The Winning Pitch: How Team Flipped Health Nailed the TVL Investment Competition

By Pitch Academy

We’re excited to announce that on February 5, 2015, our very own Flipped Health won the 2015 Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition!

Read on to find out what set Flipped Health’s pitch apart from the other teams to come out as champions with a $5,000 check…

On the 32nd anniversary of TVLIC, more than 20 startup companies pitched their business plans to a panel of some of the most notable venture capital investors and entrepreneurs in the industry, including partners from Austin Technology Incubator (ATI), Bunker Incubator, and PuraVida Ventures.

So, what set the winning team apart?

They told a story.

It was more than a presentation. It was an engaging story that followed a sequence. The most captivating stories always start off with a carefully crafted beginning – and this story was no exception!

Think you know what your beginning slide should look like? Think again. In order to reel the investors in, the very first slide began with the story of The Broken Vaccine Cold Chain. Contrast that title with the title of the original first slide they began with, The Dry Vaccine Process – does this get you excited about team Flipped Health and their solution?

This is the traditional beginning slide that most teams start off with, where the first words out of a speaker’s mouth are “Hello everyone, we are Team X…” effectively losing the audience, and likely, their chances at winning a chunk of cash.

But Flipped Health isn’t your average team, and neither is the solution they were trying to sell – after an overhaul by yours truly, the first slide in the deck started the story off with a bang:

We coached them to jump in with a relatable anecdote, emphasizing the “what is” to describe the current landscape with a personal example that all of the judges could identify with. After 30 gripping seconds, the speaker emphatically reinforced what the audience was now beginning to understand: “This is a scary and expensive problem.” After setting the baseline of “what is”, they moved on to describe “What could be” – their solution.

AriVax, a drug delivery platform that improves vaccine stability, reduces vaccine wastage, and enables delivery to emerging markets that can’t meet temperature-controlled supply chain (cold chain) requirements.

It was jargon-free.

One of the biggest mistakes made by high-tech teams is acting like they are presenting to other people who are deeply embedded in their respective industry – not investors who probably don’t know the first thing about vaccines and the issues surrounding the cold chain process. The visuals didn’t just get a makeover – the words did, too. Moral of the story? Lose the jargon, NOW.

They connected to the audience with a metaphor.

Here’s where the tried and true STAR method, comes in: drive a big idea home by giving the audience members Something They’ll Always Remember. We came up with a way to communicate the ease of the AriVax solution that shifted the momentum of the pitch and got a laugh from all of the investors… AriVax is easy as Kool-Aid!

Seamless transitions.

It may seem small, but every single speaker clearly announced topic shifts throughout the presentation. This served to make the overall pitch absolutely seamless.

By taking care to verbalize the movement to the next major part of the story, “I will now hand it off to Jason, who will explain the current need in the global market…”, Cheryl ensured that the judges would have no questions about where one topic began and ended.

Confident answers to every question.

With a total of 15-20 questions asked by investors, the presentation was comparable to an investigation. Investors probed into areas like cost breakdown, use case validation, alternative solutions to the one they were proposing, and valuation; at every turn, a team member was prepared with an analytical + emotive answer.

Straightforward slides.

We can’t stress how important it is to have clean, aesthetically appealing slides that communicate the key points – and only the key points. Flipped Health’s slides were strategically placed, easy to follow, and served to enhance the overall message.

All of the above strategies helped Flipped Health come out of the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition with the 1st place spot, an automatic entry to Global TVLIC, a 1 year launch package at Austin Technology Incubator, and this giant check:

Congratulations again, Flipped Health!

The above points are some of the key aspects of Flipped Health’s pitch that propelled them to first place. We had a blast getting to coach this stellar team to success, and we hope the points we’ve described here will help you and your team achieve the results you want to see. Remember, it’s all about selling yourself AND your ideas, and you can count on us to keep you up-to-date with the latest communication insights and analysis on modern pitching strategies.

Find out how The Pitch Academy’s coaches can customize our innovative approach to get your ideas sold and your team funded – contact Melissa today!

Building a Winning Advisory Board for Your Startup (Part 2)

The following post is written by Garrett Eastham, Co-Founder of Edgecase and Chief Data Scientist.

