There is no codified definition for a startup. Usually it’s an organization focused on growth – growth of the team, production, sales or profits. And mostly it’s funded by raised capital in several rounds. So much the theory. But what if the goal of a startup is not to generate millions in revenues, but rather to help millions of people?
In the last years a new term is often used – the social startup. Different concepts can be connected to the term. For example a company that produces low cost solar batteries affordable to African families living off grid. Great mission with a downside – the low price won’t bring much in revenues. Another startup created equipment with pheromones that is able to keep the pests away from tea trees and thus increase the production of small traditional farmers. But those couldn’t afford it. So the team members shifted their attention to big “tea houses” and talked them into buying the equipment for the farmers. Now these can produce bio tee which the houses distribute as premium quality products. It’s a win-win for all parties.
A third option is to start a non-profit organization which will be helping people with the use of technologies. Just like Aktivita zvyšuje úspech does. It was founded by university students who wanted to secure more on-the-job training for their peers. Via a dedicated web platform companies could post internship offers for anybody to answer. But besides the big players like T-Systems or U.S.Steel AZU wanted to address small, often overlooked companies which also have projects to help with and can offer a unique insider look into the real business.
One might oppose that AZU was just a project, but not a startup. Well, let’s take a closer look. 1. Growth – while the original project was aiming at three universities, today AZU can be found in 8 cities and is slowly crossing over to Czech Republic as well.
- Scalability – besides internships the web page azu.sk today informs about interesting events focusing on students’ development, publishes projects, job offers and suggestions for thesis focus from companies and the local coordinators regularly organize meetings with students and different mentors and speakers.
- Talent – just like any company or startup the non-profits like AZU need all the talent they can get to secure a sustainable and long-term development.
- Money – securing grants, sponsorship or non-financial help is a No. 1 topic, because the business model isn’t really working yet. But show me a startup which didn’t face the same problem.
Azu is trying to help the students, make them more active and secure them more experience. From the feed-back it is apparent that the project is good. So let’s hope they won’t meet the fate of many startups which quit because they run out of money or the team breaks up.