Test Kitchen - October

Test Kitchen been operating as a dining room and catering business in Port Augusta since July 28 2015 and we have established a steady regular patronage and are seeing new faces in our dining room all the time. Our activity can be viewed on facebook \TestKitchenSocEnt.

We had a very successful Tasting Showcase event across October 7th and 8th as part of COTA SA’s Every Generation Festival. We truly had a blend of generations and it was our liveliest dining event yet. At the event, in addition to our showcase lunch, we tested our messaging, branding and Host@Home concepts through prototype product cards, aprons and host support kits. We learned much, not least of all that our messaging to our primary customers is the biggest challenge for us now, whilst we appear to have the messages right for supporting customers.

On October 14th and 21st we conducted the first of the Host@Home events which appeared very successful with both hosts and guests having rated experiences extremely highly. We have identified a potential harm in Host@Home during the current stage of our project; the potential for creating a sense of exclusion or being left out. The dining room has been so successful in achieving return patronage that it has created a perception or feel of a tight group or ‘club’. The Host@Home models are viewed by one customer to potentially threaten this social dynamic by producing cliques resulting in people being left out. This is something that had not been anticipated as we saw the dining room and the Host@Home as two distinct products – however at this early stage, on the scale we are currently operating, they are very closely connected. This is indeed an interesting challenge.

We have been working with marketing firm Algo Mas on our messaging and communication products including a products/services video which we will be testing out at the upcoming Australian Association of Gerontology Conference in Alice Springs (November 4-6) as we tell the story of our involvement in the Ageing Innovation Challenge.

Our attendance at this conference has been funded by the Maggie Beer Foundation (https://www.maggiebeerfoundation.org.au/blog/matt-haren-test-kitchen) for which we are grateful and look forward to facilitating change with the Foundation into the future.

In addition we are very excited to announce that Test Kitchen was nominated, and awarded the ‘Excellence in services to aged care– organisation’ award, in the Port Augusta Awards for Services to Aged Care (http://www.portaugusta.sa.gov.au/agedcarenominationform). We are very grateful to our customers and supporters for their nominations and we acknowledge the work and support of the local Meals on Wheels branch and Meals on Wheels SA Inc. which has been so vital in helping the Test Kitchen project to have achieved what it has so far.

It will be a busy time through to the end of the year as we continue to tie up our remaining experiments with messaging, conduct further meal events in our dining room and through Host@Home, begin to consider and test the potential online market for our Host@Home concept and find ways to implement our dining room/catering business more consistently in Port Augusta. We have developed a strategic business plan to guide these goals and actions.


SeniorPreneurs - October

During our last meeting in Adelaide, we trialled a couple of worksheets that helped our members find a good business idea that will work for you, drawing on the many business opportunities identified in the recent Adelaide University report The Mature Economy: the Business of Ageing.

In Sydney we ran a workshop on pitching your business idea, and in Melbourne we ran a workshop on how to promote your new venture using mobile communication technologies. Our numbers are really encouraging; 294 members in Adelaide, 253 in Sydney, and 429 in Melbourne. In addition, people in Geelong, the Gold Coast and Canberra have contacted us as they are interested in starting SeniorPreneurs in their localities.

Test Kitchen - August

Test Kitchen is back in Port Augusta with a 3-month plan to keep learning about how to connect generations through creating positive social and sensory meal time experiences to benefit social and nutritional wellbeing. We are currently serving freshly prepared afternoon teas (Tuesdays) and lunches (Wednesdays and Thursdays) fortnightly, moving to weekly from September 15 in our pop-up dining room.

We are excited to be sharing more of our story, activity and mouth-watering pictures of some of our chefs creations on our new facebook page; if you like what you see – you know the drill: https://www.facebook.com/TestKitchenSocEnt

During this phase, we set out to experiment in three domains: dining room design; social facilitation and barrier busting. To date we believe we are seeing that our dining environment (a dated AN Railway Institute meeting room) is not helping to support the emotional and sensory meal experience that we believe we need to create; however the food and the company appear to be making up for it in customers who come through the door. However, we do believe that this setting is not inspiring people to patronise our food business offering.

