knowable.org

knowable.org

Berlin, Germany
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

knowable.org is a social network for makers with a mission. It connects practical ideas to solve everyday problems all over the world by providing free and open access to effective and creative low-tech solutions in form of simple step-by-step guides. knowable.org is built upon the fascination for making stuff happen and believes in a strong social impact of a global maker culture.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

knowable.org addresses the huge lack of access to practical and efficient ideas to tackle everyday challenges in a social, sustainable and enjoyable way. Everyday, people all over the world come up with amazing ideas, strategies and designs to overcome the great and small challenges of our everyday life: Be it lack of electricity, clean water, or mobility in remote regions - or just clever ideas for re-cycling ‘waste‘ in a sustainable way. The problem is, that these ideas often just remain in one place, merely locally accessible with no chance for makers in other regions of the world to learn about them, to build upon them and to implement them by themselves. This might be due to lack of and access, social incentives or just swamped interfaces. That’s exactly where knowable.org steps in.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

knowable.org is a social network that provides free and open access to practical knowledge. Everywhere. It‘s core are simple step-by-step guides for creative low-tech solutions and grass-roots DIY-projects. knowable.org fills the gap between existing networks, initiatives, and scattered communities. It's people-driven, connecting makers, their stories and resources. It‘s inspiration and motivation paired with a strong social impact and a deep understanding of the resources that we use. To be truly accessible, knowable.org will not only be a web app, but also be available on smart phones, feature phones (WAP) and even ‘dumb phones‘ through a simple SMS-based interface. In addition, the knowable.org platform will be embedded in a global network of organizations, partners, and initiatives. We believe that creativity and ingenuity can be found everywhere - and we want to overcome any technical or social barrier that prevents makers from connecting and building amazing things together.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

All over the world people are suffering from the water crisis: Germs and bacteria contaminate existing water sources and make it perilous to drink from them. There exists however a simple solution to tackle most of these contaminations: "SODIS" - a simple but effective idea developed by swiss researchers in cooperation with the WHO that allows everyone to purify water. All you have to do is 1) clean a plastic bottle, 2) fill it with the water you want to drink and 3) put it at a sunny place for 6 hours. The UV waves will kill the germs and the water becomes drinkable again. Even though this method is simple and easy to implement, only few people know about it. This could change if it would be distributed via knowable.org: Our broken down, text-message ready step-by-step guides allow us to take ideas like SODIS even to remote areas and communities! Everyone with a computer, access to a cyber cafe, or just a simple cell phone can easily access the knowable.org-resources, search for featured projects or the topic 'water and sanitation' and learn about SODIS right away. And our online community takes it even one step further: People who found (or search) for different solutions to the same problem (water contamination) can build upon this idea and publish their findings. That way we are able to build up a connected, clustered and social database of helpful solutions to a broad range of topics (Agriculture, Water, Electronics, Housing, Mobility, Mechanics, etc).
Sustainability

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are great how-to sites like instructables.com, wikihow.com, lifehacker.com, popularmechanics.com, makeprojects.com, appropedia.com. knowable.org is different by combining three elements: - Impact: We believe that change has to happen by everyone, not just us. That's why we focus on ideas that matter and solve 'actual' problems - Accessibility: Our main focus is to connect makers, be they in Berlin, Maputo, NY or remote and rural areas in northern Ghana. With our cross-platform support, we are the first platform worldwide, to be truly integrative. - Social: Rather than just listing manuals, knowable.org aims to connect people, their stories and their projects. It is an actual social network for makers that provides space for collaboration, exchange and collective learning.
Team

