BloodLink is a startup at the cross field of technology, experimental design, healthcare and social entrepreneurship. In short, BloodLink has developed a solution that will alleviate the shortage of donor blood and help manage blood donation in developing countries across the world. This solution enters the market for online platforms by providing a smooth and effective way to connect different stakeholders: blood banks, hospitals, patients and blood donors. The founder, Amit Lohiya, explains the purpose-driven-for-profit business model which, he believes, is vital in order to make a positive and sustainable global impact.
BY KARINA HARTMANN, TRANSLATED BY KATRINE WINTHER ERLENDSSON.
THE STORY OF BLOODLINK
“I started out studying electronic engineering and have worked with it for almost 10 years now. Being from India originally, I have spent the last few years exploring how technology can boost advancement in developing countries” Amit explains.
The initial conception of BloodLink came from his first attempt to donate blood in Denmark. Although Amit was willing to donate, he found that his lack of Danish skills, and therefore the ability to fill out all the necessary paperwork, were a real problem. Denmark evidently had the capacity to turn willing blood donors away, which made Amit realize the stark differences between his new home, Denmark, and his old one, India.
A MARKET FOR BLOOD
“I remembered how difficult it was when my Father had to have an operation a few years ago and we were forced to track down blood donors ourselves. This triggered me to further examine blood donation, and how the lack of donor blood is not only a problem in India, but also a real problem in other developing countries including Russia and several Eastern European countries. The result of this is that, unfortunately, these problems create a black, or “red”, market for donor blood,” Amit tells us.
Amit wanted to find a real solution for this global challenge, and began to consider how technology could be the key to alleviating the problem. His first port of call was India itself, where he conducted several in-depth interviews with stakeholders in the Indian health sector. Although he was convinced that there was a need for BloodLink in the market, this research confirmed Amit’s initial idea of a solution built with technology, saying:
“The recent success stories of online services and platforms like Airbnb, Uber or Tinder offer experience and concepts that are invaluable to BloodLink when entering a market that is widely untouched by technology.”
Particularly when you consider the deficit of 40 million units of blood globally, and how the market for blood transfusion amounts to a billion-dollar figure.
BLOOD AROUND THE WORLD AND FORMING A TEAM
Amit explains the paradox of so many people around the world struggling to access the blood that they need. Overall, he argues, the same factors are making it difficult worldwide, but there are sociocultural idiosyncrasies that should be acknowledged. Amit feels customization for different markets is a crucial element in the development of BloodLink, and therefore BloodLink must be both a human-centered company and a service-driven technological platform. Amit stresses that this is a key parameter for how BloodLink can become a profitable enterprise: an enterprise that was first presented at Mindfire at CSE, won a place at Thinkubator this summer, and is now based at SUND Innovation Hub.
“Winning the Thinkubator competition was a crucial milestone in the realization of BloodLink. It opened up so many opportunities for us. Plus, it was really inspiring to work with the DARE2 team. They are great at kicking you out of your comfort zone,” Amit states.
It was also at DARE2 that Amit took the first steps towards building BloodLink, including building the actual team. However, this has not always been an easy task, Amit admits:
“People that are dedicated, have a start-up-attitude (one actually doesn’t always imply the other) and are willing to work for a lower salary don’t grow on trees. So to put together the perfect team of people with the right attitude, and to gather them around something that isn’t a tangible product yet, is actually still the biggest challenge to date.”
MORE THAN JUST FINANCIAL RETURN
Right now BloodLink is working on building the alpha-prototype customized for the Indian market, in collaboration with co-creation partners in India and Denmark. Amit envisions that in three years BloodLink will be making a real impact on people’s lives by making blood donation as simple as possible. In fact, more precisely, he predicts that the platform will have mediated more than 40 million donations globally.
Alongside this, Amit has another project that he is deeply engaged in: his eight-month old daughter. She came into the world around the same time as the early vision of BloodLink, and Amit confesses that his role as a father has made him even more dedicated to succeed in securing supply options for donor blood all over the world. Additionally, he doesn’t hide the fact that what would really get the ball rolling is finding the right investors who are willing to invest capital into a project that creates return on a double bottom line:
“Our team is ready and looking for investors who are motivated to look at the progress of BloodLink in two ways: both monetary return and social impact. For us, it is about key performance indicators and key purpose indicators. That means finding investors who are willing to see the opportunities of building bridges between Denmark and developing countries – not just Silicon Valley.”