Monday, January 9, 2012

How I Spent My Gap Year

Greetings, friends, family, and other readers. I'm going to be totally cliché and begin this post with an apology for not updating in months. I recently finished my first term at Cambridge, and after moving around so much last year, it was a  relief to be able to stay in one place for more than a couple weeks. The classes I took were generally interesting and challenging, the people I met absolutely extraordinary, and the Oxbridge culture just as decadent as I remembered. But that's not what I really wanted to write about today. A few weeks back, I visited some former colleagues at the Google office in London, and heard really encouraging news about the project I used to work on. Since it was secret and un-launched for my entire time at Google, I never really got to talk about what I was up to, but now I can!


The project I spent most of my year working on was focused on getting small and medium businesses in emerging markets online. While I was first focused entirely on Africa, the organization quickly changed so that I was working across emerging markets (hence explaining much of my crazy travel). The product I was working on, which you can now try here, aims to make the process of website creation for emerging markets business as seamless and easy as possible. We labored endlessly to make the user experience as simple as possible, constantly testing with users across the world, and incorporated a number of emerging-markets-specific features like SMS notifications and automatic mobile optimization for the websites created.

Today, the campaign/product is launched in a number of countries including Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Senegal, and Malaysia. You can check out some of the small businesses who have gotten online below:

2 comments:

Adrienne said...

Ben, it is so exciting to hear about what you spent your year doing! The websites look quite professional too - clearly the project was a success. Congratulations! And great to hear live in England is going well :)

Benjamin Cole said...

Thanks, Adrienne! That means a lot to me.