A Little Jugaad and a Call to Arms

Dear Young Professionals of India,

You probably don’t know me, but I’m a lot like you.  I cringe, just as you do, when people refer to India as a poor country (because we both know they are wrong).  I know, just as you do, that some of the most brilliant minds and successful businesses come from this nation. But I feel, just as you do, that there is still work to be done to help this nation truly reach its potential.

The problem, as I see it, is that the most brilliant minds in India end up going to businesses that may not be most beneficial to society.  Now I know that most large corporations in India donate millions to social causes, and I commend them for that.  But imagine if the most brilliant minds worked instead to solve the most pressing problems of society? Can you imagine what could be accomplished?

But I understand why this happens.  I am Indian in that way as well.  Coming from a middle class family in America, I know my parents used most of their savings to send their kids to college- investing in their children instead of themselves.  And now, it is my turn to support my family.  I want to support my family.  However, financial stability is usually a prerequisite, and historically, doing something meaningful and being financially comfortable have been mutually exclusive.

But the concept of social enterprise changes all that. It runs on the notion that markets can be used to drive change.  Invest in the best people, get the most social (and financial) return on investment.

And that’s where NextDrop comes in.

If you are tired of using your talent to further some intangible goal (that someone in some boardroom set) and instead want to use that talent to make an impact, we want you.  If you are dissatisfied with the rigid structure you are asked to work in, and the restrictions placed on innovation, creativity, and out of the box thinking, we want you.  If you just want to get out and there and DO something for a change, we want you.

We want you, young professionals of India.  Lets put that jugaad to good use.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Join us.


Anu Sridharan

CEO, NextDrop

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A Note from the COO: Lessons from the Field, Collecting Information with Paired Utility

In the summer of 2010, the NextDrop team arrived in Hubli with the intention of testing one solution to the problem of unreliable water.  Under our initial model, residents would alert us immediately when water began to flow through their taps in exchange for small payments.  After verifying the accuracy of these notifications with two randomly-chosen residents in the area, we would broadcast information to all users in the neighborhood.  Further, we planned to use our crowdsourced data to ultimately develop an algorithm for predicting when water would arrive for neighborhoods next in line to get water.

So, what happened to this beautiful plan, and how did NextDrop get to where it is now?  Like in any innovative enterprise, we were forced to iterate in response to failure.  Consider our assumption that we could generate a steady stream of crowdsourced data.  Now imagine that your water sometimes arrives at 4:30am, as it does in one of our pilot neighborhoods in Sainagar.  Will you always remember to call NextDrop after the sound of running water wakes you?

A second thing happened: through the first 6 months of our pilot, we learned a whole lot more about how water utilities work in places like Hubli and what their pain points are.  Consider the picture below—you are looking at a logbook, where utility employees called “valvemen” record the times they open and close valves with a mechanical key as part of their job.  Does this information flow back to the utility?  Almost never.  Only if there is a complaint.  In effect, utility engineers operate blind, with little knowledge of what happens on the ground.  Couple this with another interesting fact from our pilot—when we asked valvemen to notify us when water arrived, they outperformed residents at this task.

Drawing on these lessons, we changed trajectory.  We would rely on valvemen for the first notification that water had arrived.   Why, you may wonder, would valvemen and the utilities that employ them be willing to partner with us?  They would partner with us because we would make it our mission to provide a valuable service to water utilities.  We take information from valvemen—the information that sits idly in logbooks—and visualize it in real-time for the utility in a web-based dashboard.   By improving this information flow, we enable utility engineers recognize problems as they came up and respond quickly.

We had iterated toward a model in which the data we collected had paired utility—a model in which information about water delivery times flows to two sets of users: residents, who receive useful text message alerts, and central decision makers, who use the information to monitor and improve their services.

Ari Olmos

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And the NextDrop (alpha) Pilot Results Are In!

We recently completed the first phase of our pilot.  We worked with 1 valveman, and sent 57 people real time updates for 6 months.  During this pilot, we did not have an official partnership with the water utility- we were simply directed to a very helpful and cooperative valveman who wanted to work with us.

Key Learnings:

Total addressable market:  

Assumption: We  assumed that out of all the phone numbers we get, we would only be able to reach about 60% those families.

