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Social impact startups face unique challenges – getting to the right accelerator is essential

A growing number of founders are harnessing the power of technology to solve some of society’s biggest problems, from developing self-monitoring digital health platforms that empower patients to find new solutions for storing renewable energy. energy.

Today, on Global Accessibility Awareness Day, it is particularly important to recognize the progress a growing number of founders have made in making technology open, equal and accessible to all, from creating devices that consider deaf and blind communities to using AI to build breakthrough advances in prosthetics.

But because of the new and often disruptive approaches they use to solve common problems, these startups also face additional hurdles. They often struggle with developing their product and business models, complying with regulations and bureaucratic burdens, obtaining financing and getting their products and services to market.

Zeng Xi Feng, founder and CEO of TangTangQuan, a new platform that provides professional health management to children with type 1 diabetes, understands this all too well. With digital and wearable technology, his company aims to help diabetics live normal lives and combat important issues such as discrimination in social environments and health insurance gaps.

Despite TangTangQuan’s potential to change lives for the better, Xi Feng and his team faced a number of challenges.

Challenging the status quo

Ironically, the biggest difficulty social impact startups face is not coming up with a new solution, but getting people to change their habits and mindsets. As Xi Feng explained, many chronic disease patients place more emphasis on medications and physical exams than on ongoing health monitoring and management, which are actually more beneficial to therapy.

“The most difficult hurdle for digital healthcare startups is developing a business model. Patients with chronic illness are used to paying for doctor visits, physical medicines and examinations, but there is no idea of ​​paying for digital services.”

Despite the fact that the type 1 diabetes community is already one of the chronic disease community’s most concerned about continuing health management, Xi Feng shared that less than 10% of patients are willing to pay for health care.

Obtain financing

Many VCs still have the outdated idea that social impact cannot be profitable, especially when targeting new and niche audiences. For many social impact startups, this can make it difficult to raise funding from investors who are traditionally risk averse.

“The type 1 diabetes we are targeting is actually a very small community with few patients. Many of our colleagues and investors believed that our team would not survive the fierce competition with such a large team to serve such a small number of patients. As a result, we don’t receive as much funding from VCs as other digital health companies.”

Build a network

Xi Feng and his team realized that partnering with a major industry player would be the best step to gain the influence, credibility and network TangTangQuan needed to reach more users. But getting attention would be difficult.

“In China, business health insurance is still in its infancy. So there is no way to get the business model off the ground as quickly as digital healthcare startups in Europe and the United States by partnering with commercial insurance companies,” Xi Feng explains.

That’s why they decided to OPPO Inspiration Challenge which aims to empower startups with innovative solutions to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.

TangTangQuan was selected as one of the top ten proposals in the OPPO Inspiration Challenge 2022, giving it access to OPPO’s technology, marketing and business experts, as well as establishing a long-term partnership with the brand.

Is joining an accelerator program right for you?

Joining an accelerator is a great way to get the guidance, mentorship, network, and visibility you need to take your startup to the next level. However, you need to choose the right one for your business.

1. Define your goals and needs

Each program has its own unique strengths and areas of focus, so it’s important to find the program that best fits your startup’s specific needs. Start by clearly defining your startup’s long-term goals. It’s important to consider the stage of growth your startup is in and what it takes to reach the next level of growth, whether that be access to new markets, technology or financing.

Xi Feng had identified OPPO as a partner with the technology and market clout TangTangQuan needed to get his business off the ground.

“We had researched the OPPO watch ourselves before participating in this challenge. We wanted to integrate the blood glucose monitoring app and the artificial pancreas app into the OPPO watch, and then let the watch send the blood glucose data to the cloud, so that the patient’s parents can get real-time remote blood glucose monitoring and local blood glucose control.”

After being selected as one of the top 10 winning proposals last year, TangTangQuan has entered into a partnership with the company. Now OPPO watch (Chinese version) can be applied to the app to help more type 1 diabetes patients. Meanwhile, the IoT team has also helped TangTangQuan optimize data connection and transfer, making the app more accurate and easier to use for patients.

“Of course I think the value of participating in the OPPO Inspiration Challenge is still in the business model optimization mentioned earlier. In China, it is still quite difficult for digital healthcare startups to charge for their services, but by combining with OPPO hardware, we can successfully produce the service physically, while being able to transfer data remotely and make the service easy.”

2. Assess network access

When evaluating accelerator programs, it is crucial to consider their market influence and reputation. Take a deeper look at the program’s network, both in terms of potential business partnerships and media presence. A well-connected accelerator can provide valuable introductions, partnerships, and mentoring from experienced professionals who can drive your startup forward.

“Of course, OPPO’s brand influence and corporate awareness remain strong, which is a positive confirmation for us. The variety of media coverage we received as a result of our participation in the Inspiration Challenge also contributed to our increased visibility. At the same time, we made many new acquaintances and generated commercial potential for future cooperation. In addition, we were also invited to participate in filming a video to promote our startup project to a wider audience.”

3. Research former alumni

Look for programs with a strong track record, with alumni who have achieved notable milestones or made a significant impact on the industry. Programs that have spawned successful startups in your specific industry can also provide valuable market connections and credibility. Research the program’s alumni network and don’t be afraid to contact past participants.

2023 OPPO Inspiration Challenge is now open for applications

If you are a social impact startup developing innovative new solutions in digital health, accessibility and environmental protection, the OPPO Inspiration Challenge might be for you.

Together with Qualcomm, GSMA 5G IN, Amazon Web Services and LinkedIn, OPPO and its global technology ecosystem partners strive to bring new and innovative solutions to life by providing financing, support and collaboration opportunities. By working together, OPPO hopes these innovations can have a positive impact and stimulate greater awareness of the issues facing global communities.

Each of the final top 5 winners will receive a $50,000 scholarship (tax included). The top 15 will be invited to OPPO’s Acceleration Camp, where they will receive mentorship from experts and industry partners. Additional collaboration opportunities will be open to the global top 45 participants.

The deadline for submitting your proposal is June 30, 2023. View the OPPO Inspiration Challenge official website For more information.


Shreya has been with australiabusinessblog.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider australiabusinessblog.com, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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