Mumbai: This is the age of social networking and when you say the term, we only think of Facebook or Twitter or maybe Google Plus. The idea of a social network to help donate blood and save lives sounds a little far-stretched and at times you wonder will it really work?
But that hasn't stopped Karthik Naralasetty from starting socialblood.org, a site where people can come together and help out those who need blood. Karthik will be speaking at the TedX Gateway 2012 in Mumbai on Sunday. Also, we'll be screening the TedX talks live on the site, so don't miss out.
We spoke to Karthik on how he got the idea for Socialblood and how easy was it to get funding for this project. Excerpts from the interaction
On the idea behind this project: According to Karthik, Socialblood is a simple and powerful tool to connect with blood donors in your community. "I got the idea when I read a newspaper article about a girl who was suffering from Thalassemia where the girl needs 30 units of blood every month to survive. I thought I should be able to do something as an entrepreneur to find a solution for this. After researching the current platforms that people were using to get to blood donors, I felt people weren't doing it the right way."
He adds, "It dawned on me that if Facebook can tell me my friend's birthday why can't it tell me that my friend or someone in my extended network needs blood?"
The idea, as Karthik says, was to create a network where people could use Facebook and help each other during an emergency
How the project started: "We started by creating eight Facebook groups, one each for each blood type. So if you're O+ you join that group and consequently, when it's needed you can both seek help and get help by posting on it. After doing it for a year and launching it in 20 countries we realised we were not doing it right. We missed the most important thing and that was location," says Karthik. After this, Karthik's group went ahead and created location-based platforms asking people where they're located, their mobile numbers etc to make the platform more helpful.
On the site going public soon: The platform started in June 2011 on Facebook and soon got 5000 donors. Six months later it had included 20 other countries in its database. "The current platform has around 200 beta users testing it out and it will have a public launch on 2 December," says Karthik. Currently, if you want to use the Socialblood platform you'll have to go its Facebook page. You can check the page out here.
On convincing investors for such a project: "Most investors don't really understand a platform like Socialblood. They don't see the business side of it," says Karthik. "Initially, we went to companies like Big Rock which manage domain names and we talked to them about supporting a cause like this. We got five years free hosting from Big Rock so we don't have to worry about that for now. The kind of work we do we doesn't require that much money and we have volunteers for our development work."