SUMANI TRENDSTER BLOG: GUNAS

Background

GUNAS is a luxury vegan lifestyle brand founded by award winning designer Sugandh Agrawal. Her designs have been featured in VOGUE, Harper’s Bazaar, and Forbes, and are a favorite of vegan celebrity stylists and influencers. Named as the best independent handbag brand in 2018 by MACY’s, GUNAS handbags are sold in over 40 countries worldwide through a strong direct to consumer business in addition to numerous specialty boutiques. 

Online sales have been increasing and GUNAS approached our team to highlight the brand’s sustainability efforts by conducting a comparative product life cycle assessment (LCA) and building a marketing strategy around these results. 

Our Approach

To conduct the LCA, our team selected the Cottontail Bag, GUNAS’s hero product to act as the functional unit. Because some of the data on various components of the bag was unavailable, we pivoted to study the main material of the bag, “Water based” Polyurethane (PU) and compare its impact to that of conventional cow hide leather. 

In building the marketing plan, we wanted to first understand the vegan handbag market, GUNAS’s competitors, and how consumers perceived vegan leather. We built primary research by conducting a survey on the shopping habits of targeted handbag customers, asking them specifically their understanding of vegan leather and sustainability in handbags. We used our primary and secondary research, along with results of our comparative LCA to build our comprehensive and detailed marketing plan.

Final Product

Our LCA results showed that the production of vegan water-based PU used in the GUNAS Cottontail bag produces 84% LESS CO2e emissions than the production of traditional cow leather. Our marketing plan built on these favorable results by providing GUNAS with tools to message its commitment to sustainability while growing its bottom line in the process. The final results of the LCA and the marketing plan included a list of eco-conscious micro-influencers with whom to connect along with visuals to match the roll out of GUNAS’s LCA results and the expected financial returns to this new influencer strategy. 

Concluding Thoughts

Our team learned a great deal through the execution of this project, not only about life cycle assessment and the challenges in transparency within the supply chain, but also about client expectations and project management. The LCA deliverables needed to be changed midway through the process, and the team was tasked with communicating the reasons for that change tactfully. 

We will take this consulting experience with us into our future endeavours and thank GUNAS for allowing us the opportunity to work on this amazing project, and for the support from Net Impact! 

SUMANI TRENDSTER BLOG: ING

Our SUMANI team had the privilege of working for ING Group’s wholesale lending practice
based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The goal of the project was to develop an enhanced due
diligence process for ING’s clients in the agriculture sector, specifically to allow the bank to
assess the biodiversity loss associated with their operations. Simply put, ING could use this tool
to screen producers and brokers of agricultural commodities for their potential to cause
biodiversity loss before deciding to make them a loan.


Our first task was to investigate which agricultural sub-sectors pose the greatest threat to
biodiversity. Once we had that information, our second task was to create a step-by-step
screening process that an ING risk analyst could use to assess clients. The initial approach we
took was to conduct a literature review and interviews with industry practitioners to determine
if there are existing protocols for biodiversity risk assessment. However, since this concept is
relatively new, we did not come upon tools that easily allowed us to directly translate
biodiversity loss to financial metrics. It became clear that we had to come up with a brand-new
approach.


The first major challenge of our engagement was to define the scope of the project, since both
“biodiversity” and “agriculture” are broad topics. We began by establishing the scientific
meaning of “biodiversity” and narrowed it down to the two elements most relevant to the
bank: species loss and land degradation. Next, we determined which agricultural sub-sectors
pose the greatest risk to biodiversity based on that definition. Relying on existing research by
the World Wildlife Foundation, CDP, and TRASE Finance, we found five commodities that are
the “worst offenders” in agriculture: dairy/meat, soy, palm oil, timber, and rubber.

