Partnering with or investing in the right NGOs for CSR activities is as important as finding investors for your company. According to the Central Bureau of Investigation, as of 2019, India has around 31 lakhs NGOs that lack proper funds and research capacity to effectively measure their work and its impact, which in turn leads to lack of knowledge about their work. On the other hand, CSR wings/ funding organisations do not have a uniform mechanism to induct NGOs or to gauge their performance cost effectively.
Track Your Metrics (TYM) is a web platform and android application that allows you to create surveys, collect data, visualize data and create reports. Based in Gurgaon, the TYM platform and app creates a marketplace where funders can find NGOs to fund and vice versa based on micro data sets. TYM is a simple solution which provides a tool to aid impact assessment and bridges the funder-NGO information asymmetry gap.
Prerna Mukharya: Founder, Track Your Metrics
1) Hey, we’ve heard you’re building a cool tech product in the development sector. What is it all about?
Track Your Metrics is a web platform coupled with an Android application for NGOs, Donors, and CSR wings to conduct quick assessments in an all-in-one platform. The platform offers pre-designed surveys in the sectors of Health, Education, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Education (WASH) and more allowing grantors to get regular reports from their grantees.
2) How did Track Your Metrics start?
TYM was earlier a part of the parent company Outline India which is also owned by Prerna Mukharya. Based on our experience with working with donors and NGOs in the last 6 years at Outline India, we came up with the idea of Track your metrics in 2017 and have been working on developing the product since.
3) Why did you pick this idea to work on? Do you have domain expertise in this area? Who are your target customers?
Outline India has worked intensively on the ground with both funders and donors who finance social programs and with local NGO partners who implement these funds or are recipients of these grants and have therefore been able to identify the problem. We also realized that there isn’t enough expertise for data collection that is done on the ground level and everyone – Corporates, donors and not for profits need good data. But research design is expensive and time taking. A majority of these survey tools are open source or exist hidden away across numerous websites and reports and are hence inaccessible. The platform hosts a reservoir of survey packages benchmarked against indicators including SDG indicators. By compiling and collating this information and linking it to indicators we can automate survey building and capture programmatic impact (to a large extent) for NGOs and donors and save on huge amounts of money. Quick and dirty self-reported numbers will allow for regular course correction and monitoring. It will also remedy the fear of wrong or miss-reporting.
4) What are the risk and key challenges you faced while building this product?
Tech-Product – The product caters to small NGOs who might lack the technical know-how or be hesitant about using technology for the measurement of their work. TYM, however, is a user-friendly product with a detailed user manual. We have staff members who are hand-holding organizations at the onset.
Behavioral Change – There is a lack of motivation and knowledge regarding the importance of data for assessing the impact of social interventions across small NGOs. Outline India will conduct a series of workshops to discuss the benefits of tracking work. Funders as a primary point of contact will also be used for dissemination, given their pre-existing relationships with grantees. The idea of a certain NGO getting funded because they used TYM to build data metrics will also have a strong bandwagon effect, pulling in other competitors organically.
Marketing & Distribution – Reaching out to the NGOs and making them aware of the tool will be a challenge given their dispersed nature. We plan to collaborate with our existing and past NGO partners and use government and private portal databases. Crowdfunding portals and impact investors have shown a lot of interest in TYM and collaborating with them will be a win-win for NGOs that jump onto their portal and for us to make the connect.
5) How do you differentiate and compete with your competitors?
There are several data collection apps that satisfy purely the data collection needs of organizations- but to get organizations data collection ready is the problem that TYM solves.
Step 2 is data collection, step 1 entails looking at stakeholders, finalizing indicators, building survey tools. We are focusing on step 1 to enable organizations to jumpstart the impact metric building.
The product caters to the demand for showcasing metrics and numbers on a massive scale and the paucity of tech-based efficient solutions that enable research capacity across all stakeholders, creating equity in access. The goal of the TYM platform and app is also to bring about behavioral change across the development sector, to encourage concurrent impact assessment and data-driven decision making. The product caters to the demand for showcasing metrics and numbers, and the paucity of tech-based efficient solutions that enable research capacity across all stakeholders, creating equity in access.
6) What are your plans for expansion and scaling up?
India has close to 31 lakh NGOs and the Ministry of Corporate Affairs estimates INR 9822 crore CSR expenditure in FY 2015-16 with an incomplete dataset. Companies that meet the following criteria are mandated to partake in CSR and spend 2% of their average profit of the previous three years on CSR activities every year. Considering this, and the growing need for data-driven decisions, we believe it is now essential that a product like TYM tap into such markets.
NGOs across the developing countries can use recyclable and reusable surveys to monitor the work that is being carried out by them on the ground. A language plug-in can translate surveys in multiple local languages allowing for data collection in different languages across the globe.
At present, we offer surveys in 3 sectors – Health, Education and WASH. However, these too can be expanded in various sectors over the course of the next few years.
7) Can you brief about the awards and nominations your startup won?
We have been the winners of a US-based accelerator, Alchemist Accelerator in fall 2018 and a social accelerator program organized by Start-up Oasis in India funded by UKaid, Vilgro and the Indian government in early 2018. We felt that we could do better and turned down both programs.
TYM also won the Dell Start-Up Challenge earlier this month (March 2019) along with 4 other companies and has received the Scotland India Impact Link Fellowship Award, 2019.
By Ajmi Fathima