Join Krista Donaldson for an in-depth discussion in this video The Creative Spark: Krista Donaldson, Social Innovation Designer - Film, part of The Creative Spark: Krista Donaldson, Social Innovation Designer.
(MUSIC). Krista Donaldson: I believe in being user obsessed. When users buy products, it holds us as designers accountable. I believe in looking at the entire problem. To create social impact, you have do design for more than the product. Recurrency is impact. My name is Krista Donaldson and I design products for people that live on less than $4 a day.
(MUSIC). I think, you know, people tend to do what their skill set is and my skill set is to make stuff and design things. And actually, I would say that my strength isn't necessarily like even the hands on technical engineering but it's connecting, you know, what is missing in the market and what people are asking for, what customers are asking for. And then making sure we have a design process that actually meets those needs. A lot of folks, like you can design your product. But what were trying to do at D-Rev isn't just design product that gets out there but it's a product that gets to the people that need it.
And then it gets used by the people who need it and it gets used properly. I mean because there's all these places that just the product won't get the social impact and I think that's one of the things I'm really good at, is understanding that whole system. D-Rev is a product company and we focus on improving peoples' income and improving their health. We focus on mostly medical devices right now and we are a non-profit. And one of the things that I like to say is that we're a non-profit that acts like a for-profit. And we do that because we want our products to be economically sustainable.
Meaning that if we've designed a really great product that people want and they value and they're able to purchase that if D-Rev dies tomorrow, that product will still continue to be made and sold and used and help improve peoples lives. The whole system approach and why D-Rev is in this investment is partly because we have seen, particularly me with my previous work, we've seen where if you don't take the system approach, things fail. For example, in Kenya I worked on a this water pump that's like a stair stepping machine.
But the one lesson I really learned is that if you don't understand distribution, if you don't understand manufacturing, if you don't understand marketing, and how the product basically leaves manufacturing and gets to the end user, this whole system approach, then there's going to be no impact. So our goal at the D-Rev isn't necessarily just to sell our products but it's to solve their problems. So, for example, with our Jaundice Projects, it's to insure that there's no child, no baby anywhere that suffers brain damage or dies from untreated jaundice. (MUSIC) The need for phototherapy particularly in low income areas came to us because a doctor at a medical conference approached one of our staff members and said, have you guys thought about doing low cost phototherapy.
And Ben Cline, the engineer, was fascinated by the idea that light could just solve hyperbilirubinemia, which is the condition resulting severe jaundice. And so as Ben dug into the problem, he learned that this is actually a real problem in the developing world. So he dug into this issue and the original conception of how he understood the problem from talking the people was because jaundice is time sensitive. And so many births are at home or in rural areas, it made sense to develop this very small, compact phototherapy device that could go out into these clinics that are closer to where moms are giving birth at home.
What we've learned from our field work is that even in urban hospitals like over 90% of the ones we visited in India and Nigeria, they didn't have effective phototherapy. So even these really great public hospitals that should be able to treat the (UNKNOWN) kids weren't able to. So we actually switched the direction of the project and said, it's important obviously to do phototherapy in rural areas, if that's the only thing wrong with the baby. But let's solve it where the need is the highest. (MUSIC) There's the thinking then with our distributors like internationally, that they're going to have a technician on their staff that acts as the role of the, like the sales and service engineer.
The good thing is that a lot of these doctors are used to doing this kind of repair. Like we had Dr. Kumar who Garrett has met in Chandigarh, he said he spent most of his residency learning how to become a repair technician. Male: Yes, he's like. Krista Donaldson: He's really funny. He's like all the doctor's, like we learn how to fix everything. Male: You know how, yeah. Krista Donaldson: Yeah. Male: Yeah. (MUSIC). Krista Donaldson: Most of the devices that we see in urban hospitals already that are already existing because most of these hospitals did have phototherapy devices already.
But they were CFL, compact fluorescent lights or tube lights, fluorescent tube lights. And what we would see is that two, three, sometimes more of the bulbs, there's usually six bulbs, for example, in one of those phototherapy units, they'd be burned out. And they wouldn't be replaced or they'd be replaced with white bulbs. Partly because maybe the tech, the medical staff didn't understand that blue light is really needed. But most of the time, it was just hard to get those bulbs. And what D-Rev did is we said, oh, well, you know, we're seeing that the industry is moving towards LEDs.
Anyway, LEDs last 50,000 hours so at least five years before their performance starts to degrade a little bit. And even that, you can, you can adjust. So an LED-based device is much less expensive. It lasts a lot longer without maintenance. And maintenance, of course, is a huge issue if you don't have a, a service technician in your clinic or your hospital and you need something that's basically self-maintaining. And then other great thing about using LEDs is that it's very efficient. So brilliance, for example, only uses about 40, 40 to 60% of the power of a CFL-based device.
(MUSIC). One of the things we've really learned as brilliance is now starting to scale is that we're trying to sell into markets that most industries aren't interested in. they're more interested obviously where they can make easier sales. There's higher margins. There's higher capacity to pay and with our projects, we're actually doing it to be opposite. We're saying, well, where is the social need the greatest? Often, there may not be the full capacity to pay. We say what we're doing is we're accelerating scaling.
We do due diligence in markets where we know the social need is high but we also know that there's the capital to purchase devices. And our belief is, is that if we can really scale up our products in these markets, then we can start to move into the other markets where the social need is just as high or greater and maybe less capacity to pay. We will work in a new region to understand what the tier of structure is, to understand how distribution works. We'll do all of that and we'll help with that due diligence for scaling into these new markets. (MUSIC).
D-Rev as a design group, everybody has some kind of design background. Either they came in with it or an engineering background, or they really learned it working with us. And one of the things I love about design is I'm one of those people who believes that anyone can do design. It's just a matter of learning how to problem solve and be willing to jump in and willing to prototype and willing to listen to, you know, your target users. The critical aspect to our culture and to our work is really understanding and basing everything in the user.
And that means like not only getting their feedback on everything that we do but also observing and asking questions multiple ways so that we can also get at information that users might not be comfortable telling us or things that they may not even realize themselves. And I think, you know, it's not to say we're going to get everything right. But really grounding all of our decisions back to, well, what's best for the user is I think what enables good product development. (MUSIC).
I always believe there's a solution or there's always solutions. And it's just a matter of finding them. And, you know, again like I think the design perspective is, you know, to keep trying and trying and trying and trying until you find stuff. And so our goal then is not just about selling products but it's about solving these problems. And our hope is that we will impact the industry. That industries will produce higher quality products at a more affordable cost for most of the world who doesn't have access to the great technology and products that can solve these problems.