Charlie Beuthin exudes the enthusiasm and energy that comes from being genuinely interested in other people.
He’s using his experience in the music, broadcast and digital industries to make digital content available to people in emerging markets who may own a smartphone, but cannot afford the high costs of data.
“The telcos have an oligopoly when it comes to digital,” says Beuthin.
”The Internet holds untold benefits for billions of potential users in emerging markets, but the cost of data is so high that most people cannot afford to go online, so there’s no digital revolution happening as far as they’re concerned. It’s a glaring issue.”
With business partner Shaka Sisulu in South Africa and two others in Finland who are working on the technology behind the content delivery system, he has created a platform that commercially distributes digital content to mobile devices without the need for 3G, ADSL or even electricity.
Named Eduze (isiZulu for ‘nearby’) the platform offers free and easy access to digital content that can uplift, inform and empower those who are too scared, confused or poor to access web and online services. It’s set to be launched in early 2014.
The box in which the content is stored can be put in a taxi, bus or community hall — anywhere where people gather.
They can access the content by connecting to Eduze’s WiFi network. There is tons of free material, but premium paid content will also be made available at a reasonable cost. Content is sponsored, and revenue will be generated through pop-up advertising targeted at the users.
“It’s absolutely amazing to bring people who are often forgotten into the digital age,” says Beuthin. “Eduze is a digital library, where you can go to borrow stuff for free.”
Using WiFi to deliver content is not a revolutionary idea, but surprisingly, no-one else appears to have done it.
What’s really making the Eduze model take off is that it has been built on a combination of content knowledge and technology know-how.
From the Flank. Business Lessons from Skinstad