#TechForGood Trailblazers: @TheRentSquare, @BLittleLabs, @wayfindr, @OpenUtility

#TechForGood trailblazers was the second panel session at the launch event for the Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology (CAST),  focussed on accelerating the use of tech to drive social change.

Read our first post from the event here to catch up with more #techforgood action.

This second session was full of quick fire presentations from up-and-coming startups in the #TechForGood sector, including Rent Square, Bright Little Labs, Wayfindr and Open Utility.

There’s more info on each of these #techforgood startups below, but check out each of their websites or follow them on Twitter for more.

rent square

Helena, Rent Square@therentsquare

  • “Rent made simple, fair and square”
  • Uses open data to make private sector renting fair and square
  • High rents, opaque practises and charging lots of fees has a big impact on people’s lives, often forcing people to move out and into areas they don’t want to live in
  • Helps tenants and landlords manage their relationship at a fraction of the cost of traditional rental markets
  • Open data helps people understand what is the going rate and fair fees for rentals
  • How to incentives landlords? Have tested with 12 landlords to create a sustainable solution of interest landlords
  • RentSquare’s open data and algorithm attracts tenants a lot quicker than using rental sites, so landlord’s fill their properties with tenants much quicker.
  • This helps them avoid the cost of running an empty property, with the attentiveness of not losing revenue being a main driver of interest
  • In the last 6 months, have already proved impact and are looking to scale

bright little labs

Sophie, Bright Little Labs@blittlelabs

  • Make stories to insure children
  • Focuses on STEM, diversity, critical thinking and sustainability
  • Worked with Code Club, Department of Education and Google to help teachers teach coding to their children, as part of the national curriculum
  • Children learn about the world through the stories around them
  • 0% of princesses are coders!
  • Kids also spend 6 hours a day in front of screens, so created #DetectiveDot
  • Detective Dot is a 9 year old female coder, with a sidekick called Miss Drone and a part of the Children’s Intelligence Agency (top secret – only available to kids aged under 12!)
  • A fun way to teach coding and equality to kids

wayfindr

Umesh, Wayfindr@wayfindr

  • Mission: to empower vision impaired people to navigate the world independently
  • Non-profit joint venture
  • 285million people living with sight loss worldwide
  • Want to get out more often, but sight loss makes it difficult, leading to lack of independence, social seclusion and depression
  • Created an open standard for audio-based way finding
  • Running trials in London (Pimlico and Euston) and Sydney
  • When people get from the street level to the tube platform, this is something they’ve never achieved before and they get an instant boost of confidence
  • As more and more people adopt and use the open standard, the impact is proven and grows

open utility

James, Open Utility@openutility

    • Democratising energy
    • Renewable energy is growing but most of our energy comes from large, polluting systems
    • The energy industry is the most complicated, opaque and closed system inexistent, with layers of bureaucracy and inefficiencies built up over years
    • There is now a barrier to entry to independent energy producers, such as small scale solar panel providers
    • Why don’t we create an online, peer-to-peer energy marketplace that opens up access and levels the playing field for everyone?
    • This led to them building a service called Piclo (“Pick Local”), which launched last year
    • Looking to change the rules of the game – can you work with your neighbour to pay a fair rate for your energy?

For more on CAST, take a look at their website at wearecast.org.uk or follow the #techforgood hashtag for more updates from the event.

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