In terms of barriers to patronage, we have been examining the literature related to participation in congregate meal programs, which shows that antecedents of behavioural intention such as perceived behavioural control, self-efficacy, perceived benefit relative to perceived risk contribute to a customers’ intention to patronise. Look out for a more extensive commentary on the literature related to participation in congregate meal programs, predictors of restaurant patronage and restaurant selection preferences for older people over the coming week at http://testkitchennewsfeed.blogspot.com.au/.

We believe that influencing such critical decision-making processes is about getting our messaging right and to help us to experiment with this we have engaged a professional marketing firm. We have also heard that a frequent response to our current invitations is “that sort of thing is not for me” or “I don’t do that sort of thing”. We believe this is indicating that our offerings are not even making it into the realm of conscious decision-making, but rather are being screened out of consideration almost immediately in such people. We are looking to nudge our way into the decision making process where we have a chance to influence intentions and planned action.

With respect to the dining environment, experimentation with the layout and size of tables in the dining room has demonstrated that the size of the first arriving party, and the tempo of arrival of parties are strong determinants of seating organisation when customers are allowed to freely choose their seats and re-arrange tables. For example, when parties have arrived in close succession it is most common for them to arrange to sit together and to pull tables together in long rows as needed. This however does not necessarily work well for the social interaction of all.

One of our most challenging moments during our second week was when only one customer arrived to an empty dining room for a lunch service. This was quite distressing for the customer who quickly left – but not before being handed a complimentary take-away meal. This taught us about the potential harms of empty dining rooms (and potentially dining rooms with establish ‘full’ tables) on customers who arrive alone. We are currently exploring front of house hosting strategies as solutions to such problems.  

On the home-front, we are excited that we are soon to conduct our first home-hosted meal events with some of our pioneering early-adopter customers. We are looking at encouraging and supporting home-based meal hosting of and by older people through creating connections and supporting planning and hosting functions. We look forward to providing more on this in the next blog post.

We would also like to remind Ageing Challenge blog followers that we will be presenting on the Test Kitchen project at the Australian Association of Gerontology annual conference in Alice Springs (Nov 4-6). We will be showcasing our service and product development and seeking to engage participants in design thinking around our major challenges at that time. To view this program please visit: http://www.aag.asn.au/documents/item/691

Boomers Power the Community - June

June has been one of the busiest months with a ramp up of connections to various agencies and organisations who have substantial ‘boomer’ constituents. We’ve focused on them being part of the support and broadcasting to their ‘boomer’ members who may be interested in joining in with the BPTC. 

BPTC Engagement and Communication Campaign Strategy 

  • Partnerships and stakeholder interest confirmed 
    • Credit Union SA will assist with carrying any launch information as part of their community marketing support 
    • Key agencies directly linked to teachers and educators including: Association of Independent Schools (AIS), Australian Education Union (AEU), South Australian Catholic Primary Principals Association (SACPPA) and Association of Principals of Catholic Secondary Schools (APCSS) 
    • Key agencies directly linked to seniors and or active ageing including Council of the Ageing (COTA) and Active Ageing Australia (SA) (AAA), are on board 
    • Service clubs including Rotary Adelaide West 
    • Individual local ‘ambassadors’ being recruited. 


Mariann met with TACSI for the final mentor session on 16 June and the discussion covered off a recap of the project so far, the anticipated outcomes once the project engagement campaign is launched and any specific barriers and risks to a successful project. The discussion included: 