Pilot findings: When we called all 57 people, we only had 34 people respond to our phone survey, which is almost exactly 60% (59.6% to be exact)

Adoption rate:

Assumption: We assumed that we would have a 5% adoption rate (of the total addressable market) in the first quarter, capped at a 50% adoption rate in year 5.

Pilot findings: We found that 82% of our respondents said they used the NextDrop system and found it useful.

Most Compelling Pilot Result:

I think we all know that with a sample size that small (57 people), you can’t really take those percentages at face value.  What was most compelling to me were the actual stories- specific instances people could remember when they didn’t know the water was coming until they got the NextDrop texts.

Madhu, our field employee, conducted these interviews by phone, and I have pasted ALL our interviews here (both the good and the bad).  I have purposefully not edited it so you can read everything as people have dictated it.

But first, here is MY favorite story that we got (you can also read it in the context of the actual survey below):

“Ones all the family members went to marriage party in near to Hubli (one hour journey) ,when I get the SMS from Nextdrop   I came to know that water is flowing , suddenly I send my younger brother to home and fill the water because next day all the relatives are coming to the home, if we missed the water we have to wait again 6 to 8 days .Your service is very useful on that time .”

Madhu’s questions:

  1. Next drop is useful ??
  2. How it is useful??
  3. Is there any specific time the Nextdrop system was helpful?
  4. If we give 5rs or Nextdrop service what would be your choice?

Survey Respondents:


  1. Yes it is useful
  2. Our water tank is very down when very getting water on that time we didn’t see the water flowing, after coming your SMS we came to know water flowing,
  3. My father and mother both are employee and I am going to college  , we don’t know water supply schedule ,while getting your SMS  we came to know water supply , on that time we call to the neighbor fill the drinking water .Always  we open the tank valve but drinking water we will inform to the neighbor.
  4. We  need Nextdrop service

Ashwini :

  1. Yes it is useful
  2. While we are in outside on that it is very useful
  3. I am going to collage on that and my parents are employees , when I get the SMS from Nextdrop I will inform to my perants then they will come to home and fill the water ,
  4. We need service we don’t want recharge


  1. Yes it is useful
  2. When we are in the home we will know water flowing, but if we in outside and night time your SMS is very useful,
  3. We need service 5rs is not big money


1         Yes it is useful

2         In the night time and when we are in outside we came to know that water flowing ,

3         Last 2 weeks back I got SMS in the morning on that time only I came to know that water is flowing.

4         Service is ok


  1. Yes it is useful
  2. We don’t know the schedule ,so whenever they  want on that time only they will supply the water, so  on that time your sms is useful.
  3. Ones they supply water morning 6 am ,I slept ,when I get your sms we came to  know that water is flowing
  4. We need service we can give 5rs to your service

Notes :he gave many complaints for water board, electricity board and government officials they are not doing good work like that!!!.


  1. Yes it is useful
  2. If we in outside of the home
  3. I didn’t find any specific time ,I am not  reading SMS but sometimes it’s useful ,
  4. I don’t want money service is ok


  1. Yes its useful
  2. If we in outside when we are getting your SMS we will inform to the home
  3. He is LIC Advicer and he is traviling more ,and his brother having general store always they are in outside of the home ,if supply started in our area after getting your SMS we came to know water is flowing.

He said one story:

Ones all the family members went to marriage party in near to Hubli (one hour journey) ,when I get the SMS from Nextdrop   I came to know that water is flowing , suddenly I send my younger brother to home and fill the water because next day all the relatives are coming to the home, if we missed the water we have to wait again 6 to 8 days .Your service is very useful on that time .

  1. We need service we can give 5` for your service.

Gangu is working private company

1         Yes it is useful

2         If we in outside of the home

3         Ones we went for relatives function , so we are waiting bus in bus station when I get your SMS on that time we send  one person  to home and fill the water .

4         Service is ok 5rs is not big money


1         Yes it is useful

2         In the night time is very useful

3         If the supply started  at  night we didn’t  the flowing when we get the SMS we came to water is flowing

4         Service we can give 5rs that is not big money


1         Yes its useful

2         When we are doing work in home we don’t hear water flowing in tank, so when we get your SMS we came to know water flowing.

3         We need service


1         Yes it is useful

2         Always we are in home when we get the supply we came to  water flowing , may be if we in outside  it will help.

