Extended-form Case Study

Building a tech product for social impact

Published on January 31, 2018   15 min

Other Talks in the Category: Marketing & Sales

My name is Amara Humphry. I'm currently the Product Lead at Abl Schools. Previously, I was the Chief Product Officer and co-founder of Gooru. Today, I'll share a story about building technology products for impact, focusing on how Gooru went from a beta product to reaching its millionth user.
When I was 12, I visited a school, now a museum, near my mom's childhood house in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. During the war, the school had been converted into a prison, classroom are turn into cells where prisoners waited to be executed. It was a terrifying sight. The Khmer Rouge denied their own people a basic human rights, including one that some will never recover, education. I flew home to Hawaii and realized that this experience was in stark contrast to my own school experience just an ocean away. My parents prioritized education above all else. I had the opportunity to attend great schools, access to an amazing education, and now, I live in the technology capital of the world. After graduating from Stanford with a degree in Product Design, I found myself conflicted. I worked on a startup aimed at helping 20-to-30-year-olds transition to life in a new city by leveraging social networks and friends of friends. Essentially, I was building a tool for a problem that I experienced myself firsthand. While I suffered the temporary inconvenience of acclimating to life in a new place, it was a superficial challenge compared to the true suffering that I have been a passive observer to at various points in my life. I grew personally frustrated as I used my newly acquired product design skills to build tools that solved problems that improve the lives and productivity of the privileged. Upon much reflection, I recognized that that same cutting edge Silicon Valley technology could be redesigned to serve students who needed it most. In 2011, I joined Gooru, an education technology non-profit with a mission to honor the human right to education.

Building a tech product for social impact

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