A startup’s main business goal is usually to grow fast and eventually to generate nice profits. However, this rule of thumb comes with some virtuous exceptions. There are several startups out there whose main goal isn’t to purely maximize their financial gain, but instead, to act charitably and to have a positive impact. This honorable cause has many valuable contributors in the for-profit sector: Inspirational startups operating in the fields of social innovation, social change, and social entrepreneurship. In this article, we have picked a few who are either coming up with new strategies, concepts, and ideas to meet social needs or who are working for implementing pre-existing social solutions.
The only common denominator between these startups is not the sector in which they operate, but that they are all ultimately devoted to doing a good deed. Let’s have a look at 10 European startups that are changing society as we know it, one single issue at a time:
AID:Tech: Dublin startup AID:Tech offers enterprise-level solutions to aid international NGOs, governments, charities and corporates tackle some of most entrenched issues in their fields. In particular, the startup helps them address some of the largest obstacles in global development, including legal identity, financial inclusion and corruption. Born in 2016, AID:Tech’s platform is committed to using Blockchain technology & Digital Identity to give its clients an unprecedented level of insight into their KPIs and to provide them with reporting tools. The platform has been tested in some of the world’s most challenging regions and has proven to be able to alleviate many problems – such as fraud – which were previously thought extremely hard to solve. In June 2018, AID:Tech raised €1,000,000 in funding.
TRINE: Scandinavian startup TRINE uses crowdinvesting to enable people all around the world to support solar energy projects. In other words, TRINE’s global commitment consists in procuring funding to local solar entrepreneurs in emerging countries and, ultimately, in electrifying vast regions of the world. To reach the goal, the platform provides the expertise and organization needed to enable secure investments in carefully selected projects. Also, for each project, crowd investors at TRINE will fund the initial cost for installing the solar system; the cost will then be repaid over time by the value of electricity produced from the solar system itself. In the meantime, successful projects will also manage to deliver a return to the investors, securing a win for all parties involved. Even more importantly, the projects help alleviate energy scarcity in poor communities and improve their living standard. Between June 2017 and August 2018, this ingenious company has managed to secure an impressive total of $7.4M in funding.
Kiron: Based in Berlin, Germany, and founded in 2015, Kiron is an open online education platform dedicated exclusively to providing education for refugees. As idealistic as this may sound, the company has taken a serious pledge to contribute to a ‘world in which everyone has an equal chance to access and succeed in higher education’. In order to enable and facilitate access to higher education and successful learning for refugees the company has adopted an innovative academic model and resorts to a specific pedagogical approach. Their educational offer is supported by digital solutions and real-life partners among which several high profile universities stand out.
Handiscover is a travel booking website, with several holiday destinations and a unique focus: accommodate people with special needs and disabilities. The platform allows its clients to select accommodations based on their diﬀerent levels of mobility/physical disability. The website offers a wide choice of over 23000 properties in more than 52 countries, with a main focus in UK, Spain, France and Croatia. The company was founded in 2014, in Malmö, Sweden, by Sebastien Archambeaud a father to a boy with a muscle disease. The inspirational startup has since managed to amass funding for $1.8M.
Kaitiaki: Founded in 2017, in Udine, Italy, KAITIAKI is a startup with a social vocation and an extremely relevant mission: fighting online violence against kids. In order to accomplish this mission, KAITIAKI has built its very own Digital Social Ecosystem: a series of applications that utilize artificial intelligence technology to integrate strategies of bullying-prevention and assistance. Bullying has only recently gained attention as a worldwide phenomenon, however, this startup’s job becomes all the more relevant if you think that more than 11.5 million European kids have suffered acts of violence online. To tackle this digital plague, Kaitiaki provides many solutions that allow for behavioral analysis on social network profiles. Ultimately, through real-time monitoring and mapping of online threats, this startup encourages kids and their parents to gather greater awareness about online environments’ perils and to use social media in a responsible way, all while making the young users feel safer in the cyberspace.
Karma: Stockholm-based startup, Karma, has developed an application that helps restaurants, grocery stores and cafés reduce their food waste by selling their surplus to consumers at reduced prices. Data about food wastage points to the fact that an impressive 1/3 of all food produced is wasted. Founded in 2015 the startup proposes to solve two problems thanks to its innovative app: on one side it prevents unsold food from turning into wastage; on the other side it allows registered users to discover delicious food from restaurants, cafes and grocery stores and to enjoy it for half the regular price. Karma’s application offers takeaway options for their food items. The startup has secured funding for $16.7M.
Second Home is a social impact driven company devoted to patronize arts and culture and to foster social entrepreneurship. The startup is based in London and commits to offering a venue and workspace to carefully selected members from an artistic background: thinkers, makers, artists, and entrepreneurs. Personalities and experts ranging from various disciplines – fashion, technology, film-making, art production, design – all come together to Secondo Home in the common “pursuit of great work”. Since opening in 2014, the venue has hosted talks by fashion designer Stella McCartney and Harvard evolutionary biologist EO Wilson, arts events with the Gagosian Gallery and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, film screenings with Secret Cinema’s Future Shorts, and live music gigs with Dazed & Confused magazine. Second Home has received funding by 12 investors for a total amount of $35.2M.
Logically is a tech startup powered by machine learning whose main mission is to identify fake news and misinformation. This British company – that is in the process of launching its namesake platform – can already boast quite many titles: from “fake news search engine” to “the credibility layer to the internet.” In brief, Logically aims at using natural language processing, machine learning and human oversight to battle bias and misinformation in the news on any given topic. The Logically platform will ultimately act out as a filter and will make sure that users quickly consume information that is “credible, balanced with factual counterpoints and logically coherent”. Born in 2017, the company has already secured £1 million in seed funding.
eSolidar is a startup that has built its own charitable marketplace to allow private citizens to support causes they care about. This means that, since its foundation in 2014, eSolidar has been connecting consumers with social causes and enabling charities to diversify their fundraising base through online charity shops, donations and special charity auctions with celebrities & brands. Some of the causes that this startup from Braga, Portugal, has taken to heart include: social welfare, environment, animal welfare, victim support, arts, culture and humanities, international development and human rights, disabilities, education, elderly support and many more. To sustain their continuous charitable effort, the company has raised $1.2 million.
Aponomy: Founded in 2016 in Sweden, Aponomy, is a startup that operates in the field of HR with a completely unique approach and innovative platform: The Bourne®. The Bourne promises its client – individuals and companies – to help them ‘find purpose in their work or personal life’. This seriously bombastic statement is accompanied by a solid commitment of the company to use information technology to target United Nations Global Goals such as eradicating poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring peace and prosperity. The first version of the platform is set to launch late this year. The company has raised about 130.000 dollars (SEK1.2M) in seed funding.