Working closely with customers on the other side of the earth

Beth Kolko from Shift labs.

Entrepreneurial energy can help us solve big problems. So how do we listen for the signals from customers not near you. Shiftlabs build low cost medical devices.

Part 1. Learning to listen (a maze of twisty little passages)
This is about the “long game”. I look for patterns.

One of the reasons that I think we need to pay attention to overseas markets is that it can lead to ideas for innovation eg mobile money. When we look overseas we need to think about distribution strategy (think about OS retail experiences).

Part2: When to listen (before, during, after)
Beth created a low cost ultra-sound software for use in Africa. She took it to potential health companies. Their response: “We could make cheaper technology but it doesn’t support our work staff.” My company was founded that day: I wanted to create a way to build a company that supports low cost medical devices and help save lives. We’ve created a low cost pasteuriser for breast milk (makes human breast milk safe in countries with high HIV). Challenges are keeping things low cost (to the end user) and also finding different ways to share them.

Part 3 How to listen
We travel to innovation hubs (co-working spaces) in developing companies. Good way to connect with OS developers/designers etc. There’s a network around the world of impact hubs. Dicuss.IO (Seattle co) can do overseas research for you.

Each solutions is part of a broader global co-design.

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