  • Outline of the project operational model 
    • Use of professional support to develop strategic communication plan using evidence based research about boomer demographic behaviour and needs 
    • use of targeted focus groups to test ‘engagement’ concept materials 
    • evaluation and revision 
    • launch BPTC engagement and communication campaign 
    • community centre trial sites develop BPTC project registration infrastructure for boomers and participants as relevant 
    • capability of interested boomers tested, including assessment of their developmental requirements, to deliver an educational program in a community centre environment 
    • Use of the initial boomer interest group to prototype delivery to selected participants 
    • Evaluation, revision and continual project communication across all available media and print options 
    • Research, test and develop a ‘framework’ for a continuing and sustainable BPTC engagement and communication campaign, eg use of web portal for self-registration and linking to state wide network of CC SA member community centres. 
  • Perceived barriers and risks to project outcomes 
    • The sheer magnitude of the looming change in status from employed to retired for the boomer demographic over the next 10-15 years 
      • 5+ million by 2030 
    • developing a genuine value and legacy proposition that will resonate with/ engage boomers 
    • predicting a successful engagement in future volunteering roles difficult because boomers financial circumstances are very different to the already retired cohort ahead of them thereby offering many other ‘leisure’ choices 
    • boomers demanding choice and control which will impact on how community centres respond to those interested in participating in the BPTC 
      • CC SA Inc. is a federated model and individual community centres operate on separate governance and management/committee structures 
    • Capacity of BPTC to resource the development of a sustainable communication framework beyond the current project funding. 

BPTC priorities, timeline and outcomes 

  • Priorities 
    • As per the project plan the main focus of BPTC remains to develop a highly successful engagement campaign, road tested across a diverse group of individuals who will form several focus groups over the next month, July, and then continue the testing once engagement has commenced after the launch of the campaign in later August
  • Timeline 
    • August to October will be a critical time for this activity and it is anticipated that by November we will have been able to evaluate and revise engagement materials and communication campaign activities. 
  • Outcomes 
    • BPTC will be demonstrating the registration of interested boomer educators and also commencing to deliver educational programs and or one to one options to those individuals who will gain the most from this highly valued transfer of skills from such a significant community based resource 
    • Boomers who are engaged in the BPTC will showcase the benefits of continuing to be active mentally and physically by requiring fewer medical and or other related services support and interventions 
    • Community centres will improve their bottom line by ‘sharing’ the leadership with the boomers in developing educational programs and plans that are widely picked up by individuals who need to improve their literacy and numeracy capabilities 
    • Community centres, boomers and participants will all be benefitting from the BPTC activity. 
  • Future funding and resources 
    • As previously signalled, BPTC will investigate and commence design of a sustainable communication framework while exploring options for funding a future web based portal or similar 
    • We’re still keen to investigate options to 'visualise' parts of our messaging through use of graphic and or illustrated processes, but this requires further funding 
    • CC SA Inc. and will continue to look to OFTA, TACSI for leadership on options available re these funding sources etc. 

SeniorPreneurs - June

SeniorPreneurs continues to grow, with more than 220 members signed up in Adelaide. Our meetings are fully booked, like the latest networking event hosted by the Adelaide City Council (46 members in attendance). Ms Marie Danvers painted a lively and thoughtful picture of her life as a “wordsmith” entrepreneur, and representatives of the Adelaide City Council described the range of support services open to entrepreneurs.

Participants were given a summary of the latest research in the area of creativity, and discussion at the end of the meeting identified a number of interesting and fruitful ideas for members to showcase their particular ventures at future meetings. Participants indicated interest in a “Welcome to personal enterprise” workshop to be organised later this year.

Test Kitchen - June

The past month we have been back in the office consolidating all of our learnings from Augusta Market Day and indeed all of our activities since we began the Test Kitchen project through the Innovation in Ageing Challenge.

With the assistance of Strategyzer (Strategyzer.com) we have built upon our very first Test Kitchen business model canvass which pre-dated our entry to the Ageing Challenge. This online suite of design tools has helped us greatly in organising our information and highlighting where the holes in our work are; particularly in our assumption/hypothesis testing. It also shows us how far we have come from our first concepts, some elements have remained rock-solid, whilst others have been totally transformed.

Looking ahead to the next month, we are in detailed planning phase for a 3-month long period of experiments around community social dining and Delivery-Stay-Share (through Meals on Wheels SA) prototypes. These will run from late July to early October 2015 in Port Augusta.

Through these two distinct sets of experiments we will be seeking to learn about:

(1)   Physical design elements of social dining spaces which can be modified to maximise potential for positive social interaction;

(2)   Barrier busters - what can be offered to help people overcome barriers to engaging in social meal-times;

(3)   Social facilitation strategies – what’s needed?

