There is so much untapped potential in India. From skill development to urban microfinance, we’re working to improve the lives of those living in urban poverty by opening doors for them in new and innovative ways. This requires thinking outside the box, and it’s not always easy.
But it only takes one person to change the trajectory of many individuals and families in India. Satyam Darmora – former Program Director at the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation – saw an opportunity to leverage the power of technology to help those who need it most. And now, he’s found a way to make a big impact by providing underserved communities with access to the Internet.
So, where did this all begin? Darmora, founder of startup i2e1, grew up in a small town in India where he had little access to transportation or even electricity. He saw his peers miss out on great opportunities because they were lacking basic information they could easily get if only they had access to the Internet. In Vishal Krishna’s Your Story spotlight article about i2e1 he says:
“I saw the problems head on. Most of them exist because people do not have information.”
i2e1: Improving access to the Internet for all of urban India
Fast forward to today: For those living in India, it’s far too common to have a smartphone operating with limited internet connectivity. What if there is more internet bandwidth available to them than they know?
Darmora found that only about fifty percent of the Wi-Fi is consumed by locations that house malls, retail outlets and restaurants etc. Thereafter, he came up with a mutually beneficial system for both the customer and the mall/store owner, which is described in Krishna’s article:
“Take Chinnarayudu, for example. A farmer from Chittoor, he visits his children in Bengaluru, frequenting malls and restaurants, and uses a smartphone to watch videos shared by his extended family. Unfortunately for him, he is using 2G services and cannot download high definition videos and photos. Now, think of a scenario where he is sitting in a mall and the mall has more than 100GB of Wi-Fi spread across all the stores. Only 50 percent of the Wi-Fi is consumed by these retail outlets. Imagine if this bandwidth can be delivered to Chinnarayudu; he can not only use it to discover information, but targeted messages can be sent to his family members when they use the free Wi-Fi.”
The store owner provides his customers with access to the Internet, and therefore gains higher foot traffic to his store. The customer, on the other hand, gains access to the Internet – and a better way to see and communicate with those at home.
Krishna dives into the logistics of the i2e1’s model:
“Once the retailer or real estate company contacts i2e1, the team comes in to understand the objective of the business to target consumers. The company then sets up its network and the consumers would be rationed bandwidth by i2e1 at the store or even outside.”
The startup has already signed up 700 individual retailers for the partnership. Also, with an initial investment of Rs 30 lakh, i2e1 has already expanded revenues to more than INR 2 crore.
But it only takes one person to change the trajectory of many individuals and families in India. Satyam Darmora – former Program Officer at the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation – saw an opportunity to leverage the power of technology to help those who need it most. And now, he’s found a way to make a big impact by providing underserved communities with access to the Internet.
The road ahead
With determination and a lot of hard work, Darmora grew his experiences and ideas into a startup that is changing lives for many. And it looks like its growth won’t be slowing down anytime soon. As Krishna says in his article:
“Now Satyam has hit the nail on the head, with this idea for effective use of the Internet; all he has to do is increase revenues and make retailers across the globe use his technology so that it is information to everyone—i2e1—after all!”