Friday, May 07, 2010

Data Jedi in Training

Just signed up for Edward Tufte's class in Denver in June. And Asad is going to teach me how to use Hans Rosling's gapminder software this summer. Obi-Wan said "You must learn the ways of the Force." I am going to try.

Part of my self funded "Intersectional R&D" program.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Logistics, Legacy & Large Numbers

I suggest to entrepreneurs that they use a simple matrix to think about scale. Basically, how will they make and market their first 1-10-100-1,000 ... 1 million products? Thinking about scaling up by log steps, basically.

Here is an example I used at IDDS last summer in Kumasi:

This gets people thinking about the next level of bringing a product to market. It is much easier to say "we will sell a million" than it is to plan how to do this.* And I am not sure it gets easier to move up a log as you get bigger. Apple sold 1 million iPads faster than it did iPhones. But will Apple find it easier to sell 10 million iPads than 1 million?

I know at Envirofit, it was hard to do each log step for our reduced emission cook stoves. We have now sold 100,000. But everyone is working just as hard (or harder) to figure out how to reach 1 million. And these aren't just iCandy for the masses. Every stove reduces pollution in a home and improves family health. Less smoke means less respiratory and vision problems (so I guess they are eyeCandy in a way).

Global markets represent very large numbers. Numbers that humans have a hard time comprehending. There is potential for much more rapid dissemination of products and services in emerging and developed markets. However, as one moves to the base of the pyramid, dissemination of ideas and products often still proceed at more "traditional" speeds. Even more successful social enterprise models, such as microfinance, have not seen broad market penetration. Cellphones and a few others are the notable exceptions.

Earlier in my career, I worked on a lot of deals. I found out that many entrepreneurs are motivated by a number. "I raised $x million." "I sold my company for $y million." I suspect that many social entrepreneurs are motived by some other number. "I saved x lives." "I moved y people out of poverty." Rare feats. But worthy goals. And worthy legacies if achieved.

Here are a few numbers that may help you think about log scales, your legacy and the logistics of serving large numbers.

- 10,000. Many products. Even maniacs. But not easy. Means you need to sell 27 a day for a year.

- 100,000. About how many Honda Civics were sold in US last year. It seems like a big number when you are selling stoves. But depressingly small compared to total market of 500 million households that cook with biomass. I can't do the math.

- 1,000,000. Number of iPads sold in April. Number of Toyota Priuses sold worldwide since launch: 1.6 million. Number of IDE treadle pumps sold in Bangladesh: 1.3 million.

- 10,000,000. How many miles George Clooney aspires to get in his latest movie. Nintendo has now sold 10 million Wii's. Grameen Bank has 8 million clients.

- 100,000,000. Annual number of beneficiaries of UN World Food Programme: 90 million. Number of polio vaccinations conducted by Rotary in India in 2009: 200 million. Number of iPods sold, so far: 220 million.

- 1,000,000,000. A billion. Worldwide there are an estimated 3 billion cell phone users. There are about 1 billion people living in extreme poverty. Nobel prize winner Norman Borlaug is widely credited with saving 1 billion lives through the "green revolution" in agriculture. To sell a billion products would mean 2.7 million units... every day... for a year.

My point? To achieve a legacy, you need to work on logistics. How will you serve your first customer? Your tenth? Your thousandth?**
* My bleeps know I occasionally express frustration with oft repeated mantra of the need for "scaling up." I understand the sentiment, but perhaps better appreciate the difficulty. I would observe that "scaling up" has very little to do with talking about it.
** I recently gave a talk at the Unreasonable Institute called "Crux" where I discussed that each point of log scale up may require crux moves (think dropping into a couloir, big wave or Class V rapid) for which an entrepreneur needs to train and practice (or hire people that can do it). It might be changing supply chain to go from 1,000 to 10,000 units, or it might be growing from 10 to 100 employees. Sure there is natural talent, but Chris Sharma didn't start out on 5.15 pitches. You need to think how you will obtain your goals in order to reach them. Hope is not a strategy. (Sorry POTUS)

Monday, May 03, 2010

A Bowl of Porridge in Rwanda

John Gasangwa is a student in Colorado State Univerity's GSSE program. Here is his talk to a local middle school, providing them more background for their study of Hotel Rwanda. Here is his talk about the genocide, suffering, and forgiveness.

"I am telling you my story, so that you may build on can build your character, you can build your community...and you can change the world."

