Vator Splash Competition (Feb 2011)
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LaborVoices
Location: 201 West California Avenue, #1022, Sunnyvale, California 94086, United States United States
Founded in: 2010
Stage: Alpha (prototype)
Number of employees: 6-15
Profitable year: 2013
Short URL: vator.co/laborvoices

LaborVoices

Choosing Dignity. Choosing Decent Work.
Startup/business
California, United States United States
http://www.laborvoices.com
About
Activities
Video/documents
News
Company description

LaborVoices is a for-profit company with a social mission: ending labor abuses by  enforcing labor market transparency.  LaborVoices (LV) uses pervasive mobile technology to draw information from workers on abusive or deceitful employers and encourages employer responsibility for providing safe work environments.  To accomplish this, LV provides a mobile technology platform for migrant workers - think of a cross between Yelp and Ask.com - to ask questions over the phone about a destination and receive answers from hundreds of workers currently at the site.  LV gathers these questions and answers to generate reliable reputations of employers and worksites. This data is transparent, encouraging employers to improve conditions for better ratings; it’s also anonymous, ensuring that workers who report abuses are safe from employer reprisal.  No smartphones are necessary - simply a normal cellphone capable of sending and receiving calls.  We are currently running a pilot in Bangalore, India, and plan on reaching one million workers by 2012. 


Team
  • Nishant Shah
    Nishant Shah | Team member
  • Kohl Gill
    Kohl Gill | Team member
    Dr. Kohl S. Gill is the President and Founder of LaborVoices, Inc., a start-up company providing information services to migrant workers and supply-chain managers.  Dr. Gill served as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow for the U.S. ...
Business model

The LV revenue model is based on targeted audio advertising to its broad base of mobile workers.  Eventually, LV will sell real-time risk-analysis products to a wide variety of consumers, particularly supply-chain managers.

Competitive advantage

LaborVoices is a global information services company specializing in production and marketing of information services to three key markets:

  1. Migrant workers (LaborVoices for Migrants, or LV-M);
  2. Advertisers (LaborVoices for Advertisers, or LV-A); and
  3. Major corporate brands (LaborVoices for Corporate Social Responsibility, or LV-CSR). 

The company offers fact-checking facilities with valid reputations of employers (LV-M), marketing opportunities to reach the global migrant labor market (LV-A), and labor market intelligence analysis for supply-chain management, risk management, and crisis intervention (LV-CSR).

The company offers a unique alternative to each market: LV-M delivers more and better information for migrating workers, versus established family-and-friends information networks; LV-A provides highly-targeted opportunities to access high-value individuals at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) at the point of making large financial decisions, versus existing mass-media outlets; and LV-CSR delivers inexpensive, accurate, real-time, ubiquitous labor market intelligence to brands and socially-responsible entities, versus the current expensive, cumbersome, and ineffective inspection, verification, and certification processes. 

There is strong evidence to support LaborVoices' value proposition.  We have been running a pilot project in Bangalore, India since September 2010, and have established strong on-the-ground partners to grow the base of workers providing reviews.  At the same time, we have been able to iteratively test our operating procedures and overcome technological and grassroots obstacles.  An identical model in the agriculture sector (http://hci.stanford.edu/research/voicemedia/) has already worked effectively in rural areas of India.  We therefore know that information can be collected using our specific approach to transparency and local partnerships, and that the technology for disseminating it via mobile phones works.

We also know that major brands worldwide are willing to pay for social auditing, as evidenced by the proliferation of auditing firms and multi-stakeholder initiatives such as the MFA Forum (http://www.mfa-forum.net/), the EICC (http://www.eicc.info/), and the EITI (http://eiti.org/).  Finally, we know that firms are interested in reaching our audience via audio advertisement, which is signaled by local radio advertising rates.  Given these realities, LaborVoices' business model is projected to achieve profitability in its third year.  We believe LV will eventually achieve greater returns and larger buy-in due to a strong network effect, resulting in a positive feedback loop of increased users and revenues.