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Digital Portal Genius Announced Helpific As The Startup Of The Week

5:29:00 PM

Helpific connects people with special needs who need help with everyday activities to people who want to help them - using smart solution for it

What is your grand idea?
Helpific is an open web-environment (marketplace) that connects the person who needs help to the person who offers help. Our idea was born from an actual needs of thousands of people with special needs or people who need help in the community face every day. We are one of those person- and business service start-ups that pave the way towards developing a more caring society and implement the opportunities of innovation, sharing economy and information and communication technology (ICT) in shaping the social welfare system of the future.
JCI Nordic Inspiration Conference 2015. Helpific executives with JCI presidents - Ismail Haznedar, Steven Wilson & Kaspar Ilves and representatives of organizations of people with disabilities.
Helpific is the first impact-enterprise that encourages communities to participate in the sharing economy to increase the availability of social services. We gave the idea a shape at a „Garage48 Enable” product development hackathon, which was inspired with the purpose of enabling those who live with special needs to better cope with their daily life. There is a strong ecosystem of start-ups in Estonia, we need something similar for promoting social innovation. Therefore, it is an environment that mobilises communal resources resulting from the model of sharing economy and is inter alia a possible tool for the social workers of local authorities.

The conception of the idea is based on an experience where the complete welfare reform is moving from the traditional model of providing social services towards involving active citizens in providing help. We are not the usual non-profit (third) sector organisation or a charity, Helpific is a hybrid start-up that has a very strong social impact globally. What we are offering does not substitute the traditional social work or social welfare, but a number of long-term rehabilitation elements. upport services do not in reality need high level training or specific skills. For instance it is clear that psychotherapy, physiotherapy or case studies need a highly qualified work-force, at the same time communally helping people to manage their daily life can be done by so-called non-professionals. Shopping, transport, household chores, accompanying at events and recreational activities are situations that do not need professional interference when there are “helping hands” in the community. Relevant communal help lessens the work-load of professional social- and health care workers.

Helpific increases the social capital, bringing together the so-called vulnerable target group by joining them with the members of their local communities.his way we are creating a stronger and more integrated society. Helpific is a medium/intermediate that connects the person who needs help quickly, comfortably and safely to the person offering help. Quite simply we can say that we are like the Taxify or Uber of the people with special needs. Let’s say - we are using tech for common good - collective approach to digital transformation in the social sector.
Helpific team, users and friends.
Whom do you see as your competition?
During the global market analyses, we have not identified platforms with the same purpose. People with special needs either get help through the local authorities within the official social welfare system or through NGOs and charity organisations and those who are so to say out of reach, are “abandoned” by the social welfare system and can only rely on the help of their family members or acquaintances. Likewise,if we consider that at least 1/3 of the people with special needs are in need of so called “independent life” services (personal helper, transport) for about 2 hours a day, it adds up to 728 hours per person a year only in Estonia. and altogether ca 35.5 million hours of service need. There is no need to state the fact that local authorities are in serious trouble (so called bottleneck) and countries need new ideas and factual solutions to relieve the situation. It should not be forgotten that the population is aging, a lot of people who need help have no family or support network. And another important fact – local authorities have no human resources to provide services (under-utilised resources are not mobilised) and – the principles of inclusion and active citizenship is a popular approach in many West-European countries, where the constant growth of demand for welfare services has reached the level of financial capability even in welfare states.
When we talk about online-platforms related to the care of people with special needs, there are initiatives that gather feedback about carers and different service providers, for instance Patient Opinion.There are also platforms that enable participating in voluntary work as a whole, like Velping, Mi Utcánk (“Our street”), We Helpen – those platforms have certain common elements with Helpific, but none of them are based on our conceptions.
Helpific is an outstanding niche product with an orientation towards a chosen target group to whom the market is not offering any alternative solutions – our main target group is people with special needs and mental health problems. With a unique combination –development/improvement of communities, caring and modern sharing economy, ICT – we are paving a way towards creating and shaping the social welfare of the future. Additionally, we have a business model – which means that we are able to produce capital and are interested in involving investors and can provide operating income, at the same time constantly re-investing in the society having a sustainable long-term impact resulting from capital as well as social impact. So far we have mainly developed the peer to peer model, but we are moving towards developing two additional products/services - Helpific Professional (Helpific Pro) and Helpific Community Development (Helpific CD).
Helpific having Communication Workshop.
What makes you special?
The previously mentioned hybrid model is special in the field of start-ups and from the perspective of the social welfare system, Helpific is a very innovative solution with its ICT and sharing economy orientation. Also – social welfare has so far mainly been an outsider in the start-up world, no huge opportunities or potential has been seen in it. Stigma has also been very strong and extensive. Estonia is a world leader in developing and recognising the information society, now we need to reach the same level in areas that have so far not been “attractive”. Because – all areas will sooner or later be digitised. And when we talk about investing and big money, we are increasingly moving towards realising common social responsibility – be it environmental sustainability and innovative solutions together with it or the well-being of mankind. More and more investors are interested in addition to possible revenue in a wider impact aspect.

It’s not about saying: “I’ve heard of this technology, how can we apply it?” You need to start with the need and think about digital as one of the tools that can help you address it!’
- Elizabeth Archer, Project Director, SENDirect18
Who are the makers and what is their background?
Helpific team includes lawyer and entrepreneur, member of the board of Estonian Sharing Economy Union Keiu Roosimägi (Helpific, CEO), social policy professor (phD in Social Policy) Zsolt Bugarszki (International Operations Director), long-term PR worker Triin Üksvärav (Head of CR) and IT-specialist Anton Anikin (CTO). Team-members Jüri Lehtmets and Tom Rüütel – young men with special needs who are an example to many of us – support us as peer support experts. Helpific has successfully involved interns and enthusiastic volunteers internationally (US, UK, Finland, Germany, Ukraine, Hungary), who have a deep interest in contributing to the development of more clever and caring communities and the actions taking place in the start-up world.

Who are your investors and how much have they already invested in your company?
We currently have some small investors who have helped us to begin. We have knowingly made a decision that we will not yet involve risk capital unless an extremely good offer comes knocking at the door. Aha! We do not want to be one of those start-ups whose main and only purpose is to grow rapidly and then exit real fast. We are shaping the future. What we are doing is inter alia our deep inner mission and we love what we do as the impact of our actions has been sensed from the beginning. We have an important role as partners to governments. We are very grateful to enterprises who have invested their know-how and good-will in us – they have seen that Helpific has huge potential. If you are doing something big, big investments shall come. Soon we will be ready for that.
Our Director of International Operations - Zsolt Bugarszki - lecturing about trends in social welfare.
What will you do to earn money?
Our conception in case of peer to peer product is very simple – we take commission. We earn money from mediation. Our user experience analyses showed that ca 60% of our users prefer helping on a voluntary basis and ca 40% of the users pay for the service.
What makes you the one start-up out of ten who will not go bankrupt?
Helpific team consists of people with extremely high know-how in the field that we are operating in, we have excellent contact network with all three sectors. The people in our team have a profound sense of mission and an interest in what we do – it is like the air we breathe and without oxygen we would not exist. I call our people “smart creative” – it means a team who is activated by challenges, who have a profound wish to contribute, who gets things done, who don’t think about the problems and obstacles, but about solutions, who are enthusiastic and motivated. We do not have people who just “want a job” or “just belong somewhere” or “are killing time”. It is the team that does not allow us to go bankrupt. A lot of start-ups get huge investments, burn money and close their doors. When you can build up a company from scratch and continue working even when the material capital is very limited, it means you are creative, optimising and a solution-hunter. We gave our idea a shape at the end of the year 2014. We have too much responsibility – we simply cannot afford to go bankrupt or quit. Not on any condition.
Helpific Team - 2014. When it all started...
What do you need the most on this day?
Currently we are calling for everyone to contribute to the development of the Helpific support environment – you can give an extra push to our Kickstarter project “To live by yourself and to be responsible by yourself!” in Hooandja (Kickstarter) environment at or by joining the Helpific platform.
We are counting on the generosity and the kickstarting of people who value the communal mentality. With the help of your contribution we can develop the Helpific support environment by making it more secure and comfortable for the final user. With the help of the support environment and the community, people with special needs can live a more independent life.
What will you accomplish within the next 12 months?
We will be introducing and piloting Helpific in Croatia. We will develop 2 new products - Helpific Professional (Helpific Pro) and Helpific Community Development (Helpific CD). In addition we will develop a system of client feedback and comments, authentication of user data and payment environment. We are also starting out the creation of a new app to make ordering help as easy as ordering a taxi with a smart phone. Also markets such as US, UK, Ukraine and Hungary are in the rooting phase and Slovakia, Croatia are planned to be the next markets to enter. Currently we are also “tackling/struggling” in the Finnish and German markets. As in different countries the political, social and legislative background, incl. culture, is different, it means a lot of work. We like work and real changes that we can survey.
Additional information:
Keiu Roosimägi
Helpific co-founder and CEO

Read the article in Estonian:

changing the world community development English Helpific impact company independent life innovation kickstarter marketplace social welfare startup

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