Driven by the idea that ‘there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers’, Dave’s internal landscape has always been characterised by a deep curiosity.
As one question leads to another, Dave has willingly chased each one down the rabbit hole - the result of which has been a wealth of diverse projects and experiences strung together with enquiry and a need to do something meaningful in the world.
Born in Johannesburg and raised in the United Kingdom (first Wales and then Surrey), Dave grew up the youngest of four siblings in a close-knit Christian family. This foundation of community taught him the values of sharing and support as part of a network, and also instilled in him an appetite to ask questions and to take risks.
Dave realised that formal education wasn’t a natural fit for him when his need to ask questions at school seemed to cause friction in the classroom. But when the journey to success tended to be defined by a university degree and a suit in the city, Dave wanted to know whether there was an alternative path.
When the journey to success tended to be defined by a university degree and a suit in the city, was there an alternative path to making a living?
“Can I make a living without an alarm clock?”
Hopeful that there might be another way to make a living, Dave bypassed higher education and launched himself headfirst into the online business world.
Within 6 months, at the age of 19, he had founded his first business. Broadplace was an online marketing company that managed sponsored links on Google at a time before social media existed.
Dave successfully developed the business to manage an annual ad-spend of £5 million, replicating the model in other countries and employing over 20 staff members.
He had built a business from scratch in 2 and a half years and had turned it into a financial success but was it doing something good for the world? And if he was going to create something of benefit to others, where should he focus his energies?
Keen to investigate these questions, Dave sold Broadplace, packed a suitcase and used his earnings to travel the world in search of answers.
“What work is worth doing?”
After 2 years of project work, interacting with global leaders and exploring his own ideas, the theme of innovation in technology continued to inform Dave’s thinking. In particular, the effects of the upcoming mobile-social paradigm shift on content, commerce and communication.
With Broadplace, he had used the model of online advertising to create opportunities for work in various countries, but now he wanted to delve into designing technology that would generate positive behavioural change on a wider basis in line with the new technological landscape.
GIVNG FROM THE HEART
He witnessed how outdated the process of charitable giving was and identified a gap in the market, which he planned to plug through social media and mobile. And thus, in 2011, Givey was born - a social donation platform allowing users to donate to charities on the move, at the touch of a button.
Dave raised $2 million of investment for the project and facilitated millions of pounds worth of donations to over 20,000 charitable causes on the platform. His experience with Givey had taught him how to generate a significant amount of capital but now he wanted to learn how best to deploy it.
Dave was invited to meet the Queen, shared the stage with then-Prime Minister, David Cameron, and wrote articles for publications including The Huffington Post and The Guardian. He began to establish himself as a notable public speaker, delivering talks for TEDx, Google, a number of UK universities, and at various international conferences.
SMALL VOICES, BIG IDEAS
When he exited Givey in 2016, Dave focused his work on direct personal impact: solving real problems affecting real people and creating a culture of innovation through technology within a global community.
The duo produced a 30-day YouTube series, viewed by more than 2.5 million worldwide, featuring discussions with local communities across 10 countries. They then shone the spotlight on the global public and asked them come up with innovative solutions. Over 150 people from 40 countries submitted their ideas through video application, and 7 were given the financial backing to transform their vision into reality.
“What’s really going on in reality?”
It was during this time that Dave’s poetry projects emerged. They became a creative outlet through which he could reconstruct his thinking, find out what was going on in the world both internally and externally, and reach for the bigger questions.
He also self-published a collection of poetic reflections titled ‘Becoming 29’ as he approached his 30th year. He is yet to show the work to anyone.
THE WISDOM OF THE WOODS
In his quest to further inspire impactful thinking, Dave then embarked on a year-long experiment that would make nature and ecology his next teachers. Living out of a simple shepherds hut in the Sussex woodland, he immersed himself in the natural world, learning from his surroundings and trying to understand what was really going on in the world.
As inspiration flourished, Dave began to share his experiences in a YouTube series that became known as The Corcovado Project. His 50+ weekly vlogs generated a wealth of online support, receiving upwards of 2 million views from over 150 countries.
Version 2 of the Corcovado Project has now expanded globally with a network of similar spaces that provide the basis for community and creativity through nature [learn more on the Corcovado website].
A VEHICLE FOR GOOD
The 3-man team successfully transformed a Ford Transit van into a mobile adventure home complete with bed, coffee bar and solar kit then sold it on Ebay for £3,209.80.
Neither the Solvey Project nor the van conversion project were the first instances of Dave coming together with friends to create meaning.
Since the age of 17, himself and a group of pals have embarked on yearly adventures around the world including cycling to Africa, driving to Asia, train hopping to China, and traversing America in a school bus they had purchased for the trip.
These journeys have fostered an ecosystem of friendship that has encouraged Dave to push his boundaries, take risks, and trust in the power of human connection.
With increasing global reach on YouTube and Instagram, Dave was approached by creative agencies to produce video campaigns for brands including NASA, Ebay, Chivas, Lynx, Victorinox, Wizz Air, Airbus, Direct Line, and the Jane Goodall Institute. He is now an established digital influencer and helps brands to craft and amplify their messages across his platforms.
“How then shall we live?”
ON + OFF GRID LIVING
During his experiences on the Corcovado Project, Dave understood ecology's lesson that strength is found in diversity. He wondered how those systems could be translated into modern life and came up with his concept of on + off grid living.
In dividing his time between the woods and the modern world, Dave has reaped the rewards of both systems. He has found peace and solitude in nature that has fuelled his creativity and deepened his sense of self, and has found innovation within the digital age that has allowed him to connect globally and try to inspire change. Oscillating seamlessly between the digital and the analog, the 'on' and the 'off' might be a lifestyle redesign that more of us would benefit from.
THE NEW TIDE OF TECHNOLOGY
Dave saw the environmental and refugee crises as symptoms of a malfunctioning world, and turned his attention to the unique challenges facing humanity over the next 50 years.
In an upcoming evolutionary shift revolving heavily around machine intelligence and digital reality set against a backdrop of overpopulation and environmental emergencies, Dave questioned how people would not only cope but how they could flourish. He wondered if there was a way he could help the world to respond accordingly. Where could the solution lie?
Given that Dave attributes much of his success to technology and the privilege of timing (he set up his first business at the dawn of the internet), it is little wonder that he feels a responsibility to help us better engage with digital technology in a way that will benefit us all.
A SWISS ARMY KNIFE FOR THE FUTURE
Navigating such an unprecedented future, Dave realised, would require a set of global tools - a 'Swiss Army Knife for the future' - that would allow individuals to engage seamlessly with an unknowable world.
If the root of problem solving lies in human intelligence, as it seems to have done throughout history, then could reimagining the theory of intelligence prove a useful tool in preparing ourselves for such an unforeseeable future dominated by a new tide of technology? Dave became curious.
He researched the theory of intelligence and developed his idea of ‘Intelligence as a Superconcept’. This has led him to his next project - The Flow Project - in which he investigates intelligence as a ‘flow’, a interdisciplinary system that integrates biology, society and machine. He is currently observing how technology and the experience of forest bathing might diagnose blockages of ‘flow’ in individuals that prevent them from thriving both now and in the future.