Archive for the ‘Innovation’ Category

Shoestring

Posted: December 8, 2010 in Innovation, Management
This is typical Mumbaiah (related to Mumbai)… and whoever has ever commuted through local train to work would have noticed it. Whenever one gets out of a local train during morning hours… ‘tak tak tak…’ there is this familiar sound of wood knocks around. It doesn’t take much time to figure out the source of this unusual sound – couple of shoemakers on the platform. Curiosity took me to one of them and what a skill they have… 3 mins flat to get done with a pair. I was delighted with the service and their efficiency. And what they get for it is just Rs.5. This left me wondering about shoemakers’ daily/monthly income.
If we observe we could see that these shoemakers get good footfalls during 3 hours in morning (8 AM – 11 AM), then moderate footfalls for next three hours and minimal footfalls thereafter. Based on a rough calculation we can say that on a good day a shoemaker would make Rs. 450 – 500 (20shoes x 3 hrs x Rs.5 + 5shoes x 3h x Rs5 + 3shoes x 3h x Rs.5). Out of this most of the earnings (60-65%) happen during peak 3 hours. So, 2/3rd of earnings happen in 1/3rd of the working time. This gives us another food for thought… is there a way out in which these shoemakers can use remaining 2/3rd of their time more productively?
Couple of crude alternatives I can think of: (Please feel free to add…)
1. Switching between stations based on time of the day – Shoemakers can render service on stations toward town during peak hours and they can probably shift to stations in suburbs during evenings. (There are more commuters from suburbs towards town during morning hours and opposite movement happens during evening hours). But point to consider here is that a person going to office in morning is more likely to get his shoe polished compared to a person coming back home. So again attractiveness of this alternative during evening hours has to be validated.
2. Alternative work after peak hours – Shoemakers can seek out work in some other areas like mills, factories, etc. after peak hours. Problem here could be their limited skill set and availability of such type of opportunities.
3. A new ecosystem – Another option is to build an ecosystem to productively utilize their skills. Why do we need to have leather tanning / polishing industry limited to some specific areas in town? What if there are leather work related shops close to some of the stations? This could give shoemakers an opportunity to be involved in regular source of income as well. Again, the problem to consider in this case is whether there is really a need/demand for so many shoemakers? Is location (distance to work) really a constraint?
I could think of only above 3 alternatives off the fly. Brainstorming could help us to come up with few more options and further refining the identified alternatives. If at all anything can help to increase productivity and ‘Shoestring’ income of these shoemakers!! 

subtag: Social Innovation, Ideation

Advertisements

Where is my money?
Figures say that for 1 USD we donate to NGOs, on an average only 70 cents goes to the actual cause.
Rest 30 cents are wasted as fundraising and administration cost.
As per global trend people are increasingly willing to donate today,, but they want each cent of their money to be utilized for the real Purpose. Whereas, in the wake of such facts people end up asking “Where is my money!!?”

This high administration and fund raising cost severely affects NGOs Productivity and Efficiency. 
NGO Productivity   α Total Funds Raised for the cause.

NGO Efficiency (%) = Funds Used for Cause
                     Total Funds Raised
Fund Raising Efficiency = Total Funds Raised
                           Fund Raising Cost
Problem defined:
‘How can NGOs increase their Productivity and Efficiency?’
Reasons explored:
If we assume that all the funds finally available (after deducting fund raising and admin cost) to the NGO are being used completely for the cause then there are two clear factors that affect Productivity and Efficiency of NGOs.
1.  Total Funds Raised
2.  Cost of Fund Raising
So, what are the reasons that are holding back NGOs on these parameters?
1.  Total Funds Raised
a)  Limited Geographical Reach – Fund raising activity is limited to area of operation.
b)  Limited Penetration/Awareness – Even in the area of operation not everyone is aware of the NGOs.
c)  Lack of Credibility – I don’t know if my funds will be completely used for the cause.
d)  Lack of Tangibility/Transparency – I want to see where my funds are being used.
e)  Limited Resources – Limited volunteers and resources.
f)  Poor supporting technology infrastructure – Not using adequate technology and infrastructure because of limited funds.
2.  Cost of Fund Raising
a)  High fund development cost – Capturing new private and corporate donors is costly.
b)  High Marketing Cost – High cost of marketing, road shows, awareness campaigns, etc.
There is a need for an efficient fund raising channel for NGOs.
Solution Proposed:
A web based ecosystem for NGOs
An Internet portal to provide a one stop website solution to connect global donors and various (participating) NGOs.
However, it is not simple as it seems to fill the gaps by simply building a portal.
The portal should be designed to fully exploit the potential of Web 2.0 (Interactive web, social networking, facebook, twitter, etc.) to reach millions of users.
Some of the desirable features of such portal could be:
·         A large user base.
·         Integration with social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc.
·         One Stop Solution for various NGOs.
·         Country, NGO and Project level Transparency.
·         Making donation a fun process.
Potential Benefits:
Contact me at rahulsingh.mail@gmail.com

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=i0660-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0060851147&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

Not sure of the traffic situation!? Not sure which route to take!? Log on to ‘Twitter’!!