3         Service 5rs we can give


1         I am is not interested  I am not seeing SMS ,always my family members are in home they will fill the water ,I think this is not useful for me .

2         He didn’t respond well


1         Yes it is useful

2         I am always in home but when I went outside on that time it is useful,

3         Ones I went for market I got SMS from nexrdrop then I called my son (he was in outside ) go to home and fill the water on that its useful.

4         Service is better


1         It is useful

2         While flowing water in tank we didn’t know after getting your SMS we came to know water flowing

3         We need service 5 rs we can give


1         Yes it is useful

2         In the night  and early morning time it is very useful ,

3         Service is ok

Ciddu is working finance mutual fund Company

  1. It is useful
  2. If I was in office or any meetings on that time it is useful
  3. We know water will arrive 3 to 4 hours after getting your SMS I will inform to home,
  4. We need service


It is useful

If we busy in house work we didn’t know water is flowing but after getting your SMS we came to know water is flowing,

We need your service we can give 5 rs

Notes: he suggested to add his friend number


I am not seeing any SMS I will delete without reading ,but it will useful when we are outside


She changed house to Vidyanagar but what happen she told your SMS is very useful for me after getting your SMS next day we will get water  , based on your SMS we thought tomorrow we will get water ,


  1. Yes its useful
  2. If we are in outside on that we can plan our work and fill the water
  3. Service is good


  1. Yes its useful
  2. Last week morning 6 am after getting your SMS only we came to know that water is flowing
  3. Service

Notes :he said  if you give SMS before 20 to 30 minutes it better !!


  1. It is useful
  2. When we are in outside on that time only it is useful, always we are in home we opened the tap while flowing water we came to know ,
  3. We need service 5 rs is not big money


  1. It is useful
  2. Sometimes we are not seeing water flowing in tank after getting your sms we came to know that water is flowing.
  3. Service is better we can pay 5 rs


  1. It is useful
  2. If we are in outside of home
  3. Ones I was in market on that time I got SMS from Nextdrop then I came to home and fill the water,
  4. We need service is better


Always I am busy with work, so I didn’t observed the SMS ,family members they will fill the water


I didn’t got any SMS ,

He didn’t respond well


  1. It is useful
  2. If we are in outside office when we are getting SMS I will inform to the family members
  3. Service is better


  1. It’s useful
  2. Always one person in home , but if we in outside on that time it is very helpful,
  3. He said story, I went movie with all my family members on that time I got SMS from Nextdrop then I came back to home and fill the water.
  4. Service is good


I didn’t observed the SMS when water will flow on that time we came to in house,


  1. It is very Useful
  2. If we in outside it is very help full
  3. One I was in my parent house I got SMS from Nextdrop then I came to home and fill the water
  4. We can pay 5 rs it is not big money


  • It is useful
  • While in office if we got we can inform to the home
  • Service is good


  1. It is useful
  2. If we busy in house work on that time we didn’t know the water flowing in tank after getting your SMS we came to know that water is flowing
  3. We can pay 5rs that is not big money


It is useful

I when we are out of station on that time it is useful

Service is better


  1. It is useful
  2. When we are getting Night and early morning it is very useful
  3. Last week morning we came to know that your SMS only
  4. Service is better
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The Knight News Challenge, and a Community of Knowledge-Sharing

In 2006, the Knight Foundation started the Knight News Challenge, committing $25 million over five years to “advance the future of news by funding new ways to digitally inform communities.”

Since the first winners were announced in 2007, grantees have included several projects which have been an inspiration to NextDrop. Ushahidi, for example, is a project born out of the 2008 post-election crisis in Kenya, used originally to quickly sort through information in order to map out violent outbreaks and peace efforts, and later adapted to a platform for use in other scenarios worldwide, notably natural disasters. FrontlineSMS is a system which allows journalists to inform and engage large groups of people at the grassroots level, without the need for internet access.

On Wednesday, June 22, it was announced that out of 1,641 applications, 16 projects had emerged to be named as 2011’s News Challenge winners. Of the $4.7 million awarded in grants this year, NextDrop took home $375,000.

Clearly, there are a lot of reasons for us to be excited here. This is the largest grant that NextDrop has received to date, by a considerable margin. This recognition shows a major vote of confidence in NextDrop, and gives us the resources to build and develop our team in order to be the best we can be. Also, it means that we can devote less of our energy to fundraising and more towards actually getting to work, which is what every startup dreams of in these stages. However, the award is particularly exciting for another reason.

