian, Chinese, Mandarin and Spanish, she already spoke English and French. But because this is what I love about being a founder, because I'm the founder and the executive director, I get to then also make decisions and I'm fed up with the UN not having African languages represented. And so I'm like "We'll do the UN languages, but also Swahili" and people are like "Why Swahili?" because I've been learning Swahili for the last 500 days. I know it's 500 days because it's on Duolingo. And people react so weirdly like "Why are you learning Swahili?" I'm like "Why wouldn't I be learning Swahili? It's spoken in 13 countries, or 14 even, by 200 million people." And I just love the state and the power that I have in being a founder is bringing this awareness. I'm like, "Yeah, we'll do that. But we'll do this as well." And since then we've also reacted to the big crises that have happened in the last year. And so we've translated it into Ukrainian, and also Farsi - Persian as well, which was actually quite a momentous decision because ever since founding Spring Act, and Sophia in that sense, we had to decide what, you know, kind of what ethnicity Sophia will have. We tried to blend the continental ethnicity together and that just did not work. So I've been, ever since founding, really excited to expand her in ethnicity, but also have one Sophia that's veiled. Because my director, and my best friend, is Muslim with a veil. So I was just very proud and very excited to do this. The moment that came was when we translated into Arabic. That's the other language - Arabic, was exactly at the time of the Iranian revolution. So what do we do? Do we put Sophia in a veil, sending the wrong message, because we are definitely in favour of the Iranian Revolution and women's rights movement. But if we don't, then we ignore a very large part of the Muslim population that is veiled. So that was a huge back and forth that I was not expecting. So what we decided to do in the end is just translate in Farsi and have her not veiled and with her hair cut off, yes, so that was last year.
And then this year started off very differently. At the beginning of the year, I broke my leg in three places, which was... when you're the founder and executive, but it's no longer a personal issue, it actually becomes a company issue. And so I was just gone very suddenly. And it was a very difficult time, physically and also, mentally, I don't know, if you've ever broken a bone like that severely - You just lose control of your life, all the plans that you've had, you can't even... Well, I could make myself a cup of tea, but I couldn't carry it because I was on crutches for three months. So that did a lot also internally in Spring Act, trying to kind of balance it, I tried to work but that actually made things worse. So it all started a bit later in the year for me, it actually started with a big bang, of going to Warsaw to attend this Congress, and we were nominated when you were nominated. But I didn't know if I could go because of crutches and everything was all a lot. I decided at the last minute, thank goodness. Because they paid for us to go and put us up in this lovely hotel, which you know, this is last thing we do it for - what we do - but it's so nice to get that break for someone to pay for you and put you up in a lovely hotel, they upgraded me even there and it was just what I needed. And also they flew in Diodio from Senegal, and Simon from Malaysia as well, we're all completely remote so we actually got to spend time together as a team as well. So it gave us a lot more than that. And then we were in this Congress for 600 other changemakers. And then we won, which was very unexpected, because it's an EU prize and we're not in the EU. So it was such an emotional moment and that was incredible - Gala, you know, with amazing acts and everything as well surrounding it. I mean, one of our values - we are a very value-based organisation, which includes compassion, collaboration, inclusivity and important values. And the seventh value in that sense is fun, because it's so important - we look at, in our day to day, if we look at the worst of humanity in the eye and we try and change that and try and empower people to take action to change that. And so having fun finding the light moments in that is so important. And that's advice I could give to other founders is to find the light moments, the fun moments and cherish those, you know, really do like, go back to your work and don't forget about the work. But when you have a moment to celebrate, celebrate it - in full. And so that was really, really special. So my year started with a Big Bang with that.