Our next challenge came during the development of the step-by-step risk assessment tool.
Since all agricultural sub-sectors interact with the land differently, there was no appropriate
one-size-fits-all process to assess their impact on biodiversity. At this point in the engagement,
we spoke to the client about prioritizing the riskiest sub-sectors and doing a deep dive on them.
Based on our discussion, we agreed that dairy/meat and soy warranted the creation of a
step-by-step assessment tool.


The final deliverable was a 25-page memo on the five agricultural sub-sectors that pose the
biggest threat to biodiversity. We provided a background overview on every sub-sector,
including high-risk locations, existing regulations, and industry certifications that could protect
against biodiversity loss. For dairy/meat and soy production, we went a step further and
developed a customized due diligence process by outlining the “red flags” for companies that
ING should steer clear from. For example, dairy/meat producers doing business in the Amazon or Cerrado biomes of Brazil are likely contributing to deforestation in protected areas, and
should be subjected to greater scrutiny by ING.


For our team, the main takeaway was that it is challenging to codify threats to biodiversity
using traditional banking methods. While a bank seeks to create scalable risk assessment
procedures without limiting business opportunities, the myriad rich and unique ecosystems
across the globe require a custom approach. Going forward, the financial sector will have to
balance its profit-oriented motives with promoting sustainable sourcing practices. We are
excited about the growth of biodiversity-aware investments at ING, a pioneer in the sustainable
banking space.

SUMANI TRENDSTER BLOG: WeAct For Environmental Justice

Project Description
WeAct is an Environmental Justice Nonprofit that specializes in community activism and
raising awareness on issues of race and health for minority communities in the New York area.
Within WeAct, there exists a branch of educational modules for Environmental Health Justice
Leadership Training (EHJLT). We were given the task of branding WeAct as an educational
provider, as well as market the modules for sales. Additionally the goal of program longevity in
case of a WeAct member’s leaving, the program could be easily taken over by someone else.
The current structure of the EHJLT program is focused on individual clients needs on a client to
client pricing model. The educational programs are for schools, universities, or community
members who want to learn more about environmental justice. Our main contact at WeAct was
one person who is solely responsible for the EHJLT program.

Approach
We needed a plan to comprehensively address the multi faceted components to the
project goals. Thus, our team’s approach was to break into three teams: overall structure, pricing, and marketing. The overall structure team looked into how to condense the modules into standardized packages. The current EHJLT modules have 22 different themes to teach audiences a variety of topics from environmental health to introduction to environmental justice. We came up with the idea of bundling the existing modules by topic and having 3-5 modules in each. This new structure would make pricing the bundles easier in the future. Additionally the overall structure team looked into expanding the alumni network and hiring freelancers to help the contact’s workload. The pricing team looked into a standardized methodology for how to fairly price the modules for different clinetelles budgets. Additionally the marketing team talked to many experts in the field to come up with a comprehensive plan to help transition WeAct into branding themselves as an educational teaching organization.

Challenges / Overcome
One of the biggest challenges was the lack of project scope we were given until very late
in the project. It was not specified if we were consulting for the educational modules to be in an
in person format a few years from now or if it would be in a current online – COVID friendly
setting. The difference between in person and online educational modules for environmental
justice related topics would make a major difference in the learning experience. We emphasized the importance of in person teaching or the use of interactive modules instead of pre-recorded lessons. We ultimately consulted using an in person focus to be used a few years from now that can be used when the program is more established. Additionally, we struggled with lack of communication from our client. They were slow with replying to emails and unclear in final deliverable goals throughout the semester. Ultimately we became more specific in asking questions to the client and presented them with our team’s progress instead of waiting for their guidance.

Results
Each of the three team’s came up with final deliverables for the client. The overall
structure team worked with the client to help set up the educational bundles by topic as well as
come up with a more robust plan for the training of trainers network and ways to keep the
program self running. The pricing team came up with a model of tiered pricing with a price per
student variable as well as opportunities for grant funding. The marketing team came up with
five main suggestions of brand awareness, WeAct rebranding, freelance salesperson, defining
educational levels, and co- branding partnerships.