With this award, the Knight Foundation is funding experimentation. It means that we do not have to be shy about taking risks, or working outside of our comfort zone. This kind of experimentation will allow NextDrop to expand on existing best practices and work towards establishing new ones. The liberty to strike out (and yes, potentially, to make mistakes) is what will allow us to deliver the best product possible. The Knight Foundation emphasizes transparency and documentation for all of its grantees, meaning we are now part of a community where other projects can learn from our process – our successes and our failures – and where we can learn from theirs. We encourage you to check out the other winners – we are honored to be in such great company.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the Knight Foundation for these opportunities. Also, thanks to those responsible for the Knight-MIT Civic Media Conference, where the chance to meet new innovators may have opened the door for some exciting future collaborations!

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Deciding to Incorporate in India vs. the United States- a Difficult Decision

I am not sure what the right decision is, or even if there is a “right” decision.  But when I say we are incorporating in India, it is something that surprises most people.

The main reason we want to incorporate in India is that if we are working with Indian governments, having an Indian entity would be most conducive to that.   When the president of Kiva, Premal Shah, came and presented at our Hub Ventures class, he said that you should choose a legal structure which will help you scale most effectively.  For Kiva, it was a non profit (because the SEC legal issues would be crazy  if Kiva were to be a for profit entity).  For us, it seemed pretty simple.  If we get big (everyone wants to plan for success right?) Indian governments may not trust us if we are an American entity.  This would hold true even if we were an American company with an Indian subsidiary (like Microsoft does in India).  It could still potentially hinder our growth.

The downside: From what I understand, it’s harder to bring in investment capital from the United States.  I’m sure it’s not impossible, but it does make things more challenging.   India also has more strict tax laws (i.e. I believe corporate tax is around 15%-20% of profits, as opposed to the 1%-2% in the United States).

The Upside: There are a lot of Venture Capitalists in India, so it would make a lot of sense to get Indian money to invest in India.  We don’t have all the connections now, but hopefully when we are on the ground, we can make those associations.

The Neutral:  I believe bringing in grant money would be the same weather we are an Indian for profit, or an American for profit.

Also, the most popular type of incorporation in India seems to be an Limited Liability Company (as opposed to the C Corp or S Corp in the United States).  I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t taking on any personal Liability, so I asked our lawyer what the deal was with LLC’s in India:


“In India, the concept of limited liability is that the shareholders are only liable to the extent of the amount paid up on the shares and not beyond.  In a worst case scenario, the shareholders would stand to lose the amount invested by them in the Company but they would not have to shell out any funds from their personal resources to meet company liabilities.

Directors of companies cannot also be held personally liable for any of the Company’s acts/defaults etc, unless it is established that that such act/default etc is attributed to any gross negligence, misfeasance or breach of duty in relation to the affairs of the company.”

I.E. we are not going to be held personally responsible and it won’t ruin my credit score back in the United States (in the hopefully statistically improbable event that NextDrop goes Bankrupt).

If you are American and you want to invest in an Indian Company:

It’s a little bit tricky if you are not Indian and want to start a company in India, because our lawyer told us this:

“It is also pertinent to note that under the FDI regime, the allotment/transfer of shares to foreign investors would have to be effected at a price not lower than the price arrived as per the Discounted Cash Flow Method. [A1] [A1]“

Which raised the question: How does this work in practice?  Given that our project currently only has grant revenue, how would that restrict our ability to allocate shares?  We are considering allocating shares among co-founders with a vesting schedule that requires team  members to work for NextDrop for a certain number of years to receive equity.  Would this still be feasible?

The answer from our lawyer:

“In practice, most companies draw up projections for the next five years, assuming a particular growth rate.  In your specific case, maybe you can budget grant revenues for the initial two years (which in turn would typically depend upon the estimates of funds required in India and their respective draw-downs) and maybe you can then factor in some subsribtion/advertisement/service revenues for the next three years.

As regards the second part of the question, are you looking at an ESOP option?  If yes, then you should also probably consider drawing up an ESOP scheme, which would interalia include the manner in which the co-founders would acquire the ESOPS, te vesting period, the exit options, the mechanism for funding the exit etc.   Please note that in India, ESOPs are not very popular amongst closely held private limited companies primarily on account of the liquidity factor, since the shares of these companies are not freely transferable.”


