In the past few years, “tech for good” accelerators that address such noble-sounding topics as ESGs or SDGs have been appearing. These efforts have been dismissed by some observers as not being scalable. The evidence is mounting that these efforts are increasingly drawing the attention of some of the best talent in the world, as the best talent wants to solve the biggest problems on the planet. The money and support will follow the talent. Entrepreneur First (EF), Antler and Antler tried to scale their models in Europe as “talent investors,” while Bethnal Green Ventures was even purchased and recapitalized by its new owners.
This approach clearly is on a roll.
Zinc was an accelerator that first appeared in 2017. It was started by Ella Goldner and Paul Kirby (LocalGlobe founder), and supported by its early investors, including the London School of Economics. Over 220 founders were able to support the venture, including Tandem (transportation for workers), Vira Health (“menopause support”), Pexxi (personalized contraceptives), Untangle (grief support) and Tandem (menopause support). It is possible to start businesses that solve seemingly intractable problems.
Zinc has closed the first PS28 million ($34million) fund. It is now aiming to close the final PS33 million ($41million) fund. Zinc will invest in startups that create commercial solutions for some of society’s most pressing problems. Zinc will invest as much as PS250,000 in each company that is created.
Zinc 2 Fund will support talent who, similar to EF, is pre-team and has an idea to build these startups. The four main missions of the cohort are: improving mental health, the environment and quality of life for people who have been impacted by globalization and automation, and helping them to succeed. Zinc and entrepreneurs agree that each mission is an opportunity for both commercial and social success.
Zinc’s co-founder, Goldner, stated in a statement.
Zinc assists individuals, not companies that wait for them to come along.
She said, “Typically, these individuals are between 10 and 20 years into their careers but are frustrated at not having the impact they desire… Zinc brings together these groups to combine commercial and social skills.”
Zinc selects up to 70 individuals who share the same mission. They also have access to a 12-month program of investment and support. Each program has 100 visiting fellows and a network.
Zinc believes that the “Great Resignation”, post-pandemic, will draw those who are reevaluating their careers.
Paul Kirby, Zinc’s co-founder, said, “Our missions are an appeal to arms: ‘Who would like to quit their job and spend the next ten years solving this problem?”
Dr. Rebecca Love, co-founder of Vira, has raised $14M in VC funding. Alex Shapland Howes has raised PS2 Million.
Zinc’s new fund also has investors such as Big Society Capital, Molten Ventures and Isomer.
Zinc’s founders, who were backed in its latest venture builder program, are more than 50% women and 15% Black with an average age 38.