Takeaways
Everyone on the team learned immensely about how to work with a real client in
sustainable consulting. It was a valuable experience working with a team and coming up with
new ideas on how to help a meaningful organization such as WeAct fulfill their goals.

SUMANI TRENDSTER BLOG: Virimodo

During the fall semester, our Net Impact group worked with Virimodo, an energy analytics, carbon analytics, and emissions reductions start-up originally founded in New York by Columbia Business School alumna Donna Sanders. Virimodo has been successfully helping individual customers understand their energy usage, reduce their emissions, and sign up for clean energy plans. Following this success, the company is hoping to expand their services to provide energy intelligence and emissions information for entire buildings or portfolios of properties by signing up property management companies and partnering with proptechs. Our project involved market research and customer discovery for proptechs and property management companies, as well as helping to develop relevant marketing material and online content tailored to these groups.

From the beginning our project had two main focuses: proptechs and property management companies. In order to make efficient progress in researching both of these areas, we split the team into two groups to focus on each target separately. Both groups began with broad research, and then identified key criteria for narrowing down large lists of prospects to companies that would be potential customers or partners for Virimodo. Once the research was completed, the team reorganised into smaller groups to work on online content and marketing materials. 

A key challenge experienced by the whole group during this project was adapting to the online format. Our team spanned multiple time zones and work schedules, which made it practically impossible for the whole team to meet together. This resulted in communication difficulties, as well as a lack of team cohesion at times. When the team rearranged into new groups for the second phase of the project, we considered which time zones and schedules would work best together to form the new groups. This helped ease some communication issues to some extent.

Another challenge that we faced early on was that many of us were unfamiliar with the real estate world. It took time for us to understand the industry we were researching, which made it difficult to organize our research efficiently. The research phase of the project took more time than initially planned, as we faced issues with resources we had hoped to rely on. In order to work with our lack of familiarity, we started the project by keeping our research very broad, and only narrowing our search for prospects once we had a greater understanding of the wider market. We also had to remain flexible and adapt our plans as we explored which resources and information were available in the public domain.

Despite these challenges, we were able to produce several meaningful, useful deliverables for the client. The team identified and profiled the most promising proptechs and property management companies for Virimodo to approach. We also created a list of key terms for the property management portal on Virimodo’s website, descriptions of several low-cost and no-cost emission reductions measures that building owners and property managers can take to reduce their buildings’ carbon footprints, and a marketing document targeting potential proptech partnerships.

Our main takeaways from an unusual, challenging, but engaging semester were the importance of effective communication, both within the team and with the client, as well as a valuable experience of working with start-ups. While initially daunting, working with a dynamic young company like Virimodo gave us a unique opportunity for creativity. Their innovative solutions and sense of excitement inspired us all, and by the end of the project we all had a renewed sense of hope for the future of energy efficiency.

SUMANI TRENDSTER BLOG: HellaCocktail Co.

Hella Cocktail Co. is a mixology company started by three friends in Brooklyn, NY. As a
company rooted in integrity, they wanted to learn more about their carbon footprint and what
they could do to become carbon neutral and, eventually, carbon negative. The company
reached out to SUMA Net Impact for help. During the fall semester of 2020, six students from a
variety of backgrounds teamed up to conduct a life cycle assessment and provide
recommendations to Hella Cocktail.

Deliverable
The Hella Cocktail Project Team conducted a cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment (LCA) of
two products from Hella Cocktail Co.’s most popular line: Dry and Spritz Bitters & Soda. From
this LCA, the team wrote a detailed report about the findings and recommendations and created ideas for marketing materials to educate consumers on the LCA process.

