Stanford alums develop way to review maternal and child health products used in developing nations


Two years ago, Stanford Graduate School of Business alumna Nupur Srivastava spent the summer working in India for D-Rev, a Palo Alto-based non-profit technology incubator. She went there to explore marketing and distribution models for a low-cost neonatal jaundice device she co-designed; during her trip she saw firsthand the lack of accountability related to the quality and efficacy of some products used in developing nations.

“In the U.S. before we spend $20 on a meal there are countless reviews telling you how you should spend your money,” she recently said. “But in the developing world, there is no review system to review products that are a matter of life or death. It’s really frustrating because decision makers would spend a lot of money, and the only information they had was the product data sheet.”

Srivastava wasn’t alone in making this observation. Robyn Calder, a classmate working in the field for the Clinton Health Access Initiative, also experienced the problem. Soon other students working in the social enterprise field voiced similar concerns.

So when Srivastava got together with classmates during a brainstorming session for their Stanford course, Evaluating Entrepreneurial Opportunities, the focus of their startup project became clear: create a Yelp-like review website for maternal and child health products used in low-resource settings. Leer más “Stanford alums develop way to review maternal and child health products used in developing nations”

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Stanford alums develop way to review maternal and child health products used in developing nations


Two years ago, Stanford Graduate School of Business alumna Nupur Srivastava spent the summer working in India for D-Rev, a Palo Alto-based non-profit technology incubator. She went there to explore marketing and distribution models for a low-cost neonatal jaundice device she co-designed; during her trip she saw firsthand the lack of accountability related to the quality and efficacy of some products used in developing nations.

“In the U.S. before we spend $20 on a meal there are countless reviews telling you how you should spend your money,” she recently said. “But in the developing world, there is no review system to review products that are a matter of life or death. It’s really frustrating because decision makers would spend a lot of money, and the only information they had was the product data sheet.”

Srivastava wasn’t alone in making this observation. Robyn Calder, a classmate working in the field for the Clinton Health Access Initiative, also experienced the problem. Soon other students working in the social enterprise field voiced similar concerns.

So when Srivastava got together with classmates during a brainstorming session for their Stanford course, Evaluating Entrepreneurial Opportunities, the focus of their startup project became clear: create a Yelp-like review website for maternal and child health products used in low-resource settings. Leer más “Stanford alums develop way to review maternal and child health products used in developing nations”

Solution Revealed: Economist Ideas Economy Cyberschool Challenge Winner – Andrew Deonarine

In locations such as South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, children, teens, and adults do not have access to education. Many are illiterate, and cannot make use of books and other learning material. While some technologies, such as inexpensive laptops and tablets have been proposed to address the educational needs of this population, the devices are too expensive, require some degree of literacy, and are difficult to implement in resource poor areas. However, cellular phones have significant penetration in the world’s poorest countries, since they provide a means to make a living. In essence, they comprise a global, untapped computer network. [Más…]

In this solution, I have presented a cellular phone based technology called EduCell that develops and distributes educational material using a method called PhoneCasting. PhoneCasting allows someone to write their own educational program using their phone and distribute it to other devices. EduCell consists of a piece of software that that runs small multi-lingual “scripts”, easily developed by local teachers in developing countries. Scripts are then assembled with multimedia to create interactive modules that teach reading, writing, arithmetic, etc. Modules can then distributed (PhoneCasted) to millions of other phones via an Internet server, or pre-loaded, at no cost. The benefits of the PhoneCasting technology are significant: a software programmer or knowledge of English is not required to produce content, which democratizes software development. This would, for the first time, make basic literacy and educational material accessible to hundreds of millions of cellular phone users, and their children, around the world.


http://blog.innocentive.com/2010/09/30/solution-revealed-economist-ideas-economy-cyberschool-challenge-winner-andrew-deonarine/

I’m a Solver | Andrew Deonarine

Andrew Deonarine is the winner of the first Economist-InnoCentive Challenge, 21st Century Cyber Schools.

Earlier this month, The Economist announced a winner in the 21st Century Cyber Schools Challenge.  There were many strong submissions, and the team decided that the two runners up also deserved recognition for their outstanding solutions.  We will be posting solution summaries from the Challenge winner, Andrew Deonarine, as well as the two runners up in this Challenge, Tristram Hewitt and Daniel Rasmus.  Congratulations Andrew, Tristram and Daniel.

Below is a summary of the winning solution from Andrew Deonarine.  To see a larger version of the image, right click and select “view image”

CyberSchools Schematic for Blog

In locations such as South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, children, teens, and adults do not have access to education. Many are illiterate, and cannot make use of books and other learning material. While some technologies, such as inexpensive laptops and tablets have been proposed to address the educational needs of this population, the devices are too expensive, require some degree of literacy, and are difficult to implement in resource poor areas. However, cellular phones have significant penetration in the world’s poorest countries, since they provide a means to make a living. In essence, they comprise a global, untapped computer network. Leer más “Solution Revealed: Economist Ideas Economy Cyberschool Challenge Winner – Andrew Deonarine”

Some Reasons You Might Not Want To Become A Web Designer

Web design is often an appealing career choice for artistic and creative people. It’s seen as a potentially lucrative opportunity to be creative on a daily basis. But there are drawbacks that many people don’t realize going into the field.

While most of these wouldn’t deter people who really want to be designers and who know what design is really about, they might deter people who are only looking for a job that allows them to be artistic or creative. Even if they’re not a deterrent, they should at least serve as an eye-opener for anyone looking to become a Web designer.

Competition Is Fierce

Competition in Some Reasons You Might Not Want To Become A Web Designer

Ten to fifteen years ago, Web design was a fairly specialized field. Most designers had either taught themselves by trial and error or gone to one of the few colleges out there that ran a decent Web or multimedia design program. Now, enough resources are online and in print that virtually anyone can teach themselves to design websites; and if they have an eye for what works and what doesn’t, these people can often design websites that are as good as those who spent four years getting a degree.

There’s also competition from the thousands of free templates and website builders out there. Small companies often opt to use a stock template for their website rather than pay a designer, or they’ll use a WYSIWYG editor to create a website that, while not as good as a professionally designed website, is perfectly acceptable to their visitors and customers.

Design firms in developing countries are now able to produce professional websites for a fraction of the cost of designers in Western Europe, the US, Canada and other developed countries. While not all of these firms can compete on quality, more and more are cropping up every day that can—and that can also compete on development speed and cost.

Designers have to differentiate themselves now more than ever to get a steady stream of business. Freelance designers, especially, can’t get by on “decent” or “good” anymore. They need to be excellent in order to land the clients they need to support themselves and their companies. Even in-house designers are facing more competition, from both larger applicant pools and outsourcing.


By Cameron Chapman

Web design is often an appealing career choice for artistic and creative people. It’s seen as a potentially lucrative opportunity to be creative on a daily basis. But there are drawbacks that many people don’t realize going into the field.

While most of these wouldn’t deter people who really want to be designers and who know what design is really about, they might deter people who are only looking for a job that allows them to be artistic or creative. Even if they’re not a deterrent, they should at least serve as an eye-opener for anyone looking to become a Web designer.

Competition Is Fierce

Competition in Some Reasons You Might Not Want To Become A Web Designer

Ten to fifteen years ago, Web design was a fairly specialized field. Most designers had either taught themselves by trial and error or gone to one of the few colleges out there that ran a decent Web or multimedia design program. Now, enough resources are online and in print that virtually anyone can teach themselves to design websites; and if they have an eye for what works and what doesn’t, these people can often design websites that are as good as those who spent four years getting a degree.

There’s also competition from the thousands of free templates and website builders out there. Small companies often opt to use a stock template for their website rather than pay a designer, or they’ll use a WYSIWYG editor to create a website that, while not as good as a professionally designed website, is perfectly acceptable to their visitors and customers.

Design firms in developing countries are now able to produce professional websites for a fraction of the cost of designers in Western Europe, the US, Canada and other developed countries. While not all of these firms can compete on quality, more and more are cropping up every day that can—and that can also compete on development speed and cost.

