This coming February, we’re excited to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Bay Area NewCo festival. Over 150 NewCo’s — from established players to scrappy startups — will open their doors and show how they’re transforming industries and shaping the future of business. While it’s certain that sessions at Slack, LinkedIn, Uber, and Pinterest will sell out early, here are six less well known, but truly fascinating companies I’m particularly excited to see.
Based in the Mission, Exygy is a digital agency that lives at the intersection of design, tech, and social impact. There are only a handful of mission-driven design agencies in the Bay Area, and Exygy is one of the key players — they build software for purpose-driven organizations like Google.org, UNICEF, the Skoll Foundation, and many others. Great technology and user-centred design can oftentimes be out of reach for impact organizations, and Exygy is helping fix that.
For example, they recently partnered with Girls Who Code and created a new website to help tell their story and support their growth. I’m looking forward to learning about how they balance pursuing profit & purpose and measure the impact of their work.
In the Bay Area, Kiva needs little introduction: the non-profit pioneered peer-to-peer microlending on the web, enabling people to provide loans to others in developing countries across the world. To date, nearly $1 billion has been lent through Kiva’s platform, helping people start businesses, get access to education, and much more.
Kiva not only helps aspiring entrepreneurs in developing countries, but they’re also empowering American small businesses by connecting them will 0% interest loans from lenders across the world. In their NewCo presentation, Kiva Senior Program Manager Justin Renfro will dive deep into Kiva’s U.S. lending, showing how we can use technology to reinsert human connection back into our financial system.
Every year, over 60 million Americans are affected by mental health issues. Enter Ginger.io, a mental health startup: through its mobile app, people struggling with anxiety or depression can get 24/7 access to support, guidance, and therapy from a Ginger.io personal care team.
Since launching, Ginger.io has helped more than half a million people improve their mental well-being, and it uses machine learning to understand their users behavior and predict early signs of depression. At the Bay Area Festival, I’m excited for Ginger.io founder Anmol Madan to share their story so far, and how they plan to change the future of mental health care.
4. Code for America
What if government worked better for the people who need it most? Code for America isn’t waiting to find out — they’ve been busy creating new, digital government services that make it easier for low-income Americans to access food, stay out of jail, and find jobs. Their staff and Fellows, and volunteers — working in governments big and small across the country — are re-designing government for the 21st century.
At the Festival, I plan to visit Code for America’s SOMA office to see them demonstrate some of what they’ve built, and walk attendees through their user-centered design and agile development processes. There’s never been a better time to build more effective, inclusive government services, and Code for America is showing that it can be done.
5. Imperfect Produce
Here’s a not so fun stat: about 50% of all produce in the U.S. gets thrown away. Most of the time, this food is perfectly good to eat — it’s just “ugly”. Though supermarkets may not want crooked carrots or misshapen apples, there’s still a market for ugly food — it’s cheaper than what’s on the shelves, and just as healthy.
That’s why Imperfect Produce, based in Emeryville, has built a subscription delivery service just for ugly produce. In their NewCo session, they’ll give attendees the rundown on how big of a problem food waste really is, how “ugly” our food can really be, and how we can tackle food waste in our daily lives.
6. Flow Labs
As California’s historic drought marches on while water costs continue to rise across the world, there’s never been a better time to examine our water supply and find room for improvements.
One NewCo to watch in this space is Flow Labs. They’re working to ensure that building owners know exactly how their water is being used, and provide real-time data on water usage and leakage detection. Their retrofit water sensors snap on directly to the outside of pipes, and these IOT devices collect data on water usage and visualize it in real-time on a web dashboard.
Technology can play a crucial role in ensuring that it can be affordable and accessible to those who need it most. As we continue our march towards a sustainable urban future, having clear, actionable data on water usage will only become more important. I’m excited to see Flow Labs doing such important work in this space — their session will be super interactive, and they want attendees to participate and discuss problems, solutions, and best practices for water use.
These six companies stood out to me because they’re tackling major challenges across the U.S. and the world, and inspiring a new generation of leaders by showing that business can, and should, be a force for good. We’re proud to have them (alongside 140+ other NewCo’s) right here in our backyard — the Bay Area Festival can’t come soon enough!