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SF Showcases: Squag

Here at SocialFinance.ca, nothing excites us more than the opportunity to share stories about the great work happening in Canadian social finance! This goes double when the work is being done by our partners. A few months ago Trish Nixon introduced the 2nd cohort of Impact8, Ontario’s first social venture accelerator. Now with Impact8′s Demo Day just around the corner, we’re profiling this year’s Impact8 ventures. Today we’re chatting with Sara Winter, Founder of Squag. The aim, as always, is to shine a light on folks in the field by lobbing a few questions their way: What problems are they tackling? What have they found to be best practices? Can this model be brought to scale and/or replicated? As always, we want your input on this and future profiles. Who would you like to know more about? What kind of stories do we need to tell more often? Whose lessons learned would you like to hear? Tweet us, Facebook us, or email us!

Thanks for chatting with us! To start us off, could you please tell us what Squag does in a tweet (140 characters or less)?

Squag [skwag] is a curated software platform for kids on the autism spectrum to make meaningful connections and build confidence to take with them wherever they go.

Expanding from that answer, what is the problem that Squag was conceived in order to address? What do you feel is unique about your approach to solving this problem?

1 in 50 kids has an autism spectrum disorder and 64% of adolescents and adults on the spectrum has a diagnosable mental health condition. But most environments are not set up for how these kids communicate and they are being underestimated as a result. So we created one. Squag is the intersection between deep experiential understanding and deep scientific understanding. Our technology allows parents, kids, medical professionals and researchers to be heard.

What factors have been important for getting you to where you are today and what will you need to build on to take Squag to the next level?

Testing Squag with over 500 families in 14 countries reinforced the fact that the problems faced by the autism community are universal. Technology and social media has changed the game for parents of kids with autism (as well as adults on the spectrum) because it’s allowed them to find support in real time, advocate for themselves and share their experiences. Our partnership with The Ontario Brain Institute to use Squag as a means to enrich knowledge translation between all stakeholders was a huge milestone for us. Now we are seeking other partners and collaborators to grow this idea and expand our reach.

Blue sky time! Where is your venture in 5 years? Where’s the marketplace? How big a dent have you made in the problem you’re tackling?

There are roughly 11M kids on the autism spectrum in North America and this number is growing at a rate of 14% each year. In the next five years Squag can empower thousands of them to build the sense of self that is so crucial to their overall quality of life as they move toward adolescence and adulthood. 


Editor’s Note: Stay tuned for more profiles of the amazing cohort of Impact8 social ventures!

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