Disasters and humanitarian crises are increasing at an unprecedented rate. So much so that by 2050, 1 billion people will be displaced by these events. It is estimated that 60% of in-kind donations go to waste because state and local governments struggle to effectively distribute the goods most needed by impacted individuals. As a result of these inefficiencies, it is estimated that it takes impacted individuals 10-15+ years to recover. We have no idea how long COVID-19 will last or what the aftermath will be, but regardless of our culture, climate or circumstance, are all seeking real and rapid recovery. Yet as a society, we still struggle to navigate what’s needed, what’s available and how those needs and resources drastically change overtime. Masks and medical supplies are making headlines, but there are also millions of people from vulnerable populations who are unable to work or shop for critical supplies.
What it does
Everest Effect is a Global Recovery Platform, Reimagined. Everest directly connects impacted individuals with donors and partners seeking a secure, sustainable and efficient solution that ensures the right resources, at the right time are placed in the hands of impacted individuals. Fundamentally, the Everest platform enables impacted individuals to request their most critical needs based on a curated inventory selection. These 'baskets' of critical needs are then published to the Everest marketplace for donors to directly purchase. Baskets are then fulfilled and delivered to impacted individuals via the retailer's standard logistics procedures. Everest Effect is differentiated from other disaster relief providers in that it is "direct to consumer" versus direct to organization for subsequent distribution that is often broken. In addition, Everest will verify identity attributes of each impacted individual to ensure the authenticity of their circumstances so that the Everest community of donors can trust the needs of individuals are legitimate.
How I built it
We wanted to get the product out there at the earliest to enable people to get the help they needed. With that in mind, we started off by installing a fresh copy of WordPress and creating the entities that the system would require. With the help of a UX Design team, we built a custom WordPress theme that would support the feature set we were looking to start with. As we progressed, we then added the Marketplace feature to facilitate people in requesting the items they needed and allowing donors to make a direct donation to the ones in need.
Challenges I ran into
The biggest challenge that we didn't anticipate was the availability of inventory being requested from our impacted community. Because of the heightened media attention towards COVID-19, people concerned with not having enough supplies took to buying in bulk from all the major online retailers. As a result, this has left inventory depleted. To manage this near-term, we set about monitoring product availability on a daily basis and where items were out of stock, we would seek out alternative SKUs and publish to the marketplace. The more sustainable solution to this that we are pursuing is through a product lookup API made available by our partner retailer.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
On 03/22/2020, the Everest marketplace launched in BETA to support the COVID-19 relief efforts. Since its launch, dozens of baskets were created to benefit low-income women and their babies, workers whose hours were cut or jobs eliminated as a result of COVID-19, and people who can't shop for themselves or return to work because of health conditions. This is what we are most proud about!
What I learned
We learned to be OK with imperfection. The COVID-19 pandemic could not wait for Everest Effect to reach its entire vision. The crisis needed our help now and so our extremely small team set about defining MVP with the belief that impacted individual will see value in our platform and that donors will be prepared to help people in need. There is an acceptance for imperfection when there is a common good.
What's next for Everest Effect
Everest Effect is at the very beginning of its journey. Its mission is to be the 'always on' companion supporting through the lifecycle of a disaster or humanitarian crises. Over the coming months, our small team of one product manager and 1-2 engineers plan to develop a "needs score" that is a mathematical measure of an impacted individuals state of needs based on explicit and behavioral signals. A verification of needs to help more precisely inform relief and recovery authorities. In addition, we are working to evolve our fraud prevention controls, reporting, lifecycle notification triggers and partner integrations that make sense for Everest.