[quote style=”boxed”]Make an effort to meet people. Go out of your way to participate in areas outside your expertise and comfort zone. Try new things. It’s amazing where it will take you.[/quote]
Jason Aspes is the founding Partner of Newton Circus, an innovation company that focuses on social and environmental sustainability. The idea behind Newton Circus came as Jason was traveling the world as an executive with the advertising agency Ogilvy. As a Regional Creative Director, Jason oversaw the advertising of large, global brands such as Coca-Cola and Motorola.
It was a brilliant life. Gallivanting around the world in a first class manner was indeed a seductive lifestyle. But he was acutely aware that something was missing.
With three sons asking lots of questions about what he did for a living, Jason began to struggle to describe and make sense his role in the world. The conspicuous consumption witnessed in Asia was troubling. What made matters worse, was that he felt he was part of the problem. Desperate to be part of the solution, Jason left the world of advertising behind.
So together with Daryl Arnold, a pioneer in the digital marketing industry, having founded the largest independent agency, Profero, the two teamed up to start Newton Circus.
Newton Circus works with multinational companies and on their own ventures such as The Do Good Network, Silverline, openDOOR, UP Singapore and SwayTrain. Newton Circus believes that “doing good is good business.
What are you working on right now?
We have a few projects, but my focus is on Silverline, our Smartphone program that encourages users to give their old Smartphones, loaded with ‘senior-specific apps’ to their parents when they sign a new contract and given a new Smartphone.
Where did the idea for Silverline come from?
Well, as an innovation company with a focus on social and environmental sustainability, we are constantly looking for opportunities that can make our world a better place.
We noticed there was an opportunity in the marketplace as Smartphones were being heavily subsidized by telcos when customers sign an 18-24 month contract. This encourages customers to use these devices only for the length of their contract. Obviously the phones can last much longer than this. Our initial thinking is we would simply extend the life of this technology, but as we interrogated the business and consumer landscape, we recognized there was a noticeable lack of seniors participating in the Smartphone revolution.
On a personal note, my father was terminally ill and my mother was caring for him, but as his sole caregiver, she was unable to leave him alone, even just to run an errand. I knew that we could create an ecosystem of apps that would make both their lives better if only they had the technology in their hands.
How do you make money?
We encourage Smartphone users to give their old phones to their parents or other seniors within their family or community. We wipe the phones of the data and place our suite of apps that have been designed with the senior in mind. The telcos charge a discounted fee for the service, apps and data plan, of which we take a small percentage.
What does your typical day look like?
The only real constant is the family stuff. Get the kids up, dressed and off to school, eat breakfast and consume coffee.
Then tackle whatever comes my way. No two days are the same. We have many different projects we work on and they all come with their own opportunities and challenges.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We have a fantastic team at Newton Circus with all the skill sets needed to turn brilliant ideas into real tangible products or services. When we believe in an idea, we are never afraid to get our hands dirty, work hard or even fail.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The combination of Wearable tech and Quantified self is incredibly exciting to me. The health implications alone are staggering.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked in Hollywood for a while. It was very cliché, with a brutal mix of insecurity and ego. It is a constant reminder to remain humble, passionate and do something worthwhile.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t try to bootstrap everything.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Make an effort to meet people. Go out of your way to participate in areas outside your expertise and comfort zone. Try new things. It’s amazing where it will take you.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
We were probably overambitious at times, which caused unnecessary stress. But you get through it and learn not to repeat your mistakes.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I have always thought there is an opportunity to create an online marketplace where artists could display their style and users could simply send them an image to be drawn or painted. (Think of all the portrait artists working on the streets of cities, why not use the Internet as a marketing tool rather than a street?)
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
Man, that’s a big one huh? I suppose the most pressing issue is poverty. And I would try to solve it with the next biggest issue, improving and providing wider access to education.
Tell us a secret.
I have a fear of heights.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
New Capitalist Manifesto by Umair Haque.
He really captures the state of the world and our path to overconsumption. It will make you think about where we are headed and the role brands will play in finding a solution. I’d also like to add Prosperity Without Growth by Tim Jackson.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Just the other day my 3 year old son asked my why my beard was turning white. I told him it was called distinguished. When he asked “What does distinguine mean?” His 5 year old brother blurted out “It means dad’s getting really old.”
Who is your hero, and why?
My father. He was a rock solid individual. Hard working, honest and always quick with a joke.
Can you really have a business that only does good?
I sure hope so.
Why did you leave the world of advertising to start Newton Circus
Because I felt like I was part of the problem and I wanted desperately to be part of the solution.