Today we spent time with two groups: the incubation portfolio team from Villgro, and from a start-up that hopes to one day qualify for Villgro funding. CodeWhite is an organization that is focused on promoting health among India’s youth. They have a great business model that could impact millions of lives.
Currently, India has a youth population (between ages of 0-24) of 250 million people. Education and health care vary drastically between urban and rural areas, and too often the children are not informed about healthy living until it is too late to correct. 1 in 3 youths suffer from a form of depression. Many turn to alcohol: in a very short span of years, the average age for alcohol abuse such as binge drinking dropped from the late 20’s to 12-13 years old. They also start smoking at young ages, because it is what they see their families doing. Side note: it is very interesting to me that every time someone on tv is shown smoking, a caption appears during the whole scene reminding viewers of the dangers of smoking.
CodeWhite has run pilots in two schools and is now working alongside Villgro to begin building out a sustainable model. They need to be able to show how many lives they could touch, the revenue potential, and what differentiates them from other initiatives. They are using gamification to engage the youth, with the opportunity to use points to purchase healthy-living items, like gym shoes or exercise gear. All rewards are geared towards improvement of health. The pilots showed great success. Now the challenge is to design a program that can be replicated not only in India, but in other countries where youth are not aware of the impact of the health decisions they do (or don’t) make.
Tomorrow or early next week, we will meet with the founder of Villgro. I’m eager to hear his ideas and vision. It’s not often I get to meet face-to-face with innovators like this. The UK government is so impressed with what Villgro is doing, they are allocating funds to them for new incubation programs.