Social Startups

D-Rev: A Silicon Valley Design House for the Poor

D-Rev is possibly the only technology incubator in the Silicon Valley which is going after a very different market. Based in Palo Alto, amidst the usual tech startups of the Valley, they are designing solutions for the poorest socio-economic group which also happens to be the largest. 4 billion people make up this market segment and are living on less than $4 per day. The market is huge, untapped and hungry for great products. D-Rev which stands for Design Revolution is leveraging on this opportunity to come up with excellent products in the area of health and income that are not only world class but also extremely affordable.

Dr.Paul Polak the founder of D-Rev, is a genius at designing products for this segment, he invented the $25 treadle pump and small farm drip–irrigation systems starting at $3 which transformed the lives of small farmers and run by a world class team of designers, engineers and business professionals, D-Rev is all set to change the game. They have a unique approach for incubating products – instead of taking existing solutions into their fold and building on it, they prefer to start from scratch, overseeing the entire process from problem identification to design, delivery and scale. We like when people come to us with problems rather than solutions, says Krista Donaldson, CEO of D-Rev. Being involved in the entire life cycle of the product, helps D-Rev guarantee that every product they bring to market have measurable impact on more than 1 million people.

They have an impressive pipeline of products, the two that are about to hit the market in India are:

Brilliance: An extremely affordable world-class device for treating newborns with severe jaundice in urban and rural hospitals and clinics. Brilliance treats jaundiced babies by shining high-intensity blue LEDs on their skin. During tests at Stanford University School of Medicine, Brilliance outperformed state-of-the-art phototherapy devices. Hope (in the picture above), the first baby treated by D-Rev’s Brilliance, in a neonatal care intensive unit in Ogbomosho, Nigeria. He had been diagnosed with severe jaundice and needed an exchange blood transfusion to prevent severe brain damage. Due to the baby’s low birth weight (about 2.6 pounds), the doctor was uncomfortable doing an exchange transfusion. After sleeping one night under Brilliance, Hope no longer required a transfusion. In late 2010, D-Rev signed up its first major distribution deal with Phoenix Medical Systems in India for selling Brilliance to hospitals throughout the country.

Jaipur Knee: The JaipurKnee is a high-performance, low-cost prosthetic knee joint for above-knee amputees. Designed in collaboration with Stanford University
and the Jaipur Foot Organization (BMVSS), the JaipurKnee’s polymer-based polycentric design provides a stable gait at a fraction of the cost. Over 3000+ patients have been fitted with the JaipurKnee and Lemelson Foundation has recently extended their support for scale up of this project.

The other products under development – a high resolution diagnostic tool for malaria and TB detection; a device to enable remote farmers access valuable farming information; a devise to power rural households which will be almost half the cost of current solar options available; a low cost method to pasteurize milk to enable farmers to get their milk to market.

Though D-Rev’s customers are based in developing countries, D-Rev is based in Silicon Valley as it gives them easy access to experts, specially from Stanford University which helps with rapid product iteration.

To lear more about D-Rev and their products, visit their site.

You can reach the author, Deepa Chaudhary via Twitter

Filed under: Social Startups


Deepa Chaudhary

I have extensively worked at grass-roots from working in the slums of Mumbai to being on the frontline of numerous disaster relief efforts. I'm passionate about social entrepreneurship and I love discovering and writing about new trends in the social good space.