16 May 2016

Where Tech for Good Ideas Come From

By Paul Miller

Photo: Mark from Konnektis deep in a co-design session with carers – image nicked from their website (thanks!)

A couple of weeks ago, I hosted a panel of BGV founders at the South London Tech Meetup and asked them, “Where did the idea for your social venture come from?”

It turned out that each founder had a story that matched one of the three sources of inspiration I’ve heard other people talk about so, as it’s also BGV applications season, I thought I’d write a little bit about them.

The first type of inspiration is frustration. Mark from Konnektis explained how when his grandfather was ill and needed care he was amazed to see how inefficiently the various people involved in domiciliary care communicated with one another. This frustration with the status quo and a completely obvious (to Mark at least) technology-based solution made him want to start the business.

Secondly, there’s the combination of two seemingly unconnected ideas. For Natalie from Walacea this was the realisation that two things she was super interested in — scientific research and crowdfunding — hadn’t yet been brought together. When she realised that there could be value in the combination, Walacea was a obvious innovation that needed to exist.

Finally there’s chemistry when inspiration for a venture comes from two or more people coming together in conversation. For Dan from Firesouls that happened by meeting a co-founder with a very different background to him who listened to the problem he described and then played it back based on his way of thinking. The resulting idea could never have come about without both of their perspectives — neither person had the whole story.

Most of the tech for good founder stories I know fit into these three categories or are combinations of them. If I’ve missed something please do let me know. But if you’re looking to start a venture, there is something else you can do — be open to talking with others about it.

The title of this post is a blatant rip-off of Steven Johnson’s excellent book ‘Where Good Ideas Come From’ in which he looks at the origins of thousands of inventions and ideas that have changed our society. He dispels the myth that inventions come from secretive labs or lone geniuses — instead he argues that “chance favours the connected mind”, most great ideas come from connecting existing ones and that the network age gives us more opportunities than ever before to build on ideas and create new ones.

Speaking of which, if you have a great idea for a tech for good venture, applications for BGV Autumn 2016 are now open!
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This blog was originally posted over on Medium.