Developing business ideas that solve real problems

Many successful Shark Tank contestants build their business to serve a cause – and you can too.

Important as it is to start a business in something you’re passionate about, the best ideas are designed as solutions to real-world problems.

And while there are plenty of problems in the world, it’s up to business owners to make their solutions profitable.

For those able to do both things (solve problems for a profit), a sustainable business future awaits.


CASE STUDY OneTalk Technology: Anya Lorimer’s battle with language barriers


Having lived and worked in Australia’s Top End for years, Anya Lorimer witnessed a disconnect occurring between education and access to social wellbeing for Traditional Owners.

“I’ve been working in marketing and communications in the Northern Territory for 21 years now and for most of that time I could see the Indigenous engagement and communications work we were doing wasn’t landing well,” said Lorimer.

“Through building relationships and networks with Traditional Owners, I came to see the problem lies with the language barrier.”

Lorimer identified that many remote communities use English as a second language, and that their own languages were only ever spoken – never written. This represented a hurdle to communicating messages effectively.

“From this learning came an innovation: the concept of being able to push a button and have a message delivered in the local language.

“OneTalk Technology is essentially a computer chip embedded into a poster and connected to a speaker, tailor-made so that you can’t simply pull out the device and upload a different message.”

Today, Lorimer’s invention is used to deliver messages regarding health and wellbeing for remote communities, and it’s been found to be more effective at doing so than other, less dynamic displays.

“2018 is the Year of Indigenous Language and we’ve been able to go to the first Indigenous Language Conference and talk at a different level, all as a result of our involvement in OneTalk,” Lorimer said.


CASE STUDY CancerAid: Closing the communication gap for doctors and patients


A few years ago, radiation oncologists Dr Nikhil Pooviah and Dr Raghav Murali-Ganesh noticed a trend among their patients.

Those undergoing treatments who regularly recorded their symptoms and reported the information back to their doctors tended to have better outcomes.

Helping patients to better manage cancer related side effects was the underlying motivation for creating CancerAid, marketing manager Emelie Gustavsson said.

“Rather than relying on paper journals to record and track their progress, the founders of CancerAid wanted to offer a technological experience,” she said.

“Now, nearly three years since the first iteration of the CancerAid app was launched to the public, we have a user base of around 20,000, the app is ranked the number one cancer app in Australia, the US and in the UK and we have won awards judged by Sir Richard Branson and Steve Wozniak.”

As a for-profit enterprise, the team at CancerAid is regularly asked how they make money – particularly when people realise that their service is offered to the public free of charge.

“There’s a lot of interest in the healthcare industry to create solutions that improve the patient-doctor relationship, the challenging part for us was not to build the initial product but to create a sustainable business model around it,” Gustavsson said.

“Our model works due to the business-to-business element, where we license our solutions to hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and the like, who also have an interest in tracking the progress of their clients.”

As a result, CancerAid must balance the needs of its business partners, while continuing to market and expand the use of its application among patients and doctors alike whilst keeping the privacy of the user front and centre.

So far, the push for ongoing growth in its user base has meant CancerAid has relied on investment provided by multiple funding rounds as it positions itself to scale.

“Our aim is to create social impact while closing the communication gap between patients and doctors,” Gustavsson said. “In order for that to work, we rely heavily on seeking public feedback and growing public awareness of our solutions.”