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Towards a Future, With Purpose

If the headlines and Twitter Feeds of the world are getting you down at the moment, I have the perfect cure: a trip to the website of our friends at Unreasonable Group. On this VC’s “Companies” page, they show all of the businesses they’re currently working with. You see, Unreasonable only work with entrepreneurs who are, as they put it, ‘bending history in the right direction.’ Put another way, they work with people who are passionate about solving the world’s BFPs.

           They work with folks like Jayaashree Industries, who have created the first low-cost machines to make sanitary pads in India; Embrace Innovations, whose infant warmers are estimated to have saved the lives of over 300,000 babies across 22 countries; and Econic Technologies, whose catalyst technologies convert CO2 into materials for plastic production. Unreasonable’s chief enemies are ill-health, climate change and inequality and they have assembled an exciting group of ventures to work with them.

           In the last ten years, Unreasonable—and other organisations like them—realised something that the rest of the business world today is only just waking up to: business does not (and cannot) exist apart from the world’s social problems. Business has both an opportunity and a duty to engage with problems like climate change and gender inequality in order to produce serious, social impact.

           If businesses don’t engage with social impact they’ll find themselves in danger of being left behind by their customers. Many customers today, particularly Millenials, look to businesses that take on social responsibilities. (If you don’t like statistics then look away now.) Deloitte’s Millenial Survey 2018 found that 40% of Millenials believe that the goal of business should be to ‘improve society’. Similarly, a 2015 Nielsen poll found that consumers are increasingly seeking out products that are clean and responsible: 66% of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable goods, and a full 73% of Millenials are.

    At Box Media, our drive is reskilling for purpose. We have set our sights on a future of human collaboration with machines (rather than a future of mass unemployment). We have an opportunity to work towards a future that is built on solving some of our greatest problems. In order to reach that preferred future, we know that our workforce will need to adapt and develop many new skills. And this sense of purpose motivates us; it gets us out of bed and into the office every day. What is the social impact of your business? If you can’t come up with an answer, it might be time for a rethink.

Alex Hill