This week's Behind the Apps is a guest post from Vaibhav Domkundwar, Founder of Better Labs. His team created the popular Kiva Alerts app, which is being featured on the Kiva.org homepage. Hi there! My name is Vaibhav Domkundwar and I am an entrepreneur and founder of , a small product incubation firm where we like to experiment with development very early stage concepts and products. We work with founders in the concept stages of their startups (most times the company is not even incorporated) as co-founders to prototype concepts, test, iterate and build customer-validated alpha versions. We are fully self-funded so we have full freedom to do whatever we like (which I know may be good and bad - we love it, though, and KivaAlerts.com is a product of that freedom!). An inspiration behind this was a nagging feeling I have had for years that I don't give back enough. One of the reasons I usually don't donate as often to charities is because I don't feel like I am "really" reaching out and helping someone in need - just cutting a check or paying online to a large charity is just not tangible enough. I also have always longed for a way to give back in whatever small way everyday, and not just once a year. In our busy lives its extremely difficult to achieve that and I wished there was a way we could all give-back in a small way but more often. Unfortunately, I did not act on this nagging feeling for a long time. Kiva is perfect in a number of ways - its helps you help someone directly, it gives you that tangible feeling of helping someone in need, and it allows you to give back in a small way as often as you like. So when the Kiva API was launched, I just shot an email to one of our developers, Nilesh Navale, to check it out. Then we started to think what to do with it. I really admire the folks who build Kiva everyday as they are, in a way, getting brownie points and that "feeling" of helping someone every time any lender loans to a borrowers on Kiva. My product geek mind started to roll and we zeroed in on an idea - how about we use Kiva API to
- Make it easier and faster for current lenders to lend, so the loans are fulfilled more often and we don't let busy schedules come in the way of a lender loaning to a borrower.
- Make it easier for existing lenders to introduce Kiva to their online and offline community and increase the number of lenders on Kiva.
I was very happy to learn that our team at BetterLabs was also excited about this and we called it the do-good initiative at BetterLabs. The rest kinda fell in place. We allocated our team's time to KivaAlerts, got a good a server in place and launched the service, I believe, within a week of the API launch. We also decided that we will not treat this as a side project and allocate the necessary resources to making sure that it works, its up all the time and it really fulfills the purpose for the users. While everyone at BetterLabs is a contributor, I want highlight the core team members who include Nilesh Navale, Yuvraj Shelke, Tejas Shah, Gampesh Sahu, Ameya Shetti, Chetan Muneshwar and Shrikant Lokhande. We absolutely love all the users who are using KivaAlerts as they have helped us identify and fix bugs, and have contributed a lot in terms of feature requests which we could not have been able to understand all by ourselves. We get an email almost everyday with a suggestion or a request and I want to thank all of our users for their participation and help. I believe every one of our users is also part of the KivaAlerts team and help us everyday in our goal of achieving larger distribution for Kiva loans. We have a lot in the works for the product. We expect to add several enhancements to KivaAlerts email alert application as well as our iPhone, Twitter and Facebook applications in the coming weeks. We haven't done as much of proactive outreach so far but will be doing a lot more once these enhancements are in place in the next few weeks. Our users will know as the enhancements go live right away, as we use the top header part of the alert emails to communicate with our users. Lastly, a huge thanks to the Kiva team for releasing the API. I believe it will help spread the cause of Kiva further and empower it to reach a greater milestones.