Tech for good is more than a slogan: it’s a profitable sector with several entrepreneurs seeing their ventures reach unicorn status. So here are ten enterprises for you to draw inspiration from
Photo credit: No Isolation
Social tech startups are on the rise. From artificial intelligence providing better healthcare to bionic arms for kids, more enterprises are leveraging innovation to make the world a better place whilst earning a profit in the process. In the UK alone, companies contributing to social causes were worth over £2.3bn in 2018 with a turnover of £732m, according to new research from Tech Nation. And around the world, several ventures making society a better, healthier and more inclusive place have even reached unicorn status. In the wake of this, we felt it was time to highlight ten social tech startups that have done extraordinary things.
Running a business is stressful. Few would probably agree more with that sentiment than Michael Acton Smith, the founder of Mind Candy, the game developer behind the hit video game Moshi Monster. While he loved the company to bits, it took its toll and gave him a better understanding of mental health, the BBC reports. As a result he co-founded Calm in 2012. Originally focused on meditation, the app has since branched into areas around sleep, body and music. One of Calm’s popular features is its sleep stories, which are narrated by celebrities like Stephen Fry and Joanna Lumley. And it seems as if helping people live more stress-free lives is good for business as Calm became the world’s first mental health tech unicorn in February 2019. Judging from Calm’s success, its founders and users can continue to sleep easy.
The NHS is having some staffing issues. The healthcare service is struggling to find temporary staff in a flexible and cost-effective way. And that’s where Lantum comes in. Melissa Morris, the co-founder and CEO, was inspired to launch the business after working at the NHS’s strategy directorate and noticing how billions of pounds were wasted on recruitment agencies that failed to solve the flexibility issue. “[I] could not understand why no one had thought to fix it,” she recently told Elite Business, saying she took matter into her own hands by launching her tech startup. Essentially, Lantum matches medical professionals with healthcare organisations in need of their services, automates the paperwork and provides flexibility for all parties – with the added benefit of slashing the costs of recruitment agencies. With a service like that, there’s no secret why Lantum has raised over $13m across three rounds to date. We can’t wait to see where it goes next.
Virgilio Bento understands how important physiotherapy is and just how difficult it can be to access high-quality ones. He learned this lesson when he was ten-years old after his brother was in a car accident and was forced to travel to Cuba to receive affordable healthcare. To change things, Bento founded SWORD Health in 2014 The Portuguese tech startup allows patients to carry out their therapy in the comfort of their own home. Moreover, it’s AI tracks the patient’s sessions and helps them better predict their recovery. Furthermore, it gives patients a comprehensive understanding of their condition so they’re fully aware of what’s going on. Here’s hoping SWORD Health will prevent others from suffering like Bento’s brother did.
Dispatchers are under constant strain, often having to make split second decisions. Corti is an AI startup that analyses emergency calls to help them make better ones. By listening to previous calls, Corti uses machine learning to recognise patterns in conversations to diagnose illnesses. Founded in Denmark in 2016 by Andreas Cleve Lohmann he wanted AI to be used where it would make a difference, rather than being wasted on things like social network ads. Today Corti claims to be able to reduce the number of undetected out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) by over 50%. Better care, better businesses, what’s not to love?
Mental health is important. Understanding this, David Brudö and Niels Eék founded the app Remente in 2011 in Sweden. Using information on psychology and neuroscience, it provides goals for personal development, logs what makes you happy and has a collection of courses for mental wellbeing. Remente works around your daily schedule and provides easy access to otherwise expensive resources. “If you're passionate about helping people, working in this field means you're actually impacting their lives”, Brudö recently told Elite Business. Remente even has a separate business platform that helps maintain a work-life balance and create a successful company. Here’s hoping Remente will help its clients get peace of mind for years to come.
Photo credit: Open Bionics
Superheroes and robots are the stuff of dreams. After developing an interest in robotic hands as a teenager, Joel Gibbard founded Bristol-based Open Bionics alongside Samantha Payne in 2014. The business provides stylish 3D-printed prosthetic arms inspired by science fiction. In 2018, they launched the Hero Arm, a bionic arm with changeable covers – including Iron Man, BB8 and a Frozen designs – to make children and adults alike feel like heroes. “More people now wear the device so more people are interested, want to talk about it and find out about their limb difference”, Payne recently told Elite Business. “Which is pretty cool.” Given the Bristol-based business is doing so whilst fighting the stigma around disabilities and having been endorsed by both the Dalai Lama and Luke Skywalker himself, cool is probably an understatement.
Medical professionals are busy these days. Fortunately, startups are constantly dreaming up solutions to help doctors keep abreast of their appointments. One of them is Doctolib, the French doctors booking platform that reached unicorn status in March 2019 after raising a $170m round. But the company isn’t stopping there. It’s already rolled out its services for new types of practitioners and services like tapping into telemedicine, enabling doctors to accept remote appointments. Clearly, this is a tech startup with its finger literally on the pulse of what doctors need.
Everyone experiences loneliness from time to time. But it can be particularly affect sick children and the elderly. But that’s something No Isolation aims to change. Founded in Norway 2015 by Karen Dolva, Marius Abel and Matias Doyle, No Isolation’s first came into the spotlight with the launch of AV1, an adorable robot helping children with long-term illnesses feel included in their friends’ lives. Essentially, while the kids are in the hospital, the robot takes their place in the classroom. Children can watch the lesson through an app. Furthermore, No Isolation’s new KOMP tablet enables old people to easily share photos, messages and make video calls with their loved ones. KOMP eliminates passwords and complicated user interfaces, which some elderly people find challenging. Hopefully No Isolation will continue to grow and reach new demographics.
Live long enough and you’ll unfortunately feel the heartbreak of seeing someone you love die. Thankfully, there are resources to ease the pain. Formerly known as Funeralbooker, Beyond offers a range of services relating to death and bereavement, including a comparison of funeral directors and an explanation of the grieving process. Founded in the UK in 2015 by Ian Strang, Beyond was created to bring transparency to those searching for funeral costs and to make the process easier for them. “We’ve done everything to do with our social lives, now we’ve done healthcare,” Strang told Elite Business when discussing tech startups that help people deal better with the loss of loved ones. “The next step is death.” Indeed, Beyond are focusing on the issues that need to be tackled.
John Ramsay is using tech to help people with dementia. Having recognised the lack of innovation tech in the care sector after caring for his father, who suffered from the illness, he was inspired to launch Shift8*. Founded in the UK in 2016, the startup’s first product was The Magic Table, a projector that casts interactive animations onto a table surface. It physically, mentally and socially simulates those suffering from dementia. Plus, it can potentially help reduce anxiety and cognitive decline. While dementia has no cure, Shift8* can ease the pain for sufferers and their loves ones.
These companies are testament to what tech companies can achieve. With these having startups flourished over recent years, we can expect many more to rise to the challenge in years to come to make the world a better place.