18 exciting startups have emerged from Zinc.VC, a London-based program which is building a new innovation system to connect and grow talent, ideas and capital to build successful and scalable businesses that solve chronic social problems.

Zinc had a whopping 800+ applications from across the world all wanting to be Mission One founders, after much analysis it brought together an eclectic cohort of 55 highly talented individuals, all recruited to be Zinc Mission 1 Founders. The Founders have backgrounds in computer science, entrepreneurship, consulting, medicine, UX/UI design and the program launched in Oct 2017.

Their mission?… to build ventures from the ground up, after months of hard work, learning and mentoring sessions. I attended the launch event, participated in a few of the mentor sessions and have kept in touch with several of the founders, including spending an entire evening at Morgan Stanley in Canary Wharf debating which name one of the founders should go with for their idea lol.

The Zinc founders are an equal mix of women and men, they represent more than 19 countries (including Northern Ireland Yay!), over half of them have experience within early stage start-ups, with an average age of 33 and with over a third above the age of 35.

What I loved most about the mentoring sessions that I took part in, is that they all included many people who actually had the problems that the teams were trying to find a solution to. I have never seen that in any of the programs I know of, which often tend to be a reunion for Cambridge or Oxford grads…. it’s all very well bringing smart and talented people together but you need a good dynamic and it’s vital to involve those the solutions are for, so high five to all at Zinc.VC on getting the dynamic spot on and I am sure testament to that will be how much these 18 startups go on to achieve.

Anyway, I am delighted to see the realisation of everyone’s hard work.

The 18 startups have now emerged from Mission One, all with products designed to create solutions to challenges and issues in women’s mental and emotional health.

The result is a range of purposeful products created for ages from eight to 88, with a new set of health services ranging from contraception to chronic diseases to perinatal support. The ventures offer help in overcoming mental illness, including five different types of clinical therapy.

Zinc’s 18 mission one ventures:

Adia – disrupting and modernising obstetrics with a personal companion empowering couples with science, accessible health experts, personalised emotional support and wellness services to thrive on their journey to having a healthy baby

Amble – a ‘Waze for pedestrians’ enabling women to navigate cities safely and confidently via customised maps that optimise for safe routes using publicly available data and real-time reporting

BetterSpace – intelligent platform enabling people to quickly find the right strategy to improve their mental health by matching them to the right clinical or non-clinical service

Bold Health – digital therapeutic platform leveraging cognitive behavioural and relaxation therapies to help patients with stress-related functional chronic conditions (starting with IBS) to better manage and treat their physical and mental health

Dialoguers – delivering a network-based talk therapy that provides five times better results than the NHS with a tenth of the relapse rate, as it builds an AI solution that will make it available to anyone, anywhere, at any time, for any issue

Gilda – membership service helping older adults live more active, social and independent lives. Gilda bundles and augments existing technologies and services, delivered face-to-face by personal coordinators and through an in-home voice platform

Goozby – empowering kids to be the boss of their devices, launching with the first app to rewards kids for taking breaks from their device

Leika – empowering women to explore their bodies and to communicate what brings them sexual pleasure through the encouragement and assistance of a flirty, responsive, and voice-enabled virtual personality

Levell – providing practical tools for employees to help them prevent their own burn-out, and to employers the insights to build better, more caring organisations, resulting in happier and more productive workforce

ONiGO – interactive experiences for mental and physical fitness, ONiGO creates immersive adventures on your smartphone, where your team completes missions in the outdoors

Project Kitchen Table – conversation partner built on voice and immersive tech, designed to help individuals speak their minds and break the generational cycle of poor communication and mental health.

Resilio – AI matching people to lifestyle and therapy knowledge in a tailored skills-based programme, developing virtual consultation access to experts, starting with stress management, self-esteem, insomnia, anger and smoking

Squad – social approach to money delivered via a group messaging platform that enables friends to save together for dream experiences by automatically saving each time they spend. Launching with social microsaving, before adding group discounts, payments, investing and more

Tile – micro-video platform that teaches life skills in seconds. Provides users with the tools and space to create, consume, and share highly educational micro-videos in seconds, exactly when they need them

Trapeze – like an AirBnB for education, Trapeze reinvents the physical aspect of studying by providing an offline ecosystem for online learners in the form of co-learning spaces

Uniq – matching the right medicine to every woman, based on her medical history, hormonal and genetic profiles, and self-tracked data, starting with contraceptives

Zentor – reframing how we think of retirement by facilitating transition out of work through a digital platform to explore, join and create activities, and to find like-minded individuals to enjoy a fulfilling life

Zone – fast-tracking people to their desired state of mind, on demand and using newly composed music that adapts to the user. Created with innovative musicians and powered by science and artificial intelligence.

I wish all of the startups the best of luck and if there is anything I can do to help, please do let me know! 🙂

More about Zinc.VC

Zinc.VC was cofounded by Saul Klein, who has wore many hats as an entrepreneur with LoveFilm, operator with Skype and venture capitalist with Seedcamp, Index Ventures and LocalGlobe. Paul Kirby former Head of Government and Policy at KPMG and tech entrepreneur Ella Goldner who has many years of experience as an operator and consultant.

Zinc programme was seed-funded with £500,000 from Saul and Robin Klein’s Venture Capital fund LocalGlobe, and is now looking to raise extra capital from angel investors, other venture funds, impact investors and strategic corporates. Zinc will take an 8% stake in new ventures.

Participants in the programme, based at Camden Town Hall, were advised by senior tech entrepreneurs and investors, as well as experts in women’s mental health and wellbeing.

The programme was then divided into ‘match’ and ‘hatch’, with the first helping participants find their cofounders, and the second building their ideas into prototypes. 15 of the 18 new ventures have a female founder.

An impressive list of fellows, experts and speakers helped the founders in creating the 18 startups. Over the coming three months, Zinc is looking to this community to help the new businesses find the investors, partners and supporters they need to help them succeed. So I would recommend anyone who is interested in helping or investing in the startups mentioned above to reach out them and at the very least be vocal in your support of their work.

Zinc.VC will announce details of its next mission soon, opening recruitment to a second programme in the autumn, that is widely expected to focus on second chances in life.

The calibre of all of the founders has impressed me and what I really love is unlike the likes of programs such as EntrepreneurFirst (who from what I have seen do great things but sadly tend to only involve well educated technical talent in their program) Zinc.VC clearly understand and more importantly embrace the importance of diversity of all forms, including socioeconomic backgrounds which is often forgotten by many programs. I strongly believe that socioeconomic inequality and underrepresentation is the basis from which all inequality is formed.

It never ceases to amaze me how many startups and programs feel attracting people with logo’s such as Google, Goldman Sachs and Stanford on CV’s, is perceived to be a first class ticket to Unicorn status and many get a rude awakening when their expensive ‘dream team’ runs out of runway.

One thing I learnt during my 4 years helping to build JUST EAT, was that more often than not, the most impactful people that moved the needle most, often came from very humble beginnings, I was one of them and there were many more who combined with a good mix of others, to make a kick ass team determined to win.

If you can hire people whose passion intersects with their job, they won’t require any supervision at all. They will manage themselves better than anyone could ever manage them. Their fire comes from within, not from without. Their motivation is internal, not external.

I feel the above quote demonstrates perfectly that it’s not always about what someone has done, it’s more about what they passionately want to do, so well done to Zinc.VC on bringing together 55 amazing people who are all chomping at the bit to change the world. 🙂

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