The idea was born in 2010, the non-for-profit organisation followed in 2011 and since 2012 Dismantle also has a physical space. Its mission is simple, use bikes as a tool to connect with and provide support for young people. Dismantle developed and grew initiatives focussing on engaging and empowering young people to reach their full potential.
Passionate about bicycles and committed to engage young people in education and employment pathways, Dismantle developed several initiatives such as BikeRescue, the flagship programme that empowers and enriches the lives of young people at risk, and BikeDr, an enterprise that provides professional bicycle services and offers financial support to Dismantle so it can sustain its activities.
I have had the pleasure to visit the startup organisation and speak with Pat Ryan, a social entrepreneur that is committed to achieve financial sustainability to adapt for greater social impact and reach. If you are passionate about young people and want to learn more about Dismantle, check out the stories of Pat below.
Bike Rescue and Dr. Bike are success stories but there’ve been 18 others that we’ve tried out over the last five years to sort of try and make something work. They’ve come from funding opportunities or we sort of identified a local area that needed some help or we came up with a great idea to make some money or all of these different things. We’ve tested and tried and failed all these different initiatives and enterprises and ideas but from that we’ve learned just so many lessons on how to build a resilient and sustainable organisation. I say failed but they are not failures. They are just sort of lessons that we’ve learned and we’ve shut them down before they would drag the organisation down with them. So the amount of learning that has been going on here in the last five years has been incredible. Our philosophy is learning by doing. We just try and do it.
I learned how to run an organisation that does social impact programmes and tried to figure out who our obligations are to when it comes to delivering impact and reporting on impact. The word “social impact measurement” is used all the time in things like this but as an organisation, over the last five years, we’ve never been asked what our social impact is. We could say anything. There is no requirement of any sort of evidence or reporting outside of direct clients. They don’t ask questions on our organisation or on all the kids that are coming through. We do achieve good stuff and we should be collecting evidence on all the good stuff but the only people that care about the evidence is the board. They want you to achieve something but they don’t necessarily want to know what you’ve done previously. They’re always looking forward. It’s an interesting thing. We could put so much money in collecting stories on impact, what is kind of what the industry is telling organisations to do. It’s almost as if organisations have to spend money on consulting services to measure impact. We’re working on developing a universal framework across all programmes but it hasn’t been a priority over the last four years because we never had to provide evidence of impact.
Do the work instead of romanticising about the work.
It’s about value. Two years ago, we arranged the tools on the wall and swiped the floor to make it look fantastic. Then we got to the whiteboard and analysed what kind of values we were going to provide to customers. We spend months just behind the scenes working on how it would look like and imagining and romanticising about what kind of business we would be running which, all of it, was just complete nonsense. You’re isolated, you’re away from the customers and you’re not actually understanding what is valuable for the people that you’re trying to create value for. You can do brainstorm sessions that are valuable when you’ve empathy for those who you’re providing services for, a beneficiary or a customer, but unless you’ve that really deep empathy and connection, designing things around the people you’re with and not the customers or the people that you’ll be serving is like designing what you want rather than what they need. So I understand now that when we’re looking at new things or starting an idea up or rethinking something, it always needs to be focused around the person receiving it. What are their needs and their wants? As a customer, what do they want to pay for? Not what you say they’re going to pay for but what they actually do pay for. Or if they are a beneficiary, what are they going to benefit from?
Learn more about the amazing work of Dismantle and how it uses the bicycle as a tool to empower young people to engage in education and employment pathways.