My Story: Why I Love What I Do
My grandmother lived a courageous and challenging life. Growing up in Russia in the 20th century, her story is one of survival. During World War II her house was occupied by the Germans and she was taken to work in a POW camp in Poland with her mother. One night, they managed to escape and ran for six weeks to flee the life that they had been subjected too.
My grandmother eventually arrived in Germany just as the war had ended and negotiated her way onto a boat to Australia by doctoring a fake Lithuanian passport. She arrived in 1946 and established a home, where she raised a family and lived out the remainder of her years.
I only learned of my grandmother’s story a few years before she passed away. I have read books about war stories and escaping environments of oppression, but to hear first-hand how someone I loved and cared for had survived such an experience has had a real impact on me.
I would say I have lived a privileged life to date. Growing up in Australia with a good education, I have been largely sheltered from many of the world’s troubles. Recently, I was recounting my grandmother’s story to a friend of mine and I asked him “what do you think your story might be for your future grandchildren?” He stopped to think for a moment and then said, “well, without the threat of war or other atrocities, we have the opportunity to create our own stories”. It was a profound moment for me. I came to realise that so many of us are lucky to live in the world that we do, and yet we rarely use our opportunities to proactively shape our own journeys — journeys that are worth writing about and sharing for generations. That is what I am hoping to achieve with Everproof, as I strive to make an impact in the world. This piece is the first chapter of that story, the ending of which is currently unknown.
Everproof started from a simple observation. My co-founders and I noticed a trend from physical to digital artifacts in many areas of our lives. Whether it be bank cards, health insurance, rewards programs or boarding passes, there seemed an inevitability and logic that led to this information being digitised. Not only did it make it more accessible to the owner, it enabled additional security to be layered in to allow the information to be verified and for the artifact to be less easily forged (unlike paper based Lithuanian passports in the 1940s).
Everproof started from a simple observation. My co-founders and I noticed a trend from physical to digital artifacts in many areas of our lives.
As we were studying at university, my co-founders and I all had part-time jobs that required us to maintain a variety of licenses and certifications in order to be compliant for our roles. We’d take a course, receive a certificate or card that authenticated our completion, which would then end up in our wallets or drawers where it would get lost or expire without us noticing.
Some of this information was really important. Our roles involved interacting with children on a daily basis and one of our licenses was a Working With Children Check (an ongoing license in Australia that ensures you are safe to work around children). Yet this license was only being issued and shared on laminated cards, which created friction when an organisation wished to check its validity and made it difficult to monitor it over time.
For us it seemed, and still does, inevitable that this information would be stored and shared digitally. The benefits of doing so felt clear for both the individual and the organisation that employed them. So, with a healthy dose of blissful naivety, we graduated from university and Everproof was born to do just that.
As we were bringing Everproof to market, we found Working With Children Checks to be one of the most consistent licenses that organisations were struggling to receive and monitor.
It was during the time of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the importance of tracking this information was front of mind for many industries.
The safety of children touches on something very personal for me. Seeing the impact that child sexual abuse has had on people that I care for deeply has shaped many of my personal views and beliefs growing up.
We were determined to contribute to this area by enhancing child protection measures with our technology and, in analysing the existing Government infrastructure, we identified a way in which we could query data sources every week to verify whether someone still had a Working With Children Check. So we went ahead and built it.
As organisations and users adopted our product we could see the immediate impact of Everproof. It brought the laminated cards to life and turned them from static data points into a dynamic ecosystem of verified information. Alongside the government, we helped notify a number of organisations when individuals were no longer able to work around children. This is where the power of what we had built began to be realised.
Those moments underscored the benefits of these licenses being digitised, but for me, it meant that I was no longer building this company and product just because someone should probably do it. Those moments created a higher purpose as to why I do what I do; a higher purpose that drives me to succeed and constantly push myself to find better ways to reach mass adoption.
We now have over 12,000 types of documents stored by our users — from passports to first aid certificates. I can vividly see a world where this extends to all types of licenses and personal documents; a world where every regulated sector is safer and more transparent because of Everproof. But with that vision comes the stress of constantly figuring out, from the multiverse of possibilities, which strategy will get us there the fastest.
Doing What You’re Passionate About
Starting a company straight out of university is not a common path; a lot of my friends went to work for large professional services firms. Some of them love it, but most of them don’t, and I can tell that for the good majority it’s not what they’re passionate about. They are all highly intelligent, but there is a hesitancy to talk about their real interests or the disruptive ideas they have.
I once watched a Ted Talk by Sir Ken Robinson titled “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” and I think his contention is spot on. As I go through this journey with Everproof I’ve made it my side-mission to try and find out what those passions or creative endeavors are in the people I get to meet and prompt them to pursue them more.
My passion is Everproof; I get to wake up and work on improving it every day. My wish is for more people to be able to say that about their jobs where they spend so much of their waking lives.
My story has a long way to run before being worthy of my future grandchildren to one day write about, but I feel like I’m on the right path. If you’re reading this and feel that spark of inspiration to go after what you’ve been thinking about, then I really encourage you to do so. As Chuck Close said, “inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work”.
This piece was originally published in Chief Executive Story titled ‘Higher Purpose’: http://chiefexecutivestory.com/higher-purpose/