In this series we want to highlight some of our scouting partners who have been of great value in finding the brightest start-up talents from all around the globe. Leading start-up hubs, accelerator programs and entrepreneurship competitions shared their enormous worldwide networks with us. In the first episode: Seedstars. An organisation focused on early staged technology firms in emerging markets. We talked to Adriana Collini about Seedstars’s worldwide reach and the importance of technology in solving problems.

Can you tell us about Seedstars mission?
“At Seedstars it is our mission to impact people’s lives in emerging markets. We think the best way to do this is through entrepreneurship and innovation. People need tools to tackle the issues they are self aware of. Technology gives them the opportunity to scale up their solutions and to help other people to tackle the same issues. With our competition we are present in over 65 countries around the world. We create and invest in start-ups and entrepreneurs in different ecosystems across the world.”

What kind of start-ups do you aim to reach with your competition?
“We generally split the 80 ecosystems that we’re present in into 5 regions, where we have our local teams. In most of the regions we have co-working spaces and the teams support the ecosystems on the ground. We also have our travelling teams, which I used to be a part of before I joined the investment team, who source the start-ups for our competition. These are also the start-ups that we communicate further opportunities with, such as the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge.

In general our competition is about technology and impactful innovations that reach numerous lives. Many tech sectors are very impactful, such as health tech, agri tech, clean tech, and of course education.”

“Technology gives people the opportunity to scale up their solutions”

Do you see any clear trends or challenges in the green start-up space?
“We are present in frontier markets like Bangladesh, but also in hubs like Singapore. There is a big difference in awareness. In developing countries people first have to tackle their own issues before they can take care of anything else. The trends you see are very much driven by what kinds of means are available. You will see inventions with solar power technology, when that is what is present in the market. Wherever the markets get more complex, you will find more financial funds, resources and skills, and further technological innovations.

As a developed economy or international body we can not put the same ‘green’ pressure on developing nations, but at the same time we have to understand that this is an issue that we are all facing. That is a shift that is definitely also coming from Elon Musk, being a superstar with a green mission. He inspires people worldwide with his products that enable us to integrate sustainable living into our daily routines.”

What is your view on green entrepreneurship?
“Green entrepreneurship is something that we are concerned of and what has to be part of education, both in developed as well as emerging markets. But as I said, often there are too many issues going on that are much closer to the hearts of the people on the ground. Unfortunately, it still seems as if taking care of the planet is some kind of luxury.

At the same time, it is interesting to see that people are often not fully aware of the green aspect of their business model. In the webinar that we did with the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge and the conversations that I have with entrepreneurs, I tell them: are you actually aware of how you are reducing CO2 with your activities? It is not in their focus. It is just part of what they do. Often it comes as sort of a by-product from their efficient productive solution.”

Which start-ups from your Seedstars ecosystem are you excited about?
“One example that I really like, is our winner from Dubai, Junkbot. It enables creators of all ages and from all walks of life to use open source platform and hardware components to build personal robots that solve day-to-day problems. I really like the idea of educating kids and helping to bring the practical applications of STEAM, while having the recycling element as well.

Another example is our winner from Myanmar, called Kargo, an on-demand delivery and logistics solution. What I like about this initiative is that it brings a completely new mind set in a country like Myanmar and it has a lot of potential to take big steps in frontier markets.

My last example is Kitro, a solution from Switzerland, one of the few local start-ups that joined our Global Summit last year. Kitro is a fully automated solution for food waste management. This is close to my heart because I grew up in the Austrian countryside where compost recycling is the most normal thing to do. But if you want a big number of people to recycle you need to provide a simple and comfortable solution that makes it easy for people to contribute to the environment on an individual level.”