Step 2: Leverage your advisors correctly and efficiently

Building your advisory board is only half that battle. Once you’ve put together the best set of individuals you can find, you need to learn how to leverage them effectively in order to get the most benefit for your business. For those who have worked within a board of directors dynamic, a key thing to remember is that your advisory board is less like a board and more like an extension of your executive offsites.

  • Schedule meetings far in advance: This is important! Your advisors are likely much, much busier than you – perhaps growing their own businesses to the next phase. Remember to work with their assistants weeks / months in advance so they don’t have to dread your “Can I get some feedback?” text message.
  • Bring them well-structured problems: A benefit of having specific types of advisors is that you can do a lot of work ahead of time to segment specific problems into key areas that your advisors can tackle independently. Not only will your advisors be more effective if you bring them clearly articulated problems and desired objectives to discuss, but you will also find benefit in working to put structure on your business issues as your organization grows.
  • Consider hosting an advisory board meeting: While I do not advise trying to restrict advisory board meetings to a strict schedule; it can be helpful on occasion to get several of your advisors together for a broader, cross-discipline discussion. They also might appreciate the chance to meet and network with the other thought leaders you’ve worked so diligently to assemble.

Step 3: Empower advisors to help you both win

Inherently, your advisors have relatively low incentive to dedicate time to you and your business’ problems. The hour they spend with you undoubtedly has a high opportunity cost as they forego customers issues, sales calls, or product brainstorms to help you break through the mental barrier. Thus, it is absolutely pivotal that you learn how to create incentives that make them excited to get to that hour you’ve scheduled together on a Friday afternoon.

  • Align their incentives with yours (financial and emotional): Aside from providing equity-based incentives (make sure you do proper contracts and everything), many entrepreneurs forget the emotional motivations that most advisors have for wanting to spend time with you. For many of your industry veterans who have already built successful businesses, they will never have the same early experiences building companies again as their networks will already be in place; however, they often love sharing in your emotional ride (think of them like grandparents who get to share in the joy of helping you raise your children). Remember to capitalize on this and make every email, meeting, or text full of energy and excitement – even if it’s not good news – because great entrepreneurs love rising to the occasion and want nothing more than to share in the excitement of overcoming challenges together.
  • Make it easy for advisors to connect you to their network: A lot of what you will ask your advisors for is often email introductions to people within their network on your behalf. While this can sometimes feel like asking for handouts, you can turn this around by thinking of ways to turn the introduction into a chance for your advisor to strengthen that particular connection as well. It doesn’t take more than a strategically crafted email and an understanding of your advisor’s own goals to allow them the chance to kick off an email correspondence with an old former client by introducing them to your business while also creating a new lead / opportunity for his own sales team.

It takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to build a great business; however, I think the old adage “it takes a village” seems more apt to describe the entrepreneurial process. As an entrepreneur, you will always be focused on building the right team around you, and that process can start from day one and zero employees by focusing on building the right advisor support team around your idea.

Key Takeaways from the Texas MSTC Class of 2015

Just over a week ago, The University of Texas at Austin’s Master of Science in Technology Commercialization (MSTC) Program’s Class of 2015 walked across the stage to collect their diplomas from program director, Dr. Gary Cadenhead, and Dean Tom Gilligan of The McCombs School of Business.

Whether you ask our students, our faculty members, or our program staff, there is one answer that is identical across the board: MSTC is a whirlwind. Students start classes in early May, and just one year later they’re celebrating their completion of the program to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance”.

Throughout our one-year business master’s degree program, our students learn a lot: a lot about business, a lot about innovation, a lot about each other, and–to be just a bit trite–a lot about life. With that in mind, we asked a handful of the members of the Class of 2015 to share with us their biggest takeaways from the Texas MSTC Program. We hope you enjoy their advice as much as we do!

MikeTulkoff“It is hard to believe that one year ago, I was waking up on a Sunday morning after launch week and thinking about how much there was to do. Now I’m up on Sunday morning thinking about how much we all have done. The best part of this program is all of the interaction between the students as well as between students and the fantastic faculty. I have learned a lot from all of them both inside and outside of class.

My key takeaways from the program are; recognize a market pain, figure out how to ease it, plan, plan, plan, and be persuasive. Throughout this year we have learned quite a few processes, tools, and frameworks that will suit us well going forward.”

