Event Highlights Startups Looking to Do Good

From online platforms helping domestic violence victims earn a living to those that help all of us make more informed choices when casting our election day ballots, these are the types of startup competitors that make the Challenge Cup.

The Cup is run by incubator and venture fund 1776. It is a bit different from the loads of events where fledgling tech companies get networking and mentoring opportunities before competing in an on stage pitch-off for a big cash prize. The companies, all for-profit, are also trying to solve the types of problems that would likely earn them the title “do-gooder.”

“These are startups from all around the world who are solving some of the biggest challenges that we face today,” says Rachel Haot of 1776. “Every startup is in an area like energy, education, health, transportation - really complex industries that have the potential to impact society and the world in a really fundamental way."

Because many of the folks in this room have to deal with government institutions, healthcare institutions, educational institutions, they probably have many more hoops through which they have to jump than the typical startup.

In fact, the goal for many here, specifically to navigate through all the red tape of certain processes so that their customers won’t have to.  Like Sow Organic, which finds events like this helpful as it tries to help farmers with the complicated USDA rules for qualifying as “certified organic.”

 “There’s so much to be learned from peer-to-peer shared stories as well as experts who have been in the industry for years,” says Lydia Henshaw of Sow Organic.

A sentiment shared by Propel, trying to makes sense of the food stamp system for those who rely on it.

 “We think that just because the program is complicated and the administration and bureaucracy of it is complicated doesn’t mean the consumer experience needs to be extremely complex and mind boggling and hard to navigate,” says Jimmy Chen of Propel.

The Global Cup, which starts with 45 cities and 135 local winners competing for $1 million dollars in prizes, is whittled down to one overall winner this summer at the final event in Washington, DC. 

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