Recently, Paul Graham wrote a piece on what he called frighteningly ambitious ideas. These are very daring startup ideas with the potential to be hugely successful in terms of the impact they can have and/or the money they can rake in for their founders. However, says Paul, gargantuan effort required to execute the idea prevents entrepreneurs from tackling them and investors from funding them. Paul lists everything from building a better search engine to replacing universities to changing the way entertainment and healthcare is delivered in his list of these frighteningly ambitious ideas.
In the light of all this, allow me to present you the granddaddy of all frighteningly ambitious ideas that we have been working on for a while.
Using technology to connect one million people in the developing world to basic computer work while raising them up as leaders to address poverty in their own communities.
With this vision, we are striking right at the heart of the problems that have been plaguing some of the poorest regions of the world for centuries – poverty, illiteracy, and absence of any opportunity whatsoever for pursuit of happiness. Trillions of dollars have flowed over the decades into these regions in the form of monetary aids but much of it has been in vain.
We aim to change that. And we regard it as a frighteningly ambitious idea because we are trying to use technology to solve one of the most complex, thorniest, and longest problems in the history of mankind.
Here is our secret sauce for achieving this:
Create a platform that breaks down large digital projects into tiny tasks that any literate person with basic computer skills can complete in a few, easy steps.
Dole out these tasks to an army of one million people in developing countries. The massive parallelization of tasks made possible by this results in faster and scalable completion of projects resulting in significant value to businesses in developed economies. At the same time, the people will have a way to engage themselves in meaningful work.
People would get paid for their efforts allowing them to make a living for themselves. Additionally, our unique growth model would also enable them to receive education and training to become leaders in their own community, excel in life, and enjoy prosperity.
Sounds a bit idealistic and naïve right?
Well, we have been hacking away for the last two years in Rails ( and a bunch of other cool technologies including MongoDB and Redis) and have a working platform now being used by early customers. We are testing it with a growing group of people from Nepal (and Nepal is where we are based) we call cloud workers (and we are thrilled by the quality of results we are getting). And, finally we have seen demonstrable proof of transformation in the lives of our cloud workers after joining CloudFactory, thus validating our third point too.
The bigger challenge begins now – to scale this model to 1 million people. We will be glad to share every bit of this experience with you. What would you like to know?