And then one big thing that happened for us internally was we found a tech lead, we had been looking for that person for two years, and it's so difficult to find, it seems, competing with Google and all these big companies with big salaries, and we found tech lead Salifu from Ghana, and he joined in June and that's made a massive difference, massive difference for us. I'm no longer leading the tech team which is great because I can focus on other things and he has visions on restructuring our code and visions and how we can make Sophia better and also make it easier. So we've received - what's happened in the last year, one and a half years - is we're receiving requests from domestic violence organisations pretty much every second week from all around the world. And we can't cope with the demand, we're so small, we have barely any funding. And so we didn't really know how to cope with that demand until Salifu joined our team and he took a big weight off our shoulders and also had this vision of creating an impact platform, which will make a collaboration much easier. So a domestic violence organisation can contact us, we partner officially with them, they get login details to this platform - this to come - And then they can manage everything themselves. So that was a huge thing for us to happen as well, and kind of, in the team spirit as well, what we've done - and this is actually also for founders, if you work remotely or anyone that works remotely, I've said this on the last podcast did two weeks ago, I should get commissioned from Spot - I don't, I'm not, I'm not affiliated at all with this company, but I think I should be because I always mentioned them because it's been a game changer. It's called Spot and it's a virtual office. And it's really a virtual office, you get your avatar, you have an avatar, you can walk up to your team members and talk, you can do 'rock, paper, scissors' , you can dance, you can eat virtual doughnuts. And it sounds really simple but it's a huge impact because we're completely remote. So our activists - we have 80 activists from all around the world that are looking for a sense of belonging, because they have task based work, but then also our team that works every day. We're in Greece, Senegal, Switzerland, and Malaysia. So just to see them every day in the office, you can just walk up and just tap to them so that's that's something thing that happened for us as well and partnered with we also have partners, new partners, that joined our vision as well, we had London School of Economics - who we gave the opportunity for two interns to join our team over the summer. And for me, it was very important to give young professionals or young students an opportunity to kind of gain skills. I wish I had that when I was starting off - nobody gives you the chance. You have no skills and you're like , "Where do I get the skills if you don't hire me?" So it was really important for me to do that, and it was very short. So I'm like, "Oh this is for them. The main thing is for them, not for us. And then they came and they just - I mean, it was mind blowing the work that they did for us is literally changing the way we work going forward. One was a data analyst and did a whole market research and recommendations and reports and then analysed our data so that we can really improve the way Sophia works. I was absolutely not expecting that from a student. I mean, but it's incredible. And the other one, she was a campaign intern and did a social media report and analysis and shows how it's so really give young people the chance, I believe and more often than not, they will surprise you and really do amazing things.
That's incredible. And how about the impact of the prices you won? So you had three this year, you mentioned already? And they're quite big ones. You said EU Prize -So how is that impacting your work at Spring Act?
Well, the EU Prize, that didn't come with prize money, but going there and part of our team being able to be reunited there, and that recognition helps from such a big thing helps us with "Okay, what we're doing, it is important, people are recognising it." The big change just happened two weeks ago in Stockholm from the European Investment Bank winning the Social Innovation Tournament - I think that's going to be soon. So we don't know yet how big it's going to be. But it's already changing. And I think it's really going to be life changing. For multiple reasons; It was a tournament, so we went to Vienna with 15 finalists and Stockholm with the same and also online training and everything. So it was a lot of effort that we put in as well. And the finalists are incredible. Like I really, if you listen to the podcast, go on to SIT2023.org and go and check out the finalists. I mean, you came into that room in Vienna, and you're in a room of 14 other changemakers literally changing the world with their innovative solutions from rollable solar panels that you can put on your balcony to tuna fish out of allergies that helps Fisher community stay in you know where they are and have a you know make a different livelihood to video games that help speech impairment to wheelchairs that you can navigate wheelchairs with a smart with smart glasses. You know, it's just completely different companies, different challenges, also innovative and that for me was, like I said after a very difficult start to the year personally, really helped solidify that I never ever want to work in a different space ever in my life. Like it's just - because it's so doom and gloom the world it seems if you read the news, right? And then you go into a room like that and like "Oh my god, we're completely changing the world. Just wait!" So they became a real family, these people and then all these incredible projects, I would have literally been happy with whoever won. When I went to Stockholm, I told my team “we can't lose” because if we win, that's amazing, we definitely need the money, it came with 100,000 euros. But if we don't, another changemaker is going to win. And then we won and I know how it feels to be a celebrity now! From the moment we got off that stage, I mean, the President of the European Investment Bank handed us the prize. And we, the second we got off the stage, this line of people, wanting to talk to us, one offering potential partnership to come to India that comes with a lot of investment into us to come to India, we were sat at the table with a Swedish film star, and head of investment companies and everything so it was really incredible. And then just celebrating with the 15 finalists they were so happy for us to win and I was a bit like, "Oh, I kind of won it against you. But I don't feel like that" So it took a while to kind of settle in. And since then, we get mentoring from EY, that's something that comes with a prize as well. Cash money, it's a huge thing for us. So it comes with that which helps us next year, and a lot. And it comes with mentoring and it comes with opportunities from the bank as well. So I'm being invited now from the European Investment Bank to speak at the biggest tech conference in the world next month in Lisbon. They're flying me in to speak, I get a pass there that is usually $1,000 that pass for that week and the giants of the tech industry are there and I'm a speaker.
