Two years ago, Stanford Graduate School of Business alumna Nupur Srivastava spent the summer working in India for D-Rev, a Palo Alto-based non-profit technology incubator. She went there to explore marketing and distribution models for a low-cost neonatal jaundice device she co-designed; during her trip she saw firsthand the lack of accountability related to the quality and efficacy of some products used in developing nations.
"In the U.S. before we spend $20 on a meal there are countless reviews telling you how you should spend your money," she recently said. "But in the developing world, there is no review system to review products that are a matter of life or death. It's really frustrating because decision makers would spend a lot of money, and the only information they had was the product data sheet."
Srivastava wasn't alone in making this observation. Robyn Calder, a classmate working in the field for the Clinton Health Access Initiative, also experienced the problem. Soon other students working in the social enterprise field voiced similar concerns.
So when Srivastava got together with classmates during a brainstorming session for their Stanford course, Evaluating Entrepreneurial Opportunities, the focus of their startup project became clear: create a Yelp-like review website for maternal and child health products used in low-resource settings.
In the U.S. before we spend $20 on a meal there are countless reviews telling you how you should spend your money. But in the developing world, there is no review system to review products that are a matter of life or death
During the winter quarter of 2010, Srivastava, Calder, fellow GSB student Rosa Wu and engineering student David Chanin set about bringing their startup to life. In June 2011, they launched Impact Review, where users can search a database of solutions related to maternal and child health, add products to the directory and contribute their own reviews of products.
Earlier this month, Impact Review was acquired by Maternova, which serves as a global marketplace for maternal mortality tools and protocols, and Srivastava says the future is bright. "We're excited about the breadth of users that can be reached through Maternova and the impact the review system can have," she told me.
Previously: How Embrace infant warmers are saving lives in developing nations, A low-cost way to keep premature babies warm and well, Anti-overkill: Low-cost, life-saving medical inventions and Reducing infant mortality rates in developing countries