Business Ideas, Innovation, News

Karl Mehta’s app for Social Change

Filthy Streets? Truant Teachers? Karl Mehta’s Got an App for That

Shortly after the ravaging Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast heavily last year leaving an estimated $68 billion of damage in its wake, San

Francisco Bay Area venture capitalist Karl Mehta was at the White House and heard government agencies, such as FEMA, come together with companies like Google to rebuild the area and provide for its victims.

“This gave me first-hand insight as to how a combination of the public and private sectors could come together to manage these types of situations,” Mehta told reporters in a teleconference with the India media Aug. 15, shortly after launching the initiative “Code for India.”

The unique initiative aims to gather 1 million software engineers from throughout the world who will volunteer for eight hours a month to develop mobile applications that address India’s most-pressing needs.

“It’s better than someone handing you an $80 million check,” said Mehta, noting that the project has a potential value of $800 million per month. “Code for India” will focus on issues in education; health and sanitation; food and water; and entrepreneurship. The project develops solutions based on citizen input: “If you see a problem and think there should be a solution, type it into our wiki, and thousands of engineers will work on it,” said the Mountain View-based Mehta, adding that he already has a team of 300 volunteers, many from Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

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