Foxes and Planes

How RefAid changed the way aid organizations operate by calling them.

RefAid is a fantastic service that helps refugees find relevant and crucial services all in one convenient location – their smartphone.

There’s a lot of literature on how smartphones are lifelines for refugees, and how wifi and connectivity are now ranked equally and sometimes more importantly than food and shelter upon arrival.

Which is why there is a lot to marvel about when it comes to the RefAid service, including the fact that the core functionality was built over just 48 hours using existing expertise and a motivated team.

What’s more intriguing is how the platform has created massive changes in how NGO’s, Non-Profits and other aid organizations operate and deliver information. Read more about that at the link above.

But what I believe is worth pointing out from a strategy perspective is how they actually acquired their users (non-profits, NGOs, etc). They called them.

Before starting the project, and armed with just a desire to improve the situation, Shelley Taylor, RefAid founder, already knew that she could adapt the technology she already had in some way. Armed with just an idea on what she could do, she got in touch with the large aid organizations and asked if something like that would be helpful for them.

They said yes, and soon the platform became a reality.

After launching in certain countries in Europe, they needed to launch very suddenly in the US as well due to certain political events. They did this in the same way.

“She invited her team and a group of friends to her house on the following Monday, and they all got on their phones and called as many organizations with real-time legal services as they could.”

Again, there’s a lot to highlight about this story and the platform, but the main lesson that strikes me here is how important the basics are. Many startups and businesses are trying to launch new businesses and start new projects. And many people struggle with understanding their user’s needs, with user acquisition and with traction.

As evidenced by RefAid, sometimes it’s not about fancy online tactics, advertisement, or funnels (although those may play a part), it’s about actually calling your customers and talking to them.

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