Tradecraft: 30 Mission-Driven Startups You Should Know
Updated: Jun 14, 2018
Many in Silicon Valley aspire to build products and companies that have the potential to create positive change on a large scale. Often, however, these companies can be difficult to find because they have smaller recruiting budgets, and their mission statements can get lost in the noise of startups claiming to be “changing the world.”
To help, we’ve decided to put together a list of mission-driven companies that are attempting to make a big impact on the world.
We tried to pick companies that:
have solutions that are technology-driven or at least tech-enabled
have similar hiring needs to a typical silicon valley startup
are focused on fulfilling basic needs of people who are typically underserved
Based on that loose criteria, we’ve put together a list of companies that we think are awesome and fit the bill.
San Francisco, ~324 employees
What they do Allow users to create campaigns to mobilize supporters around issues they care about.
Why you should know about them It’s the world’s largest social change platform with over 150 petition starters and signers in 196 countries. Recently they launched a crowdfunding tool to allow petition starters to tap into their community to raise the money they might need to push their campaign to victory. There’s also a new election platform that gives voters full ballots and allows them to crowdsource recommendations from people and organizations they trust.
More about Change.org
2015 — Year In Change (YouTube)
Change.org Is Amplifying the Power of a Signature (Bloomberg)
Change.org Raises $25M From Big Names for ‘Social Change’ Petition App(The Wall Street Journal)
San Francisco, ~9 employees
What they do Make it easy to understand the laws Congress is considering and streamline the process of giving your opinions lawmakers.
Why you should know about them In a world where the smartphone has become the central platform to consume political media, mobile devices should also enable citizens to engage with their news-making lawmakers. On Countable, users can learn about issues, influence their representatives in government, and rally their community and friends around those issues.
More about Countable
Tinder, but for Unsexy Congressional Bills, Is Kind of a Great Idea! (GQ)
An App That Makes It Easy to Pester Your Congress Member (Wired)
Countable Wants To Make Politics A ‘Continual Conversation’(TechCrunch)
San Francisco and Washington D.C.~19 employees
What they do A political crowdfunding startup that makes it easier for citizens to learn about politicians, and to find and support political candidates that match their priorities and beliefs.
Why you should know about them They’re creating a level playing field by giving every American access to the same political tools that the insiders have monopolized.They’ve also raised money from several top-tier venture capital funds and angel investors, including NEA, InterWest, Index Ventures, CAA and SV Angel.
More about Crowdpac
Exclusive: Tech firm Crowdpac launches new political crowd-funding tool(USA Today)
Steve Hilton, a Brit out to disrupt American politics with Crowdpac (The Washington Post)
San Francisco, ~2 employees
What they do Build technology aimed at increasing voter turnout in the United States
Why you should know about them Since launching, this Y combinator backed startup has managed to drive 6.2 Million visitors. Eventually, they plan to streamline the voting process to allow voters in all 50 states to register to vote and get their absentee ballots via their smartphone.
More about Vote.org
There’s a New Way to Register to Vote — And It Could Revolutionize American Elections (Poicy.Mic)
What Can Non-Profit Startup Vote.org Do With Y Combinator Seed Funding In 178 Days? (Forbes)
How This Solo Founder Got Into a Top Tech Accelerator (The Huffington Post)
Crisis Text Line
New York, ~50 employees
What they do Offer free, 24/7 text-message counseling for people in crisis.
Why you should know about them Since launching in August 2013, Crisis Text Line has processed nearly 20 million messages. Right now more than 1,500 volunteer Crisis Counselors man the lines for Crisis Text Line; over the next couple of years, it’s seeking to expand to more than 4,000. They’ve raised over $24M from a star-studded group of investors including Reid Hoffman, Melinda Gates and Steve Balmer.
More about Crisis Text Line
Tech’s Biggest Names Are Giving Millions to Crisis Text Line (Wired)
R U THERE? (The New Yorker)
Las Vegas, ~20 employees
What they do Create affordable communication products for inmates and their families
Why you should know about them 1% of the U.S. population has a loved one in prison. In order to communicate by phone, prisoners and their families are forced to pay up to $70 for 300 minutes of call time. Pigeonly is using VOIP technology to bring that price down to $20. They are currently supporting about 2 million minutes of phone time per month as well as sending a quarter-million pictures every month between inmates and their loved ones.