[The Listserve] How An American ended up in an Indian startup

J Brooks
08/07/2017
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First, a quick intro: I'm an American working and living in India for a social business. I'm in a rather boring city (sorry not sorry), but its peaceful and I have some great coworkers.

I remembered to write this during intermission at a movie theater in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India. Ironically this movie is about Britain protecting their land.

ANYWAY I have a few minutes and 8% battery so here it is - a few random yet key memories which have shaped me and led me here:

I trekked around Rural Haiti for a few months, interviewing people about their water access. Rather stereotypical, I know, but with a twist. Stop the "one size fits all," people. Business people already know this (segmentation!).

Villages had rainwater harvesting tanks (deemed good by international development bodies) and natural uncovered springs ("bad"- likely to be contaminated). Yet, people saw the opposite. "Good" water was fresh, cool, tasted nice, and was something your family drank for generations. It was still too early for people to know much about the cholera outbreak upstream, but people often said they had more fòs (strength) than microbes anyway.

These kinds of insights coupled with meeting innovative, passionate people - like the guy who built his own rainwater system, including a soda bottle as the final funnel between gutter and storage, in the deep hills of the Artibonite Valley - are the reasons why I went to business / innovation / design thinking. These approaches are also fads and not perfect, but structurally they're meant to put the target user at the forefront of how something should work.

I've loved my recent work, segmenting the rural Indian market, designing services, analyzing business expansion ideas. But I'm excited to see how startups are taking off in so many other sectors and in my home (the Midwest), too.

Do you do something similar or run your own business? I'd love to hear about it (really). Jrbrooks27 at gmail.

J Brooks
Bhubaneswar, India
Jrbrooks27@gmail.com

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