BIZ ED: Chris Raine, CEO of Hello Sunday Morning and MBA and SKOLL entrepreneur. Photograph: Rosie Hallam
Chris Raine: 'My blog set me on a new direction in my career' © FT

Chris Raine is an MBA student and Skoll Scholar at Saïd Business School, Oxford university. These competitive scholarships are offered to incoming students who have set up or have been working in entrepreneurial ventures with a social purpose.

Mr Raine is founder and chief executive of Hello Sunday Morning, an online community programme he started in 2008, in which participants pledge to give up drinking for periods of up to a year.

Why did you set up Hello Sunday

After I graduated from USC Queensland with a degree in marketing I joined a boutique agency aimed at youth advertising in Brisbane. We pitched for a campaign around youth binge drinking.

We came up with ideas based on what had gone before – the dangers of drinking, using shock tactics such as men being beaten up or a woman falling over or being assaulted. But none of these ideas would have changed how I drink on a weekend.

Did you drink a lot?

I would describe myself as a functioning binge-drinker. I decided to spend the next 12 months researching why people drink and gave up drinking for a year so that I could understand the role alcohol played in my life.

You chronicled this in your blog, Hello Sunday Morning. Why?
I learnt the patterns . . . It goes hand in hand with stresses. If you feel upset or angry, just have a drink. I know what I need to do to change my psychology when I feel a certain way.

My blog set me on a new direction in my career. I quit my job and launched Hello Sunday Morning as a social enterprise. Participants commit to three months, six months or a year without drinking and check into Hello Sunday Morning every week. They blog about their experiences and try to change the way they think and behave.

About 25,000 people have been through the three-month programme and approximately 100,000 people visit the website.

We have really good user engagement. The average person spends 11 minutes on the website because there’s so much rich content from the blogs that people write. They are real people and they are going through real problems and challenges.

Why did you do an MBA?

I fundamentally believe in social entrepreneurship [the Hello Sunday Morning website is funded by government health programmes and university grants] – the cross-section between social value and impact with business, and having some level of sustainability. There are lots of governments that want to throw cash at this problem, but building a model that works that’s also sustainable is the challenge.

Here [at Saïd] you get to have conversations – like in my college dormitory hallways – with experimental psychologists, or physicists, or mathematicians.

Describe your MBA project to develop technology that monitors a user’s drinking?

The next frontier is actually using a device and data to change a person’s psychology. So you might go out and wear a Hello Sunday Morning wrist band that tells your profile on the website that last night you had 10 drinks, and maybe you’d like to share what happened, or why it happened. (He hopes to get celebrity endorsement – his heart is set on Russell Brand.)

What are the next steps?

My post-MBA goal is to continue to build Hello Sunday Morning as a programme and seek large-scale investment from governments and individuals to build a technology company that takes the best in behaviour-change programme in the world and uses investment to scale it to the point that an individual anywhere in the world has an opportunity to change the way they drink, whenthey are ready.”

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