So it's even another platform for you to gain more partnerships, perhaps or have opportunities
Even just visibility, so this is why this is so important...Because, yes, it's great to talk about Spring Act, and we love talking about what we do. But every time we speak, people who are impacted by domestic violence, hopefully know about Sophia, because that's the thing. And this is something we're going to do next year as well - oh, just started now as I've just formed a gamer Advisory Council. We're trying to partner with the gaming industry to see how we can raise awareness there because the gaming industry is in every single country in the world - That's gamers, every social class, right? And it's a tech. So that's the same with domestic violence and every single country in the world, every social class. So how do we get to them? That's one avenue that is kind of something that we can probably, hopefully easily do with collaboration with big gaming companies.
So Sophia has gone a long way and has reached new heights, right? And it's not stopping
Oh, my God, no, no, not at all - It doesn't seem to be stopping but one thing that really helps with this boot camp and everything - it was very time intensive. So we were worried about that. But it's helped us so much, because it gave us space to stop and think. Because there was no time for anything else during these boot camps and one thing we realised is that yes, our biggest challenge is funding hands down, but we're developing a new business model in this regard, I'll talk about as well, then we realised that actually, the biggest issue is team capacity. And that, of course, funding helps team capacity, that's our biggest issue and having realised that already helps us change. So we were doing internal changes for that as well, this prize money helps us hopefully, get people on board as well. So that was really, really helpful to kind of learn that. And that's what we're doing now as well.
And I also recall that you mentioned another product, you mentioned The Dots when we first spoke, and you were planning to launch that last autumn 2022 in Senegal, right? So tell us about Dots. And how far have you come?
Well, again, that's changed a lot, actually. So this big collaboration came in the autumn with translating Sophia and animating Sofia, so we moved it to March this year. And then the founder went and broke her leg, and Senegal, I lived there for two years and I have a big network there as well. So it was very important for me to go there for that particular launch. So we said, "Oh, let's move it to June or something like that." But then the political unrest happened, so we're going to launch dots with Sophia in Senegal. So we want to do that together.
So you will combine that?
Yeah, that's what the plan was. We definitely wanted to launch in Senegal as soon as possible. Also, because my deputy director is Senegalese and everything started in Senegal, the technology that became Dots started in Senegal. So that was very important for us. But then the unrest happened and it's not the time so we postponed it. We will launch but there's no date yet.
And just maybe a quick reminder and Dots. What was the product exactly and what was the product about?
Yeah, Dots is actually the forerunner of Sophia, so Sophia was developed from Dots. Dots is an app that connects people in vulnerable situations to the organisations most likely to help them and it can be globally with the right partners. But it's country by country, mapping the aid system basically. Yeah, so it sounds similar to Sophia, because when the pandemic hit, and domestic violence rose so drastically, we took this more broad technology and focused on survivors and added the digital safe. 90% of survivors, of victims, of domestic violence don't report the abuse. So the shadow number of domestic violence is huge, we know how big the issue is, but it's even bigger. So what we've done is created a digital safe and you can imagine one of those vaults that they have in the banks, and we've created a digital version of that. Securing it with an image password because survivors can't write down their password so don't use a password manager, right, because the abuser is probably very closeby. Yet it needs to be the securest place possible because you have police reports, health reports, potential evidence, passports in that digital safe. So it has to be really, really secure. But you can't use a Password Manager, there's a huge back and forth between tech team and the human rights team, like "Our tech is fine. Just use 14 random words randomly generated and then it's really safe" I'm like "Yep, that's not gonna happen". But then it needs to be safe, so what do we do and so the tech team came up, we had a volunteer/contractee, He's like back and forth with it, Steve Phillips from the US that I actually read about in a book and then contacted him when he joined our efforts. And he's a privacy hacker. So, this is what he does. And so he came up with the idea of an image password. So you choose a username, like any other username, and then instead of choosing a password, you choose an image. I have a cat, so I take an image of my cat, upload it to Sophia, Sophia, then stenographically alter the image and send it back to you. To the naked eye, it looks exactly the same. But that specific one that she sent back to you opens your digital safe and decrypts all your files for you. So it's completely anonymous and decrypted. So we don't know, we can say how many digital safes there are, but we don't know what is on there. So that's one part. And the other part is that when you then leave the digital safe, Sophia rewrites your browsing history, so it's completely untraceable, the digital safe so you can't find it. And so that's been launched, we've just done a demo video to explain it a bit better as well. So I'm really proud of tech team
That's really impressive and you previously mentioned something about changing the business model. So what is the new business model?
