When he was 22 Chris Raine quit drinking for a year. He still promoted nightclub events, ran party busses and went to music festivals, but he decided to do it all without booze. The experience eventually lead to Hello Sunday Morning (HSM) a not-for-profit that uses tech – websites, apps, and community platforms – to help people change their relationship with alcohol. Maybe you want to drink less, stop completely, or understand more about why you drink when you do – whatever the reason, HSM has the tools. Seven years on, HSM is Chris’s full-time job. He’s both the founder and CEO. He employs 15 people. And he spoke to us about turning a side gig turn into a serious business.
You started Hello Sunday Morning as a blog about your year away from booze. Did you ever think it would turn into a career?
Never, well, not initially. I actually took a job as a junior strategist in a boutique advertising firm, but then I realised that turning Hello Sunday Morning into something bigger was what I wanted to do.
How did you go from a day job to making your side gig your career?
The transition was hard but I was lucky. I did this thing called the New Enterprise Initiative Scheme through the Australian Government. It’s basically a program to get people off the dole by helping them do their own businesses. They gave me $250 a week. It wasn’t much money, but it was enough not to take on a meaningless job to support myself. If you find something that you really love to pursue it’s not like you don’t have bills to pay, but you only have so much time and energy.
What advice do you have for people who are at a similar crossroads?
Give yourself a timeline. I gave myself 12 months to find a way to make it work. I moved to Melbourne and starved for a year while I tried to figure it out. That whole year of learning and developing was incredible. I was living on the edge. Trying to hustle. Getting the first grant. Getting to 1000 people on the platform. It was an amazing experience.
Why is social media vital to Hello Sunday Morning?
A lot of people misuse alcohol in our society, which is a huge problem. But the real problem is that people don’t feel comfortable talking about it, and they don’t have the tools or the vernacular or brand that makes it cool to have those conversations. Social media is really important as it allows us to get Hello Sunday Morning out there to as many people as possible in a way that opens up that conversation. Without conversation, without talking about it, without reducing the stigma, you don’t get people seeking help. Those tools lower a barrier of entry for good ideas.
Tell us about your work with the Vodafone Foundation.
The foundation focuses on mobile technology that helps their customers connect, which is exactly what we are all about. It is always a risk for an established brand to get behind a little start-up like us, especially one dealing with a tricky social issue such as alcohol. But they did. It is because of their courage that we have been able to build the technology we have, as well as set a precedent for other corporate partners to get behind our work.
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