Social Impact Capital’s Request for Start-Ups

At Social Impact Capital, I mostly wait for brilliant entrepreneurs to show me their version of the future (that’s more exciting), but while I wait, I also have a few ideas of my own that I’d like to fund. If you’re working on one of these ideas, please get in touch.

Education

A Website for Competing Curriculums

A website where teachers can upload self-produced classes on any topic — there would be multiple courses for any curriculum. Running large scale tests of competing curriculum would allow us to know what is the best curriculum, and can also match curriculums to individual learning profiles (visual learner, auditory learner, etc.) The website would take care of testing and certification, but the students could take any path through the curriculum that they wanted.

Diversity

Skill and Test Based Measurements for HR Departments

One of the problems with diversity is a lack of HR departments being able to measure true skill, so they rely on inaccurate proxies like Ivy League educations that bring with them a host of biases. There also simply aren’t measurements for a lot of the skills that businesses need. For example, there’s no way to objectively measure what a good networker I am. However, if there was an app that I could use to introduce people where they could then rate anonymously the value of the introduction to them, I could get a “Net Introducer” score that would measure this. A company in this vein is Brilliant.org, which I have total VC jealousy about, but alas, it was before Social Impact Capital was formed. However, Brilliant.org only is about math and analytics problems, and there are a lot more qualities and skill sets that employers need.

An Andela for X

Andela is one of my favorite companies that Social Impact Capital ever invested in (our second investment.) Andela’s basic business model is to search Africa for the top 1% of tech talent (it’s harder to get into than Harvard) and then pays to give them advanced training that turns them into the world-class elite of tech talent. Andela then get paid by tech companies that are in need of top tech talent to introduce its grads to them. The model is hard to do, as you have to get it exactly right — and Andela gets it exactly right — but Andela has also proven what a successful business this can be. A company like Andela should exist for every in demand profession in every country in the world.

Impact Investing Infrastructure

A Website for Pay for Success Bonds

More on this later. I could write a book about it, and need more time.

Food

A Note-by-Note Cooking Meal Kit

Note by Note cooking is a type of cooking created by chef Hervé This, the creator of molecular gastronomy. It involves using compounds — instead of animal or plant tissues — to create food. Most food is mostly water, for example, an egg white is just water and protein, so we’re just transporting (heavy) water around the world, which is very inefficient. This type of cooking also increases the flavor combinations by an order of magnitude. For example, you can dehydrate an egg white, then reconstitute it with beet juice, and make an incredible new type of beet meringue or a souffle.

Cooking this way can begin to solve the challenges of feeding an overpopulated world in a world where there is a water crisis, it’s an easier way to assure proper nutrition, and lastly, it’s interesting and delicious. It’s a new frontier in cooking that is yet to be explored at any length: it’s not as limiting as cooking with food. However, it’s also impossible to do at the moment (the only recipe I could easily find the components to make was Note by Note Beet Souffle with an Orange Center.) It would also create a more efficient meal delivery service, without the logistical nightmares trying to prevent spoilage.

Miracle Berry Based Food

Alas, us humans must live under the contradiction that we seem to prefer sweet food, but sugar is terrible for us. Has anyone ever looked at creating food that only tastes sweet due to the miracle berry? The miracle berry is a small red fruit (currently very expensive) that contains a glycoprotein (Miraculin) that coats the taste buds and temporarily alters their shape: it causes your taste receptors to interpret certain flavors (mostly sour ones) far sweeter. I ordered these miracle berries off Amazon, then sucked on a lemon, and it tasted like the most delicious, sweet lemonade. It struck me that a variety of foods could be made to taste sweet, without actually being sweet in terms of health.

Healthcare

Consumer Controlled Health Records

I am so tired of filling out the same forms at every doctors appointment — I don’t expect that doctors will ever adapt to state of the art medical records if they haven’t by now, but as a consumer, I can.

Each doctor I’ve visited in my life (by now, likely hundreds) has records about me, and they never share them with other doctors, let alone me. I can’t even remember the names of some of the doctors I’ve visited, nor do I have my test results from doctors.

Additionally, I really have no idea about the medical history of my family — if my medical records were linked to my families I’m sure that would be helpful for doctors to know — facts about my families health are vague to me, like I know that my grandfather had a stroke, but I don’t know exactly when and what type.

I’d like online storage of my medical records that I can share with certain doctors and then be in control of revoking access. I don’t want to rely on the fact that my doctor has chosen a good medical record system.

I use Wellness FX, and it’s great for keeping track of how bloodwork changes over time, but it doesn’t have all the tests that my doctors prescribe, and it doesn’t incorporate into the doctor’s work flow very well — any doctor should be able to use the platform to prescribe bloodwork.

Also, my food diary and wearables information should be a part of this, in a format that is easy for doctors to understand and derive health insights from.

E-Cig Vaporizing Device that Connects to your Phone.

I have been particularly interested in ways to stop smoking after my beloved father died of lung cancer at 63. You decide (using the associated iPhone/Android app) what tapering plan you want and the taper schedule (e.g., 3 months to reduce intake by half; 12 months to get down to zero), and specify how many cigarettes per day you are currently smoking (and the brand; or if you are already vaping, how many milligrams per day of nicotine you are consuming) You submit this information via the app and then and it locks down the vaporizer so that it won’t work anymore once it has dispensed the maximum allowed under the tapering schedule. It can warn you if you are using it too quickly during the day and will run out long before bedtime, perhaps throttling down the flow rate when that is happening. If you want to change the taper schedule (to “cheat” on your plan), you need to call up a number and pay a $50 fee. This is only if you want to increase your nicotine intake (if you want to taper down faster then that can be done easily using the app): the purpose of this is purely to give an incentive to the user to stick with the plan.

Government

Blockchain for Redistributive Government Payments

Looking for applications of blockchain to transform redistributive payments from welfare, social security, to foreign aid to lessen the transaction costs and make it not subject to corruption.

Science Funding

A Kickstarter/Paetron for Science Funding

More on this later. I know this has been tried; I need to research more why it hasn’t been overly successful, and talk to more people in the field, as well as do more market research.

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