Incubator Spotlight: Urban Infrastructure Committee

ideas4action@wharton.upenn.edu 2016 Competition, Accelerator, Blog, Project Updates

7e2a9902-1This semester, the Urban Infrastructure committee of the Ideas for Action startup accelerator initiated a working relationship with DLVR, the winner of the 2016 Ideas for Action Competition.

Every year, Ideas for Action hosts a competition in the hopes of bring forward some of the best entrepreneurial solutions to development-related issues. The startup accelerator, which is a different part of the Ideas for Action initiative, is tasked with building out the solutions pitched to the World Bank, serving as a consulting group and a research team rolled into one. This is where our work with DLVR, a last mile delivery service for mail in Nigeria, is critical.

We were extremely excited to work with DLVR for many of the same reasons that officials at the World Bank Group selected it: it is a solution that functions on simple economics, it integrates technology and drives its market forward, and it solves problems that arise from faulty infrastructure and labor markets. Effectively, DLVR hopes to solve the issue of poor addressing in Nigeria, and does it by crowdsourcing the delivery process. You can think of it as a on-demand Uber-like model that solves a lack of ecommerce infrastructure — it employs locals who understand the complex nature of Nigerian roads and residential areas by allowing them to connect mail from all over to Nigerian consumers. Using a team of contracted deliverers and information gathered by the person requesting the delivery, DLVR serves as a much more dynamic alternative to the efficient mail service in Nigeria today.

The accelerator works with DLVR in two respects: through a data and market research team and an engineering team. The associates on the data and market research started off their work by storyboarding DLVR’s marketing narrative, and have since researched the issues facing the Nigerian mail sender and receivers. They have used the strategies of human centered design to prototype and develop the company’s products from a user-test perspective. They have also used conventional business and strategy frameworks to analyze some of the issues DLVR will face. The engineering team was formed with the intention of working closely with DLVR’s Chief Technology Officer to build the application and their system. They are engaged in developing the product design and the functionality of the app. We anticipate that we will recruit a much larger team next semester.

Since the beginning of the semester, we have been in constant communication with the executives of DLVR in Nigeria. It has been beyond rewarding to have work that flows across time zones and engages distinct thoughtful, incisive minds that care about seeing e-commerce, technology, and labor markets in Nigeria flourish as a result of the success of this business.

The accelerator is excited to be a part of this incredibly impactful work, and we look forward to what we build with DLVR moving forward.

—  Halle Aberhm, Accelerator Director for Team DLVR