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Big Issue Invest: The Tech for Good Challenge

Britain’s bright young things have been given £50,000 to grow their businesses, in a Big Issue Invest-backed technology challenge…

Some ideas are too good not to share. Some ideas are too good not to support. In this spirit, some of Britain’s most exciting early stage businesses and charities have each won £50,000-worth of backing to change the lives of young people across the country. Big Issue Invest – the investment arm of The Big Issue – has unveiled the 11 winners of a digital technology challenge.

Unlike Dragons’ Den, the Tech for Good Challenge provided an intensive mentoring programme for all the shortlisted businesses taking part in the competition. Following a Caterpillars’ Cocoon – a two-day workshop and pitching process – 11 of the fledgling tech ventures working with young people were judged ready to make use of the £50,000 boost.

“There are a lot of good people out there using technology in exciting new ways with the potential to achieve truly great things,” explains Nigel Kershaw OBE, Chief Executive of Big Issue Invest. “The challenge was to find those with a true passion for innovation. Unlike Dragons’ Den, all the teams and mentors were winners, benefitting from a true exchange of ideas.”

Flip Yourself
With so many young people struggling to catch the attention of employers, Flip Yourself want to help more of them compete on a level playing field. The team are helping school leavers create “media rich and visual” CVs to better showcase their potential and personality. Flip Yourself will be using the £50k investment to reach out and engage more young people in schools and youth organisations.

Young entrepreneurs from RunAClub, Flip Yourself and Discoverables

We all want to be useful and make best use of our time. Selfless is an online platform that enables young adults to pick out and participate in volunteering relevant to their career aspirations. The team want to make opportunities more accessible and flexible while providing the voluntary sector with access to skilled, committed young adults. Selfless will use the investment cash to drive up the number of organisations involved.

Fresh Young Media
This new media company is targeting budding entrepreneurs aged between 16 and 20 to develop a top business magazine for young people (Fresh Young Millionaire) in collaboration with experienced media mentors. The magazine produces genuine opportunities and training for young people, and the £50k investment will allow the team to create an interactive community website and mobile app.

State of Ambition wants to help young people best mobilise their own networks to fulfil cherished dreams

Potential can be difficult to fulfil. FutureReach offers corporate clients exclusive access to exceptional school leavers from diverse backgrounds, arranging pre-university internships in the ‘gap summer’ after school ends (FutureReach provides interactive actor-led training to prepare them for the big step). Working in schools in the most deprived parts of the UK, the venture aims to level the playing field and create many more successful futures.

  • Big Issue Invest is the social investment arm of The Big Issue, run “by social entrepreneurs, for social entrepreneurs”. We help scale up social enterprises and trading arms of charities by providing finance from £50,000 to £1,000,000. We work with enterprises that have a track record, as well as a plan to increase trading income and deliver high social impact. To see if Big Issue Invest is the right partner for you, please contact or call 0207 526 3431.More information about Big Issue Invest can be found on our website:

My Time
The disparity between mental health services for children and for adults means young people in transition to adulthood are often not getting the right kind of help. My Time provides tailored support for anyone between the ages of 15 and 25. The £50k investment will allow My Time to develop a mobile app, My Talk, with access to online services for those in distress, especially when they cannot access face to face services.


If you pay for the magazine you should always take it. Vendors are working for a hand up, not a handout.

Work Hero
This start-up has a dream: to bring volunteering into the mainstream and engage students with the socially excluded young people in their community. Work Hero hopes to provide up to two million students with a web-based profile showcasing their skills and experience in volunteering. Work Hero’s vision is a time when everyone has an online Work Hero profile: an expression as important as a CV.

Starting a kids’ sports team or lunch club for the elderly isn’t easy. RunAClub offers an affordable, easy to use online toolkit that provides all the help and support needed to set up and run a club in the community. Aiming to help the ready and willing overcome all the red tape, the team offers a seven-day-a-week administrative system. The £50k investment will allow RunAClub to reach more people and help establish workshops.

This team brings small-group coaching techniques to an online platform. Already 500 young people are actively using the Discoverables site to undertake work experience “missions and challenges”. Young people are able to catch the attention of potential employers setting the tasks (companies such as Innocent Drinks, which has piloted the first online challenge), who then give feedback, support and recognition to the best respondents.

Eugenie Teasley, Arfah Farooq and Dilesh Lalloo from Discoverables

The DJ & MC Academy
“Without music, life would be a mistake.” So said the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Running for five years now, The DJ & MC Academy has worked with more than 40,000 young people and adults already, helping them develop confidence and gain valuable skills and qualifications through DJ’ing and radio presenting, lyrical writing and music production. The investment will be used to tap into the profitable corporate market and to expand outreach work.

State of Ambition
Young people have a lot to say but are not always sure anyone out there is ready to listen. State of Ambition wants to help young people best mobilise their own networks to fulfil cherished dreams. The team inspires young people to find their ambition and then campaign for 21 days to get the message out there – first to everyone they know, and then beyond. Alumni of schools and employees at corporate partners are encouraged to get involved.

Insane Logic
This social enterprise creates educational software and hopes The MyChoicePad interactive app can boost children’s language skills. Endorsed by leading speech and language therapists, it brings cutting-edge technology together with symbols and signs from the Makaton Language Programme – already known to the millions of parents who watch Mr Tumble on CBeebies Something Special. The investment will help the MyChoicePad move from iPad-only to Android and help build a web platform.

The first Tech for Good Challenge – organised by Big Issue Invest and the Nominet Trust – has the support of five corporate partners: Bank of America Merrill Lynch, LDC, The MITIE Foundation, Salesforce Foundation and Unity Trust Bank, and also has backing from The Big Lottery