Introducing VanIMPACT startup alley finalists: HitchPlanet, Wize Monkey and Left Stuff

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Over the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring some amazing Vancouver social entrepreneurs who are showcasing in the VEC Startup Alley at VanIMPACT Conference 2015 on September 23.

#VanIMPACT15 is the cornerstone social innovation conference during Vancouver Startup Week 2015, where entrepreneurs will learn and be inspired by a great lineup of speakers to achieve rapid growth and change the world for the better through technology.

Vancouver startups HitchPlanet, WizeMonkey and LeftStuff are the first finalists to be featured – they’re a testament that doing good and being a successful business can (and should) go hand in hand. Check out how they’re reducing waste, creating jobs and building a better tomorrow.

HitchPlanet

Image: HitchPlanet

Image: HitchPlanet

Who are you? Tell us about your business.

We are a free ride sharing community based in Vancouver. We help people get to and from Whistler, Squamish, Mount Baker, the nearby cities and the local hills. We believe transport should be affordable and efficient. We believe we can fill cars, reduce costs and create friendships. We believe the environment should be looked after.

What’s your vision for a better world and how does your startup factor into it?

“A new friend on every trip” is our vision at HitchPlanet. We contribute to a better world by helping people travel together to create social connections, bring travel costs down and reduce the number of cars on the road. We do this through a ride sharing platform that connect drivers and hitchers on intercity trips and provides an easy, safe and reliable service.

Why should everyone be thinking about purpose?

We need to find solutions to the growing problems of this world. We’re focused on helping fill empty seats in cars to connect people, reduce costs and carbon emissions, but this is only part of the problem. There are many other societal, economical and political problems to be solved: huge population migrations in the Middle East, spreading diseases in developing countries, the list is long! The more companies can be focused on solving these problems in innovative ways, the better. We need a growing movement of individuals and companies to come together and define the future for generations to come.

What’s the one thing you would say to entrepreneurs thinking about adding purpose to their business?

You really have to believe in what you’re doing, and love doing it. Stick to your vision and surround yourself with other individuals who believe in it. Teamwork is everything, you can’t build a purpose-driven company alone!


Wize Monkey

Image: Wize Monkey

Image: Wize Monkey

Who are you? Tell us about your business.

Ever heard of coffee leaf tea? Tasty, sustainable, more antioxidants than green tea, and creates year-round jobs for farmers. Our mission is to improve the livelihoods of coffee-dependent communities by harvesting a sustainable & healthy product.

What’s your vision for a better world and how does your startup factor into it?

Our vision for a better world comprises of consumers being aware of where their products are from and voting with their wallets to create tangible change. We believe in trade, not aid, as social businesses can create long-term sustained impact and create shared value for all parties involved.

What is your advice for tech and social entrepreneurs looking to merge the two philosophies and thrive?

The social impact always has to be your core raison d’être, your passion. Build an economically sustainable model with social impact being the core. If it isn’t viable or profitable for all parties, it won’t scale and you won’t create as much impact as you can. This is the key.

Who or what inspired you to make a positive impact with your business?

Having previously spent time in Latin America, we’ve always had a deep appreciation for the people and their beautiful culture. When we recognized a huge shortcoming in the coffee industry that leaves the least fortunate having the least security of food, shelter, education, and medicine, it really struck a chord with us. If you can change millions of people’s lives with just an idea, wouldn’t you be inspired to do so?


Left Stuff Inc

Left Stuff

Who are you? Tell us about your business.

Leftstuff.com is a family-first technology business based in Vancouver. Our mission is to positively impact the family life cycle – beginning to end – by providing smart family tools. Every tool from Leftstuff.com is specifically designed to have a cascading, generational positive effect of greatness, helping families to privately hold onto their family history and other important Life, Estate, Family and Tradition stuff.

What’s your vision for a better world and how does your startup factor into it?

A better world comes from family knowledge. Colourful life stories are the foundation of family as they’re rooted with successes, failures, culture, history and advice. Leftstuff.com offers a video platform that makes storytelling easy to record life stories with our guided, self-interviewing software. A two-hour life story can be produced with ease, then privately shared with family! Always having your grandmother’s (or mother’s or father’s) words of wisdom, when you need it most can be very powerful!

Who or what inspired you to make a positive impact with your business?

My family inspired me. When I lost my grandmother in France, she took with her our family history, her life stories, her wisdom, recipes and more. What a tragedy! In a world of video and yet she was lost forever. So I started recording memoirs with a camcorder and editing them on a laptop; it was a long, complicated process but I kept doing it. Then I lost my Dad from a heart attack on Christmas morning. As awful as that was, I had recorded his life story two years prior! My family and I had two hours of him talking to us via his life story, about our family history, his wisdom, his advice and more. My kids met my dad, their grandfather from that video, as did my husband. I knew there had to be a better way to record and edit these life stories in a private way that would benefit families – and now there is.

What is your favourite entrepreneurial quote?

It’s actually a book title but I use this quote/advice daily: “Ask For It!” It’s a book written by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever.

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