It’s never been easier to use digital technology to change the world for the better. More and more people are starting to rethink, redesign and rebuild the way we educate our children, provide healthcare and live sustainably on a planet of limited resources.
That’s why we started Bethnal Green Ventures. Through our programme of investment and support, we want to build a community of people who are changing the world using technology.
So if you’re entrepreneurially mindedand want to tackle a big challenge through technology, where do you start? Here are our top tips:
- Take on big problems that you really understand: Playlab’s founder suffered from severe panic attacks so he built a mobile game that would help people manage the effects of panic and anxiety in their lives. The founders of Andiamo are a husband and wife team whose child needed orthotics, and they realised these could be made faster and more accurately using 3D scanning and printing. Either solve something you already know about “first-hand” or spend lots of time understanding what your users want.
- Don’t just put existing services online: One mistake people often make when building digital services is just putting existing systems online, where all the old problems are simply replicated. The web enables new ways of working and thinking, so these services can be completely rethought.
- Get a technical co-founder: When we’re selecting for our accelerator, we look for teams with at least one technical co-founder. This person doesn’t have to be the world’s best coder, but you’ll want someone on board that can develop the basics. Having said that, don’t panic if you don’t have a tech person yet, because…
- “Hand-cranking” is ok: A world-changing application isn’t built in one go. Start off doing things manually rather than trying to make everything automatic. Follow the “lean startup” approach and build a minimum viable product. Be focused, start small and then add features and/or increase efficiency release by release.
- Ask for help: A growing number of incubators and accelerators have emerged to support early-stage startups, providing funding, a place to work, people to work with and, importantly, access to expert mentoring and support. There are a lots of resources out there – Good Incubation, F6S, Startup Factories, digitalsocial.eu – to help you decide if there’s a programme that’s right for you.
More information about Bethnal Green Ventures:
Bethnal Green Ventures was one of the first accelerators in Europe to support startups using technology to tackle social challenges. To date we’ve supported 52 startups ranging from more ethical mobile phones and 3D printed orthotics, to smart NHS booking systems and mobile games for people suffering from panic attacks.
We’ve just opened for applications for our Summer 2015 accelerator programme, which will run from July to September. We’re looking for ambitious, early-stage startups with ideas to use technology to change the world – from disrupting education and revolutionising healthcare to coding against climate change.
If you have an idea to tackle a big challenge through technology, here’s your chance! You can apply now – or if you want to talk to us about your idea first, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.