After being diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of 13, Jonathan Despinidic was looking at a very short life expectancy of 11-13 years. Now, almost 20 years on, he’s not only surviving against the odds, he’s positively thriving and given his many achievements he’s a total inspiration. Just watch his Game Changer interview with Sunrise Presenter Edwina Bartholomew and you’ll see why.
Jonathan is the co-founder of an exciting new round up shopping app called Sipora, which enables you to shop, save and spend all-in-one app. In effect, this useful app allows you to reduce your debt and turn pocket change into special purchases. “It enables people to save for specific goals rather than using credit cards on impulse purchases or using buy-now-pay later schemes,” says Jonathan, the inspiring tech entrepreneur. “We have over 350 stores connected with Sipora and you can buy items in that store with your round up savings.
He’s also gives back personally to raise awareness for Cystic Fibrosis by starting a group 18 months ago called Step On CF where he personally challenged himself to walk 780kms which, he says, is about a million steps to raise awareness for Cystic Fibrosis. “I have this little tag line, ‘a million steps to breathe,” he adds. If that’s not enough, Jonathan also plans to launch a podcast called ‘You Can’t Catch This’ addressing the stigma attached to chronic illness.
But it wasn’t always so positive. Despite having started his own business at 21, for the most part of his 20s he experienced mental health issues due to anxiety, and as a consequence of his changed mindset post-diagnosis, was living and taking risks without any consideration for the possible fallouts. Even though Jonathan was making a good living for himself, he ended up spending more than he was making on things like personal loans and things he didn’t need which he describes as “shiny things”, consequently leading to credit problems and financial insecurity.
I had no idea where I was going…I wasn’t looking more than a year ahead”
It was only after an admission into hospital for a partially collapsed lung and pneumonia, during a stage in his life where he found himself in debt that he decided that enough was enough.
When I was a lot younger I had a lot less regard for my own personal health…both physically and mentally”
That’s when he decided to work on Sipora with his business partner. In light of Australia’s credit card debt of $30 billion and over $1 billion in debt from Buy Now, Pay Later schemes, Sipora aims to encourage its users to save and spend guilt-free.
If you buy a coffee for $3.50 and you’re rounding up to the nearest dollar, 50 cents will then be deposited into your Sipora savings account”
After raising a quarter of a million dollars in the first 12 months, it was finally launched in 2019.
Today, Jonathan Despinidic has since started a group called ‘Step On Cystic Fibrosis’ where he challenges himself to complete 780 km of intentional walking during the course of a whole year to raise awareness. Last year, Jonathan walked 1,200 km and is well on track to do the same this year round.
In addition to that, he’s set to release his podcast called ‘You Can’t Catch This’ which aims to address the stigma attached to chronic illnesses by interviewing people who have cystic fibrosis, people who have lost loved ones to the illness, and medical teams and researchers looking to advance the science behind keeping those people with the illness alive and healthy. Jonathan explains how the illness can be isolating and lonely since you are discouraged from spending time around other people with cystic fibrosis.
There is currently no cure for cystic fibrosis, but he remains “incredibly healthy” thanks to not only the medication he takes, but also to the support of his wife who constantly encourages him to get out and about.
More about Sipora
Sipora, the all-in-one shop/save/spend app, is the first to have a round-up functionality that essentially helps you save up your own money. Users can choose how much they round-up to, or allocated an amount to save regularly, while also compiling their own personal Wishlist of items they want to purchase in the future. This is possible thanks to the comprehensive network of retail stores accessible straight from within the app, and the best part is that you’d be spending your own money; no debt and no accumulating interest!
Why was Sipora built as a one-stop shop? Saving is rewarded by gratification, you’re still able to get the little luxuries in life without getting into debt. Trying to save without offering that gratification is less likely to become a long-lasting consumer habit.” says Jonathan