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5 Small(ish) Businesses Focused on Making a Social Impact

June 10, 2022

Consumer priorities have changed. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, people across the globe have reassessed their professional and personal lives to realise that what they buy and who they buy it from matters. 

For tech businesses and start-ups post-pandemic, that means transparency is crucial. Customers want to know more about a product or service before they purchase and it’s a change in behaviour that’s here to stay. 

So what do consumers care about? The Global Sustainability Study 2021 found that 85% of people have shifted their purchase behavior towards being more sustainable in the past five years. They also care about supply chains, product sourcing, and the story behind a brand. 

Ultimately, it’s about trust and authenticity. This could be seen as an obstacle for many companies, but for small businesses or start-ups that are built on the idea of making the world a better place, this presents an amazing opportunity.

In this blog post, we will look at five amazing companies that put societal change at the heart of their business and thrived as a result. 

88% of consumers say that authenticity is a key factor when deciding what brands they like and support – Stackla

1) Pawprint


As we mentioned, consumers care about sustainability and the carbon footprint of the services and products they use. And that focus has percolated into the corporate world as a priority for businesses. At the recent UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), private companies pledged $130 trillion for the green transition

Inspired by his eco-activist father, Christian Arno wanted to create a company that focused on climate change. In 2019, he created Pawprint and assembled a team that would help individuals and companies fight climate change. 

Just one year later, the company closed a crowdfunding round which was overfunded by 300% with over 1,000 investors including the ex-chief executive of Skyscanner and Co-Founder of Ooni, Darina Garland, and Tim Doubleday, Group CFO at Burger King UK. 

The app (launched in 2021) works by calculating users’ carbon footprints, enabling them to track these based on lifestyle choices made. It then helps users reduce their carbon impact by setting personalised challenges and providing local eco information.

“Pawprint is for individuals to measure, understand and reduce their carbon footprint and it’s for business to engage their people in sustainability,” says Arno.   

You can watch Christian’s presentation at Turing Fest here to find out more about the role of behavioural science and the opportunity to marry commercial success with real-world impact.

2) Current Health


Current Health

Another business founded on personal experience; Chris McCann’s grandmother suffered from a range of health issues and kept being admitted to hospital for things that he thought should have been monitored at home. As a result, Current Health was born in 2015 to solve healthcare’s hardest problem: how can we deliver earlier, preventive care? 

After meeting in Edinburgh, Co-Founders Christopher McCann and Stewart Whiting focused on how technology could help the sickest patients receive care at home. This resulted in an all-in-one monitoring device that continuously and passively monitors patient health with the same accuracy as an ICU monitor.

“We started life building a device to try and better monitor patients in their own homes. Then we realised that to successfully deliver healthcare at home you needed a whole platform around it that could deliver that to patients across vast geographic areas,” says Chris McCann. “Now we’re saying how do we help a healthcare organisation (hospital, pharma) with everything they need to safely deliver care into the home for a complex population?”

In 2020 the company got FDA approval for their monitor and won a big contract in the United States, Baptist Health in Indiana. “It was a huge moment for us to get our first big enterprise client to say they wanted this, we’re going to pay for it, we like it. From there we started to pick up more and more and Covid produced some tailwinds for us.”

The company has rapidly increased its headcount and joined the Best Buy Health team to pair its technology with customer support, supply chain, and logistics. 

Watch Chris McCann’s interview at Turing Festival to find out more about Current Health’s amazing growth journey in a challenging industry. 

3) Brewgooder


The goal of Brewgooder is not only to make good beer but to fund projects across the world that deliver clean water. Founder Alan Mahon set up the company after picking up a parasite from drinking contaminated water on a trip to Nepal. 

Launched on World Water Day in 2016, a crowdfund resulted in over 1,000 UK drinkers getting the first cans. Three months later the company sold enough lager to support the first Brewgooder water project to supply 5,000 people in Chiluzi, Malawi.