Process
Hella Cocktail provided some initial data about ingredient sourcing and the process of creating
their products. Using this information, the team reached out to various suppliers to work out the production process details: the path ingredients took to reach the canning factory, the different retail stores in which products are sold, the rate of recycling of their products, etc. They calculated the distances between suppliers and final products to their desired locations. Two team members then calculated the greenhouse gas emissions of the two products. Although the final carbon footprint calculations are estimates given the substantial number of assumptions made, the results give Hella Cocktail Co. an idea of focus areas within the products’ life cycles to create a more environmentally friendly product.

Challenges
The main challenge the team faced was the lack of primary and secondary data. Although they
reached out to all suppliers, some responses were never received or were received late in the
process. Because of this, the team was unable to calculate the exact carbon footprint of the
products. However, the estimated carbon footprints can still be extremely beneficial to the client.

Conducting an LCA is a complex and tedious task. Through this project, the team gained
first-hand LCA experience outside of the classroom. They learned about the substantial
research and data collection involved to complete the LCA as well as some challenges. The
team members now have the opportunity to apply the quantitative and qualitative skills acquired through this experience in the real-world.

SUMANI TRENDSTER BLOG: Eastside Community Network

Working with Eastside Community Network and Donna Givens gave us the opportunity to learn about, propose solutions and strategize a roadmap for the issues facing the Eastside of the City of Detroit.With an overview that spanned a number of different topics ranging from abandonment and vacancy to predatory lending and detrimental policies, our deliverables were also equally expansive in their range.

 The team, after a couple of meetings, decided to start grouping these seemingly disparate topics into sectors that can be tackled using similar solutions. This led to the formation of the 5 focus areas we worked on during the course of the project.

The first focus area is Policy, to which all the other focus areas could be traced back to as a potential systemic obstacle to development. The second and fourth focus areas are Green Infrastructure and Labor Pool, which are intertwined and reliant on each other. The fourth focus area is Solar Energy, the fifth one being Urban Blight and Predatory Lending.

Despite the need for such division and grouping, we were constantly aware of the interconnectedness of all our focus areas. For example, the creation of jobs in the Green Infrastructure sector was tied together with the need for new Green Infrastructure projects in the city, which in turn was tied to the need for incentivizing the development of these GI projects, which is presently being hindered by the current Green Credit system. 

On further meetings with the client, we learned that their top priorities were in fact, Policy changes, Incentivization of Green Infrastructure, Retention and development of talent in the GI sector and the implementation of Clean Solar energy for the benefit of the community.

We were also briefed on the current conditions in each of these focus areas, which gave us the necessary context upon which we have based our solutions.

During our conversations with ECN, we realized that the organization is already well versed in the different types of solutions available. What they lacked was a clear pathway to reach these goals and solutions. That is when our focus was shifted towards creating and strategizing a clear roadmap that included resources and case studies ECN can refer to and even collaborate with. Though shifting the nature of the deliverable in the middle of the project was a challenge, we managed to turn the research and work we did during the first half into a resource both for our next steps in creating a roadmap, and for ECN to look back to whenever they want.

Another challenge we faced was communication and the delays it sustained. Though we were able to complete the report and produce a useful deliverable, it would have been less stressful towards the end if we were able to define our project’s priorities early in the communication stream. Due to the delay, we had to resort to choosing the priorities of the clients ourselves, but in the end it was straightened out when we had a long meeting where even their priorities under each focus area were explained. This made developing a roadmap fairly straightforward from that point on.

Our main takeaways are: 

  • SUMANI projects are excellent experiences that provide a sneak peek into what the practical aspects of sustainability consulting/analysis/reporting will be. 
  • Early communication, especially regarding the scope, priorities, and deliverables of the project is absolutely essential for a smooth and satisfactory completion of a project

SUMANI Trendster Blog: Soluminos

Journey to a Pilot Plan: Soluminos

Students join SUMA Net Impact for the opportunity to work on pro-bono consulting projects for their clients. The Soluminos Spring 2020 team was particularly excited to have the chance to work with one of our classmates, a fellow SUMA student. Cynthia Leung, the Founder of Soluminos, had the vision to create portable solar charging stations using refurbished panels to be deployed as a solution for disaster relief. Soluminos had already developed an initial product design and business plan with the assistance of a previous Net Impact team. The Spring 2020 team’s key tasks were to use the last team’s work to create a pilot plan for product deployment in Puerto Rico and identify the logistical challenges and solutions in the supply chain. Our team consisted of 6 members with diverse international backgrounds. They were Amira Maryana, Greg Hopper, Joaquin Rosas, Julie Hurewitz, Niki Shah, and our project Manager was Sally Bingfeng Song.

