Impact Innovators in the Zinc Ecosystem: Alex Hall, Zinc Fellow
Alex Hall is an entrepreneur and advisor with a passion for community and connection. He is a visiting Fellow supporting individuals and teams on Zinc’s Venture Builder.
Can you share a bit about your background?
I was born in South London but have lived and worked in Australia for 10 years and the USA for 15 years. My career spans the FMCG sector, co-founded a 400 person mobile technology services/ SaaS business that we sold to a public company, launched an organisation to tackle the enormous challenge of digital addiction, and was even an actor for a while. I’m now back in the UK to be closer to family, and focussed on projects I can be incredibly passionate about that can make a meaningful difference to the world. Look out for Pickleball, a sport that will change the world!
What motivated you to join the Zinc Fellows network?
I connected with Zinc right as I returned to the UK. I considered joining the first climate mission as a founder, but the timing wasn’t quite right to fully commit. I have a lot of experience in zero-to-one business building and know how to motivate and encourage founders in difficult situations, so I thought I might be able to support the cohort as a mentor, helping them craft their solutions to these big problems. I was excited by the mission and fascinated by the Zinc format. When a group of people care so deeply about something, the power is cumulative and the energy is addictive.
What are some of the common challenges you help founders to work on?
Whereas some Zinc Fellows specialise in specific stages of ideation, product or business building, I was keen to support through the duration of the Venture Builder. I often took on a coaching-like role, talking through a broad range of challenges from deciding how to narrow in on which problems to tackle, where to start with MVP development, or how to think about business models. Fundamentally, many of the conversations through the six months always came back to “exactly what problem are we trying to solve and who are we solving it for?”
What have been some of your personal highlights of being part of the Zinc network to date?
There have been so many highlights! But two big ones. The first is the more holistic feeling of what I call being a “professional big brother” in the hot house of the Zinc community. The cumulative impact of 70 people’s energy is amazing. It really reminded me of who I am, and that I want to be right there building things again. Secondly, working with and seeing the progress of the teams was a real highlight. I call myself a “raging generalist” and at that really early stage, I just love riffing with founders on whatever the problem is that happens to be in front of them – whether it’s in construction, biotech or agriculture.
What are you excited about right now?
At a high level, I’m really excited that I’ve just moved back to the UK and get to make the place of my childhood my home for this next phase of my life. I’m also really excited about a new project. It’s very different from anything I’ve done before now, but is very aligned with my personal values and all about joy, community and making sport more accessible. If you haven’t heard of Pickleball, look it up.
Who inspires you?
I am lucky to have met so many inspiring people along the way as a byproduct of continually immersing myself in new environments. I think this constant evolution has also encouraged me to become a lot more open with the people I meet. I have learned that if you communicate what you’re feeling, what you’re looking for and what your challenges are – which might be an overshare to some, but not to others – it welcomes the right kind of energy and the right kind of people at different times in your life. I’m a massive believer in telling your story rather than internalising and getting stuck in an endless loop of overcomplicating things. The more you tell your story, the louder or quieter that story becomes. You need to be able to listen to that. And I think that’s always helped me at the pivotal moments where I’m looking for major change.
What advice would you give to someone considering joining the next Zinc mission as a founder?
There is so much, but to pick one I’d say don’t limit yourself to thinking there is just one winning outcome from joining the Venture Builder or similar programmes. Most people join because they are excited to find the perfect co-founder, come up with that killer idea, fly through Zinc’s investment committee and go on to build a high impact, commercially successful business. And that is certainly a great outcome! However there are also a ton of other really positive outcomes if you immerse yourself fully into the process, so be open minded to where the journey might take you. I really believe that for change to happen you need to shake things up and make space for new inputs, and Zinc is a great environment for that.
Do you want to start a mission-led business of your own? Applications for our new venture builder are open, find out more and apply today here.
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Impact Report 2023
We started Zinc with the hypothesis that missions are an effective way to attract highly ambitious, talented and experienced groups of innovators, who might not recognise themselves as “classic entrepreneurs” but are ready and able to start a new commercial and successful venture to tackle some of our most pressing societal issues.
The world has overcome the sorts of challenges we face today when it has adopted a mission-based approach to the biggest problems and brought together world-class talent to invent and innovate, e.g: NASA and landing a man on the moon, the LSE blueprinting the British welfare state, or the Gates Foundation aiming to eradicate diseases.
On this basis and assumption, we designed Zinc as a new mission-based Venture Builder — a place where global talent, ‘impact makers’, can join to experiment and develop new solutions to our most pressing societal issues.
To Eliminate Environmental Threats to Our Health
Environmental health threats pose a grave danger to human health and well-being, causing suffering to individuals and communities worldwide. These threats, which include chemical pollution, climate change, and biological hazards, cause acute and chronic diseases and exacerbate existing health conditions.
To protect those we care about, we must tackle the causes of environmental degradation, shield people from the consequences of environmental harm, and, where protection fails, we must mitigate the health impacts they suffer.
This demands action to improve all aspects of our environment: soil, food, air, water, and the built environment. It requires us to focus on every aspect of human health to reduce suffering.
Entrepreneurship and technology are powerful means to tackle these challenges. That’s why we are backing 70 founders to build innovative companies addressing this mission.