We look forward to reporting the progress on these experiments in our next blog.

Test Kitchen - May

Well, what a weekend at AugustaMarkets in our pop-up shop in the middle of the market strip (Commercial Road, Port Augusta). Our goal was to communicate with the Port Augusta community, our concepts (product offers) for creating social dining for older people who live alone. These had been developed from our 4 months of discovery work mostly focussed on our primary customer segment.

From the 300 people that passed through our shop on market day we got overwhelming general  agreement with, and support for the mission and the value we are trying to create for older isolated people, however, only 1 of the 4 offers really held up to the public scrutiny in its presented form; this was DELIVER STAY SHARE.

DELIVER STAY SHARE is a very simple extension of the current Meals on Wheels service model, where the brief interaction over the doorstep is extended, taken inside, and continued whilst customer and volunteers eat together.  The job is to help provide a richer form of interaction that can provide added social and nutritional benefit. Importantly, this model would require a restructuring of the volunteer role within the Meals on Wheels branch and the recruitment of new volunteer cohorts. Our attention will now be directed towards testing this model and investigating some core assumptions relating to both the primary customer, the ‘volunteer’ (supporting customer) and indeed the Meals on Wheels organisation.

The 3 remaining offers were not without interest, but a range of logistical and conceptual issues arose which brought in to question their ability to deliver the desired value in their current form. Firstly, our two “Street Pop-up” models (one providing just the dining environment for BYO meals; and the other a food truck restaurant), we’re on first glance attractive to many, but on further discussion began to be questioned with respect to service catchment area around a given pop-up location, how that related to potential sales and viability and also to the ever-present transport problem for less mobile customers:

“If I have to get in a taxi or someone’s car to get to the neighbouring street I might as well go into the main part of town”.

The identity and regularity of a fixed location dining space/restaurant, and the feelings safety and familiarity that such provides appeared to be the prevailing preference (over mobile pop-ups that aimed to situate themselves near customers’ homes). One memorable remark from a local woman was: ”the pop-up idea seems to be something that might work in city suburbs, but not really out here in the country”. We think that the use of Pop-up style as the way to prototype and test social dining room/restaurant and ancillary service offerings does have merit  – but that this needs to take place in a familiar fixed location in active areas of town, ideally within the usual activity space of older people – so main streets of regional cities and country towns make sense.

The 4th offer HOST at HOME (both supported and D.I.Y) would appear to hold promise but possibly needs demonstration of concept and proof of concept through the fixed-location pop-up or even possibly DELIVER STAY SHARE. 

Taking all our learnings together we believe our direction is clear in the coming months – begin testing both DELIVER STAY SHARE, and a fixed location restaurant (in flexible pop-up style). This will require going back to our early stage discovery work in both supporting and financial customer segments to enable implementation.

We thank the organisers of the AugustaMarkets, Regional Development Australia Far North for their support and assistance (especially Daine Hoffmann and Greg Williams) and the Port Augusta Branch of Meals on Wheels SA volunteers and others for helping out on the day.

Boomers Power the Community - May


 Blog for TACSI – 27 May 2015 

Boomers Power in the Community (BPTC) – Community Centres SA Inc. Project 


Mariann met with TACSI on 12 May as part of the ‘mentor’ sessions and outlined where the BPTC was up to and what was being proposed to bring the project up to date 

  • Focus on up to 4 pilot sites across Adelaide and one region: Gawler, Tea tree Gully, Camden Park and possibly Hackham West 
  • Main target are Boomers who were/had been ‘Educators’ 
  • Establish a ‘testing’ focus group who will o be representatives from the community centre trial sites, experienced professionals with relevant background in a community/volunteer based educational setting, broad cross section of ‘educators' and key stakeholders whose constituency includes boomers 
    • also test delivery of the prosed educational content between the ‘educator’ and the ‘participant’ 
    • check our methodology in engaging with relevant stakeholders who will be part of ’broadcasting’ and ‘distributing’ and ‘supporting’ the various materials being developed to recruit the boomer volunteers. 

