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Bribed.co – Nov ’13

Hacking on Startup Bus

I had the strong desire to see Cape Town and heard about the first Startup Bus Africa so I applied right away 🙂  I was really excited to meet the 40 other people joining the adventure, half from Africa & half international.  Anyway, I had read Why Nations Fail and started to do learning about institutions and their effect on development.  So I decided to pitch something about that.  From my previous Startup Bus experience, I learned that it is great if you can make an app that, is fun to use, can be made in 3 days,  will provide value to people after the bus with no effort.   You probably wont win the competition with this (as VC judge’s don’t find value in small projects) but you will probably get runner up.  I am now 2 for 2 on that one 🙂

So I pitched an idea about an alternative voting method.  This was inspired by the fact that in Zimbabwe where we started Robert Mugabi  is still the elected president even it is pretty clear that all the elections are rigged.  So I was thinking what if you could have a polling system on your smart phone.  As smart phone penetration increase so would the power of the system.  Could provide an alternate point of data to back up the allegations that the elections are rigged.

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Thuto, pitched an idea about bribery and so with Whilhem just decided to form a team around governmental reform and start brainstorming ideas.

Then our bus got pulled over and had to pay a bribe.  And it got me thinking, what is the process of paying a bribe.  How do you know what you should pay?  And then we thought – there should be an app for that.

In looking at the market we noticed that for most apps they come from the point of view that corrupt individuals are bad and need to be taken to justice. (BribeSpotter & IPaidaBribe) If you notice the prevalence of red in both designs, it is very similar to crime fighting sites.  Then we asked why don’t people use these apps. (If you look at their adoption it is very small compared to the number of bribes globally per year)

Our hypothesis for why these apps are not huge is because they don’t relect the users reality and they

don’t provide value to the average user. In talking with users in Zimbabwe and South Africa, they didn’t see bribery as a thing that needed to be fought, instead it was just an annoyance that plagued every day life.  The people taking the bribes were just normal civil servants who didn’t make enough to live with out the bribes.  Also, they had no faith in the people who they could report the bribes to, so what was the point.

So our idea was just to start with providing value to the lady driving on an new road who gets pulled over.

So meet Bribed.

Know what the going rate is for a bribe any where in the world.

VentureBurn write up 🙂

If you want to learn more about global corruption, I suggest checking out Transparency International.  Also I have been learning that corruption could be good because it spread the wealth around in extractive institutions, check out this article for more on that.

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