Perth startup Care Collective wins entry into SeedSpark incubator thanks to RAC members vote

- November 12, 2015 3 MIN READ

Not-for-profit Perth startup Care Collective has won the 2016 RAC Member’s Choice award with a prize entry into the SeedSpark incubator, an eight week accelerator program supported by Western Australian insurance provider Royal Automobile Club (RAC).

Care Collective received 41 per cent of the RAC Members vote in the ‘Better Category,’ coming in ahead of Yabble and My Guide. More than 250,000 RAC members were invited to vote for a solution they would like to see in their community. The three finalists also each received $20,000 in seed funding. 

“This year’s startup finalists have earned a place in the RAC SeedSpark program with their vision to build a better WA,” said RAC SeedSpark Program Director Jamin Hirte.

Caris Jalla, founder of Care Collective, was acknowledged for her efforts in creating a better community for Western Australia.

Care Collective is a combination of Yelp and TripAdviser for the disability sector, which has been in a state of confusion ever since the change of the National Disability Scheme. It offers a platform for support workers to list their availability and skills online for free. Families can search for support according to their preferences, taking into consideration gender, language and culture.

“There has been a lot of changes and it has been difficult for culturally diverse families where English might be their second language or their education might be lower. Sometimes information is not presented in a useful way,” said Jalla.

One in five Australians live with a disability and currently WA is in desperate need for transparency and information. Jalla has been working in the disability sector for 7 years and has learnt how difficult it can be to find information.

“I’m in the sector and it’s kind of confusing for me to find information.”

The biggest challenge the disability sector faces in WA is the change to the system. The National Disability scheme is Australia wide, however WA is conducting a two year trial called My Way. Community members need to go through an assessment to see whether or not they are eligible for benefits. To add to the disorder within the system families also have the option to be under the federal, state or old disability system. Instead of the three systems working together they are increasing the lack of information available.

“Families still need that support while the two systems are being trialed.”

Care Collective aims to fill the gap where information and support should be for families and care workers. Their action plan is to be inclusive of the whole population and provide families with a comprehensive list of services so people have the autonomy to make informed decisions.

The concept of a member’s vote from RAC is interesting. Many corporates are making the move into the tech and startup space by partnering with accelerator or incubator programs, with one of the main benefits for the participating startups being that they can then work to tailor their product to the corporate’s membership base. The NRMA, for example, is working with this idea through its Jumpstart accelerator. RAC has taken this one step further by allowing its members to vote on which service they think would be useful to them or their community, helping to prove that Care Collective has the legs to get off the ground and into the market.

Jalla is excited about the opportunities offered by the program.

“I’m really excited to start the eight week mentor program, I think that it will be a massive learning curve and I can hit the ground running,” she said. 

She is keen to build a team and network of supporters that will engage with WA’s disability sector and advance upon elements learnt from NSW’s online forums.

Care Collective bears some similarities to a couple of services in NSW. Better Caring is Australia’s largest community of independent care and support workers, with over 400 workers providing social support, domestic assistance, personal care and nursing services, while Click Ability allows people to rate and review disability services. Care Collective is an amalgamation of those two ideas, using resources based out of WA to target a specific audience and resonate with a wider population.

The 8 week SeedSpark program will begin in February 2016.

Image: The RAC Members Vote finalists. Source: Provided.