-Mike Tulkoff, Independent Technology Consultant


“The MSTC program was tailored directly to my interests and within the team structure, we were able to hone those interests even further. I am now leagues more confident in my business knowledge and can speak about concepts both abstractly and tangibly with confidence. With the curriculum, classmates, faculty and the McCombs brand behind me, new opportunities have presented themselves, and I have been equipped to take advantage of them. Now I have a new job fusing technologies together to help other companies see their innovations to fruition in the market, and it is incredibly fulfilling. I think I appreciated my degree a thousand times more after talking through a product manufacturing flow a client on my first day at work and likewise as I help formulate the stories we will tell to market to prospective clients. It was a marathon of a year, but I am so glad I did it.”

-Karyl Fowler, Business Development Specialist, Novati Technologies


Jonathan Cartmill
“Reflecting on how I have changed over the past year, I recognize my presentation, oral and written communication skills have dramatically improved. I am a very outgoing individual and have no fear of public speaking but this program definitely expanded on my communication skills. I also notice I approach problems much differently than before. I have learned how to ask the right questions and how to think about challenges in ways that will help drive a positive outcome. The best part of the program, however, has been my classmates because they come from many walks of life and have different professional experiences that truly enriched my MSTC experience.”

-Jonathan Cartmill, Technical Sales Representative, National Instruments


RainyaMosher-HeadShot-BlackAndWhite“I did accomplish what I set out to do and have successfully transitioned from Engineering Management to Product Management. This program certainly helped me reposition my personal brand and make the transition far more easily than it otherwise would have been. The conversations I am able to have today regarding markets, pricing, and general “the idea is great, but will anyone pay for it?” (with accuracy, gusto, and confidence) would not have been possible a year ago. The network of my fellow MSTC Class of 2015 is the real gem, of course! I am thankful to have grown my network by 70 or so amazing people.”

-Rainya Mosher, Product Manager, Rackspace


Britt2“The Master of Science in Technology Commercialization (MSTC) program was a significant game-changer for me. I retired out of the Navy with a solid grounding in risk assessment, operations, and execution – both at the tactical and strategic level – but quickly realized I did not have the vocabulary and foundation that my civilian counterparts had regarding how the corporate side functions. The MSTC program was a perfect bridge to creating that foundation. The conversations, questions, and concepts that I partake in today would absolutely not have been possible without the focused, rigorous curriculum that The University of Texas McCombs School of Business assembled in the MSTC program. It is hard to believe the difference between how I approach problems now and how I approached problems on day #1 of the program.” 

-Britt Talbert, Senior Program Manager, GM


If you’re interested in learning more about the Texas MSTC Program, we invite you to explore our website and visit a class. We hope to see you on campus soon. Hook ’em!

Dare Greatly to Change the World for the Better

IMG_0232The following post is written by Texas MSTC Class of 2015 graduate, Rainya Mosher. You can find this original post and more by Rainya on her blog

On 23 May 2015, myself and 65 other members of the cohort graduated from UT Austin’s McCombs School of Business with a Master of Science in Technology Commercialization. This one year Master’s program focuses on giving students the skills needed to take an idea, invention, or discovery through the immense amount of work needed to create and sustain a business. As my classmate Jonathan Cartmill said in his speech for the Teacher of the Year Award (given this year to Dr. Kate Mackie):

Just because you can detect salmonella doesn’t mean the chicken companies are going to pay you for it.

Tech commercialization is futuristic thinking grounded in the reality of the present. While brilliant thinkers, scientists, and engineers invent wonderful things every day, a commercialization expert ensures the invention connects to the real world in a meaningful way. This usually entails doing exhaustive research to find the group of someones who will pay to use the invention, and once these someones are identified, determining how much are they wiling to pay. It is a wonderful melange of business and science, finance and technology. Quite simply, it was the perfect degree for me!

Brett Hurt gave our commencement address with a message as timely and pointed as I could have asked for. A former entrepreneur-in-residence at McCombs, Brett is the founder of several successful startups and owns Hurt Family Investments. Below are my key takeaways from his brief but impacting speech.

On Tech Commercialization

There are many shortages in the world – food, water, energy, medicine among them. I challenge you to solve the world’s greatest challenges through technology commercialization. We are in the most amazing time in the history of the world for technology commercialization. The Internet and all its derivatives are being professionalized, making this period quite different from the dot com boom and bust of the ’90s.

