As more businesses and welfare organisations leverage the power of technology for social good, they have had to confront challenges – from the lack of skilled talents, systemic issues to the search for capital investment.
In this three-part episode ‘Doing Good is Good for Business’, Ellen Goel (Head of Entrepreneurship Programmes, SUSS Centre for Experiential Learning) hosts SUSS student entrepreneurs Jenine Koh (Co-founder, Nino News) and Rayner Loi (Co-Founder and CEO, Lumitics), who run their tech start-ups, to discuss the effectiveness of doing good through tech entrepreneurship.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals, inspired both start-ups: Nino News curates developmentally-appropriate, real-world news content for pre-schoolers on its edutech platform, while Lumitics empowers commercial kitchens to reduce their food waste, cost and environmental footprint by using data analytics and business intelligence.
Rayner explains why he is so passionate about what he does, “Food waste is really impacting our environment, and it’s a problem that can be easily tackled.” He and Jenine join a new generation of impact businesses and social entrepreneurs where tech start-ups with a social mission have become increasingly fundable, investible and scalable.
The duo has no misgivings about the importance of having positive unit economics. To successfully scale their businesses’ impact, they must possess sound financials and a sustainable business model. They shared that in seeking funding, rejections were common. Believing that it takes time to find the perfect match, they were careful in picking investors who are aligned with their business goals and able to see the challenges ahead.
Like social enterprises that embrace triple bottom lines, success is also measured by their companies’ social and environmental performances. The obvious key metrics for Lumitics include the amount of food waste reduced and the amount of cost saved for their partners. But with Nino News, the challenge is in measuring the social benefits of its platform for preschool children.
“Ultimately, we have to control and make sure that the tech we are producing and giving to the young children works,” explains Jenine. She adds that the education landscape will rebalance the idea of virtual learning and real-world learning, especially in the aftermath of the global pandemic.