Those are the things we came up with.  Hopefully we will be incorporated in India by the beginning of August.

If you have any questions, and/or feedback, we would love to hear it.


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A New Voice for NextDrop – A Letter from our Newest Team Member

Dear Readers,

My name is Elisha Clark. A little over a year ago, I was in the process of completing a fellowship with the Deshpande Foundation in Hubli – the same city, by matter of happy circumstance (and a partnership with DF), where NextDrop is running their pilot. I was working as an instructor and program manager for the Deshpande Fellowship Program, a program geared towards young Indian professionals and recent university graduates which provided training in social entrepreneurship.

Although our work was relatively unrelated, I had the pleasure of spending time with members of the NextDrop team and getting to know the project as it was in the beginning of summer 2010. Since returning to the United States last July, I’ve been able to keep up with NextDrop’s progress, not just through continued contact with the team but through the NextDrop website and, more recently, this blog. Perhaps more than anything else, I’ve enjoyed the perspective offered by the blog – a mirror for the changing face of NextDrop. I believe it to be a great resource, and not just because it allows for an open dialogue between NextDrop and its readership (a fantastic resource in themselves, and one not often tapped in this way). It’s great, also, for the story it tells: a humble, but ambitious student project gaining momentum and decisively changing the lives and plans of those involved.

Recently, Anu approached me with an offer to join the NextDrop team in the role of Media and Communications Associate. One of the tasks that I am most looking forward to is taking on this blog. I believe that documenting this project in the way that Anu envisioned and described in her first post is an important task – one that will allow others to learn from NextDrop’s successes and failures, and hopefully, through engaging with our community of readers, allow us to learn as well. As I begin to take over this task, I am committed to continuing NextDrop’s mission of documentation, transparency, and knowledge-sharing and will work hard to build our community and our network of participants. And, as always, if you see ways in which we might be able to improve, or things we can do to more effectively work towards these goals, we want to hear from you.

It’s a pleasure to meet you all, and I very much look forward to seeing where this conversation takes us.

All the best,


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To Be (a non profit) or Not to Be (a Non Profit)…That is the Question.

It’s a question that every social enterprise has to answer- do we want to be a business or do we want to be a non profit, or hey- do we want to be both? It’s a question that we struggled long and hard over and we have come to a decision: We are only going to be an Indian for profit (at least for the next year) with the option of creating an additional non profit arm later down the road.

Our thought process: We had decided early on that we wanted to at LEAST be a for profit in India.

Reasoning:  In our collective experience, we felt that it was easier to get work done in India as a for profit.  We also felt that people in India had more respect for businesses (as opposed to non profits)- probably because there were so many non profits already present, doing work in India.  Image wise, we felt business was the way to go to get things done.

Why incorporate in India as opposed to the US company with an Indian subsidiary?  Good question.  It’s tough because American investors are definitely wary about investing in Indian companies (and we do not have any typical investments to date- besides grants aka free money), but we are interested in working/partnering with Indian governments.  And if we are an American company, we felt that it would jeopardize our ability to work with Indian government entities, and even to some extent the Indian public.  We would always be the foreigners coming in and doing things.  Not optimal.

That wasn’t hard- Where’s the dilemma?:  Well, we were seriously considering being a hybrid non-profit/for profit company to get the best of both the worlds.

And here is why:

Grant funding: We figured we may have an easier time raising money from our non profit side (if we had one). $ is always good.

Partnerships: We thought that maybe if we were an American Non profit, it would be easier to form partnerships with government, and other Non governmental agencies and/or Universities.

Focus: We thought that maybe if each of us focused on a separate part of NextDrop (non profit= improving transparency and impact, for profit= execution and scalability/profitability) we would get best of both the worlds.  We thought it may be difficult for one entity to try and FOCUS on both (with the same funds).

Why did we decide NOT to do a hybrid?