On Books to Read

Watch less news. Read good books instead. Infinitely more thought has been put into them. This is where wisdom can be found. Specific books to inspire the dreamer in us all include: Abundance by Diamandis & Kotler; The Second Machine Age by Brynjolfsson & McAfee; and Man’s Search for Meaning by Frankl.

On Successful Entrepreneurship

The skills needed to to move from invention to a viable commercial product and finally to a prosperous business is what the MSTC program provides its graduates. Brett provided a reminder that some of the most important elements for success go beyond market validation and consolidated financial statements.

Live within your means

You’ll always feel rich (and be able to pursue your dreams) if you live within your means

Take time away from work

Take vacation time, even in the earliest stages of a startup, and use the time for deep reflection. Prioritizing time away to reflect on what you’ve learned and where you’re going. Some of the most important decisions affecting the direction of a company are frequently made while on vacation. If you don’t take the time to reflect, life and companies have a habit of running away with you.

Don’t forget your family

You’ll always feel stressed in some ways. There will be always be excuses on why you’re too busy to spend time iwth family. Don’t be that person who, on their death bed, regrets missing their children’s best years or wished they spent more time with their parents or partners. No matter how intense a business gets, time with family is truly just another choice you must make. Choose wisely.

Nourish your soul

If you lose your passion for a cause, stop pursuing it and find something else to ingnite the spark. Take a second look should you find yourself accepting a job solely on the basis of money or title. If you find you aren’t giving back either through your community or company, find ways to do so. Companies have souls that need to be nourished as well as people.

Take care of you

More important than all the other things is your health. Without health, nothing else is possible. You can’t enjoy the money your have earned or the time you spend with your family. The inner journey and maintaining health is as important as the outer journey and achieving success.

The Man in the Arena

Brett ended his speech with the famous “Man in the Arena” quote, taken from Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 Citizenship in a Republic speech. This is perhaps my favorite quote of all time and fills me with strength in even the most difficult times:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

So now, MSTC Class of 2015, with hoods, diplomas, and a hearty UT hook ‘em, we leave behind our classrooms for an arena full of possibility. There, we will dare greatly to change the world for the better. Of course, a healthy dose of profit alongside our world changing ventures won’t hurt, either!


The full text of the speech is now available at

150 Patents Later, What One Female Inventor Learned About Innovation

Originally posted on Forbes by Lisa Seacat DeLuca

Software engineer. Inventor. Mother of toddler twins. Nerd puller of late night coding jags. And, at 32, the most prolific female inventor at IBM with more than 150 patents in areas such as mobile, data, and cloud, to my name.

I’m one of the faces of innovation at IBM. One of my patents is U.S. Patent #8,694,777: Securely identifying host systems, which enables more secure identity control in cloud computing environments.

The patent was among 7,534 patents filed by IBM last year, making it the first company to exceed 7,000 patents in one year and marking the company’s 22nd consecutive year as worldwide patent leader.

Patents are key to my company’s strategy, not just because they’re proof of unique ideas, but because they’re the platform for the future inventions that drive the success of our clients, business and industry. Because none of us work alone. Innovation comes from the spark of an idea. Yet, we all build on top of the innovations that other tinkerers before us have come up with.

As I said in my TED@IBM talk last fall, “The speed of invention in the future will be as fast as we can dream up ideas. We’ll be able to use each other’s innovations to test drive ideas and find inspiration to keep solving everyday problems.”

Which is why we’re all encouraged at my company to become inventors and why there is such a buzz around creativity.

As a 22-year-old new hire at a large multinational company, I was definitely intimidated when it came to getting started. But the excitement of becoming an innovator, and the contagious feeling I got from my colleagues that I could do just that quickly turned me into one. I was hooked. There’s not a better feeling than coming up with creative solutions to real problems that other people find valuable.

And in fact, all of us can experience that feeling these days. With open source, crowd funding, and easy-to-use apps for developing software and electronic gadgets, we’re seeing a massive leveling of the playing field when it comes to innovation. Staying curious, supporting other makers, and taking a risk on our ideas will make those napkin ideas a reality. I encourage everyone to share their ideas with the world.
I’m an inventor, a brainstormer, a tinkerer. And I’m proud to be part of one of, if not the, most innovative companies in the world. The creativity of my colleagues inspires me everyday. And the wave of inventiveness online sparks my imagination. More innovation will help all of us have more productive, more fulfilled lives. And it’s just plain fun.

