From Idea to Action: Scaling Innovation with Learn and Launch

This is a guest blog post by Dani DiPietro. Ms. DiPietro is a business development associate at ayzh, one of the health innovators selected for participation in the inaugural Learn and Launch initiative. This is the second post in this series about Learn and Launch. Click here to see the first post.

Learn and Launch is a Center for Health Market Innovations initiative to help social enterprises like ayzh address challenges related to organizational capacity and scaling. Over the past month, under the guidance of the Center for Health Market Innovations, Results for Development, and ACCESS Health International, ayzh has been moving forward from the planning phase initiated at the Learn and Launch kickoff event to implementation of our expansion plan.

December was largely a period of internal work and trial and error for each of the participants. Learn and Launch created a platform on Slack to allow all of the participants to communicate and collaborate through this process.

Our Expansion Plan

For ayzh, the first step after the launch of the initiative was to discuss the goals outlined at the event and to figure out which goals made the most sense to take forward within the timeframe of this engagement. We came out of the kickoff event with several goals: We wanted to explore new sales channels by mapping potential new partners in several areas and running a pilot with a selected partner group. We also wanted to develop a marketing strategy and a customer service strategy. For our first goal, map potential new partners, we planned to look at potential partners within several areas:

Training Organizations: Organizations in India focused on training maternal and newborn health workers, either as the core or an important piece of their work).

Community Health Efforts: Last mile mobile clinics, health camps and screenings

Business to Customer models in addition to our existing Business to Business model

Pharmaceutical Distribution and Social Franchising Networks: We are currently participating in a project with the Palladium Group, which is using social franchising of reproductive health products and services to improve the quality of care provided in private sector clinics in Bihar and Odisha

Primary Healthcare Chains

Revising Our Plan

To map potential new partners, we had originally planned to explore private primary healthcare chains first because of the potential for collaboration between ayzh and two other member of the Asia Learn and Launch cohort: iKure and Swasth. After a presentation of the learnings and goals that came out of the kickoff event with the ayzh team, we reached a consensus that we were better positioned to explore training institutions as potential partners and clients first. Working with the primary healthcare chains would require exploration of our new product in development – the SHISHU Healthy Newborn Kit – while working with the training organizations would focus on our primary product – the JANMA Clean Birth Kit. Given the timeline for the launch of SHISHU (Spring 2016), it made more sense for us to explore training organizations with our longstanding Clean Birth Kit and document this process carefully to facilitate the creation of training templates for future business development associates at ayzh.

After we made this decision, we revised our implementation plan to include two parts:

Explore new sales channels & run pilot with selected training institutions

Develop marketing “training manual” based on documentation of process and standardization of pitch, which will be used to onboard future business development associates

With this revised plan, plus detailed action items, timelines, and a budget in place, we got to work.

Putting Our Plan into Action

First, we hired a consultant to create a database of organizations in India focused on training maternal and newborn health workers, either as the core or an important piece of their work, to accomplish the first part of our implementation plan. Over the course of January, the consultant has conducted research to identify and categorize these organizations. She began reaching out to the organizations over phone and email to introduce them to ayzh and to figure out who was interested in the birth kits for their work. Based on these conversations, we are sending sample kits to selected organizations.

Over the next few weeks, based on their feedback on the samples and continued conversations, we will identify a few organizations that we want to work with, moving forward. For these five to ten organizations, we will give between one hundred to five hundred kits for free as a pilot project.

The funds from the Learn and Launch initiative allow us the flexibility to conduct a pilot with these organizations. This freedom is a huge help to us. This money allows us to work out the logistics of the relationship – such as how the funding and distribution will work – and allows the users to appreciate the concept of the Clean Birth Kit and see its value before deciding to invest in them. The Center for Health Market Innovations has provided support to us throughout these activities by advising us on processes, providing feedback on the database, and facilitating introductions with other organizations profiled on the Center website or connected to ACCESS Health.

On a check in call last week with the initiative leaders from ACCESS Health and the Center for Health Market Innovations, the leaders challenged us to think about each objective we have planned to reach our goal of developing a new sales channel with organizations focused on training maternal and child health workers. They helped us think about the best way to develop training manuals for marketing and other business development activities based on this process of outreach to training organizations. They have offered to sit in on our internal marketing collateral development calls and to provide feedback on the documents and manuals that we create.

Moving Forward

Learn and Launch is introducing a series of webinars on the following topics to provide additional guidance for our work:

Customer Service: Understanding the target market

Marketing and Social Media

New Customer Acquisition

Talent Management and Training

Corporate Social Responsibility

These webinars, alongside the regular check in calls with the Center for Health Market Innovations, Results for Development, and ACCESS Health leadership, will challenge us to think ahead about these and other topics raised at the kickoff event that we hope to tackle in the near future, such as customer satisfaction and success and corporate social responsibility partnerships.

We are pleased about the status of the work to this point, thanks to the support of the Learn and Launch initiative. We are excited about where we will be at the end of the three month engagement! Stay tuned for our next installment…