PROCESS

With guidance from Cynthia, the team created a mind map to visualize the scope of our project and the key tasks that needed to be accomplished. We broke down our work into two buckets: 1) Background that can be used as input for the plan, and 2) Develop the strategic plan by using the background information as input. We focused first on background, as that would shape our strategic plan. Sally researched case studies in Puerto Rico and New Orleans to identify best practices for disaster relief deployment and the opportunities and challenges associated with local renewable projects in disaster relief situations. Greg developed a GIS map to understand the demographics of Puerto Rico and gain a holistic understanding of the local population, income, and energy sources. Joaquin focused on identifying critical policies in the U.S. and Puerto Rico that would impact our strategy and reveal new opportunities for grants. Julie and Amira concentrated on the challenges associated with shipping Lithium Ion batteries overseas and how we would overcome logistical challenges. Nikki dug into the finance plan and focused his research on the choice between a Non-profit and a For-Profit financial model. Our team knew we would need to take this background knowledge and apply it to our Strategy Plan, which included Deployment, Stakeholder Mapping and Analysis, Customer Engagement and Survey, and Business Model. We focused on the strategic plan for the second half of the semester.

THE CHALLENGE

Luckily, our client worked closely with us, and it was never a challenge to meet with her to brainstorm, validate ideas, and get the information needed to do our work. We found a problem working on a Pilot Plan for a product that had not yet gone through Beta testing. We quickly realized that Soluminos would not be able to launch a pilot without first conducting a beta test. With this realization, we added create beta test outline to our preparation for pilot and project deliverables. 

DELIVERABLES 

Our final deliverables were built off the background that was conducted in the first half of the semester. Using this background knowledge and personal business experiences, we created a preparation for a pilot for our client. This preparation plan included a framework for tasks and timeline, stakeholder mapping and recommendation for collaborators, beta testing framework, and customer survey draft, logistics recommendations, and a plan for a pilot in Puerto Rico. 

MOVING FORWARD 

While our client had initially planned to launch a pilot in June 2020, the impacts of COVID-19 pushed this date back. We hope that the frameworks and opportunities we recommended for our client to use in the Beta testing and Pilot Plan Implementation provide value for Soluminos. Overall there were a few key takeaways from this project. Project members developed a fundamental understanding of beta testing and product deployment. We got experience with the challenges that start-ups face in product deployment and learned about expanding a project scope as the client work evolves. 

SUMANI Trendster Blog: The Recycling Partnership

Leveraging the power of reuse schemes to boost the transition towards a circular economy

In February 2020, the project in collaboration with The Recycling Partnership was launched. The Recycling Partnership is a leading nonprofit organization transforming recycling for good in states, cities and communities all across the U.S. For this particular project The Recycling Partnership chose to expand its horizons and gave us the task to conduct a landscape analysis of reuse initiatives across the country. This analysis aimed to provide the organization with a detailed list of potential scalable solutions that could be in the future expanded and taped into with the help of TRP.

Process

We have been in charge of exploring the waste management industry with a focus on researching current reuse schemes and models across industries and international boundaries. Our second task was identifying gaps in reuse models and present opportunities for The Recycling Partnership. Ultimately our goal was to identify scalable investment solutions to protect resources, empower sustainable action and unlock opportunity.