Watch Lisa Seacat DeLuca’s TED@IBM video.

Lisa Seacat DeLuca is an IBM Master Inventor and Mobile Software Engineer and member of the Texas MSTC Class of 2010

UT Austin Fuses the MBA with a Master’s in Technology

Originally published on TechCocktail by Will Schmidt 

Lisa Deluca, an Omni-Channel Technology Strategist and Master Inventor at IBM, first heard about an interesting program at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) through her colleagues at work. As one who was trying to decide between pursuing an MBA or a Master’s in Technology, DeLuca was delighted to hear that The Master of Science in Technology Commercialization (MSTC) fused these two worlds tougher.

UTUT Austin has, in effect, built their MSTC program to combine business, technology, and innovation into a one year program at The McCombs School of Business. Specifically, it focuses on preparing participants for the intersection of these worlds in their future careers.

Students like DeLuca meet on alternating weekends, either in person or telecommute in video software like Skype, to learn the business skills needed to compete in a global economy while continuing their full time jobs. Fusing entrepreneurship with education, the MSTC Program’s main aim is to help their students create innovative ventures and products.

“This program is like an MBA for more technical people,” says DeLuca. “It’s helped me in my day job to understand the market I inhabit. In my day to day I’m normally a developer, so I do coding and am not always exposed to the business side of things. Now I know why we make the decisions we do.”

Officially launched in 1996, the MSTC program has remained committed to the idea of getting a relevant degree into the hands of their students for 18 years at this point. The hope is that these students, in turn, might one day drive innovation on their own terms.

Students are taught how to identify and evaluate technologies with market potential, develop and present business plans, and profitably launch innovative products into the market. On average 80 students are accepted every year, with 50 percent coming from entrepreneurial backgrounds, 40 percent are corporate innovators, and 10 percent inhabit the tech commercialization space.

As a remote student out of San Francisco, DeLuca would join the class every other weekend with about 20 percent of the other students, who were also remote. It was just like a real classroom where she had to be on time and participate, lest her grade suffer.

Despite telecommuting, she was still able to tap into the best parts of the program, one of which, according to DeLuca, was that she could find the right people to ask her questions to. Traditionally, that’s a tough thing to do, but when DeLuca got access to an entire network of mentors and faculty through the MSTC program, the problem was all but diminished.

“It’s a lot of work, it’s a huge time commitment, but you learn a ton,” says DeLuca. “I got to spend time with some of the best professors I’ve ever known, and the time absolutely flew by.”

Of the class participants that graduate in May 2014 there have been 14 ventures launched. Two graduates even went on to be in the Texas Venture Labs incubator, based at UT Austin, and another graduate founded Beyonic to bring mobile payments to Africa.

Sure, there’s homework and you have to be engaged during class time, but as DeLuca says this is a unique experience you can’t get from other university programs. You’ll get to interact with different people, hear different stories, and embed yourself into the lives of people you might never have otherwise met.

“In life, it’s crucial to understand why things are more important than others and why a problem might be interesting to you over your colleagues,” says DeLuca. “The MSTC program gives you a different approach to looking at entrepreneurial life.”

Applications are currently open for the program, but they’re close on February 18, 2015. So, if you’re anything like DeLuca and you’re considering an MBA, a Master’s in Technoloyg, or anything similar, you might want to consider getting on board with the MSTC program.

Winning Weekend for MSTC


MSTC teams Flipped Health and DraftCrunch at the TVLIC

It was quite the winning weekend for the Texas MSTC Program! Our students took home victories in not one but TWO business plan competitions, as well as one second place finish.

Last week 20 teams in five divisions competed in the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition, including 10 from UT’s MBA programs, six from MSTC, and four from PhD programs. Three MSTC teams were selected to move on to the final round of five teams, with MSTC team Flipped Health taking home the first place win and MSTC team DraftCrunch clutching the runner up position.


MSTC team Colter Durham at the Georgia Bowl Business Plan Competition

Flipped Health will represent The University of Texas at Austin in the Global VLIC in May, incubate at ATI for a year, and receive $5,000. DraftCrunch will receive $3,000 to invest in their venture.

The celebrations don’t stop there! Texas MSTC team Colter Durham claimed a first place victory at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Georgia Bowl Business Plan Competition. They’ll be carrying their $10,000 prize home in their ingenious Stow Cart, and will be joining MSTC team Flipped Health in the 2015 Global VLIC.

Congratulations to all of the Texas MSTC teams that competed this weekend. We’re glowing with pride. Hook ’em!

Improving Health Care with New Technology

Originally posted by Madison Hamilton on McCombs Today.

MSTC-Alul-Adrienne-RobinsonAdrienne Robinson, MSTC ’10, is a pioneer in the health care industry. The McCombs School of Business graduate has been working for Merck, a leading health care company, for nearly 19 years. Recently Robinson had the opportunity to spend three months in India working with Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology. The IVR device, much like a cell phone, uses pre-recorded messages to teach women in India about maternal care. “We were educating them about what is respectful treatment, cleanliness standards, services they should expect, and lastly, how long they should wait for any of these services,” says Robinson. Furthermore, Robinson taught these women about government entitlements such as cash benefits and free transportation to the hospital.

Robinson spoke with us about her project in India, her time at McCombs, and her advice for students. 

What drew you to the MSTC program?

I am fascinated by the concept of enabling innovation. I was originally searching for a master’s program purely about the science of innovation, and then I found the Masters in Technology Commercialization program.The MSTC program appealed to me not only because of The University of Texas at Austin’s reputation, but I [also] found the curriculum to be practical for my professional needs. I was also very drawn to being in a program that was for seasoned professionals from multiple industries. I thought this would lead to more diverse dialog and interactions. Lastly, from a personal standpoint, I wanted both a classroom experience as well as the web interactive mechanism since I live in the Northeast and couldn’t fly down every other weekend but could [attend classes] monthly.  

What advice would you give to McCombs students?

Your time with MSTC goes fast, and it’s a safe place to really grow your expertise. Pick as many projects as you can to expose yourself to the different industries and technologies and try to apply the knowledge you’ll be gaining in MSTC.

You will do a fair amount of team project work. In that project work, be sure to take different roles than what you normally might choose. You’ll get more horizontal knowledge by learning other areas that you aren’t as comfortable with. 

Networking isn’t just for the workplace. While you are in MSTC, you not only have access to great teachers, but your fellow students [also] have a wealth of information. Make sure you develop as many relationships as you can so you can learn from those around you.

When did you start working in the health care industry? And what influenced that decision?  

I decided I really wanted to work in pharmaceuticals because of its mission. I’ve been at Merck now for 19 years, and I’ve really loved being part of a company that puts applying innovation to the patient at the center of its mission. 

How do you think new technology is affecting the pharmaceutical industry?   

We are striving to expand from purely a pharmaceutical company to a healthcare company. We’ll be looking at the full range of preventive options, as well as diagnosing, treating, and managing disease. This means diagnostics, monitoring, personalized medicine, healthcare services, etc. These will all be new technologies and we’ll have to figure out how they fit into our long-term strategy. 

What project are you currently working on? 

I was selected as a Richard T. Clark Fellow for a program established by our previous CEO. Its intent is to offer seasoned experts to help solve world health problems. I spent three months in India testing an innovative technology that was developed by a small startup company to address the significant problem of maternal mortality in India.

I was on loan to an NGO (non-governmental organization), called CEDPA (Centre for Development and Population Activities). I was working with the small startup, Gram Vaani, to conduct a feasibility study and implementation plan for using the Interactive Voice Response (IVR). Much like a mobile phone, this new technology is already in use for educating the rural poor about social change issues and government corruption complaints. In this particular case, my project was to modify this technology for a slightly different approach and use it as a mechanism to educate, empower, and activate women in maternal care. Not only would these women be educated via this communication method, but they would also be able to leave their feedback.

Since we went live with the system in November, we’ve found that the women are able to use the system and they really love it. I conducted focus groups with patients who are using the system and it was so neat to see their excitement [in response to] how this is improving their lives. Also, the government is very interested in seeing the feedback about their public hospitals. The real measure, of course, is if the death rate due to childbirth will be reduced, which will be measured over time. 

 It was a life-changing experience, and I can also say I absolutely applied skills I learned in the MSTC program.