7: Larry Litvak & Sustainable Business Models

Larry Litvak + Readings

I personally drew more from the readings than from the lecture.  (For example, the Karamchandani et al. 2009 paper presented a pay-per-use water sanitation system similar to a model Keegan and Nabil proposed in one of our team meetings.)  While the Zipcar example Larry brought up was an interesting one, I had trouble projecting the Zipcar company’s challenges to Team Bangladesh’s project, especially since the Zipcar folks were targeting a completely different demographic (i.e. US urban college students versus families living in the slums of Dhaka).  Arguably, the process of developing a business model would in essence be the same.  However, if anything, my take-home point from the lecture was that our particular model where the end-user is reliant on donor money would not be sustainable.  My remaining question would be how to get around this issue of needing a perpetual subsidy, and in particular, whether there are any existing, market-based models that have been able to overcome this.

Team Update

We’ve acquired a real hand-pump straight from Dhaka, thank to our supervising post-doc, Amy Pickering.  We tested it out this past weekend in the lab, and it works quite well for such a simple machine!  We also ran our second round of tests on our aspirator and came to two important conclusions: (i) smaller tubing connecting the aspirator to the chlorine source = less pressure needed to pull up the same volume of chlorine, and (ii) we need to maximize flow through the aspirator in order to ensure that chlorine is being drawn up and reaching the water supply.  We’re eager to test these new modifications to our prototype in the next week and move towards integrating the aspirator with the hand-pump setup in the near future.

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