Could Facebook save someone’s life? Karthik Naralasetty thinks so.

He created socialblood.org, a social media platform to help address the blood shortage crisis by connecting blood donors and recipients of the same type through Facebook.

Tell us about yourself:

My name is Karthik Naralasetty, 22 years old. I used to study computer science at the Rutgers University in New Jersey. I dropped out of college in 2009 to start my own technology start-up redcode Informatics. Socialblood.org is a product of redcode.

What’s the story behind socialblood?

Not so long ago, I saw this request by one of my connections on Facebook seeking for a B+ donor for his dad who was undergoing heart surgery. Surprisingly after two hours he posted back saying ‘Thanks to Facebook, we found a donor for my dad!’

This made me think deeply on how I could use Facebook as a platform to solve the issue of finding blood donors when in emergency.

So I went ahead and launched 8 Facebook groups for 8 blood groups and opened it for the general public and clubbed them up on a website and called it socialblood.org. Through the Socialblood website, citizens of India are asked to join a selection of eight different Facebook Blood Groups.

So then I invited my friends to visit the website and asked them to select their blood type and join as a member/donor. Which, surprisingly, most of them did!

Soon we had around 200 members in all groups combined and requests from users started coming in. The numbers started growing from then on. Now we have around 1500 members all together who are actively sharing information and responding to emergencies. We are also proud to say we saved the life of a three year old kid who was in need of blood.

What do you think it is about SocialBlood that has helped it catch on?
Our project is unique because no one has ever tried the equation of leveraging social networks for emergencies.There are hundreds of website online today who are connecting blood donors to blood seekers but there is none who has utilized social networks like Face book to its fullest and we did it! And we are really proud of that!

Who funds the project?

Socialblood is a self sustaining because we have zero cost involved to run the initiative. The whole platform is based on Facebook framework so it’s very very easy to scale the project. Currently we are working on a location based model with couple of engineers from Czech Republic and taking this initiative global, So now we are looking for raising funds for the project as we have to buy server space to manage the amount of requests.

What’s the mission of the project?
We just want to build a global platform where every human being on the planet who wants to donate blood and help save other human being should be able to! Our broader vison would be to make the world a more compassionate place to live in. I want to see people helping other people without giving it a second thought.

What kinds of challenges do you currently face?
The biggest challenge we have right now is fighting the stigma associated with donating blood.When you talk about India, we have so many ethnic groups in the country and every group or community have their own fears. Some feel donating blood will make them too weak. Some feel the process transmits deadly diseases like HIV. So, right now we are working out partnerships with RedCross India to launch an awareness campaign across the country that will address these basic issues.

Many people would look at you and say, “I could never do that.” What do you say to them?

Socialblood was started with one member, now we grew up to 1500 hundred of them in less than 4 months. Everything starts small. Don’t go to people and ask, give me 100 million dollars..I am gonna solve a problem….go and ask for a dollar and start with one person at a time …Then go to more people and say…I am gonna do it for 10 more people and 10 more people…soon you end up supporting hundreds of them..let’s say in a period of 1 year. Every person who has done something like this has started small….right? Its important to remember that. I am sure Apple started off by selling one PC. Everyone started small. The problems with our generation is that we live in a society where everything is big, right? Like somebody sold this company for 2 billion dollars…and some company is worth 50 billion…then you think, “Oh I am just starting up and I need to, at least, raise a million bucks to start with or else I am nobody.” All you have to do is just take that first step. Make that first phone call and you are on you way. If you do good stuff, money comes to you..let’s be clear on that.

Facebook.com/socialblood



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