I met Ashwin at a cleantech workshop I was shooting in Delhi for Village Capital. His articulate arguments and the deep insights that he shared with the team at the workshop were a delight to hear and learn from. He heads product strategy and development at Simpa Networks.
In this Hangout, we had an impromptu exchange of questions, answers and ideas related to product development for social impact. Ashwin shared a few interesting anecdotes about his end users and lessons he has gained from leading product development at Simpa.
Some Tidbits from Ashwin:
If there is a need that you identity, all of the activities and things that you do in order to fulfill that need is product development
So Simpa specifically is a social enterprise that is for-profit. We try to bring out the product to the market in a profitable manner
Profit motive can attract investment that can make large-scale impact possible
The first thing that we need to do is to we need to make a choice of what product we need to make based on what market we need to serve
We follow a lean methodology to understand what the market is, what exactly we want and how exactly to serve that
What we did was come out with minimum viable products. What that means is it is not the perfect representation of your final finished good as you envision it but it checks a lot of boxes in terms of its functionality, whether it’s actually reliable, whether it’s pulling out an aspirational need from the customer
Prorotyping helps converge people to a particular point meaning people can then specifically say hey I don’t like this or I like this about this product
What I have been surprised about especially by the consumers in the rural markets is not really the fact that they are different but how similar they are to us
In Simpa what happened is you had to own everything end-to-end. You were not a smaller cog in the machine, you were actually probably the cog in that particular part responsible ford developing something very important in the organization
When that motivation comes intrinsically I have found that people surprise you
Here’s the full Hangout: