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Where is the Toilet Paper?

Where is the Toilet Paper?

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Mapping in disaster scenarios is a continuous issue and gets reinvented every time. A great case study is “HurricaneRelief” a map created after Hurricane Harvey.

Unfortunately it since has been discontinued, and relief for new disasters has to start over. Additionally, the user experience was rather complicated, and may have not been ideal for high stress disaster situations.

Hurricane Irma

This storm hit Florida and other parts of the world very hard in 2017. After returning from our evacuation I found myself in a co-working space in seek of internet and air conditioning. While talking to a fellow entrepreneur Paul, we found it ridiculous that there was still no service that could help people find supplies and services in such as time of need.

Which is why we set out to build Supply Samaritan. We designed a crude, yet simple website where anyone could find the availability of essential supplies and services. Furthermore anyone was able to update their availability to alert others in real time.

Rapid Prototyping

Once we had the website live, we were interviewed by the local media outlet Wink News to get the word out to our community.

We knew that this app has helped people in our own community after hurricane Irma, and we wanted to ensue that others may benefit from it in case of future disasters. Up to this point Paul and I had bootstrapped this project without a proper plan or idea on how to monetize it. We thought that advertisement should work for it eventually. After all, companies such as Generac advertise heavily during and after disasters for their products. However, for that it would need to be more stable and be used by thousands of people to attract ad dollars.

After talking to the local Emergency Operation Center leadership, out Community Foundation as well as the United Way, we were unable to secure any type of grant funding to develop this project further. While we both had our own companies we needed to focus on, we could not devote more attention to Supply Samaritan than we already did, and our hopes that some funding would allow us to hire a project manager to keep it alive slowly faded.

While we were trying to give this project some financial legs, we build a mobile application for it as well.

After many months of back and forth, and multiple discussions with local government, venture capital firms and non profit organizations we still struggled to secure any type of funding due to unclear monetization strategy.  

Here is a pitch video we made a few weeks into this project.

UPDATE 2020:

We have recently tried to reactivate the core idea of Supply Samaritan during COVID19, as millions of people around the world struggled to find essential supplies in the beginning of the pandemic. We did a complete redesign of the website, and launched it briefly while looking yet again for grant funding.

We were hopeful to find resources or funding this time around from the many Covid19 relief efforts. Most of them however have focused on either direct relieve for people affected by the virus, or the development of tools that may help limit the spread of the virus, track the spread or similar applications.

We have taken the application offline for the time being, and will remain hopeful that some day we will find a way to make it self sustaining so it can help people around the globe to be more equipped in any disaster situation.