Funding: We realized that…NextDrop had been winning a lot of cool things, not because it was a non profit (because it wasn’t), but because…it was a good idea.  And people wanted to help see if it would work.  And that hasn’t changed.  We figured that if we break up NextDrop, it may not have the same appeal.  Lets face it, people funding non profits don’t really want to be funding tons and tons of impact evaluations/R& D stuff (at least according to Draper Richards- they want to fund innovation).  Which makes sense.  So we are banking on the fact that we can still attract investment/grants (for the dual purpose of social impact and small financial returns).  And FYI, grant making organizations CAN give to for profit organizations (it’s just more difficult, but we are proof that it can happen).  Sometimes it’s in the form of free money, but many times it’s in the form of a PRI (Program Related Investment).  This means they actually do get equity in your company and it is a convertible note (as far as I can tell- pleases feel free to correct me if I’m wrong!)

Focus: Ari made a good point.  If we had two separate organizations, one focusing on impact and transparency, and the other focusing on execution and scale, what happens down the road if the two separate from each other?  What happens to NextDrop then?  Does it become a pure moneymaking machine?  Given that this is a really new field topic (hybrid models in general), and the only examples we see are non profits that are pretty much subsidiaries of the for profit (i.e. they don’t exactly do a WHOLE lot to influence the actual for profit entity), we thought that maybe it was in our best interests to keep the two together- at least for the first year.  We also weren’t terribly sure what interesting things the non profit could do (because we didn’t want to set one up that didn’t do much except write grants and do impact evaluations- important as they are, making that a stand alone non profit doesn’t make sense).

Partnerships:  We realized that it really doesn’t matter weather you do a for profit or a non profit (well, most of the time).  Emily had a good point- if something is important to your organization (i.e. partnering with Universities, government agencies etc…) it doesn’t matter what the legal structure of your organization is.  Even in cases like the World Bank etc…they contract out to private entities on the ground all the time to get things like surveys done.  Since most of the people we would want to partner with have a history of partnering with BOTH non profits AND for profits, it won’t really jeopardize our ability to work together with amazing institutions.

And that is how we (finally) came to our decision.  We have put in some legal paperwork, so we will hopefully be a legal entity in India within the next few months.


Exciting times!

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The NextDrop Field Notes: Iterative Design of the NextDrop System (Vol 2- first change to system!)

So we have two more valve updates and some learnings from each one- very exciting stuff!

The second update from the valveman was better than the first, but there were still quite a few errors (giving the advance notice 3 times- and then an a valve open, and then another advance notice) so it was improvement but…it wasn’t perfect.  One thing I want to follow up on is the whole 3 advance notice thing.  It’s been chalked up to giving advance notice calls by accident but I think there may be more to it (I want to make sure he didn’t think he was going to get water and then he didn’t- because that’s a different message all together and we need to investigate that).

But then a few days ago we had another valve update which was actually really good- and our first pivot.  The valvemen was doing great- he gave the advance notice in the areas, he gave the valve open in one area, and then as he was about to open the valve in the second area….the power went out.  And currently there is nothing in our NextDrop system to indicate that the schedule has changed!

Madhu did a great job in triangulating and figuring out what the problem was (because all I saw was that there was no valve open when we had put out an advance notice).  He is currently working with Thejo to change our system so that we have another update type- “The schedule has changed due to (not sure what we are putting in here yet)

Key Learnings:

  • Technology: Enable a system to communicate changes after a message has been relayed
  • Behavioral: It looks like it takes about 3 times for the valvemen to get it right (with intensive practice and individual attention)- but we will have to see next week.  If he does it perfectly right then that would confirm that hypothesis.
Things to keep track of:
  • Training/attention/help that the valvemen are receiving so we know what works and looking at how to make that scalable (right now we are just focusing on making it happen)
  • Do the Valvemen actually USE the new feature (“The schedule has been changed due to last minute changes” update) because what we were noticing was that the reason people forgot the NextDrop system was when they were under a lot of stress (i.e. changes in the water schedule).  
Key Long Term Deliverables:
  • NextDrop Stickiness:  Even in times of stress, people need to think of NextDrop.  Valvemen need to update the system.  We need to make it like how people use Twitter and Facebook here- when an earthquake occurs, people are twittering it.  We need to make NextDrop the Twitter of water. 
Questions to the Crowd:
  • When you are under stress, do you Tweet about an event?  What makes you grab the camera to record something when you are worried about safety etc (like in the uprisings in the Middle East, earthquakes, other traumatic events?)
Because if we can figure THAT out, we can find out what the equivalent for these Valvemen are (we are all human at the end of the day) and then use that technique to make NextDrop stick.  
Thanks in advance for your input!
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The NextDrop Field Notes: Iterative Design of NextDrop System (vol 1)

