You are currently viewing From squirrels to SurveyCTO

In this week’s Terms of Reference podcast by Aidpreneur, Dobility founder and CEO Dr. Christopher Robert tells the SurveyCTO origin story (fun fact: it involves squirrels), discusses why he founded Dobility as a for-profit company, and provides a critical analysis of the development landscape. Read on for a few of our favorite quotes.

On how it all started:
“When there are squirrels eating and nesting in your survey forms…, you know that it’s time for something better.”

On where software meets social mission:
“Our social mission requires that we make it easy for people to drop us as soon as they have a better option. Because we honestly don’t want people using our software if they are better served by some alternative.”

On why a “for profit” social enterprise isn’t quite what people expect:
“I make less money today with a PhD from Harvard and a wealth of experience than I did when I was 18 years old. And it’s because I made a conscious choice not to follow the path that’s most personally profitable.”

“When I started Dobility, my first instinct was to start it as a non-profit. But when I looked at how poorly the development sector had been served by technology and I looked at the millions and millions and millions of dollars that had been spent by donors and by various development organizations… and when I looked at what’s come of all that, it wasn’t good enough. It wasn’t reliable enough. It wasn’t accessible enough.”

“Donor-funded technology is just not efficient and it’s not sustainable…. You have people satisfying donor requirements rather than satisfying real user requirements.”

On the international development sector:
“There’s something fundamentally wrong about how this is working.”

Listen to the full interview on the Aidpreneur website.