Growing into the vision

What does all our projects have to do with our vision and mission? How does it fit all together? How are these projects going to result in 50% of habitats being protected and in disciples being made from Southern Africa, all the way back to Jerusalem? We believe in "the mustard-seed principle": start small, lay a good foundation, and grow exponentially instead of linearly. This page is written primarily for potential co-founders.

Paul Graham said that all that is needed for a succesful start-up is simple: "Build something users love, and spend less than you make. How hard is that?". The truth is that it can be very hard indeed. His advice was actually for a typical software start-up, working on the principle of working very hard for a few years and then selling your company at a huge profit once it starts to make money (and/or introduce disruptive technology to the market). In the case of New Development, this is not really an option, but it could be an option for a specific project. By Open Sourcing our technology, we can still ensure that "good" technology cannot simply be suppressed or buried by a competitor or larger company buying it out. But even if you have a very good product, simply surviving until it reaches the market and start to generate income, can be very hard indeed. How do we plan to overcome this? In principle, by starting small and part-time, until we make enough money to be able to work full-time on the mission. While it has been my experience that one person working part-time on any project cannot do much, since there is simply not enough time, a team working together can potentially do enough to get over the first hurdles. If our "day jobs" somehow contribute to the calling of New Development, so much the better. One of the insights is that we should consider a business like an animal or species surviving in an ecosystem, using game theory to find our niche and an "Evolutionary Stable Strategy", the strategy that maximizes the survival and growth of our organization.

There are a number steps that we see in making our vision reality.

  • The first step (this web site) is to clarify and share the vision and mission of New Development. Why start something new in the first place? The second step will feed back into this.
  • The second important step, is to find the right people. People who are passionate about the vision and really want to be involved as co-founders. This could include: 1) Somebody with the needed knowledge or experience to handle the legal setup of start-ups, maybe with a background in accounting or patent law; 2) A marketer or somebody who is good with fund-raising for conservation projects (at least in the beginning these funds will carry the various non-profit activities and projects); 3) At least one engineer/entrepreneur who is passionate about developing "green technology", including both technological tools for conservation research and sustainable energy solutions for the general public; 4) Possibly one more software developer, who can both write embedded or interface software for the hardware solutions, write software tools for conservation ecology or to help farmers and other entrepreneurs manage their land in sustainable ways, or start software projects to fill a niche in the market, simply to help fund the early stages of the hardware development; 5) One or more missionaries who can act as contact persons with the churches, help organize camps, help develop training material, help the rest of the team to grow in our relationship with God; 6) One or more ecologists or conservationists to identify conservation projects that need addressing, do research, including to find solutions for engineering problems in nature (biomimetics); 7) A farmer who share our vision for the environment and can farm sustainably on a "model" farm, part of a conservancy. The most important attribute of the "right" persons will be their passion.
  • Once the basic team have been assembled, we can approach possible partner organizations. These would normally be organizations who share at least one of the aims or principles of New Development and are willing to work with us on one or more projects or activities. This can include other technological start-ups, agricultural organizations, or non-profit organizations (like conservations NGOs).
  • Decide on our priority projects (see below). The different projects can function largely independently, as long as New Development remains the majority shareholder (and at least one of the founder members of New Development represent us on the project).
  • Apply for funding for one or more projects (possibly different funders for different projects), e.g. SEED funding (closing date 8 March 2017). For some of these funders, partnerships with established organizations is a requirement to qualify for funding.
  • In the beginning, consulting work will probably be the major source of income for New Development. The costs for non-profit activities (e.g. nature camps) will be kept as low as possible, but should be part of our activities from the begining. These will be both opportunities for our own spiritual growth and to share with each other what we have learned. We will not be teaching others anything that we have not experienced ourselves.
  • As soon as we can get enough money, we will rent a farm, to be managed as a sustainable model farm, and also to provide a training and research site and used for the nature camps.
  • Since software projects are much cheaper than hardware development, they will be the next source of income. For web applications that have enough users, we will use google ads or sell our own unobtrusive ad space to monetize them.
  • Hardware development will still happen from the start, but will be part-time, at least until there is enough income from one of the other income streams. We will start with smaller and cheaper hardware products, (e.g. a self-sufficient air-drone) that can already contribute to conservation and sustainable farming, but which will also be a test-base for technology used in a later, bigger product (e.g. an open and green transport alternative).
  • Once we have a basic working prototype in any project, we will approach possible funders or partners to fund the actual development for production stage in exchange for either shares or profit-sharing. It is important that the people with the original vision do not loose control of the project at this stage.
  • At some stage we will need to hire permanent staff to work on the various projects (the timing wil vary from project to project).
  • Once we have at least one real successful (profit-making) project, we will start to use 1/10th of the income to help establish other knowledge-based entrepreneurs in Africa, starting from Southern Africa. We will also give training and publish research on how technology can help solve conservation issues. Going back to Jerusalem, we will also connect with the church in Israel and any Israeli partners where it can result in a win-win joint venture.
  • With our model farm as part of a conservancy, and as a centre of further ecological research, we will identify priority areas needed to ensure the survival of the maximum number of species and greatest diversity. We will focus on these farmers and communities working to convince them that sustainable farming methods (including the minimum killing of predators) are really in their best long-term interest and to join a conservancy or something similar to ensure protection of the habitat and wildlife on the farm. It will not be simply "giving advice", but backed by actual experience and examples of profitable green farming.
  • Through first modelling and then helping green tech start-ups, less people will be dependent directly on farming for their livelihood, and the typical ecological demographic process of swithching from an r-strategy to a K-strategy should happen, resulting in lower birth rates and less pressure on the land.
  • Eventually the development of open and green transport alternatives, will push out the current polluting and green-house gas emitting technologies, also resulting in better habitat quality and more biodiversity, both in the protected areas and other agricultural producing areas.


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