All of us are aware of inconvenience caused by bad traffic situations. No one wants to end up burning fuel and getting mad in such situations. One day while traveling to office, I found myself stuck in a similar bad traffic!! Traffic jams are not unusual here in Mumbai, specifically during office hours. That day it was real bad as it took me 90 mins to cover a distance that I cover in 30 mins on a reasonable day.
That time I started thinking how could I have avoided such traffic and started wondering of ways in which such traffic situations can be made available to the commuters.
Available solutions and their inherent problems:
There is an official traffic police website where they ask you to register your mobile number so that they can update you about bad traffic situations. Irony is that I have not received a single SMS from them since I have registered around one year back and moreover no one has a clue what they actually mean by bad traffic. Only source available to us (commuters like me) is the traffic update broadcast on radios/FM. That is one thoughtful step, but again even that is subject to few limitations. There is absolutely no control of user/listener on the timing of information broadcast. Sometimes you don’t have that much time to wait and other times you don’t want to listen to those useless songs while waiting for the broadcast. And, just in case you are lucky to catch the timing, you need to be very attentive so that you don’t miss the specific update. So, is there any possible solution to this problem?
Problem re-defined: How do I get accurate traffic update whenever and wherever I want?
Solution thought of:
I can think of one solution to address all the problems captured above.
Answer lies in ‘Twitter’.
How about having a website which would broadcast real time traffic updates through ‘Twitter Tweets’!!
Potential Product: A website to broadcast real time traffic updates.
Now, another problem for such website could be to get the real time traffic updates?
I can think of two solutions to address this challenge.
Alternative 1: Collaborative model
1.    Users to contribute real time traffic updates:
a.    Through SMS; or
b.    Through their reply ‘Tweets’ or through ‘Twitter’.
2.    Users to update any upcoming event and the anticipated route diversion in advance.
Alternative 2: Crawling.
1.    Get traffic updates by scanning, crawling and searching various websites like Facebook, twitter, Orkut to capture any traffic related user status.
2.    Structure traffic updates area wise.
Broadcasting/Dissemination:
1.    Braodcast/Tweet as and when website receives any new update.
2.    User to follow the website Tweets to get the traffic update.
3.    Subscribe/follow area specific traffic tweets or general traffic tweets as per your need.
Potential Benefits:
Real time traffic updates on the go, whenever and wherever needed.
* Watch this space for more such thoughts and ideas.
Imagine this. You are flying alone to some place. Domestic or International. You reach airport 2 hours prior to the departure. You check in. You block a window seat. Get your security check done and then you wait for boarding to start. You look at the watch and you still have 1 hour for boarding. Now you spend this 1 hour somehow and then you board the flight. You enter early and take your window seat. You realize journey is 3 hours to 8 hours long. At this point, have you ever wondered how will you be spending next few hours? Who is going to sit right next to you? Have you ever wished a celebrity, a business tycoon or a beautiful girl to take the seat right next to you?

Problem defined:

There is a long transit and travel time when people travel between cities. In most cases, this time goes unproductive.

There are only few choices available for travelers at present.

1.  Read magazines/ books.

2.  Tune into in flight entertainment.

3.  Turn on your laptop.

4.  Catch some sleep.

How can a person traveling utilize this travel time more productively to build social network?

Solution – The thought:

Travelers should be given an option ‘To socialize consciously!’. The person traveling should be facilitated to choose his/her fellow passenger (by mutual consent of course!)!?

This can be achieved through a product (software/application) with integrated features of ‘seat booking management system’ and ‘Social networks’.

Benefits:

Such product can provide multifold benefits for all the stakeholders:

1.  For travelers – Productive utilization of travel time.
2.  For travelers – Opportunity to get along with likeminded / enhance social network.

3.  For airlines – More takers for middle seats in airlines.

This window of 5+ hours (boarding + waiting + flying) is a great opportunity waiting to be tapped. This window can present a good platform to people for socializing, building contacts and cutting business deals on the fly!

Who knows… you might fly with Angelina Jolies of the World, next time!

* I am sure, many more business ideas can be brainstormed to tap into these 5+ hours of unproductive time of a Traveler. Please share.

* I have worked on detailed features and business model of the possible product. Contact me at rahulsingh.mail@gmail.com

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=i0660-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0385526024&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr