28 Oct 2020

Investing in A Better Society

By Milly Shotter

A better society is one that works towards equal access and opportunity for all. For that to become a reality, there are many aspects of society that must be improved. Education, employability, civic participation and social justice – to name a few. 

However, the application of technology in these areas has been relatively low to date. This creates a huge opportunity for businesses that can leverage the potential of tech to create better societal outcomes for more people.

The ‘more people’ piece is really important here. When we invest in startups working for a better society, we always look at them through the lens of equality. We ask ourselves – can this company reach the underserved and underrepresented with their product or service? It’s an important question if you’re looking for real impact. 

Due to this dynamic, we often find that better society startups’ users or beneficiaries may not be their customers. The most successful startups in this theme find ways to deliver the product or service to those who need it most, while providing value to people in the system who will pay for equitable outcomes. 

To bring to life what tech for good startups working towards a better society look like, meet Organise, Commonplace and Bright Little Labs.

 

 Organise – helping workers get a fairer deal 

Tackling SDG 8 – Decent Work & Economic Growth and SDG 10 – Reduced Inequalities

 

 

Organise’s mission is to give everyone the tools, support and confidence to improve their life at work. Through their digital platform they facilitate collective action for workers at the likes of Amazon, McDonald’s, Uber and Deliveroo.

Nat Whalley was inspired to start Organise in 2017 after her friend was made redundant when she became pregnant. Their online network has since exposed harassment at Ted Baker, won a pay rise for Superdrug warehouse staff and helped hundreds of thousands of people call out unacceptable work places and practices. 

Their campaigns have garnered press in nearly all the UK mainstream press outlets such as the FT, the Independent and HuffPost

The COVID-19 pandemic saw a huge surge in demand for Organise, with their network growing to over half a million workers. Having recently raised an oversubscribed seed stage funding round led by Ada Ventures, Organise are ready to scale – helping workers everywhere get a fairer deal – follow them here.

 

Commonplace – enabling inclusive conversations for better neighbourhoods

Tackling SDG 11 – Cities & Communities

 

 

Commonplace is an online engagement platform that enables better, more inclusive planning decisions by bridging the gap between developers and communities.

In 2013, Commonplace joined the BGV programme with the mission to create better development processes that would work for everyone. Their digital platform helps more people – especially the typically hard to reach such as young people and minority groups – to participate in the development of their neighbourhoods. 

With a more representative view, developers gain a better understanding of the community they’re working with, helping to reduce their planning risks and costs. 

To date, Commonplace have processed and analysed over 1.1 million contributions through their platform from 1.9 million visitors and 200+ customers. 

Follow Commonplace as they continue to enable inclusive conversations for better neighbourhoods. 

 

Bright Little Labs – creating a fairer future for kids 

Tackling SDG 4 – Quality Education & SDG 5 – Gender Equality 

 

 

Bright Little Labs is on a mission to help kids develop digital skills and normalise being a ‘techie.’ They believe computer science should be for everyone. 

Recognising a severe lack of diversity in kids media, Sophie Deen started Bright Little Labs in 2015 and joined BGV’s programme in 2016. By using the power of stories, with diverse role models, they promote computer science, critical thinking, creativity and empathy – teaching kids to ‘think for themselves and question everything.’ 

Bright Little Labs’ first story, Detective Dot, sold products in over 30 countries. For every physical product sold, Bright Little Labs acquires an average of eight digital users. Their products, which also includes their recently launched digital literacy adventures with Agent Asha,  have been voted Top Coding Toy every consecutive year since 2017.

In 2018 they received strategic investment from Warner Media, who own Cartoon Network, and in 2019 Founder and CEO Sophie Deen was named as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in UK Tech. 

If you believe in a fairer world where kids have the skills for whatever the future throws at them, follow Bright Little Labs here

 

If you’re a founder and feeling inspired, head to our page for founders

If you’re an investor and want to learn more about investing in tech for good – join our Linkedin Group.