BPTC Engagement and Communication Campaign Strategy 

BPTC has continued to work with the professional support of the Sydney based agency Universal Favourite (UF), who specialise in engagement, comms strategy and campaigning, project management and specialist project branding and messaging. 

  • UF and BPTC have advanced the development, based on the available research and also the local environment where we are trialling the BPTC, of a first cut engagement messaging look and feel, which will be tested with the focus group to be recruited, representing the relevant ‘educator’ boomer demographic o We have developed some 5 concept messaging options which will from the basis of the focus group discussion and consideration 
    • Once we determine what ‘concept(s)’ we believe is the best then this will be developed further and then launched 
    • This will be through a broad based communication strategy using existing distribution options within Community Centres SA, radio spots and those strategically linked partners and stakeholder and local ‘ambassadors etc. as above. 

Building partnerships and stakeholder interest 

As stated above, BPTC is embarked on an active campaign to entice ‘partners’ – whose constituency/membership involves boomers - who would be prepared to be part of our promotional/communications campaign – incl: U3A Alliance, Education Unions, Retired Persons Assn, various retired teacher/lecturers/trainers Alumni/Professional Assn., the 3 Educational Sectors and many more. 

We are receiving very positive responses meaning that BPTC is appealing to most of the organisations and they are keen to be involved. 

We are continuing our discussion with Credit Unions SA who had expressed an interest in potentially including this project within some of their community support marketing campaigns. A meeting is set up for 3 June. 

The trial site community centres will be focused on reaching the potential participants who need the literacy numeracy support and as already recommended this may take the form of a variety of ‘contextualised educational settings including specific vocational focus eg wood work and so on. 

There may still be an opportunity to consider collaborative options with COTA, OARS, Sole Parents Groups, Family by Family Project, Smith Family Education program for children and so on. 

BPTC timeline priorities 

As outlined in April, the main focus of BPTC over the next 2-3 months will be on the engagement/communication campaign strategy and launch, working closely with Universal Favourite and our partners and also using tried and achievable testing samples across a targeted focus group of the boomers we are working to engage. The aim is to have the first of the focus sessions on 8 July. 

The need to consider the future sustainability framework continues to be another key issue which we would hope to continue to discuss with TACSI and potentially other funders. 

Future funding and resources 

As previously signalled we have identified that we need to be highly contemporary in future communication processes and they will almost certainly be in a web based environment. Social media offers the type of models that inspire most people to become involved and or find information about things they may be interested in. 

We’re also be keen to investigate options to 'visualise' parts of our messaging through use of graphic and or illustrated processes, is important too. 

CC SA Inc. and will continue to look to TACSI for some leadership on options available re these funding sources etc. for these issues as we progress the BPTC project . 

Mariann R McNamara 

Project Officer – Boomers Power in the Community (BPTC) 

May 2015 

SeniorPreneurs May blog

SeniorPreneurs is growing as a national organisation. We currently have 130 members signed up to our Meetup website in Sydney, 282 in Melbourne, and 195 in Adelaide. We have launched a program of events in Sydney, and are continuing to develop our networking activities in the other cities.

In Adelaide, we were recently hosted by the Adelaide Business Hub at Port Adelaide, and a really good attendance heard entrepreneur Ms Janet Christie described her trajectory as a mature entrepreneur who tried retirement but came back to continue to build her advisory service. A major event this month was the launch of the national website http://seniorpreneurs.foundation/ This provides networking facilities to enable members to connect with like-minded people across Australia.

SeniorPreneurs - April

A “full house” of 40 keen networkers came to our third session at the Microsoft Innovation Centre in Adelaide to hear entrepreneur Richard Sellar describe how he is continuously searching for opportunities to build his advisory and consulting business.

Members were given a short report on the results of a survey exploring “entrepreneurial behaviours relating to opportunity recognition”. Those who completed the short online questionnaire had received a personalised benchmark report, and these showed that the group as a whole scored lower than expected on the dimension of “idea networking behaviour”. This result demonstrated the need for, and value of, the SeniorPreneurs network to fill this gap. Numbers continue to grow with 174 members on the SeniorPreneurs Adelaide Meetup website.