We're in the midst of doing this at the moment. We want to move to a hybrid model of an NGO and a social enterprise. We want to be spending our time on developing and improving our products, and we're spending a lot of time fundraising and it's a frustrating process. So we want to create a model that we can be financially independent or self-sustainable. So what we're doing at the moment is - so the since launch with the digital safe, and Sophia, there's just been a hell of a lot of interest in these two products and this means, for example, in negotiations right now with UNFPA, for a global partnership to roll out Sophia, the UK police force has contacted us and we're looking into providing the digital safe for them that they can use so that evidence sharing becomes easier. So we've become these experts on bridging the gap between tech and human rights, because tech is just a completely different language. I've learned that the hard way, there's really great books you can read, like working with coders, for example, it just is a different world. And we've become these experts in kind of translating these worlds. And tech has such a huge potential to change...I mean, it's in all our lives, but to change all our lives, especially in the Human Rights world. And yet, it's just a bit slow because again, money and everything. Tech costs. So what we're doing is offering our services to either, for example, a bank union organisation from the US, is in contact with us to build something like Sophia for domestic workers in South Africa. So building for NGOs, to accelerate or increase their reach in places that they can't get to. Then on the other hand, the new business model is that one and the other is offering the digital safe as a Software as a Service. So like, for example, the police is one and the other one is LACHAR in New York, I went to talk to them and this is where they just see that the potential is limitless. And it goes right into our vision of helping end global injustices through technology. So I met with someone who is in charge - or is kind of the coordinator of the efforts in Haiti where there's a broken down justice system. So statistically, there is no sexual violence, but obviously, there is. Not only there is, it's rampant with gangs. Officially, there isn't any violence in that sense, because there is no police to go and report to and there's no justice system that can prosecute. So digital safety has such a huge potential where it can be deployed into fragile contexts like this, where people can start gathering evidence when it happens. Guard it there, because it's just there until you decide to take action, once the justice system is back up and running - boom. You have all these digital sites full of evidence to go and prosecute the criminals. But I'm really excited to be doing this to increase the impact that the digital safe can have in different areas of human rights as well.
Have you ever imagined you would be where you are today? Or at least even see the potential? Because I sometimes wonder when you start something or you say you have an idea, and you kind of see where you can take it. But how do you feel being here today looking back?
It's a good moment to ask, in the founder's life, it depends what day you ask or what time of the day you ask. A few months ago, I would have said "Oh my god, we're in over our heads. What are we doing? - help!" It really is a roller coaster. I'm so incredibly happy and like I said I never want to be in any other space. Just the people you meet and the impact you can have and these awards and also these partnerships are coming knocking on our door. The UN came knocking on our door, we didn't reach out to them, the police as well, they came knocking on our door. And it's incredible. It's been a journey. So that's something that... I mentor young women and I just remember the point in my career that I did like a mini break with two friends. And they're five years older than I am, that's a huge difference in career. It doesn't matter in a friendship or relationship or anything like that, five years is not much. In a career, it's huge. And it's really important to realise that, because I was sitting there, and one was getting to the executive level at Google, and the other one was a high flying lawyer now, a lawyer in Australia. She's one of 500, like legal minds to watch, and the other one reports, the CEO of TikTok, so huge. And I was like "I'm so lost" I was an intern at the time. "How do you know? How did you get where you are? How did you know? I just don't know what I'm doing - help." Now you look back at my career, and you're like, "Well it makes total sense that Rhiana did that right?" But no, I was really lost at one point. Same with like, when I was 17, I learned... I taught myself to program in such a little IT company that I did consulting and website programming. And it's like, fast forward, like 15 years and it's like, "Oh, my god, yeah, of course, he's a tech entrepreneur." So I started that when I was 17 and then I started another charity when I was 23. So I always tried to innovate. And then when I started Dots, that technology, people didn't quite understand it. Because if you live in Switzerland, where we have a social system, you know where to go more or less when something happens. And in a place like Senegal, and this was specifically refugees as well, you just didn't know where to go. And all this support was there, but you just didn't know where to go. And I started doing that with friends here that helped out, like law students at the time. And they would say, "Oh, we stand behind you Rhiana, we want to help with your vision and everything, but don't quite understand what we're doing." So they were really sweet. But it was so far away from their reality. So with Sophia, then we hit a nervous society. That was very quick. Before it was like, "What am I doing? I don't know if this is going to help" very doubting" and then Sophia it was just like, "Go Go, go, go go!" But even then I think it's changed a lot with these prizes now at such a big level. It's like, "Okay, people want there's an interest."
