The Future of Tech for Social Good: Small World Social

There’s nothing tiny about Small World Social’s ambitions. Aiming to “make the complex simple,” the 11-year-old tech startup was born out of a desire to make the right information easily accessible in real time. Through its custom-designed SaaS applications for clients in the financial services, healthcare, and automotive industries, Small World Social provides interactive educational content that users can access across a range of devices and platforms, from the web to mobile to wearable sensors.

The company’s apps and SaaS solutions make customized content including interactive videos, how-to guides, and knowledge transfer from subject matter experts, available to users. All offerings are designed to be accessed from anywhere: so users determine how, when, and at what pace they interact with the content.

Take the HelpMe Feed app for breastfeeding mothers. Despite guidelines from the World Health Organization and the U.S. CDC that recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, the reality is that only 25% of babies in the United States are reaching that benchmark, according to the CDC. While the percentage is higher globally, according to UNICEF, no country meets the recommended guidelines. Mothers often face significant barriers to breastfeeding, including a lack of support, timely information, and resources.

“All around the world, new parents face similar challenges, challenges that have been overcome by others who are willing to lend a hand providing support,” says Kathy Phelan, CEO of Small World Social. The organization’s beta tests in Australia showed that healthcare professionals are key to improving breastfeeding rates and health outcomes overall. “But with a worldwide shortage of nurses and health professionals, and birth rates increasing, there are just not enough qualified people to go around,” explains Phelan.

Designed in collaboration with the HelpMe Feed Foundation, the HelpMe Feed app hopes to close this gap—and improve both women’s health and that of babies—by providing an array of tools and resources to support breastfeeding. “The application enables people to connect and support each other in new ways, health professional-to-health professional, woman-to-woman, and family-to-family,” explains Phelan. Users can access educational videos, upload their own content, receive emotional support, and share tips. Importantly, they become part of a community that includes healthcare professionals, lactation consultants, and volunteer coaches. Parents can connect through instant messaging and mothers can communicate with their health providers in a secure, HIPAA-compliant way.

The HelpMe Feed Foundation’s goal is to support 50M families around the world through the use of smart technology and a social enterprise business model. “The social enterprise business model provides a self-sustaining income via subscriptions, which in turn funds the application and our marketing efforts,” says Phelan. Subscribers can choose among tiered subscription offerings that range from $15 a month for individuals and $30 a month per person for teams. Small World Social negotiates custom pricing packages for businesses. Madeline Sands, Director at HelpMe Feed Foundation, explains that “one of the reasons the HelpMe Feed app works so well as a subscription is that we can tailor it for each user, whereas if you’re buying an information pack, it doesn’t necessarily adapt to your changing needs. We also get a lot of feedback from health professionals about what they’re looking at and what additional resources they want to be included. We’re constantly taking all that feedback and improving the app. So when you have a subscription service, you know that you’re going to get the latest updates and the newest resource as soon as it comes out. I think that’s very, very powerful.”

The project is a great example of how the Subscription Economy can benefit nonprofits. “We are a nonprofit, so it was really important for us to be self-sustainable and not to rely only on grants. Early on, we decided that we wanted to go with the subscription model because it gives you a stable income. I think that the most interesting thing about a nonprofit having a subscription model is the fact that you need to run it like a business. You need to have people who are looking at your books and analyzing what’s working and what’s not. Zuora’s subscription management platform and its dashboards are very clear. We can look at them and see a lot of things, such as if our cost of acquisition is massive or what our churn is at month three, or how many people are not converting from their free trial, etc. And then, we’re able to target those specific areas for improvement. We are also now able to really understand our users and see what matters to them. I think it’s a really different way that nonprofits can look at how they run their businesses,” says Sands.

Small World Social’s other notable clients include the Australian Ballet, Genentech, Toyota, and Lexus. The company has won several awards for its cutting-edge design and for facilitating better communication. With offices in Australia and the United States, it’s employees come from diverse backgrounds and include visual artists, researchers, engineers, and big thinkers. “Our team tackles really big challenges, ones that take 10 or more years to realize fully. All the projects we have worked on involved technology, community development, and innovative business models,” says Phelan. And as the company continues to innovate and expand its global footprint, it maintains an unwavering focus on “using technology to solve real-world problems.”

Continue reading other inspiring stories of digital transformation in the latest issue of Subscribed Magazine!

Recommended for you

Strategic Insights from Zuora’s Subscribed Institute Executive Breakfast in London
How to create personalized subscriptions using Zephr
Unlocking the Power of First-Party Data: Agility in a Changing Digital World