Hacking inequality

Each week I have the pleasure of meeting quite a few founders who come and talk to us about their ideas. They want to find out more about BGV and I want to help them in whatever way I can, whether or not they go on to become a BGV team. It’s most intense just before our application deadline but we’re always up for a coffee, even when the programme is running.

Recently I’ve noticed a new theme in the ideas people are coming to talk to me about. We usually say that we back ideas in health, education and sustainability which is true, but the motivation of founders is rarely thematic — there’s usually a deeper reason than that they just want to ‘work in education’. The recent change has been that they’re more explicit about the fact that they want to develop a venture that tackles inequality.

Tech doesn’t have a great reputation here. It’s blamed by some for rising economic inequality, both systematically and as an industry. It doesn’t have a great record for gender equality (although I think that’s starting to change) and there are plenty of allegations of racism and disablism in the industry too. I’m sure there are worse industries but tech has not historically been a shining beacon of hope.

But the sense I get is that more and more people want to change that and actually use technology to address inequalities. I’m not a huge believer in the theory that innovation happens by accident — I think that’s the exception rather than the norm — so it’s heartening to me that founders seem to be putting it front of mind.