AI Progress Report: 2014 Quarter 1

Path

Forest Path (cc) Jerry Bowley

The years 2011 – 2013 were our incubation period, a time to test new things and reinvent Appropriate IT (AI) as a company. AI’s Development Academy was pilot tested in 2011 – 2012. AI’s Innovation Lab launched one technology platform and laid the seeds of another in 2013. After these bootstrapping years, Appropriate IT v 2.0 was born in January 2014.**

Here is a new feature to celebrate our new beginnings: a quarterly progress report on how we are doing.

tl;dr summary:

  • An exciting new team is falling into place :)
  • AI’s redesigned website launched :)
  • Janani faced some setbacks :(
  • Date set for the inauguration of the first training center :|

Management & Admin

Team: The first order of the year 2014 is to build an execution team in Washington DC, USA and Coimbatore, India to realize AI’s vision. And we got off to a flying start in that department. Thanks to a serendipitous introduction, Jennifer John (bio | blog ) joined as Business Development Manager (Investments). Subha Priya Narayanaswamy (bio | blog) came on board soon after as Technology Associate. (aside: we still have a few open positions. check out our jobs page) Jen and Subha have already jumped heart and soul into AI’s work. Check out their bio on our team page or get to know them via their writing on our blog. Teams page, blog…oh yeah, that brings us to the big news this quarter.

Appropriate IT’s redesigned web site launched. And, of course we celebrated! (proof 1 | proof 2) Our design partner in this crime is Ranya Karafilly at Small Mammoth Design. The site was designed to better reflect the mission and vision, not just of the corporate entity but also of the individuals behind the company who share a common passion + purpose and are on this journey for ‘sustainable solutions for social change’. I think the colors, vibrancy, and energy are perfect for who we are (thanks Ranya).

Finances: The team that will be managing our finances in the US also took shape this year. Barrett Young is our CFO, thanks to the outsourcing service provided by his company The Green Abacus. Barrett’s paperless, virtual approach to everything is just the incentive we needed. Scott Kregel and his ‘atypical accountants’ at Kregel & Company CPA took over as our accounting firm. (aside: see this twitter conversation to know that we found the right partner ;)). After funding the company with personal savings and a home equity loan until now, we are planning to take on a handful of angel investors later this year. So, I am glad we have our financial team and tools in place.

Innovation Lab

AI’s Innovation Lab has two products in the pipeline:

  1. Janani, our crowdsouring and citizen engagement platform
  2. Shakthi, our eLearning and knowledge management platform

Janani is having a somewhat rocky time. Its first project, the Citizen Action Platform (CAP) was expected to launch in Uganda this quarter. However, that has not happened which is quite disappointing :(. The contract process with mobile service providers, buying SMS bundles, and setting up toll-free numbers are all taking an inordinately long time. But we are oh-so-close. Hopefully CAP will launch in the second quarter, which will be our cue to start the next phase of work on Janani. This year’s plan for Janani is to find a) two other projects and b) additional funding to complete and release the open source version.

In the meanwhile, Shakthi is in full design mode. We will hopefully see the launch of the first project on that platform this year.++

Development Academy

AI’s Development Academy is starting to chug its engine. We are looking to launch the first physical center in Coimbatore this year. And, we figured that nothing will get us going on all cylinders as setting a date. So, ta-da…the inauguration will be on August 15 (India’s Independence Day for those who may not know). Nothing is in place. We still need to finalize the location, convert it into a cool training center, find the right team, and so on… But hey, we are not the ones to let small details like that stop us from dreaming of a brilliant future. You will be hearing more soon. :)

Misc

And in other personal news, I (un)graduated from THNK in March. It has been an exhilarating ride for the past year and half. I am grateful for all the exhortations that we should THNK big, embrace uncertainty, and reinvent constantly. It has resulted in an expansive vision for AI. But, far more importantly, I have also inherited a crazy family, but that is another whole blog update altogether.

That’s all for now. Quite a lot for a quarter, yeah? More to come.

usha
founder & ceo

 
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** For a quick history: Appropriate IT v 1.0 started as a consulting company in 2007. Version 1.0 officially ended when we closed the doors on taking on any new consulting projects at the beginning of 2013.

 

++ AI’s product development methodology will be elaborated in a separate blog post at a later date. It is important to note that the first project is a critical milestone in the product development timeline.

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