In Business: the ‘tech for good’ firm changing the world, one app at a time
Founded as a web development agency 10 years ago, 3 SIDED CUBE has evolved into a company that creates ‘tech for good’ – and it’s determined to change the world for the better. We spoke to Chief Changemaker Sophia Story about sourcing local talent, staying true to its mission, – and Barclays’ pivotal role in helping the company grow.
“We build ‘tech for good’, which means that we’ll only work on life-saving, life-changing, problem-alleviating projects – anything that can have a positive social impact.”
Sophia Story, who has the inspiring job title of Chief Changemaker at digital product company 3 SIDED CUBE, is explaining her company’s mission to change the world for the better through tech. Since its launch as a web development agency a decade ago, 3 SIDED CUBE has refined its focus to delivering positive change through innovative digital products: the company has developed over 200 apps to date, with more than 17 million downloads in over 100 countries.
Its back catalogue includes creating the world’s first vision screening app; designing an award-winning US blood tracking app that aims to motivate people to give blood and is estimated to have saved 600,000 lives; and raising awareness of plastic pollution in collaboration with handmade cosmetics company LUSH. Clients have included the UK pharmacy chain Boots, the US department store Nordstrom, England Rugby, the NHS and charities the American and British Red Cross, Global Forest Watch and Save the Children.
Staying true to the mission
“We turn down around 70% to 80% of the leads that come our way because they aren’t ‘tech for good’ type projects,” says Story. “It can be really hard because when you have a business it’s tempting to take on other types of work. But I think what makes us special is that we genuinely stay true to our mission.”
Based in Bournemouth on the south coast of England, UK, the team is 35-strong, ranging from designers and developers to strategists and marketers. It has a longstanding relationship with staff at the nearby Barclays Eagle Lab co-working space, who have offered support with everything from 3D printing services to support with building the company’s network.
“We’ve got lots of different skill sets, lots of different types of people. I think ultimately it’s all those people working together which helps us deliver on our mission.”
Sourcing talent is one of 3 SIDED CUBE’s biggest challenges and the company has formed its own initiative – Cube Academy – to help the team grow by recruiting from the local area.
“We work with local schools, colleges and universities to nurture talent,” explains Story. “We do workshops, training courses and offer work experience – and then hopefully that turns into part-time or full-time employment. It’s helping us build our pipeline of talent in the local area.
“I don’t think you could build a business well without working closely with those talent sources. Talent attracts talent.”
Why Barclays’ business backing is crucial
Story says Barclays has helped open doors for the growing company, enabling 3 SIDED CUBE to stick to its mission-orientated business model.
“We have a really good relationship with Barclays and they’ve supported us over the years,” she says. “The most important part for me is the introductions they make – and pushing us forward for opportunities that we wouldn’t necessarily have considered.
“We’re not a large corporate, we are a small SME, so it’s encouraging that there are banks out there that are trying to genuinely help us and be there for us.”
Danny Jones, the Barclays’ Relationship Director that works with the company, says: “Our biggest support has not been financial. We have been privileged to introduce 3 SIDED CUBE to a number of our regional and national contacts that we think can add value to their mission – and that’s helped them scale quickly.
“The company is fast-paced, scaling and growing at an expediential rate, but what blows my mind is their passion to stay true to their mission. Their ambition for ‘tech for good’ regularly sees projects, contracts and work turned away, which is admirable.”
Story couldn’t be more positive about the company’s relationship with Jones. “We’re a really young team and we don’t work 9 to 5 but we know we can pick up the phone to Danny, contact him at any time and he’ll always be there,” she says.
“I guess we probably wouldn’t get that with other banks. He’s very different to any other business banker that I’ve worked with.”
Building a global movement
Asked what the future holds, Story says she hopes to continue expanding the reach of the company’s mission.
“We need to stay clear on our mission of building ‘tech for good’ – but we also need to be looking at other areas worldwide where we can have a greater impact.”