Please click following link to view full “Pitch” in slide format (previously submitted to HBAP Pitch Competition and placed 2nd)
The problem: Rural communities in the southwest U.S. are spread across hundreds of miles of mountainous and desert terrain where resources and services are scarce. People have to travel sometimes 200 miles just to find a grocery store or visit the doctor. There are huge gaps and disparities that include high rates of diabetes, suicide, domestic violence, and substance abuse. Across the Southwest Region, there are more than 1.2 million people with more than 600K that live more than 15 minutes from any gas station. As the rapid pace of technology and automizing, these communities have been left behind the curve. Although there are large gaps, the Southwest Region offers a prime and attractive place to visit, vacation, live, and ultimately retire. This region is known for being home to some of the most beautiful places on earth including the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and 9 of the world’s 11 vortexes. Because of the availability of inexpensive land, beautiful scenery, and median weather, people are moving to the Southwest Region in groves. As the towns and cities struggle to keep up with infrastructure expansion, communities beg for online solutions to make things more easily accessible and easy to find.
Target market and opportunity: There are several audiences that would benefit from having a one-stop shop. The region is comprised of a variety of populations that make its diversity an attractive place to pilot online solutions. Although the goal is to ultimately scale this platform to reach rural communities everywhere, the pilot will start by addressing the needs and gaps of the LGBTQ community first. When compared to other populations, LGBTQ populations living in rural communities share the best and worst qualities: They suffer the greatest gaps and disparities but they also hold the greatest potential for philanthropy dollars. My theory is that if you can serve LGBTQ people when they suffer the greatest gaps and disparities, then you can serve anyone in rural communities with these models. The platform would start by providing one-stop solutions for LGBTQ communities in the rural Southwest first. A safe online community space that is inclusive of everyone; a model platform for the future of ethical machine learning.
When the platform begins to grow in the number of users, there are others that would benefit. There are more than 250 local non-profit organizations that would benefit from having a membership to the platform that they can share their services, links to resources, events, etc. More than 30% of the population is over the age of 55 and this region is promoted as one of the #1 places to retire to. This platform would provide safe community connections; an online community hub that contains support groups, chat spaces, and event information. For small businesses, it would provide a marketplace to share products and empower business solutions. As users frequent the site, it would attract businesses and non-profits. As more and more businesses and non-profits leverage the site to share their own information, they will attract more users. Since there is nothing else like it in the Southwest, the growth would be exponential and can eventually expand to other rural communities across the world.
The solution: Imagine if Facebook, Linkedin, Amazon, and Google had a love child to serve rural communities. “Hubstop” is a dual business model: a for profit entity that provides a link to businesses and non-profits so they can connect with potential customers and a non-profit model that provides a database that correlates rural data and uses it to bring funding back to the communities who use the platform. Initially, the platform would provide a one-stop, safe, and inclusive platform for the LGBTQ community and support for their family members. The growth would be small at first so that one population can be focused on and learning models incorporated. Then as the pilot grows, it could be expanded to include rural community solutions as a whole.
Team: My role as the lead consultant on the project would be to provide the project management role. After I presented my idea at the pitch competition, I was inundated with messages, emails, and phone calls from HBAPer’s offering their help to make this project a reality. Over the next several months, I would want to host opportunities for graduates of the HBAP program to construct the business model for the platform, include the data analytics work, and construct the machine learning aspects of the platform. With the diversity of leadership, engineering, data science, and analytics experience of our cohorts, I believe that we can build an investment model where HBAPer’s invest time and expertise for share holdings and part ownership of the model. I would want the team to benefit from their experience and expertise while also investing into the future of rural communities. I have had more than 50 HBAP graduates and currently enrolled students’ express interest and offer support to date. In the next few months, I plan to implement a working group of strategists to formulate the business plan on how the exact structure will work. For now, I am sharing the idea as a team of one but with the support and backing of several if my proposal is accepted.
Competition: I held off on submitting this idea because I do not have the experience or expertise to actually create the platform itself. I am more of the ideas and brains behind the model. I feared that if I shared my ideas, that strong and powerful players would take my idea and do it for themselves. In reality, I have been creating one-stop solutions for rural communities since 2009, and nobody has come and tried to do this project yet. On the other hand, there are several local entities that have tried to create one-stop resources links and have failed because they do not have the knowledge or expertise. Google offers a general search engine but relies on big data to make recommendations; Google does not reach rural communities. Anything that already exists looks at big data and provides solutions for urban areas. I propose that the model is turned upside down. Instead of leveraging big data, focus on the gaps and address those first. The rest will follow. If I were to only focus on rural communities, I have several competitors that can do it better; however, I am the only LGBTQ expert in the entire Southwest Region. I want to start with this population because there is no competition and this is the population of greatest need. Nobody has attempted nor are they seeking to serve LGBTQ populations in this region first. This provides lots of time to work on the learning models and conduct testing to perfect the models before any competitor knows what’s happening.