Conversations: Richard Scenna, YourLink

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A personal life experience and the passion for helping those in need inspired Richard Scenna to use technology for the benefit of the community. In an era where technology forms the primary interface for social interactions, YourLink aims to bring our senior citizens into the digital realm to better connect them with their families, friends and community members.

Tell us about YourLink and the audience to which you are catering.

YourLink is a social enterprise enabling digital inclusion for seniors whether living in a family home, retirement village, or aged care residence. We do this in a number of ways. First, we have created a free app called YourLink that has been designed for seniors to stay in touch with their family, friends and the local community. Second, we run Tea and Technology events for seniors where we help attendees learn more about using an iPad or tablets, apps and the internet in general.

Third, we work with aged care residences and villages to help them utilise technology to support the residents and their families to be connected. Our work with aged care poviders helps them bring their noticeboard and flyers directly to families’ mobile devices. Finally, we work with organisations to help them with digital inclusion activities for older people.

Our primary B2C audience is the ‘over-60’ community and their adult children as they are key influencers for their parents and grandparents. From a B2B perspective, our audiences include aged care providers, villages, government, and organisations communicating with senior citizens.

What were you doing when the idea about YourLink came to you?
Personally, I saw my grandmother undergo the change from a strong, independent woman, to one impacted by ill health and dementia, ultimately seeing her living with my parents and later in various aged care homes for the remainder of her years.

Once when she was moved to aged care, I recall walking past the foyer, and saw a noticeboard with activities, which caused me to wonder how would I have known about that unless I had walked past that specific noticeboard?

A couple of years ago co-founder Rick Hollingworth and I started talking about how we could use our skills and experiences in some way to make a difference. We have been friends for over 20 years, share a passion for the benefits technology can bring to our community, particularly for senior citizens. We wanted to make a difference for our families as well as many other families and those around us. YourLink developed naturally from here.

What is the one thing that you have been able to accomplish that you take the most pride in or satisfaction from?
I take most pride in two things. One is the success of our Tea and Technology events with up to 60 seniors in a room. The feedback is overwhelmingly positive and the feeling of empowerment the attendees feel when we take the time to help them is incredibly rewarding.

The second one is critical from a business perspective. It was when we signed our second paying client. While having your first client is an amazing feeling, the second one reassured me that there is a real business in what we are creating and that the first client wasn’t just a fluke or luck.

What are some of the major hurdles you have encountered?
One of the biggest hurdles is perception, particularly from the younger generation, that seniors don’t want to use technology, nor have an appetite for it. The feedback we have received from the groups we work with is that many seniors do want to use technology, but they lack confidence. Our Tea and Technology events have proven this.

Another hurdle for us is that as a social enterprise, we don’t have access to government or private grants like those available to the not-for-profit sector. Access to funding for social enterprises such as YourLink, which want to be both commercially minded and sustainable whilst giving back to the community, is lacking in Australia.

What advice would you give to those who aspire to be an entrepreneur?
1. Avoid being wedded to a single idea that may blind you to other opportunities. Part of the beauty of running your own business means you can easily adapt and do different things, which is essential when starting out.
2. Be authentic; don’t try and be something you are not. Rick and I genuinely believe in the problem we are trying to solve, what we are doing, and for the people whom we are doing it.
3. Be persistent. You may have to knock your head on doors several times before they finally crack open.
4. And one that I remind myself of daily: If it were easy, everyone would do it. It takes guts and bravery to create something new, so congratulate yourself for being brave.

In one word, characterise your life as an entrepreneur.


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