News & Views

Sidekick School

by Contagious Team

Social innovation studio announces outcomes of its startup incubator programme

Sidekick Studios, the London-based social innovation company, last week presented the results of its Sidekick School startup incubator programme for charities.

Backed by the Nominet Trust, which funds socially and economically sustainable tech startups, Sidekick School seeks to help third sector organisation create sustainable digital businesses to help them access new revenue streams. 

The Sidekick School programme launched last year. Alternative education charity Inaura, youth volunteer organisation vInspiredComic Relief and Carers UK were the inaugural participants, which presented their projects at Sidekick's London studio this week.

Carers UK, the organisation committed to supporting the UK's 6 million carers, came up with Jointly, a mobile app that helps a group of carers looking after someone in need coordinate their schedules and share information. So siblings looking after an aging parent, for example, can organise holidays, medicine intake or doctors' appointments. 

Inaura, an inclusion charity that promotes alternative education models, created Narrative, a web-based tool that facilitates communication between the people and agencies who are responsible for the whereabouts and progress of a student. 

Comic Relief set up an internal hack lab (called Explora-lab-ora-torium) to create six fundraising apps in six weeks. The initial products were then presented to the management for further consideration and implementation. One of the apps is Mega Mile, which aims to push involvement beyond the single-day events of Red Nose Day and Sports Relief, and instead increase donation throughout the year.  

Youth volunteering organisation vInspired is tackling youth unemployment with Task Squad, a micro-job platform that makes use of its database of 270,000 18 to 25-year-olds keen to get into the job market. Participating companies post their temp jobs and tasks on the platform, where keen job seekers will earn the minimum London wage of £8 per hour for the challenge; vInspired charges £4 per hour for taking facilitating and taking care of invoicing. 

Asi Sharabi, Sidekick's managing director, said: 'The first Sidekick School was an incredible experience. There is still a lot to refine and do better but the model seems to have legs. We have validated that you if can put up the right team in place - strategist, technologist and a designer, with a passionate expert from the charity, you can conceive, design and launch a startup in three months, then seed it back into the organisation and see it grow. We have early signs that this is a way to de-risk the process of launching a social startup.'

Sidekick is currently looking for funding and potential partners for the school's second round.