£10,000 in prize money was shared between six teams who took part in the first UnFound Accelerator live pitch event last night (Wednesday 21 July).
The event marked the end of a 10 week UnFound Accelerator – which gives start-up platforms the support they need to develop their platform co-op business ideas, as well as develop their product, business planning, strategy, branding and marketing.
The online event, attended by more than a hundred members of the public and supporters of the six teams, involved each team pitching their business to a panel of experts. Followed by an audience vote to decide how the £10,000 prize fund provided by The Co-operative Bank was distributed. The results are in…
The teams with the highest number of votes were:
- Red Brick Language School, 28% winning £2,795 – a teacher-owned online English Language Community offering modular courses, subscription clubs, bespoke courses and 1:1s in English as a Foreign Language (EFL)
- Dopo, 21% winning £2,063 – an overdue upgrade to abortion care which combines self‑care, community care and healthcare to support individuals before, during and after their abortion experience. It allows people to track their symptoms, access peer support anonymously and the essential information to support all aspects of their experience (medical, physical and emotional) from providers and practitioners
- Wings, 20% winning £2,013 – a London based rider‑led platform delivering food from independent restaurants to people’s doorstep, which launches this week.
Lucy Stephens, co-founder of Red Brick Language School alongside Bernie Kennedy, says:
“We have learnt so much over the last ten weeks about co-operation and many aspects of running a worker collective. As teachers, we've broadened our skill set hugely. It has been wonderful to get to know the rest of the cohort and see what a bright future they will have too – they are truly innovative ideas.”
Second place Dopo’s founder, Zachi Brewster, says:
“We are so very grateful to have been part of this cohort of the UnFound Accelerator! Our focus has always been on people who seek and provide support, not politics. And care, not choice. These past 10-weeks with the UnFound team and our fellow platforms have been invaluable in moving us from an idea to a growing community, and now with access to this fund, we will continue building our platform based on this upgraded approach to support.“
Third place Wings’ co-founder, Rich Mason, says:
“We're thrilled to get such a show of public support at this hugely exciting time for Wings – the week of our launch! Thanks to all who voted for us, and we want to congratulate all the other teams who have been such a joy to work with for the last ten weeks, for their amazing business ideas and presentations. It's time for Wings to take flight and we'd like everyone in North London to know about us, so please visit our site and spread the word if you can Thank you!”
"We have indeed found our new digital pioneers"
On the night the teams were joined by an expert panel of judges who provided questions and insight after each team pitch. The panel was Rose Marley, CEO of Co-operatives UK; Catherine Douglas, Managing Director of SME at The Co-operative Bank; and founder of tech-platform Big Revolution, Martin Bryant.
Rose Marley, says:
“If the future of co-operative tech is in the hands of some of the teams we’ve seen today, we have indeed found our new digital pioneers. Fair, equitable, innovative disruption using technology – it can be achieved and tonight’s pitch event proved that.”
Catherine Douglas, says:
"I am delighted that The Co-operative Bank is supporting the next generation of platform co-operatives through the UnFound programme. The six teams that have taken part in this programme are great examples of how co-operatively owned tech businesses can really respond to the wants and needs of consumers, whilst benefiting society. We are excited to follow the progress of these businesses and look forward to supporting more platform co-ops in the coming months."
Martin SFP Bryant says:
"The teams who took part in the first UnFound Accelerator cohort offered a really inspiring selection of ways to improve society, based on a spirit of fairness and collaboration. It's a reminder that technology can empower people in all sorts of ways that are often overlooked in the age of 'Big Tech' giants."
How else you can support the six teams
- Africanfuturist Arts – Visit their website and join the waiting/mailing list at Africanfuturist.com
- Crystalisr Marketplace – Sign up for their newsletter
- Dopo – Visit their website and sign up to our newsletter, and pay forwards some of their 121 support sessions
- Red Brick Language School – Follow them on social media – Twitter | Instagram
- We‑Guild – Subscribe to their newsletter
- Wings – who launch today! – ask you to order from their platform (if in the Finsbury Park, London, area) and promote on social media.
What's coming next for UnFound?
- The UnFound Accelerator is open for applications for its autumn edition. The deadline for applications is midnight 28 July
- Visit the UnFound website over the coming months
- Sign-up for the UnFound newsletter.
Watch the moment when the top three winning teams were revealed
Watch the pitch event back in full
Watch all six pitches (order – We-Guild, Crystalisr, AfricanFuturist Arts, Red Brick Language School, Dopo, Wings), including Q&A from the judging panel and the results.