earthshot projects

these are coaching highlights in tks activate to understand why big problems that were solvable for the last 5+ years still exist today, while trying to solve them tomorrow.


why do we need earthshots?

  • the limit of global progress is the ambition of the most ambitious. this is training for the most ambitious of the next generation to think big.
  • we are in the age of earthshots, where we need bold ideas for big problems to improve quality of life for millions of people.

as moonshots make a 10x better future, earthshots are multiplers for a better present.

  • the three parts of an earthshot are understanding a big problem, a scalable solution, and economic incentives

in my role as program director and coach

  • i managed 18 teams in a two person team with @brandonjennings during a 6+ week sprint for creating hypotheses to create a 10x better future
  • i designed + delivered six 3 hour sessions on problem identification, root cause analysis, gap analysis, economic incentives, and case studies
  • i gave 100+ hours of feedback and team coaching

featured projects

check out final presentations from the top teams

teaching 100M+ children how to enjoy the process of learning to read and write in augmented reality.

helping employ 100,000 ukranian refugees with a centralized background check and accelerated language training.

instant micronutrient testing with microfluidic biosensors, reducing cost from $10M to $250k for national samples

lab grown cotton aims to use 80% less water per kg of crop than land based alternatives and is 12x faster to grow.

ending child mortality from pneumonia by scaling mobile vaccine clinics to increase accessibility of the PCV 13 vaccines.

  • team: richa, manroop
  • content: project updates
  • featured: partnering with bill + melinda gates funded vaccine on wheels for first pilot

accelerating flow state battery ion-exchange membrane material discovery using machine learning

  • team: aneka
  • content: pitch
  • featured: finalist masason foundation

accelerating the development of a non-hormonal male contraceptive pill using machine learning for drug repurposing.

  • team: sim, diba
  • content: project updates
  • featured: 1517 fund, partnership with cornell university, and male contreceptive iniative

improving biofuel efficiency in the fermentation process by developing synthetic purine riboswitches in bacteria.

  • team: aditya, karthik
  • content: memo

what success looks like

1. earthshot idea: it’s ambitious as it aims to solve a large important problem or enables an interesting, impactful future. it’s also thoughtful in understanding why the problem still exists today, with a clear gap.

2. feasible: thoughtful in approach for solving the problem. shows research and mock-ups. there is an implementation strategy.

3. economic incentives: has a target customer with a willingness to pay and market hypothesis for how to build this into a company and not be a charity.

4. legit branding: the name, the slides, the website, and visual mockups should be great design. it should feel like a real company.

case studies for training skills

spotlight: kheyti

framing: a majority of indian farmers are smallholders ( <1 hectacre of land) producing 50% of the agricultural output and making up a third of total employment. the constraints of running a smaller operation combined with climatic risks, including increased drought, unseasonal rains, and unexpected pests, has made it hard for farmers to make a viable living.

problem: in india, 100 million smallholder farmers earn ~$1000 a year, with high variance and low dependability.

vision: how might we double the farmer's income in a reliable way so that they earn $100 every single month?

solution: a 216 square meter, steel frame greenhouse, enabling market ready produce to be grown on a small portion of the land with limited water and pest protection. this is paired with training, specific inputs, and market partnerships.

challenge: with the high overhead of the greenhouse, kheyti explores a pay as you grow model compared to large contract farming to see what makes sense to help enable more accessibility in the market for their solution.

check out more case studies

bakong cambodia blockchain bank
community solutions
the audacious project - ted

the journey of project development

  1. find a big problem. explain it simply to someone in 2 minutes. think of an ambitious vision for how the world can be better.
  2. analyze root causes. identify what underlying factor, if solved, would have a majority impact.
  3. understand the gap. map out different categories for how people are solving the problem today.
  4. figure out a full stack solution. create a hypothesis for how to fully solve the problem, including economic incentives.
  5. prototype. make a demo or mock up of solution.

post mortem

what i would keep doing

what i would do differently

resources to explore

audacious projects by ted

as an early stage deep tech investor, rahul explore differnet tactical perspectives and philosophies on how to invest in larger breakthroughs in science and technology. check out ted talks →

unreasonable group

as a founder and investor, naveen reveals a creative take on questioning fundamental industries that have seen little change in the last 30 years, including space tech and education. check out their portfolio →

100 million in change by macarthur foundation

$100m in change by macarthur foundation

this youtube video covers strategic functions of innovation as it relates to starting new projects and building a culture of doing the hard things. check out the finalists →

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