Founding Story

The idea to build knowable.org was born in summer 2012 when Emanuel Schwarz and Simon Höher sat together in a small cafe in Wedding, Berlin. They had been studying together at Zeppelin University where Emanuel focused on the impact of compters on society while Simon wrote his thesis on knowledge networks as a new perspective in international development. Both had been working in international development already (Emanuel was a computer trainer in rural Honduras and Simon - half-Mozambican himself - had been working in the field of cultural cooperation and development in Mozambqiue). They were convinced that change had to be carried out by people themselves in small, grass-root level projects for hands-on action and quickly figured the problem was not a lack of ideas, but a lack of access: Most people just do not now about practical ideas to solve their everyday challenges by themselves. So the answer was quite simple: A way for makers everywhere to connect and learn from each other.
About You
Organization:
knowable.org
About You
First Name

Simon

Last Name

Höher

About Your Organization
Organization Name

knowable.org

Organization Country

, BE, Berlin

Country where this project is creating social impact
Age of Innovator

18-34

Gender of Innovator

Male

How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

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Innovation
How long have you been in operation?

Operating for less than a year

Social Impact
What solution(s) does your initiative address to help emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses grow and thrive in underserved communities? (select all applicable)

Access to technology, Access to economic opportunity.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Until recently, knowable.org has been in private beta: This means that only a handful of testers had the chance to try out and evaluate the platform. Since a couple of weeks knowable.org is opening up to more and more users (currently 700 - 1000) who participate in shaping the community, co-creating the platform and implementing the first projects. There has also been a growing number of posted solutions and ideas. We expect this number to reach 30 - 50 projects by the end of September

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

knowable.org has ambitious - but not unrealistic - goals for it's growth: In the next three years we expect the number of registered users to grow up 3.000.000 and the number of unique visits rise to 9.000.000 per month. In terms of created projects this means that we will see up to 30.000 submitted projects in total.

Keeping in mind that one project often helps not only a single person to overcome her everyday challenges, but often whole families and even communities, it gets obvious that knowable.org has the potential to positively affect millions of peoples lives by the end of it's third year.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

As with every crowd-based platform, one major concern is to reach a crucial point of traction among knowable.org's target groups. To get to this point, knowable.org has to provide enough relevant content, attract interesting persons to follow and deliver a convincing and consistent user experience. Also, it has to roll out a captivating social marketing campaign to further attract and inform potential users.
As knowable.org focuses on emerging markets, availability of technology (Internet, PCs, etc) and language barriers become big concerns. We aim to tackle the problem of availability by providing access to the platform via SMS and WAP and we will implement translation features by mid 2013. This allows users to translate existing projects in other languages.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

In six months we plan to have 11.000 registered users and about 30.000 unique visits per month on the knowable.org platform.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Technical Development: To boost reach, virality and community engagement we will have published a versioning system and our API.

Task 2

Networking: To provide high quality content we will realize partnerships with 3 major organizations.

Task 3

Funding: To ensure efficient and sustainable development of knowable.org we will have closed a pre-seed round of 160k€

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

With 140.000 registered users and 300.000 unique visits, after 12 months, knowable.org will have a strong global impact.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Technical Development: After one year all pending technical features will be implemented, including app and text-message support

Task 2

Networking: Further partnerships will be established for content (8 min) and technical and mobile partners (2)

Task 3

Funding: A sustainable financial plan will be implemented to cover business operations for another 12 months (seed of 500k€).

Sustainability
Tell us about your partnerships

To maximize reach and quality of the knowable.org-resources, building sustainable partnerships with organizations and local initiatives is curcial. This also links back to technical partnerships and co-operations. At this point we are in very close contact to GIZ (the ICE-network and the GATE-initiative), SAP, text-to-change, Practical Action and numerous hackerspaces and FABlabs in Berlin, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Maputo, Yogyakarta, Addis Abeba, and Cairo. We plan to heavily expand this network, starting with the launch of our public beta in September 2012.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

We just launched the beta of our platform. At this point we need a seed funding of about 160k€ to further grow knowable.org for one year. Thus, we are now looking for impact investors, social business angels and venture philantrophy capital. As we love to connect people and ideas - we are always keen to learn about great and small innovations, designs, and techniques that have a strong impact.

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