By Maria B. Winans
When we set out to create a fun and educational program that would spotlight millennial start-ups that were founded with a social conscious to improve society, I had no idea we would encounter such intense levels of passion, commitment and clarity of thought.
But that’s exactly what we got.
This week we kick off the second phase of the New Way to Startup competition and webisode series, a five-day accelerator among five young start-ups will compete to see which one can produce the biggest breakthrough for their company using the latest social and analytics tools and leveraging expert business advice from onsite business pros.
The companies and their products are not only innovative, they’re inspiring:
- Charity Charge – maker of a new credit card that lets customers earn 1% cash-back donations that can be sent directly to any non-profit organization. The hope is to begin redeploying what researchers claim is $16 billion in expired credit card rewards points annually.
- Stretch Recipes – food marketing firm and developer of an application that lets users input their food budget as well as what they do not want to eat, and the app will provide a grocery list of healthy and affordable food choices.
- Owlet Baby Care – maker and marketer of the “smart sock” for infants that continuously monitors a baby’s heart rate and oxygen level and sends alerts to parents’ smartphones.
- Sproutel – young healthcare company and maker of teddy bears that let children with chronic illness provide the same health maintenance they’re receiving (food, medicine, etc.) to the bear in the hopes of becoming more comfortable with their own care.
- Lassey Project – provider of a free service that lets parents and guardians create local networks that can be used to notify an entire community about a missing child within seconds, complete with a picture and last known location. There are currently more than 2,300 communities in every state in the U.S.
These are special startups with a purpose. Now we’re going to challenge them to up their business game.
For this skills-based competition, each will send two representatives to Austin to live and work in our Startup competition house. They will compete in daily Accelerator Challenges that are designed to help each learn more about the value of everything from marketing to finance.
To help them in their journey, they will have access to IBM’s latest technologies, IBM Verse social messaging and collaboration, and IBM Watson Analytics, the incredibly fast, free and easy to use analytics service. In addition, each team will have personal business mentors from experts in their respective fields guiding and advising the entrepreneurs through their challenges.
The competition will culminate in a grand pitch exercise the evening of April 24, at which point each team will present their biggest breakthrough of the week to a panel of judges. The breakthrough, whether it’s technological or business-oriented will be taken back to their company to help accelerate the business to the next level.
Following the big pitch, the competition will go through a social voting phase in which fans of the competition can vote for their favorite team by tweeting that team’s unique hashtag. The winner will be announced on July 1 and the winning team will get an all-expenses paid trip to TED&IBM in San Francisco this coming October.
Each day’s events will be captured in video webisodes and aired on the New Way to Startup site.
These companies are indeed special and each was created out of a common desire to do something good for society. Regardless of who wins the competition, we are all better off for knowing a little more about each of them. But it will still be exciting to see who emerges with the biggest breakthrough!
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