Reflections on Zinc’s Mission 1

Below are my reflections upon graduating Zinc, the London-based impact company builder that is focused on solving the world’s greatest and most underserved social issues. I was invited to give a speech on behalf of the startups in the first cohort of the accelerator (Mission 1), which was focused on addressing women and girls’ mental health through technology solutions. I hope you get inspired to apply to become one of the 50 founders in the next cohort here!

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I am delighted to share my thoughts on the Zinc experience on behalf of the Mission 1 cohort, which is full of passionate, highly capable, overall amazing people that care. I am so honored to have graduated this outstanding programme, and super excited to see all the impact we’ll make on our separate journeys.

First of all, I would like to extend massive thanks to Ella, Paul and Saul for their visionary leadership in creating Zinc. As a former venture investor with Atomico and having been involved in the European tech ecosystem intimately for the past 5 years, I truly believe Zinc will be a game changer. It brings to the forefront the confluence of technology & science on one hand, and of purpose on the other hand, all driven by passionate and talented individuals, with a great ambition to serve millions.

When I learned about Zinc, I was enthused at the prospect of an initiative that combines two very important aspects of our society today: technology and mission. We are leveraging the latest technologies to build things that matter and cannot wait anymore. We are forming tech startups not for the sake of it, but because it’s the only way to build scalable desperately-needed solutions, fast.

Thank you Zinc for the opportunity to be here, for seeing the potential in us, for appreciating our differences and our varied paths through the programme.

Thank you to all the many fellows, experts, and mentors that have generously offered their time and encouragement at every step of the way.

That you to the fellow Mission 1 founders who shared the joys and tribulations — it was great being in the trenches with you.

Thank you to the official and honorary founders of my company Bold Health — Jossy, Sevda, Georgia and Iain — for infusing their passion, drive and knowledge into all that we do. Together, we are changing people’s lives!

Mission 1 Founders and the Zinc team

I would like to share with you my takeaways from Zinc, what I truly believe to be a unique programme:

First of all, the journey. The Zinc journey has been a tremendous transformation for me personally. It has not only built my character and my vision for the future, but has also built me into a much better leader and technologist.

Second, the people. One of the most amazing things about Zinc is the diversity of its founders — in gender, motivations, education, cultural and ethnic backgrounds. It is tremendously inspiring to be in a room with people that bring such different perspectives to tough problems, and seeing just as many women as men! We have also been fortunate to obtain access through the Zinc network to a very diverse set of supporters. Those in academia, medicine, science, government, industries, and investment, have helped us reframe the way we think and approach solving problems.

Third, the mission. What stood out for me is how synergistic the program is, as everyone is striving towards the same goal. We did not compete, but rather shared knowledge and connections to help each other succeed in solving difficult problems. A shared mission made us all stronger and faster to insights and execution.

Lastly, Zinc has showed us a different way to build a business — an inclusive work culture that nurtures empathy and self-care, that involves collaboration and sharing, that nurtures without imposing, and that embraces founders at all stages of life and career.

One of the many celebrations at Zinc in our King’s Cross offices

On the pragmatic side of things, however, one of the biggest realisations has been how difficult it is to find meaningful funding for these mission-driven initiatives. Having been an investor who witnessed new venture funds getting raised across Europe almost every day, I was surprised that there wasn’t much early capital for companies that can move the needle on solving big problems. So I encourage investors: rethink your risk willingness and even investment time horizons on the bets that truly matter. We here at Zinc tried really hard things in really hard markets, which might require a different investment approach.

To close, as I’m sure many in our cohort would agree, the Zinc experience was the most challenging and rewarding rollercoaster that I never want to get off of. It is a deeply addictive journey to build a company with a purpose that drives you every day.

Here, we were given a challenge to build a product that solves a meaningful problem for at least 1 million people. If we could do that in six months, we could all surely aim to impact 1 billion people positively in our lifetime! I am so excited to see what comes of our companies and our life’s work.

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Elena is the Co-Founder and CEO of Bold Health, a healthtech company pioneering digital mindbody medicine for the treatment and management of underserved chronic conditions, starting with IBS. Bold Health was founded within social impact accelerator Zinc, which focuses on building new companies that solve the developed world’s toughest social issues. Apart from Bold Health, multiple other companies have launched within the cohort, each striving to impact the lives of millions of people. Check them out: Adia, Amble, Betterspace, Dialoguers, Gilda, Goozby, Levell, Leika, ONiGO, Project Kitchen Table, Resilio, Squad, Inspiral, Uniq, Zentor, Zone. Read more about the journey of the Zinc Mission 1 Cohort at www.zinc.vc. Apply for the Mission 2 Cohort here.

Introducing Bold Health to the guests at our final Show & Tell