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Live Event Roundup – Tech For Good

On Thursday 24th March, Annapurna ERUPT hosted its first Linkedin Live event.

This event was part of the For The Founders series, held by Chief Evangelist, Mark Frost. With over 160 attendees, this event raised the topic of Tech For Good with 3 founders of 3 different German Technology organisations. 

Our speakers for this panel included:

Ruth von Heusinger – Founder & Managing Director ForTomorrow

Leitha Matz – Chief People Officer /Co-Founder of FinMarie

Philipp Skribanowitz – CEO | Founder at Mimi Hearing Technologies GmbH

Digital technologies are vastly improving and transforming modern businesses, from internal systems to customer interactions, both online and in person. As the pressure for environmental and social responsibility mounts, businesses are realising the potential to utilise technology to do good, safeguard our planet and the people on it.

New advancements in digital technology are now able to address some of our biggest social challenges by utilising more sustainable methodologies and having better stewardship of the planet’s natural resources. Many companies across the world have already started their drive to implement ideas within their business through the enablement of technology, with many committing to provide a purpose. 

We wanted to discover:

How are they doing it? Why are they doing it? What is the impact it will have on our planet?

Mark kickstarted the event by asking the founders:

Why did you start your business in a Tech For Good space?

Leitha discussed how finmarie noticed a gap within the finance market; an online investment solution for women. They started a non-profit organisation at first, which then initiated a conversation between women as to how they manage their finances. Therefore, after the growing success of a non-profit, finmarie wanted to be able to reach out to more females who needed their help and so their organisation naturally flowed into a for-profit business.

Ruth founded ForTomorrow in the non-profit market. She believed that in order to make a change and to reduce CO2 emissions in Europe, the non-profit market was the way forward. Ruth, however, believed that it was harder for her to do this as a female founder. She has experienced a gender bias within her senior position and believes that she is sometimes underestimated, especially within the climate space, a market that would require an influential leader in order to make a great change. 

Philipp discussed how his company comes under the Tech for Good bracket. He believed that the topic of hearing loss was stigmatised and that bringing this problem into the mass market enabled a purposeful change, which is extremely important if 25% of people will have hearing loss by 2050.

Philipp has found a way to turn technology systems into a solution, rather than a problem. With digital health solutions, users don’t want to pay out of pocket; people are spending money on audio solutions but not on hearing solutions. Philipp has found a way to provide both and therefore is making monetisation by offering a solution. Philipp said that there are advantages in technology that positively impact the products and services going forward. As the average American listens to 8 hours of audio a day, he believes that we must optimise these services to help people, rather than to damage their hearing.

Does being a purpose-led company make it a more successful one?

Leitha stated that being purpose-led brings people into your company with a passion and creates value out of a problem within the market. They agreed that smaller companies and startups tend to become the guinea pigs in the market as to what will succeed and what will fail. 

Ruth believed that in her business, being purpose-led involves an element of trust. She believed that there must be a certain level of belief within sustainability which is decision-based rather than to make a profit. Ruth said that ForTomorrow relies on voluntary support due to the belief of the purpose to save our planet and to bring climate protection forward.

Due to this tech for good stance, Leitha suggested that this has created more access for audiences and has proved that the market is much larger than people anticipated through available mobile technology services and through no code, access to tooling and widespread fast internet access.

Due to the advancement of technology systems, Fintech has created access in remote areas, including African nations. Even without the use of smartphones, people are building tools that speak to them as individual problems.

Is having a profit or a not-for-profit stance a more desirable trait to have as an organisation for VCs? 

Ruth said that as a non-profit organisation, even ForTomorrow was approached by investors. She believes that this is due to the sheer impact that they can create and the belief that investors have for climate change support.

Leitha believes that investors want to make an impact on the world, whether you are a profit or not for profit organisation. Finding an investor fit shows that the company does have a purpose and is mission-driven.

Is it more successful to align with the market trends or create a business that breaks market trends?

Philipp believed that accessibility is now more on the radar and that by catching the wave of the trend, this is much easier than trying to force a business against it. However, Ruth suggested that it is also positive to focus on new trends where they can have a larger impact.

How have employees’ mindsets shifted during the pandemic?

Philipp believes that it is a win for reduction of excess, a win for efficiency and creates a more flexible work style. He said that he has been experimenting with his team and finding the right balance between a hybrid vs office culture. However, he has the opinion that more social events bring more conversation to the table, so it is a balancing act. The pandemic has, however, allowed the business to attract a larger talent pool and shift expectations.

Mimi Hearing Tech has seen covid waves impact their business and hamper initiatives by increasing the time frame of technology release. 

Leitha discussed that it has brought forward a new app in a digital world to bring the remote world closer. The app brings forward something that is inaccessible to some females who can’t necessarily access or afford a 1to1 meeting with them. 

Ruth said that there is now an element of responsibility with how technology impacts our society and that you can reach more people now through different platforms and social media. Climate protection information can now be spread through blockchain web screen technology.

Retention vs attraction post-pandemic

People used the pandemic to reflect on what they wanted in life and what they can do to provide a real purpose. Leitha stated that people are willing to take on something that they really believe in and work on a mission to achieve a goal and make a change.

Philipp believed that people have had a moment to pause and reset their lives and have a passion to do good in the world. Mimi Haering Tech has now been surrounded by people that are talented and mission-driven. Yet, even though it has been a positive change for them as it has attracted great talent, it has also made a negative impact because people have discovered that they don’t want a corporate office 9-5 job where they are tied down.

What are the business’s current commitments to sustainability?

Ruth suggested that business models should reduce CO2 emissions as much as possible. Every business should focus on their emission rights long term to stop global warming. Leitha stated that as their company has become more remote, they have been able to reduce energy costs and travel during office closures.

We would like to thank the speakers and their organisations for their involvement with our first ever Linkedin live event.

Please watch the full video here:

Written by Jasmine Mitchell, Growth Marketing Executive – Annapurna Recruitment

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