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Every startup has an interesting story and mostly all of them are mission driven and motivated by the ambition to change the world we live in, for good. But there are only few game-changing ideas that make it to the top. Reason being, along with the idea, the right plan, execution, and lot of other factors are required in a startup to succeed.
Recently, at the biggest tech festival in Amsterdam, the Netherlands – the TNW Conference 2018 – Chivas Venture 2018 was held. For those who do not know, it’s one of the biggest global competition that gives $1million in no-strings funding every year to the world’s most promising social startups.
Tech entrepreneur and creative artist will.i.am was one of the judges at the event, and the event was hosted by BAFTA winning actor, writer, director and television presenter, Richard Ayoade.
Out of 27 finalists, 5 grand finalists were present at the event who were supposed to give a 5-mins live pitch to win the main prize. While UK’s startup Change Please walked away with the greatest amount of funding, receiving $350,000 for future investments, the four other finalists also received significant funding at the Chivas Venture.
The other four finalists included Mestic from the Netherlands ($200,000 funding), Spain’s BraiBook ($100,000 funding), The Picha Project from Malaysia ($50,000 funding) and also change:WATER Labs from the USA, ($50,000 funding).
Let’s take a look in detail at these 5 super visionary social startups that enthralled the audiences and the jury panel at the Chivas Venture 2018.
#1 BraiBook (Spain)
As per Braibook’s Eric Sicart, more than 80% of blind people are illiterate, since they unable to read or write, and 8 out of 10 blind children are not in school due to lack of adapted material. Currently, the number of books available in braille are scarce, expensive and difficult to access for those who need it. The lack of braille literature means visually impaired people are excluded from a variety of daily activities including education, entertainment and culture.
Hence, they have come up with BraiBook, the first e-Reader for visually impaired people. This portable device stores and instantly translates any digital books or documents into braille, making it possible to read on the go.
The aim of BraiBook is to double the number of Braille users and increase the schooling of children with visual impairment. For the cost of one braille book, the eReader offers up to 4,000 texts. The gadget also converts any text document from any format or language to braille alphabet.
Apart from the $100,000 funding, the startup also won the People’s Choice Award and the 420,000 viewers watching the event live decided to award an additional $50,000 of funding to Eric Sicart from BraiBook.
Silicon Canals was present at the event and we also think that the live pitch by Eric Sicart was the very impactful and the startup should have been the real winner of the competition. (Just saying!)
#2 Mestic (the Netherlands)
Led by Jalila Essaïdi, Dutch startup Mestic converts cow manure waste into biotextiles, bioplastics and biopaper. The Eindhoven-based company got the second prize at the competition and aims to make a potential global impact by converting cow dung into sustainable textiles. Reportedly with the fundraising, the company wants to rise up to a scaleup this year.
Mestic addresses two problems with one solution; helping with the global manure problem and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by creating new sustainable and local sources of raw materials.
#3 The Picha Project (Malaysia)
There are over 150,000 refugees currently in Malaysia. Due to their marginalised status, many of them have no access to job opportunities, education or healthcare.
The Picha Project provides refugee families through a sustainable food delivery business. Refugees cook food at home, which the startup buys and packages to sell it as part of a catering service to corporate businesses, companies or individuals. The Picha Project offers authentic traditional meals from different cultures whether it’s meal boxes, mini-buffet deliveries, or full catering services.
#4 change:WATER Labs (USA)
Change: Water Labs is all about providing safe sanitation to those who don’t have access to it. The startup provides low-cost, portable toilets, which use a simple membrane to rapidly evaporate 95% of sewage without using any type of energy. This innovative technology provides homes with a working toilet, without the need for power or plumbing.
Around the world, 2.6 billion people can’t flush, and when flushing isn’t an option, the alternatives are dumping or hauling which are dangerous and costly, in terms of health and the cost of removing raw sewage. A deeper problem exists for women and girls. Studies have shown that girls are 50% more likely be raped or sexually assaulted when they don’t have a toilet in their home as they have to use public toilets. They are also more likely to drop out of schools without working toilets.
By providing an affordable option to poorer communities, the startup aims to give dignity they deserve, as well as improve the health and prosperity for the wider area.
#5 Change Please (UK)
Change Please empowers the homeless community by training them to be baristas. The London-based startup takes the homeless off the streets and ensures they find housing within 10 days – as well as providing bank accounts and jobs paying the London Living Wage. Their coffee, served in environmentally-friendly cups, is responsibly sourced from farms that support local communities in need.
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