March 30, 2011

pHix the ocean

[this project is a finalist for a national geographic contest.
PLEASE VOTE HERE if you like it]

the boat for summit at sea boards in 9 days, and i could not be more excited to return for another year of nonstop fun and learning. past years have included activities like skydiving, paintballing, and kayaking, but this year, the team pulled out all the stops. in partnership with the university of miami, they're bringing us the adventure of a lifetime: shark tagging for science.

space is limited, so summit series is collecting submissions in an open-sourced project called shark tag you're it, wherein attendees answer the question, "what is the most serious issue facing the oceans today, and what can you do about it?" submissions are rolling in and popping up on twitter, and i spent a good part of yesterday working on mine (including a fruit photo shoot in my bedroom).

i submitted a campaign called pHix the ocean that aims to address the issue of ocean acidification.
"Ocean acidification is the most serious issue facing our oceans today. Fossil fuels and carbon emissions are a grave concern for our earth, but the impact on the ocean is often overlooked. As the debate over climate change wages on, even skeptics must acknowledge the undeniable truth that pH levels in the ocean are dropping at an alarming rate. Atmospheric carbon dioxide’s effect on ocean life is fundamentally concerning because it strips organisms of their most basic needs: a home, a structure, a life cycle."

looks like the summit team was pretty stoked, and we may yet see some traction with #pHixtheocean:

hat tip to this great TED talk by oceanographer and stanford professor rob dunbar who elegantly reminded me about the serious repercussions of ocean acidification and inspired the "pHix the ocean" project.

update: got a little shout out from national geographic today on their website.

March 14, 2011

Best organization for Japan relief

Looking for a way to help with Japan earthquake relief? Feeling unqualified to select a charity? Here's a recommendation I trust from the hard-working team at Philanthro:

From: Philanthro CEO Matthew Lew
Date: Monday, March 14, 2011

When a major disaster strikes, hundreds of organizations run to your inbox or browser to ask for money. However, not all of them are as efficient and effective as you’d hope. Philanthro strives to provide some clarity in these situations where chaos, confusion, and unaligned agendas often lead to ineffecient allocation of resources. That is exactly what we’ve done with the recent earthquakes in Japan. We are proud to stand behind Direct Relief International, as an experienced, proven, and most importanly, extremely efficient provider of health services for those affected. Not only does Direct Relief’s website outline its relief response efforts, it also provides very clear and concise up-to-the-date information related to: Incident, Damage, and Human Cost.

Here's why we stand with DRI:
  • Efficiency: 98.8% of funding went to program expenses with 1% dedicated to admin and fund-raising. In the past 10 years, each dollar spent has provided up to $30 (wholesale) of medical material aid specifically requested by in-country health professionals to care for patients
  • Transparency: One of the most impressive features of Direct Relief International is its interactive maps: for Haiti and for the United States, Direct Relief provides a map detailing where it delivers its supplies and how much it spends on particular kinds.
  • Proven track record: Direct experience with large-scale emergencies in Asia, including the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami of 2004. This will help guide them to best plan and execute a recovery strategy.
  • Based in California: fast access to Pacific Rim countries.
  • Endorsement from others: Through assessment of the NPO's performance in response to Haiti, Givewell endorsed DRI for Japan Relief Fund
  • Charity Navigator (the recognized standard for charity ratings): DRI is a 4-Star Charity, which is labeled as "Exceptional: Exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in its cause."

March 8, 2011

lessons in entrepreneurship: underdogs are built to party

it's all upside for fast society, the self-proclaimed scrappy underdog of the group texting market. my buddies matthew, mike, and andy are passionate about their start-up, and they "hustle their faces off" (to quote matthew) to make a product they're proud of. their "built to party" app is a connecting tool, helping friends to have fun with each other. version 2.0 drops this week: get excited.

but beneath all the energy and excitement, there's a lot to learn from fast society's start-up strategy. they don't have big-name employees or gobs of VC money, but they've got something their much-hyped competitors don't: unlimited upside. by pitching themselves as a the loveable underdog executing a make-it-or-break-it campaign at SXSWi this year, fast society set itself up for a no-fail outcome.

if this homegrown experience-sharing app doesn't become the next twitter or foursquare (successful forebears on the "we launched at SXSW" scene), they can point to the insurmountable hurdles they faced as the bootstrapped kids fighting "the man" and his $12M of venture funding. and they can rest their laurels on an amazing product they built with their own bare hands. if they succeed, as i eagerly hope they will, they are rudy -- hoisted onto the shoulders of skeptics for their victory lap in the stadium.

it's actually a brilliant strategy. everyone roots for david, and no one blames him if goliath wins. you can count me squarely in david's corner, enthusiastically awaiting the results of this spectacular showdown.