Challenges

We faced challenges while selecting the most scalable alternatives. At the end of the day reuse is a fairly new field and one initiative over another is hard to compare. Audiences and services may differ a lot and all initiatives are needed so it was hard to deliver the ultimate recommendation.

Result

This encompassing landscape analysis of reuse schemes enabled us to gain knowledge on the ambitious initiatives that have been undertaken so far in the reuse space. Additionally this research will be an asset for TRP to leverage for the expansion of their outreach.

Takeaway

The team members were exceptionally thankful for the opportunity to work for first hand with the client. We gained circular economy and waste management knowledge, developed research and analytical skills along with relationship development. At the same time, TRP provided fast and efficient responses that allowed the team to tackle each barrier quickly.

SUMANI Trendster Blog: The Detox Market

A Roadmap to Sustainability

Since 2010, The Detox Market has been curating the best of green beauty to provide customers with confidence in their choices. Their focus has been primarily on avoiding toxic, chemically-charged cosmetic products, and although being environmentally conscious has always been key in their business, they realized it was time to take it to the next level. Our team members – Arianna Bottome, Blair Diehl, Emma Lawrence, Laura Shutack and Zoë Gaston – were tasked to create a sustainability beauty framework to inspire brands sold at The Detox Market to implement responsible practices. Additionally, the client requested we develop a strategy specific to their in-house brand, Detox Mode, currently producing a line of 8 all-natural, safe and effective skincare products. 

Our Approach

Part of our goal for this project was to simplify the complex idea of sustainability to provide small brands with opportunities to create a positive impact regardless of the resources available to them. We wanted to make our strategy accessible, clear and easily digestible. 

We started by researching common environmental and social challenges across the cosmetics supply chain. The stages we selected include: raw material sourcing and processing, product manufacturing, packaging, consumer use, and end-of-life. Once these challenges were identified, we used them to guide our strategy formulations, and, by gathering information individual to the Detox Mode, we created a separate plan with specific steps unique to them.

Knowing that we had to create an industry-wide framework and propose solutions that could be adopted by multiple brands, we also developed a “Self-Assessment Workbook” so that any brand using this material is able to connect where sustainability falls in their business model, and select the solutions that fit their operations the best.

Our Deliverable

Our final product was divided into 4 main parts, including:

  • A Cosmetics Supply Chain Analysis: Including an overview of each stage analyzed, a ranking according to the level of risk associated to each stage, the drivers behind the impacts, and targets and strategies to address them.
  • A Self-Assessment Workbook: A tool to guide brands in finding an alignment with sustainable goals based on where they are today. In this section we also provided suggestions for measuring, benchmarking and tracking their progress.
  • Best Practices for Detox Mode: A set of actionable steps and recommendations specific to the Detox Mode. 
  • Resources: A selection of tools and helpful resources for any brand to get started in their sustainability journey, including greenhouse gas calculators, certifications, reporting frameworks, and more.

Concluding Thoughts

It is essential to understand where you are to understand where you can and need to get. There is no single right way to improve sustainability, and before setting any goals or targets, brands must measure their impacts to identify the potential for change and reduction under their individual circumstances. It is ok to start small, and our aim is that our work can be used as an incentive for continuous growth.

SUMANI Trendster Blog: Ilara Health

Ilara Health is a start-up diagnostic company based in Kenya that is trying to change the way healthcare is delivered.  Started in 2019 by Emilian Popa, Ilara provides lab-quality diagnostics to healthcare clinics that serve a low-income population in peri-urban locations. The need is great in communities like these across sub-Saharan Africa. The challenges are summed up by some sobering quotes, “3 million people across low and middle-income countries die yearly from lack of access to care” and “5 million people die yearly from receiving low quality health care.” Emilian saw a chance to change the staggering inequity of healthcare where “…500 million people across sub-Saharan Africa struggle to access or afford even a simple blood test.” He began to import mobile, high-tech diagnostic equipment that has replaced the large bulky equipment of the last decade in developed nations. Ilara currently offers four diagnostic devices (see appendix below) focused across chronic diseases, infectious disease and maternal care. There is a lack of awareness in this region about the growing pervasiveness of chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In addition, preventative medicine is not a common practice as seen by the lack of a simple ultrasound for pre-natal care. Ilara is trying to change this by increasing awareness among doctors at the clinics of how to screen patients for chronic diseases, so they can manage their symptoms better, while expectant mothers can be screened for easily identified pregnancy complications. 

