01 July 2010

Episode 28 New concepts and ideas

Two months have passed since my last post. I met so many great people that it's going to be nearly impossible to mention them all but I want to thank you all for your support.

I guess everyone is wondering how the project is going. The good news is that it is going forward! We found a great designer that I want to recommend to anyone, he's name is Vince Ota from Script Interactive http://www.script-interactive.com. We are currently going back and forth with the draft of the future website and all I can tell you is that i-kifu's website will look like no other online donation websites! I am very excited!

Hopefully, the drafts will be done by the end of the month. The next step will be to have Wizcorp implement the design on an Open source SNS named Open PNE. It's the reference for Japan in social networks systems and also what is great is that it is optimized for Japanese mobiles.

I thought about new concepts and the most important one is that I want to integrate a Karma Point system in i-kifu. On i-kifu.org users, will be asked a simple question, “how much karma do you have?”. By doing good actions (like making a donation, Promoting an NPO, inviting friends to join i-kifu.org, signing an online petition, doing volunteer activities), the users will be able collect karma points and get presents given by sponsoring corporations and celebrities.

Celebrities? Yes, one of the way to promote i-kifu that I think is important, especially in Japan, is to have influential supporting my project.
So currently I am trying to find a Japanese person, who will be able to contact agents of celebrities to convince them to put their profile on i-kifu when the beta version is finished. For the celebrities it will be a new place for them to promote themselves as people, who cares about the world issues and also a place for them to sell their goods by sharing the profit with some NPOs. Basically, we want to make everyone benefit from being on i-kifu.

Believe it or not but I met a celebrity 3 weeks ago! her name is Harumi Kurihara http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harumi_Kurihara and I even participated in her cooking show on NHK world, I was told that the episode would be aired in July but I am still waiting for news. That was so exciting and it will be my first time on TV! Plus we cooked Kushikatsu and it was so delicious!
I didn't have much time to discuss about my project but I have the contact information of her agent. In the future, I hope that she will be interested in i-kifu!

I have a feeling this post will be long...bare with me!

I participated in a contest for entrepreneurs in Japan but unfortunately among the 41 participants, my project was not selected in the 8 finalists for lack of market potential. Even though I am disappointed, I am not fully surprised. Social projects are hard to sell in a competitive environment. One of the reason is that social entrepreneurs like me, don't really strive for financial results but more for social impacts.
But don't cry for me yet, I am also participating in another contest called Entrepreneur Mentor Initiative, where I might have more chances to be selected. They will get back to me within 2 weeks, let's wait and see.

Questions I need to answer:
Should I make an application on Facebook and/or Mixi or not?

I talked with different people and got all type of recommendations, the conclusion is that it's hard to predict which one will be the best to start with. The two networks have pros and cons, so with a limited budget where should I go ?
I am still not decided but all I know is that eventually we will have applications on both platforms.

Survey:

I started a survey in Japanese to collect information about what the people think about mobile donation and got very interesting results. So far 104 people have participated and I am aiming to have 500 people in total. If you can read Japanese please respond to it, it will take you 2 minutes. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RKQH7KV.
One of the founding is that many people don't donate because they don't know how the money will be used and I thought that was an information I had to provide to the donors. That is how I got the idea for i-kifu that people will be able to select right from the start, how their money will be used. For example, if you choose a campaign from the Red Cross, which support the people in Haiti, who suffered from the earthquake. You will be able to donate blankets, tents for the victims, who lost their homes, clean water and meals, vaccines etc...
The key is to give choice for the donors to select what they want to donate in terms of concrete objects. I believe this is something missing in all the other online donation websites.

Incentives:

How to make the people come to i-kifu and even better, make them come back. This is a very important question. My idea, is to give them an incentive. I named it Karma points, Japanese people like to collect points. To get points you can choose to either donate money or your time.

There are many ways to get Karma Points (KP). If you don’t have much time, you can make quick money donations using your mobile phone or other on-line payment options.

If you prefer to donate you time, you can select between the following actions (the points are just examples):

- Join an NPO page to get their newsletter and get 100 points
- Rate an NPO and get 100 points
- Invite a friend to i-kifu and get 100 points if he registers and get 10 % of all the points he will generate
- Respond to a survey and get 200 points
- Publish link to i-kifu in your Social Networks and get 10 points for each clicks.
- Sign a online petition and get 200 points
- Buy goods from the NPOs (Points depends on the good)
- Help an NPO by doing volunteer activities

The last one is something that I think is needed by the NPOs, often it is hard for them to find volunteers, so I had the idea the supporters should be able to tick a place in their profile where they said, I have interested in getting volunteer activities invitations. I think this has a chance to interest many people to join i-kifu. Imagine that you want to work for an NPO in the future, i-kifu could be your resume showing all the great things you have done!

So what happens when you have a lot of points, apart from leveling up and showing to the world that your doing a lot good actions, my idea is to ask corporations and celebrities to give presents to the most active people.

Unfortunately the beta version will not have the karma point system fully implemented but this something that will definitely be interesting to think about.

End of episode 28

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