Designers have to differentiate themselves now more than ever to get a steady stream of business. Freelance designers, especially, can’t get by on “decent” or “good” anymore. They need to be excellent in order to land the clients they need to support themselves and their companies. Even in-house designers are facing more competition, from both larger applicant pools and outsourcing. Leer más “Some Reasons You Might Not Want To Become A Web Designer”

It’s Futurists Versus Consumers As The Death Of The Book Is Prophesied

Making predictions about the end of this or that technology or institution must be a fun hobby — so many seem to have taken it up. It’s probably because you can’t lose: not only do such predictions promote discussion and visibility of the issue, but they are rarely proven wrong. After all, predicting something happening five years in the future allows for enough change to happen along the way that one can say “well, it was a reasonable hypothesis at the time.” Negroponte’s recent remarks at Techonomy concerning the death of printed books have the usual amount of wiggle room in them — which is not to say that they’re false, only that they’re an example of the usual futurist prestidigitation.

The death of printed books (and, by extension, magazines and such) is, of course, merely an ongoing process — a given. What is in the air is the timing. Negroponte says not ten years, but five. Either he has more faith than I do in consumers’ plasticity, or he’s talking about something completely different.


Making predictions about the end of this or that technology or institution must be a fun hobby — so many seem to have taken it up. It’s probably because you can’t lose: not only do such predictions promote discussion and visibility of the issue, but they are rarely proven wrong. After all, predicting something happening five years in the future allows for enough change to happen along the way that one can say “well, it was a reasonable hypothesis at the time.” Negroponte’s recent remarks at Techonomy concerning the death of printed books have the usual amount of wiggle room in them — which is not to say that they’re false, only that they’re an example of the usual futurist prestidigitation.

The death of printed books (and, by extension, magazines and such) is, of course, merely an ongoing process — a given. What is in the air is the timing. Negroponte says not ten years, but five. Either he has more faith than I do in consumers’ plasticity, or he’s talking about something completely different. Leer más “It’s Futurists Versus Consumers As The Death Of The Book Is Prophesied”

Grassroots Innovation

Veronica Vera pointed me to a great talk by Anil Gupta from TEDIndia. He talks about grassroots innovation, and methods for getting ideas to spread in poorer regions. It’s a fascinating talk:

http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/851

Innovation in developing countries is a wildly unappreciated phenomenon – there are incredibly interesting things going on in places like India, China and Brazil. Some of them are built around finding innovative ways to provide goods and services to poorer people at much lower costs. Aravind Eye Care and the Tata Nano car are just two good examples of how this works.

Gupta is talking about something different though. He is not approaching poor people as consumers, but as inventors. This is reflected in one of the slogans of the Honey Bee Network – minds on the margin are not marginal minds. [Más…]


Veronica Vera pointed me to a great talk by Anil Gupta from TEDIndia. He talks about grassroots innovation, and methods for getting ideas to spread in poorer regions. It’s a fascinating talk:

Innovation in developing countries is a wildly unappreciated phenomenon – there are incredibly interesting things going on in places like India, China and Brazil. Some of them are built around finding innovative ways to provide goods and services to poorer people at much lower costs. Aravind Eye Care and the Tata Nano car are just two good examples of how this works.

Gupta is talking about something different though. He is not approaching poor people as consumers, but as inventors. This is reflected in one of the slogans of the Honey Bee Network – minds on the margin are not marginal minds. Leer más “Grassroots Innovation”

Are you an elite?

In the developing world, there’s often a sharp dividing line between the elites and everyone else. The elites have money and/or an advanced education. It’s not unusual to go to the poorest places on earth and find a small cadre of people who aren’t poor at all. Sometimes, this is an unearned position, one that’s inherited or acquired in ways that take advantage of others. Regardless, you can’t just announce you’re an elite and become one.

In more and more societies, though (including my country and probably yours), I’d argue that there’s a different dividing line. This is the line between people who are actively engaged in new ideas, actively seeking out change, actively engaging–and people who accept what’s given and slog along. It starts in school, of course, and then the difference accelerates as we get older. Some people make the effort to encounter new challenges or to grapple with things they disagree with. They seek out new people and new opportunities and relish the discomfort that comes from being challenged to grow (and challenging others to do the same).


In the developing world, there’s often a sharp dividing line between the elites and everyone else. The elites have money and/or an advanced education. It’s not unusual to go to the poorest places on earth and find a small cadre of people who aren’t poor at all. Sometimes, this is an unearned position, one that’s inherited or acquired in ways that take advantage of others. Regardless, you can’t just announce you’re an elite and become one. Leer más “Are you an elite?”