Since then the company has got ‘B Corp’ status meaning it’s a business that meets ‘high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials.’ It joins socially active companies like Ben & Jerry’s and TOMs.

Brewgooder’s products are now available in Co-op, Asda and other stockists across the UK. They also offer a subscription that delivers beer to your door every week or month. They also partner with other socially-driven businesses. For example, a partnership with Social Bite urged customers to add a £5 voucher to a beer order (which the company matched) to provide food to the homeless in Christmas 2021. 

Brewgooder is also committed to sustainability initiatives like plastic-free packaging and sustainably sourced merchandise. Based in Scotland, they recently teamed up with Scottish brewers Fierce and Williams Bros to scale up production.

9 in 10 global consumers want to buy products sourced in a responsible and sustainable way and 83% would pay more for goods that are ethically produced – OpenText

4) Hack Your Closet

Originating in Sweden, Hack Your Closet came to life in 2019 with a goal to reduce and prevent waste in the clothing industry. Fast fashion is known to have a huge environmental impact and consumers are getting more discerning about their choices in this sector. 

Research by Vogue found that sustainability is an important factor when making a fashion purchase, from 65% in October 2020 to 69% in May 2021. And consumers are now demonstrating that commitment by turning to sustainable fashion with the planet in mind.  


Hack Your Closet is based on a subscription service that prolongs the life of clothes by circulating them between its customers. For €29/month, you get 4-5 garments chosen for you based on your style profile (created when you sign up). Subscribers can use the clothes for up to six months before returning them. The clothes are then washed and sent out to another customer that matches the style.

“Making people realize how valuable every piece of clothing is, and how much work, pollution, money and time it takes to produce them, has been and is a challenge because of how the fast fashion industry looks like today,” a representative told ’A sustainable closet’. 

“The biggest gain for us is to see how fast we have been able to make an impact and win our customer’s love for what we do.” 

In 2020, the company launched two funding rounds, raising $3 million and enabling them to expand to France. They are also looking to partner with local brands and create local communities with positive social impacts. 

5) Intelligent Growth Solutions


As the world’s population grows, this puts pressure on the agriculture sector to produce quality food with minimal environmental impact. Even though global agri is worth over $7 trillion to the economy, it’s the least digitised of all major industries

Enter the world of agriculture and engineering or agritech – a new way to grow food at scale. At the forefront of this revolution is Intelligent Growth Solutions, a Scottish company that uses growing platforms in a controlled environment that increases yield by up to 3 times, using 50% less energy and 80% less labour. 

The vertical farm patented technology allows users to control environmental elements such as lighting, watering, CO2 levels, and nutrient delivery. The platform also interacts with external energy sources to deliver continuous power usage with advanced power management to keep energy costs down. 

The company has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 2013 and recently announced a Series B funding round raising over £42 million from a conglomerate of investors. In May 2022, IGS exhibited at Downing Street’s ‘Spring Showcase’, to celebrate the most exciting and innovative tech businesses in the UK food and agriculture industry. 

Watch David Farquhar, CEO at IGS to find out more about the disruption of the agri and food industry. 

Conclusion

These five companies demonstrate how belief and determination can drive success. All of these companies are in competitive sectors but their desire to make a social impact has seen them grow and make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Our goal from the start at Turing Fest is to help people build better startups that are doing good things for the world.That’s our ethos and it’s what we believe in. 

If that’s something you want to hear more about then there’s still time to book your ticket to this year’s festival. Let’s build better start-ups together. 

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/05/04/transparency-is-no-longer-an-option-its-a-must/?sh=758e92775fe7 

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/373674 

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20211014005090/en/Recent-Study-Reveals-More-Than-a-Third-of-Global-Consumers-Are-Willing-to-Pay-More-for-Sustainability-as-Demand-Grows-for-Environmentally-Friendly-Alternatives

https://www.voguebusiness.com/sustainability/customers-care-more-about-sustainability-post-lockdowns-now-what 

https://www.opentext.com/about/press-releases?id=5188A6174DE447FCAC930758694BBCB9  – UK based study

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