Humanitix cofounder Joshua Ross explains how he built a tech model for hassle-free humanitarianism

- December 15, 2023 3 MIN READ
Josh&Adam, Humanitix
Humanitix cofounders Joshua Ross and Adam McCurdie
As one of the founders of Humanitix, I’ve witnessed firsthand how technology can be a powerful force for positive change.

From the very beginning, my cofounder, Adam McCurdie, and I were driven by the belief that business, if managed and structured ethically, can play a massive role in solving social problems at scale.

Our journey began with a simple observation: the social enterprise sector was dominated by traditional business models (cafes, household goods etc.), with limited utilisation of technology. With tech and SaaS models having the best returns in the for-profit world, we thought, if returns could be redirected into impact, then surely it’s worth testing if a tech-charity model could thrive.

With this realisation, we set out to challenge the conventional wisdom that social enterprises must charge an “ethical premium”. i.e. if you want to buy a shirt that’s made ethically, where workers are paid a fair wage, generally the shirt costs 2-3x as much as a sweatshop mass-produced one.

Buying ethically is fantastic if you can afford it, but many people aren’t in a position to pay an ‘ethical tax’.

We envisioned a model where people could do good without incurring this ethical tax or any additional costs, effectively democratising access to ethical choices. This resonated deeply with our core goal of creating the most impact possible while ensuring that doing the right thing would not be an exclusive privilege.

Our next step involved identifying industries ripe for disruption whereby an ethical premium wouldn’t be required. The ticketing industry, with its persistent high fees and unscrupulous practices, emerged as a prime target.

We believed that our approach could provide a more transparent, cost-effective alternative for both event organisers and ticket buyers. And we were right; when event organisers switch to Humanitix, they save, on average, around 30% on fees.

Since Humanitix gives 100% of profits to charity projects, organisers also get to do good (and look good) with no extra effort or compromise. This win-win model is what has led to us rapid scaling and breaking through.

Building a team without the traditional support of equity, venture capital or any investors sometimes felt like mission impossible! However, our mission attracted a core group of passionate philanthropists and changemakers who shared our belief in the power of technology to create a more equitable world. Their dedication and expertise formed the backbone of Humanitix’s remarkable growth.

Cut to today, and we now have a thriving, financially successful social enterprise that generates over $4 million per annum for our impact programs, and we’re growing quickly with offices in Sydney, Denver, Auckland and expanding to Edinburgh.

Most importantly, we’ve now donated $6.5M to our charity partners – this is about twice as much as philanthropists gave us to build Humanitix in Australia and New Zealand in the first place! To date most of our profits have flowed into education programs for Indigenous kids, as well as literacy programs for young girls in some of the poorest parts of the world. 

With Humanitix, we’ve managed to prove that doing good and making a profit are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they can, and should, be complementary aspects of a sustainable and impactful business model.

We hope Humanitix’s story can be a playbook of sorts for entrepreneurs around the globe, demonstrating that technology, combined with a nonprofit ethos around solving social problems, can be a powerful and sustainable tool for social change.

Together, we can create a world whereby doing good and working on awesome business projects can be one and the same.

Will you join us?

I urge you to join us on a for-purpose path. As you make choices about where to spend your money, what you invest in and how you structure your business, consider the ethical implications.

By turning the pursuit of profits into a force for good, we can make an exponential impact in the world, save countless lives and ensure everyone has access to the core ingredients of a meaningful life.