I’m excited to introduce KP Naidu, who joins the Benetech executive team as VP, Benetech Labs. KP will oversee all of Benetech’s early stage software initiatives across poverty alleviation, human rights, and inclusive education and employment, and taking the most viable ones to scale.
Can you tell me about your background and what brought you to Benetech?
I’ve spent almost my whole life working in technology. Prior to Benetech, I cofounded a company called Amava that helped people who were retired or about to retire find what they wanted to do next. Going through that exercise, I realized that in tech, and in Silicon Valley in particular, we are so focused on building the next cool piece of tech, securing funding on Sand Hill Road, and moving from Series A to C to IPO. Everyone’s running on this tech treadmill, and we lose sight of what is actually happening around the world and the problems that people face.
There is so much inequity in Silicon Valley. People are buying homes worth millions, and others are living in trailers on the side of the road. We all live and work in the same region, yet a huge disparity exists. Using technology to advance social good and combat inequity like this called out to me.
Why does using software for social good resonate with you?
Fundamentally, software should be used not just for making money, but for actually delivering value. What’s the point of inventing something as world changing as the internet if the majority of people aren’t going to see a benefit?
As an industry, we need to think about involving people in this new, tech-driven economy. Right now, most people are participating in the tech economy only to the extent that their data is being monetized. When technology starts impacting their life negatively, they will reject it – even if for the most part the technology does great good. To truly advance as a society, we need to turn around technology to make it work for all people.
What opportunities do you see for using software to scale positive impact in the social sector?
How many hours do you have? There is huge opportunity for using software to scale social impact. There is a notion that not-for-profit automatically implies luddites and people who eschew or are incapable of using technology, but this isn’t true.
People who work at nonprofits are as immersed in tech as anyone else in day-to-day life. Nonprofits often lack the resources to develop or implement technology that could be useful for their mission. This challenge is where software for social good nonprofits like Benetech are able to make an impact. By identifying specific problems that can be addressed at scale through software and building that tech, we are able to meet the software needs of the social sector.
Wondering what is software for social good? Read our Software for Social Good Guide
What are some of the solutions that you are focusing on in Benetech Labs?
Right now, I’m focusing on two solutions. The first is Benetech Service Net, which makes it easier for social service referral organizations to connect people to the help they need through community data collaboration. It can be very hard for people to find accurate information about human services when they are in need. The social safety net is fraying, and Service Net is weaving a fabric of connected care by enabling local organizations to collaboratively maintain and share information on local services. Following a successful Bay Area pilot, I’m focused on converting Service Net into a product that can be scaled up and developing a sustainability model so that it can pay for itself.
My second priority is the development of the Connected Civil Society Initiative platform, which uses AI to analyze and cluster video evidence of war crimes based on their similarity, making it easier for human rights investigators to use evidence to build cases. This initiative excites me for two reasons. First, the geek in me gets excited because it’s cool technology. Second, the ability to match videos of the same place across different times is cutting edge. I also see broad applications for this initiative beyond our current focus on war crimes in Syria to include applications for child trafficking investigations, law enforcement, and journalism. It has a huge potential to help society at large.
Thank you, KP, for sharing your perspective on these promising initiatives. Welcome to the Benetech team!