So now, you said you worked with students, you had interns as well, if you would have younger people come to you or look up to you. And they say, "Yeah, I also want to be a founder in the tech area, combining with either human rights or anything else probably not out there yet." What would you advise them? And I'm specifically thinking as well about women founders. So what would be your advice? Well, thank you so much, Rhiana. It's been an absolute pleasure and I'm really happy that our paths crossed. And like you said, I mean, for me, it's also very important. You mentioned very early in this recording that you know, it's all doom and gloom, but then so many great people are doing great things as well. And let's not forget to speak about that. So that's the whole purpose of the podcast.
Go for it, I think if you can, in some way, try it. Because either you succeed, and you're living your dreams, or you don't and you learn. There's no downside to it. Well, there is a downside - you don't sleep just be aware.You read this everywhere and it's 100% true. There is nothing harder that you're going to do in life, I think, than a startup. I don't have kids, apparently having kids is very difficult and all-time consuming. But I saw a meme that said "Having a startup is like having a baby, you wake up multiple times a night crying." Because you live and breathe for it, it's your baby you want it to succeed, there's always so much work to do. And that's the big difference between being a founder, CEO and a CEO I think. You get catapulted into this executive position as well, that's also something. But I do everything from intern to leading the communications team, leading the tech team, I've led the legal team, I've done intern work I've done...everything. So you have all these roles. So it's very time consuming, but it's just so... it's your passion. So definitely do something that is your like - it has to be your passion. Because otherwise he won't put into it what it needs, it needs everything. So go for it, if it is your passion, but only if it is really your passion and you want to think and work and breathe and dream of this for the next five years, 24/7 - 7 days a week. Like really only then. And I think my number one advice would be to really build a support network right from the beginning, right from the beginning. Because you become a bit of a unicorn when you start a startup because probably not a lot of people in your surroundings are startup founders. Like my parents, fair enough. They're self-employed is completely different from a startup. And it's very lonely. I'm talking more about this now because I'm like "I don't feel lonely" Looking back "I've got 81 volunteers. I've got an amazing team. My family is supportive." And only am I realising as it goes on, it's like I don't have anyone that is like me in my surroundings - Yes, the team is great, but I'm leading the team. You know, it's my decisions, that then I have to be accountable for all my peers, my friends. I'm catapulted into a CEO position. I don't have CEO friends, I wish I did. Because I would be like "How do you do this? I mean, we've had HR issues that are huge, huge HR things that I then have to deal with. And it's really helpful to get the advice from my team and my surroundings, 100% really, really important. But I then have to make that decision... and how...that is it's tough. So what I've done now is founded a impact founder group that we can - it's like a support group - for founders because it's just we deal with a different reality and so this is why this SIT have become a family, the Social Innovation Tournament of the European Investment Bank, have become so close because their working in the impact field, which is also rare because it's very often like money and company and investors and stuff like that - which we also have but different. And then there's being a founder, so a support network is so important. And then read. I should actually, people are asking me to put that on the website somewhere. Books, I'm just looking at my bookcase. There's so many brilliant books to read. And I just read, read, read, read, read, to deal with these different things.
Well, thank you so much Rhiana. It's been an absolute pleasure, and I'm really happy that our paths crossed. And like you said, I mean, for me, it's also very important. You mentioned very early in this recording that it's all doom and gloom, but then so many great people are doing great things as well. And let's not forget to speak about that. So that's the whole purpose of the podcast.
There's more good than bad in the world. It's just the bad gets in the news and the good doesn't.
I continue to admire Rhiana's entrepreneurial endeavours and her team's work combining human rights and technology to create tools empowering individuals in vulnerable situations. If you wish to support Spring Act, simply head over to their website at springact.org. You will also find the link in the show notes. Thank you so much for tuning in today, I appreciate you taking the time. That was episode 62 - A New Conversation with Rhiana Spring on Empowering Action Through Innovative Technology. Join me again in two weeks, we'll shift gears to talk about eliminating period poverty and this time, we will have a new guest Ira Guha. Make sure you leave us a review everywhere you listen to podcasts. And if you like what you're hearing, remember to share our podcast with a friend or colleague or even a family member. You can also connect with us through our website at narratives-of-purpose.podcastpage.io or send us an email the address is email@example.com All the links are available in the show notes.
Until the next episode. Take care of yourselves stay well and stay inspired