A list of some of the projects that I have come up with or been a part of:
COMPANIES & ORGANIZATIONS
9th Sense Robotics: Tech is Magic, we are hacker magicians. We build affordable, intuitive telepresence robots that enrich the human experience by enabling people to extend their capabilities; in short, we aim to give people extra-ordinary abilities when inhabiting a robot. Imagine flying across Rio in an immersive airbot, experiencing a museum through a curated multimedia augmented reality, or smelling Bangkok street food while speaking with your loved ones on a family trip to Thailand. We are hackers and tinkerers and so we built our platform to be easily customized. 9th Sense has identified nine sensor areas (infrared, proprioception, olfaction, etc.) that can be added onto the bot, and our software is open source so that our community can create custom applications. You can download the Investor Slidedeck here, feel free to contact us if you are interested.
Ushahidi: I am the Director of Business Development and Strategy at Ushahidi. We aims to change the way information flows in the world. We build free, open source crowdsourcing software for information collection and data visualization.
At Singularity University I started The Instance, a company that offers an encrypted data locker and then acts as a data broker, allowing people to sell their own data. The company did not take off, but it gave me the honor of sitting on the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Personal Data Team, a group of remarkable people working to reshape the personal data ecosystem. At WEF we are rewriting the rules of data to give more ownership to individuals.
While living and working in Thailand I learned a great deal from the tumultuous political situation, both about myself and about the impact of communication in a divided nation. This traditionally peaceful country, the only South East Asian nation to never be colonized, imploded in civil unrest in the past few years, not because of historical truths but because of rumors now believed to be the truth. Opposing media outlets spin propaganda to their followers. People only get their information from their chosen source, further deepening the divide.
Reflecting on this experience compelled me to take the entrepreneurial path. Working late nights from the proverbial inventor’s garage, I created a peer-to-peer video platform called TheInteract. This site is a global classroom, a place where ideas and arguments are refined during face-to-face dialogue. We host conversations between differing groups, whether they be Republicans and Democrats, Tibetans and Chinese, or Mac and PC lovers, guided by the mantra: “a conversation is the first step towards understanding.”
The invention of crowdsourcing technologies has sparked rapid evolution in the web; I wanted to use these tools to bring people, who might otherwise never speak to one another, together to solve problems. TheInteract is meant to help humans listen to one another. I trust that this idea is mould breaking because it widens our worldviews by hosting conversations between people from different backgrounds to foster a greater level of connectedness across geological and cultural divides.
RUNA - I am an advisor, initial investor, and ardent evangelist for Runa, an Ecuadorian social enterprise created by two of my best friends. At Runa we produce a tea made from the naturally caffeinated and antioxidant-rich Amazonian guayusa tree. Our impetus was to build a company based on local knowledge that could generate enough income for indigenous farmers in the Amazon to make a living and keep their forest intact without having to sell to big business.
Runa built the first commercial supply chain of guayusa in the world, there was no path to follow. We have now planted over 200,000 trees in more than 500 hectares of reclaimed Amazon with over 2000 farmers. I am most proud of how Runa has molded a business to help people. Runa is now sold in over 2200 stores and pays 15% of all profits to the Ecuadorian Foundation, and increases the income of our farmers by more than 20%.
Social Innovation Initiative: While at Brown I had the honor of working with an incredible group of individuals to found the Brown Social Innovation Initiative. I am so proud of this group and how it has grown.
Brown is Green – While at Brown I co-founded an umbrella organization that brings together all the different facets working on climate change related topics. It makes me proud to see that it is still alive and kicking today.
Innovation as the solution to Climate Change. I give a lecture/teach a class on how to be innovative and on the connection of technology, development, and climate change.
The society of makers – in the tradition of Ben Franklin, I like to host an open group discussion every week focused on coming up with ideas and breaking down their merits. Making pizza is typically involved.
CLEAN TECHNOLOGY PROJECTS
Gobigreen – A company that builds small scale anaerobic digesters for farms in New England
Compass Consulting – a consulting network, where each member is an expert and can draw up the expertise of the other members to help deliver a project. Each member then brings their own clients, but can offer a larger resource base than their own knowledge.
Powering Ports with Pallets – use discarded pallets at ports as feedstock in a mobile gasifier. Use the electricity to power ships that are docked at port, allowing them to minimize the use of their diesel engines.
Microfinance for Energy Efficiency – use a web-based giving platform to allow low-income home-owners to purchase pre-qualified energy efficiency equipment which have proven payback periods, such as solar hot water heaters, lighting, biogas and solar stoves.