The accidental social entrepreneur - our founder's story08.04.2013
Dr Jonathan Collie trained as a medical doctor in South Africa before swapping his white coat for a career in health IT. “I loved studying medicine, but when it came to choosing a specialty, I found it impossible giving up all the rich diversity of medicine to spend the rest of my working life limited to a single specialism. I decided to re-educate myself with an MBA and enter the world of health commerce.” After building a successful career in the hospital IT outsourcing industry, Jonathan began missing the patient focus, “I missed the feeling that what I was doing actually meant something and was having a positive impact at a personal, human level. So, I decided to set up my own business using mobile technology to help patients with chronic conditions live their lives better and more independently.”
This is when serendipity played its part. On 17th August 2011, the same week that Jonathan registered his new company, he came across a tweet from the Design Council inviting expressions of interest for a new Department of Health-backed design challenge, ‘Living well with dementia’. This open competition challenged UK companies to design innovative products or services to help people with dementia and their carers live their lives better. “I thought it was a good opportunity to test my inventiveness and also potentially create something that could have a large impact and make a positive difference to many people’s lives”.
After 3 months of exciting co-development work with carers across London, Trading Times was selected from 154 entries and awarded grant funding to develop and test a prototype service. “Trading Times wasn’t even a concept prior to the ‘Living well with dementia’ challenge. The entire service was conceived, designed and built around user insights and needs. The scope of Trading Times has since been expanded to include all family carers as well as people over the age of 50 and single parents – all those with skills but for whom full-time work is difficult or indeed impossible. We have succeeded in creating a service that meets a real need in the most effective and engaging way possible.”
Trading Times launched in Barnet, north London, on 6th March 2013. It is growing rapidly with new candidates and employers signing up every day. “The feedback we’re receiving is incredible. The matches and success stories are really starting to happen. Hopefully, we’ll be looking at regional and national expansion before long. The prospect of making a real difference to people’s lives is becoming a reality. It excites me every day.”