Our Net Impact team, comprised of Pamela Kauppila (project head), Alexandra Failla, Jeff Robertson and Will Zurier, was initially tasked with determining key social impact metrics and implementing processes to track those KPI’s. While Ilara had data from specific clinics and expected data directly from the devices themselves, we soon learned that the integrity of this data was compromised as inputs were inconsistent or not specifically relevant to the impact we were trying to measure. After this determination, our team decided to pivot to a new strategy to help create the relevant data for KPI’s. Our updated scope was to generate new and original data from clinics that Ilara serves and we did this by creating a “survey” for its clinic customers designed to reveal impact metrics. To ensure relevant data, we first had to discern Ilara’s key objectives:

  • Create a market: democratize access to diagnostic tests
  • Create awareness around chronic diseases: for both doctors and patients
  • Enable positive outcomes for patients: follow-up for patients once diagnosed
  • Increase profitability of clinics

We used input from management as well as the IRIS+ framework for guidance in crafting our questions. During the process, Ilara management was eager to expand the survey to not only to re-engage with their existing customers for KPI data but to also get feedback from them on how prepared they felt in using the devices, patients reactions to them and their ability to grow their clinic business given the addition of the new services they now offered. Once completed, Ilara’s reps began to administer the surveys to their clinic base. 

The early survey results began to shed some light on progress towards Ilara’s key objectives. In terms of awareness of chronic disease, clinics cite a slight-to-significant increase in awareness of diabetes while they see only a slight increase in awareness of cardiovascular disease (see image 1 below). Clinics confirmed that the convenience of having the tests provided “in-house” significantly increases the likelihood of a patient getting tested versus a referral to a lab, tying back to their objective to democratize testing (image 2). Clinics are showing increased percentages of patients returning for follow-up care after being diagnosed with a chronic disease (image 3). In addressing the growth factors associated with the clinics themselves, 40% of clinics indicated a higher level of trust among patients due to the offering of “high tech” devices while another 40% indicated that they were now able to attract a broader base of clients (image 4). While these results are early indicators, we expect to have a fuller picture once they have surveyed all ~50 clinics in their network. While the anecdotal nature of the output may not provide quantitative KPI’s, they will at least be able to show initial indicators of how they are impacting the healthcare clinics as well as the local communities they serve. More importantly, this provides valuable feedback to Ilara on how it is serving it mission and areas for improvement. 

Over the longer term, Ilara will begin to collect its own data directly from the devices utilized at the clinics and this will become a new project. Once they have this device data in hand, it will need to be analyzed, measured to benchmarks, and linked to the patient’s follow-up care. In our parting discussions, we recommended that they make comparisons of the results to other data sets to ensure consistency. This should include comparing device data with survey results, clinic results ‘pre’ and ‘post’ Ilara implementation, and test outcomes versus the national averages.

It has been a truly gratifying experience to work with a start-up with a big mission – to change the way healthcare is delivered. We saw first-hand the challenges Ilara faced and the opportunities they are pursuing. We wish them the best of luck as they continue to grow and expand! 

Appendix: 

Ilara Health currently offer four devices (clockwise from upper left): 

  • PixoTest device for diagnosing diabetes 
  • Kardia AliveCor EKG device for diagnosing cardiovascular disease
  • Hematology device for diagnosing certain infectious diseases
  • Butterfly IQ Ultrasound device for pre-natal maternal care