Monday, March 21, 2011

One Step Behind

My startup is a tech startup, but it is not a tech startup that has come up with or is trying to come up with the next big thing in tech. But it is first and foremost a tech startup. A for profit, high tech microfinance startup that will get the last mile done under its own brand name. That is the proposition.

It is a tech startup, but first and foremost it is a high touch startup. The last mile is the most important mile in microfinance, and I would not even want to go there with my global ambitions if I did not see the magic that developments like mobile phone banking could bring forth. I am not interested in mere poverty alleviation. I am interested in revolutionary poverty alleviation. The speed matters. And that is where technology comes in. I am looking for a tipping point of sorts. The lakes freezes when the temperature goes down to a certain point. That kind of tipping point.

And so tech is important. But the most important element of the last mile - or the middle mile, or the first mile for that matter - is not tech. It is high touch. Mine is first and foremost a high touch company. It is about face time. It is about people in flesh and blood.

It is not either or. The choice between high tech and high touch is a false one. They say people who are avid users of social media also tend to be very social offline. I know that is true of me.

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