So there was miscommunication between what our Program Manager, Madhu, told us and what our NextDrop system recorded- which is actually a good thing because this is the start of our iterative design process aka our pilot

Basically the Valveman had been used to calling Madhu before water came, and in this case, alerted him of water arrival (on his personal phone) instead of calling our system.  He never ended up logging an “advance warning” call in one area, and He also logged in the wrong type of call (“valve open” instead of “advance warning of water arrival”- so on our system we have a  ”valve open” first and an “advance warning of arrival” second) in the second area.  This could just be getting used to the system (because he called Madhu and told him that water was arriving in both areas)- so we need to wait a few more weeks to see if this keeps happening (which I don’t anticipate).

However, he only seemed to give a 10 minute warning (assuming he switched the two notices).  We were hoping for 30-45 minutes of advance notice, and we need to see why this was only 10 minutes.  Was it because he forgot until 10 minutes before (my guess)?  Does he really not know until 10 minutes before (which would mean that we need to verify about the 30 minutes for the tank fill- but less likely).

Another issue- Madhu talked to the valveman and he said that sometimes, he will randomly turn on water (without advance warning) if the pressure is high enough (which happened in three areas last week but not in our pilot areas).  We need more details about that (Madhu is following up this week).  We need to figure out 1) Is this a scheduled water delivery 2) what happens when the pressure is not high enough (will it come randomly at another time?) and 3) why is it so random? (the most general question, but hopefully we will gain more granularity in the coming weeks to ask more specific questions)

Next week, a successful water update will look like:

Valveman does not confuse water calls: gives “advance notice” call first, and then “valve open call”

Valveman successfully logs “advance notice” call (at least 15 minutes) in both areas

NextDrop deliverables:  I think we need more time to figure out WHY there was only 10 min. warning (as opposed to the 30-45 min we thought we could get).  Then when we figure that out (within the next 2 weeks), we can start running intervention techniques to try and change that.  We may find that this is a much larger issue (about valveman behavior) and it may be a problem we can only address in July (when we are all in the field).

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Mobile Innovation is Sexy but Does It Actually Stick?

I’m more posing a question- I don’t have an answer yet.  But I hope to figure that out in in the near future.  The reason I wanted to discuss it was because we started our pilot (training valvemen) a few days ago, and our Program Manager on the field, Madhu, commented that the valveman we are working with is really enthusiastic about our system.  Apparently he even went home and practiced- which was somewhat surprising to me (since I was expecting some sort of pushback).

Digging deeper, Madhu told me that the valveman was excited by the technology- he even showed all of his friends how it worked- which is great for us!  Madhu also told him he was the first person in the world doing this sort of work (which is pretty true- to the best of my knowledge at least!)  So I’m thinking that he is going to be pretty helpful now- great for us!

Introducing a new sexy toy seems to generate interest (which definitely makes sense).  However, what I want to know is what happens when this system becomes more…mundane?  We need to chart how responsive the valveman we are currently working with is right now (because that will be a best case) and then see what happens over time.  I think this is going to be really important- and something we need to be cognizant of.  I don’t know enough about this area to know when people start becoming disinterested (1 month?  2 months? a year? Does anyone know?)  because that’s going to be the crucial info we need to gather.

Because if we get them to START using the system because its cool and sexy, that’s fine.  But we need to make sure that it QUICKLY transitions into a different reason for using the system- either convenience or maybe even because its fun (if we figure out a way to keep vavlemen engaged? (I don’t want to throw out that possiblity)

But basically, I think we have x amount of time to develop/figure out a new hook.  And to do that, I have to gain a better understanding of what motivates the valvemen.  That’s the first thing I plan on doing when I get there- shadow valvemen and really understand their life.

Question to the crowd:  In the mobile space, does anyone have a ballpark on how long it takes before the “cool factor” wears off?  I.e  after how long (1 week,2 months, 1 year) does usage significantly drop?

NextDrop Deliverable: I want to be able to say that with the NextDrop system, people typically dropped off after x (weeks, months, years) and then we introduced y (some other hook- either monetary incentive, social game,  a more convenient way to use the system etc) and we found that when we implemented the NextDrop system with Y in a similar area we didn’t see a dropoff point (or we saw it much later maybe).

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