[38 minutes]

Saturday, May 01, 2010

More IDDS 2010 Info

There are 67 days until the fourth annual International Development and Design Summit starts at Colorado State University. We have picked teams, accepted participants, and are spending a lot of time getting ready. It was exciting to see Amy Smith, who started IDDS and is our grand pooh bear, get recognized in the TIME 100 this week. But all of us are even more excited by the potential of the IDDS 50- the 50 participants from around the world who will be coming to CSU for the month of July.

For those of you who are DR100 fans, which is Paul Polak's idea of getting "Design for the Other 90%" courses and programs at 100 universities around the world, we are going to have some good news on that front soon too. I will keep you posted when I can say more. But tell your favorite design, engineering and business profs to block July 28-31... just in case something is going on then.

Lots of people have been asking me about what IDDS is, so here is some more information about IDDS- I have included links to the teams' websites where possible. If it reads a little like a press release, what can I say? Oh, and I will use twitter to update with #idds10. So now, when someone asks about IDDS, I can just say: "IDDS? Just check my blog and add #idds10 in twitter app." Or not.

"Imagine a team of top engineers, doctors and scientists working on a breast milk filter to prevent the transmission of HIV from mothers to babies. Now imagine that two African women, who work with HIV patients daily in community health centers and schools, join the team. For over 3 weeks, they learn together, work together, eat together, and live together. Now imagine a community of 10 such teams recruited from around the world, working with experienced faculty, practitioners, and mentors, each tackling an important problem facing the world’s poor. Each team designing a solution involving a scalable technology and a sustainable enterprise. This is the vision for this year’s International Development Design Summit."

The International Development Design Summit (IDDS) is an annual, multi-week, intense hands-on design experience that brings together people from all over the world and all walks of life to work on projects to improve the lives of people living in poverty. We held the first summit at MIT in the summer of 2007, as well as the second in 2008. The following year, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology hosted the summit in Ghana, where we were able to practice co-creation and work in villages in the surrounding area. For this year’s event, the focus has shifted from the creation of technologies to their dissemination. Co-sponsors MIT, Franklin W. Olin College, and Cooper Perkins will be joined by the 2010 host institution, Colorado State University, in developing and implementing the curriculum.

In addition to the dissemination focus of the 2010 program, a group of prior participants and faculty will work to envision future directions for IDDS while learning first-hand about the organization, culture and operation of the summit. This effort will allow the program to respond to growing demand, reach more participants more efficiently, and build relationships with other universities.

Over the past 3 years, we have grown the IDDS community to a substantial size with more than 150 participants from dozens of countries, inspired numerous participants through design, and developed many promising prototypes and projects. In 2010, we are emphasizing the creation of ventures and the production and distribution of products. Innovations to improve the lives of people living in poverty often require new business models, whether for profit or non-profit, in addition to new technology to be successful. The following projects will be hosted at this summit to develop sustainable enterprise models and plans for product production and launch:

AYZH (India): an IDDS spin-off that disseminates appropriate technologies, including a home water filtration unit and a birthing kit for mid-wives, to improve the lives of women in India.

Fuel from the Fields (Haiti/Rwanda): a project that creates micro-enterprises that produce clean-burning cooking fuel from agricultural waste materials.

Lo Chlorine (India/East Africa): an IDDS project for producing chlorine and dispensing it accurately to provide safe drinking water.

Solar Innovations Organization (Brazil): a project founded by an IDDS organizer to use solar technology to improve the lives of the urban poor.

Running Water (Kenya): an enterprise committed to using sustainable business models to bring clean water solutions to communities in Kenya.

Just Milk (Africa): an IDDS project that seeks to reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS from breastfeeding mothers to their children.

SEED (Bangladesh/India): a venture that will provide affordable irrigation products for small plot farmers in Bangladesh and India.

ABARI (Nepal): a project for a low-cost treatment of bamboo to improve its performance as a construction material.

Sollys Lighting (India/Ghana): a collaborative effort of former IDDS participants from India and Ghana to provide low-cost solar lighting to rural communities.

Hippo Roller (South Africa/Ghana): a water-carrying device to reduce the work-load required to fetch water.

Each of these projects has had some success already, and IDDS 2010 will work to help them move forward and scale up. The distinguishing feature of IDDS will remain the same as in previous summits: diverse, multi-disciplinary teams will work on projects under the mentorship of international leaders in both technology and business development. In addition to internationally regarded faculty, a number of practitioners including designers, engineers, investors, and executives from design firms, development organizations, and start up ventures will be participating. The tradition of holding community events will also continue to more broadly inform others of the role innovation can play in addressing global poverty."