Internet for the masses: How Datawind plans to change emerging economies

Internet for the masses: How Datawind plans to change emerging economies

“Frugal innovation isn’t about creating an iPad killer… it’s about coming up with technology that is good enough and cheap.”  — Suneet Singh Tuli

Dr. David Naylor, president of the University of Toronto, introducing Suneet Singh Tuli

Two-thirds of the world does not have access to computers and the Internet. With the vision to overcome this, United Kingdom-based Datawind Ltd. has launched a world-changing device that will enable another three billion people to connect to the web: the $50 Aakash tablet.

Suneet Singh Tuli demonstrating the Aakash 2

Last week we had the privilege of hosting Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of Datawind, as part of the MaRS Global Leadership series.

A serial entrepreneur, Suneet has launched two successful companies that went on to conduct initial public offerings on Nasdaq. He has also created patented technologies to develop scanning, printing and imaging products that have set world records in both price and performance.

Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of Datawind Ltd.

Most recently, Forbes International recognized Suneet in its annual Impact 15 list of education innovators featuring the world’s most impactful social entrepreneurs.

As Datawind’s president and CEO, Suneet is responsible for the company’s vision and strategy, as well as for overseeing their execution. The company’s vision is defined by its motto, “Bridging the Digital Divide,” and is realized by offering affordable and anywhere access to the Internet on the Aakash tablet.

Why create a low-cost tablet?

According to Suneet, the biggest motivator of technology in the developing world is education, as it is the way out of poverty. It is Datawind’s mission to close that gap. The Indian government has already put in a bulk order and will be offering the tablet to students at a subsidized cost of $20 (regular price is $50).

How can you afford to sell a $50 tablet?

By designing for cost instead of for features, explains Suneet. “Good enough and cheap always wins,” he says.

Datawind has done so by using innovative hardware design to get costs down, business models that make the product viable to sell and disruptive distribution models to get the product to market.

To hear Suneet’s compelling story and find out more about how the Aakash has the potential to revolutionize education in the developing world, check out the following video.