Potential obstacles in our journey

I spoke to friends and colleagues about SureBlood. Many of them have had some experience in donating blood. One of them had quite tragic story about his grandfather; his grandfather was in an accident, and urgently needed O- blood as his blood group was O-. Since this is a rare blood type, he got it only after 8 hours by which time his condition had become very serious. He passed away an hour later. The doctors said that even if the blood had reached him earlier, there were other complications in his condition which lead to his demise. But what if there weren’t other complication? It is not that blood is needed only in crisis situations, but whenever most people hear of blood donation, it is usually preceded by the word “urgent”. Is blood required only in emergency situations? Can we keep a large store of blood, for such situations? Are blood banks doing this currently? These are some of the questions that need to be answered as we continue on this journey.

We found that the major problem wasn’t that people don’t donate blood, but that after donating once, they don’t do it again. The percentage of repeat donors is low. How do we get people to donate blood regularly (at least once in 6 months if it is a common blood group like A+)? One of the problems could be the myths surrounding blood donation. When we asked some people, we found that they had completely the wrong idea about blood donation. People thought that it would make them weak, it was bad for their health, and that they would get diseases from doing so. We had to find a way to bust these myths before getting people to donate blood.

Another problem we found was that people did not find the time or/and the money to go to the hospital, donate blood, take the required rest after donating, and then get back to office or college and resume their activities.  We solved the money part of this problem in SureBlood by giving the person who requested for blood an option to pay for the donors’ travel. Since SureBlood is a map based portal, if time is a big factor for the donor, they can donate to the hospitals or blood banks which are closer.

The third problem, and possibly our biggest problem going forward, is to make donation a part of society or just something that people do without much thought – to make donation a part of people’s lives. This ultimately boils down to a major question in society. How do we change people’s behaviour? In our case it was more along the lines of – How do we motivate people to donate blood? How do we leverage the so called intrinsic and extrinsic motivators? This is a problem that we haven’t come close to solving, but with experience I think we can come close.

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Release of SureBlood (beta version)

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=svastha.sureblood

SureBlood beta is now available for download on the google play store! It has taken some effort from our side and some help from friends and family for SureBlood to see the light of day. We are now really looking forward to how the response is going to be. We have drawn up an elaborate marketing plan that we will hopefully follow. We have one really big event in the next few months to look forward to, so all our efforts will be targeted towards that.

We do have plans to expand this application, not just in terms of making it available on the iOS and windows platforms, but also on the business side; but more on that in the near future. Until then, please download the application and give us your feedback through the feedback button on the application. If you have anything else to say, please drop us a comment below.

SureBlood – The start of something wonderful

I wanted to give back to society. I found people always complain about the state of our culture and society, but few do anything about it. I wanted to be one of those few. Since my mothers 50th birthday was also coming up, I thought of giving her a different gift, something that would last longer than a dress or an ipad. I was sitting on my couch at home on a Saturday afternoon and day dreaming about what this gift could be; not the best way of going about it, but dreaming was a start I guess. I picked up an old newspaper and came across a very interesting and yet troubling article in the Times of India. I dug it out so you can have a look.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/health/India-facing-a-blood-shortage-of-3-million-units/articleshow/36492006.cms

I can summarize the problem in one sentence: India faces a shortage of over 1 Million Litres of blood.

That is when I thought I should go after this problem. After all, if I am to contribute to society, I might as well attack one of its biggest problems. I felt a sudden glow inside me, the kind of feeling you get when you do something good, like helping an old man cross the street. The emotion was short lived. I had identified a major problem, great, but now I had to find a solution.

I thought about it for quite a while, but it wasn’t until I went out for lunch with some good friends a month later that I thought I had found a solution. I was eating some delicious paneer tikka at a barbeque themed restaurant when I saw a round bandaid on a persons hand who was at a nearby table. It struck me that he might have gone to donate blood. If he did, I wondered how he had known where to go and give blood? Some friends might have told him about some blood camp, or someone he knew might have needed his blood group. But what if no one he knew wanted blood, and he had no idea where blood camps are running? I thought the situation described just now would represent the majority of the population, and the other situation a minority; I was a part of this majority population.

Here is a guy, maybe 30 years old, who wants to donate blood, but has no clue as to how to go about it. Even if he knew of a blood donation camp running in Bangalore, he might still have to travel quite a distance to donate blood. Is the investment in time, the hassle of travelling in Bangalore traffic, and the money worth it? And does the patient have that much time to wait? Wouldn’t it be more convenient for the patient to find compatible donors who are close by? In a few cases, that time gap could mean the difference between life and death.

That was when it struck me. I thought I found the solution to the problem. Make it convenient for people to both find donors and to donate blood. That was my Aha! moment; and I looked across the table where I was eating and saw Amit who works for a start-up in android development. That was my second Aha! moment. What could be better than using a map based mobile application to find people who need blood and those who want to donate blood!  This would be my gift for my mothers 50th birthday. A blood donation platform which will last a long time, and hopefully make a significant difference to peoples lives.

I spoke to Amit about my plans and about the idea. He was very interested and immediately came on board. That was when the journey of developing SureBlood began, and boy was that a challenge! We learned a lot about entrepreneurship along the way, even taking some entrepreneurship courses – Entrepreneurship 101 by MITx and Gamification by UPenn. Our journey to satisfy the need for blood at every hospital in India, and soon, at every hospital around the world was just starting! We are releasing SureBlood on March 30th on the android platform, and within a couple of months it would be available on the web, windows, and the iOS platforms.

We would urge you to download and start using the application, but hey, I think the problem statement would have already done that.