First App / First Market: Prototyping the Application
Farmers in Sri Lanka
Our goal at WhoElse is to provide a new method of outreach and collaboration for people, which we believe will have significant impacts on the rights of consumers, the standards to which companies are held, and people’s expectations for transparency and accountability in general. We hope these impacts will be felt worldwide. Our initial roll-out of our software will be in the emerging markets – large, untapped inefficient markets in Asia with billions of consumers who could quickly leapfrog into developed world efficiencies if their mobile phones had a short cut on to the Internet via SMS, and also VOIP and IVR, and cloud technologies.
When we think of what is commonly and probably mistakenly known as the Developing World, with its billions of people and lack of technical infrastructure, the opportunities are many to leapfrog over, for example, landlines, and even computers, and go straight to mobile phones and lower level networks. Most people don’t have computers, and they’re not getting them. They have mobile phones. And the major way they communicate is texting or calling. Now imagine all the shared needs that people in these countries have: getting water, getting to the market, sharing the load in various ways. Following a year of research, WhoElse has determined that the best opportunity for its technology is in the “developing world,” serve the needs that let people collaborate and share resources by using a mobile device.
Access to a wide range of goods and even services in the developing world is relatively difficult. Compared to developed countries, there are fewer regular channels for smooth delivery to customers, the supply chain is broken in many places, and spot purchases are far more common. When a container comes in full of heating oil or toilet paper, for example, products that are only available in quantities too large for one individual to buy. Our service would enable people to contact each other quickly, band together to make purchases as a group, etc.
We are focused on Asia initially, as there is the greatest amount of mobile phone penetration there, the most technology literacy, and the fastest adoption rate. We have identified an opportunity that exists in the beautiful and now very peaceful country of Sri Lanka. The population of Sri Lanka, like many of the population groups of Asia, Africa and South America, who constitute the majority of the world’s population, don’t have regular access to electricity, the Internet, basic transportation or health care. But they do have a cell phone. We envision that through our software, people will for the first time be able to get together with other people without having to know who they are ahead of time. We expect that it will be very exciting for these disenfranchised, disempowered people to realize the advantages of using such a sophisticated service on the back end with such a simple text-based or voice-based front end.