Is life a problem that I can solve

Wüstenrot my life

Sofie from Sweden has developed a glove that helps people with disabilities to move their hands. Jorge from Mexico has found a way for people who have no access to the Internet to use apps. Lutz from Germany is working on a bioprinting technology to print organs and thus overcome the shortage of organ donations. What do the three have in common? They use advanced technology to solve serious problems. All three are “changemakers”: With their inventions, they change many people's lives for the better.

You can find the three - and dozen other brilliant founders - at tech2impact. The organization brings together entrepreneurs from around the world who want to achieve a positive impact with their start-ups and who use technology to do so. Sasha Lipman and Jelena Popovic founded tech2impact in May 2020 in Vienna. Its aim is to create a platform for such changemakers, to connect them with each other and also to bring them together with investors, experts, authorities and actors from various industries (accelerators, companies). This creates a support system that helps founders to expand their business and increase their tech impact.

Change the world - and make money

Last but not least, tech2impact should also contribute to making the answers of technology startups to the great challenges of mankind visible. "We want to support the founders and dispel many prejudices," says Sasha in an interview with MEIN LEBEN. “The first prejudice is that start-ups that want to do good cannot or are not allowed to make money. And the second prejudice is that startups that make money can't be good. Neither of these is true - and we want to show that. "

You have seen many start-ups that either offer the solution to a problem that is not really a problem at all or that solve a problem that has actually already been solved by others, reports Sasha. “The world has already had enough of these start-ups,” she says. “We're looking for entrepreneurs who actually add value and solve a real problem.” Then there is the second aspect: “We're looking for start-ups that use technology to tackle and solve the problems that need to be solved.” And it only start-ups are accepted that have a functioning business model.

Tech2impact is still an association. So the team around Sasha and Jelena could get started immediately and start building the platform. The seven members of the core team are currently still working on a voluntary basis. "But since we want to prove that you can very well earn money as a start-up with social impact, we naturally plan to turn it into a profitable company," clarifies Sasha.

Austria is a good place for founders

The 24-year-old comes from Ukraine. There she studied Japanese and worked for the international student organization AIESEC. AIESEC then brought them to Vienna. Here she was in charge of the “Empower Austria” project, which was intended to attract international talent for Austrian start-ups. “That's how I came into contact with the startup scene in Austria,” says Sasha. She never let go of this scene. At the Viennese start-ups Dealmatrix and Hackabu, she was not only able to establish contact with many other start-ups, but also with investors and other players in the start-up ecosystem. "I immersed myself very deeply into the scene - not only in Austria, but also beyond."

She and her team now bring this experience and others from Europe, Asia, North and South America and the Middle East as well as her network to tech2impact. “Austria is the perfect place to start a start-up or an initiative like tech2impact,” says Sasha. “It's a safe haven and not a shark tank, people here prefer to work together and not against each other. The size is also right, the start-up ecosystem is neither too small nor too big. "

Mentoring program and webinars

In addition to the platform that brings the founders together and makes them visible to the world, there is also very specific support for the budding entrepreneurs. On the one hand, there is the mentoring program, which has been running for the first time since June. Completely virtual - this was also planned before Corona. Experienced experts give the founders of the 30 start-ups involved advice and information, open doors and support them in mastering their most urgent challenges.

The mentor and sparring partner works closely with the founders over a period of four months to find solutions and tackle the start-ups' greatest difficulties. Tech2impact was able to win 23 partners all over the world - from Australia to North America - as mentors and experts. “The mentors are often so enthusiastic about the ideas that they wanted to coach several start-ups at the same time,” reports Sasha. The mentors work free of charge and the program is also free of charge for the start-ups.

In addition to personal advice, the around 100 founders in the network also receive insights into various topics that are part of the successful development of a company, such as financing and team management, in a series of online seminars.

A tech radar to find good ideas

But not only founders find support at tech2impact. The Impact Tech Radar provides good ideas for anyone looking for solutions to the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals. It is a global, organically growing database for technical solutions that have a positive impact.

One of these solutions comes from BirdShades. The start-up, founded in 2018, is developing a transparent high-tech window film to save billions of birds worldwide from fatal collisions with the glass surfaces of buildings. Another example is Dreamwaves, an audio augmented reality navigation system that guides the blind or visually impaired to their destination with the help of virtually located sound marks. The Austrian start-up Mixteresting is researching in a completely different area. It is building a software tool based on artificial intelligence (AI) that can be used to virtually simulate new, promising concrete mixes. The simulation helps to save time and money - and to reduce the CO2 emissions of the new mixtures.

But the mentoring program, webinar and Impact Tech Radar are just the beginning. Sasha and her team still have big plans. “On the one hand, we are looking for ambassadors all over the world. We have already been successful in France, "says Sasha." On the other hand, we want to make Impact Tech mainstream and get the topic out of its niche. In the end, every tech founder should develop an awareness of the impact he can achieve with his start-up - and that he should not cause any damage. "

The next step for tech2impact is a Responsible Tech Campaign that scrutinizes technical start-ups. “It's about evaluating the solutions from an ethical perspective and examining any potential risks involved in using the product,” says Sasha. "In addition, the campaign aims to provide an exchange on why ethics are important and what the pitfalls in product design are and the resulting risks for users."