Scott Anderson

(With Video) Beyond the Prototype: Wello’s CEO on product design, understanding customers and advice for social entrepreneurs

Cynthia Koenig is an entrepreneur and an anthropologist. These are two skills that serve her well as CEO and founder of Wello.

She has spent the better part of a decade living and working in Central America, Southern Africa, South and Southeast Asia. In that time she became acutely aware of the struggles of gathering and transporting clean water, burdens mostly endured by women and children.

The value proposition behind the Wello WaterWheel is simple: reducing the significant time and health effects of collecting water in developing countries. The water wheel is a 50-liter rolling container that aims to replace the typical 20-liter (44-pound) water jugs that are typically carried on top of the head. The ancillary goal of Wello is to help liberate families from the hours associated with gathering water so they can focus more on their incomes and education.

Koenig holds dual MBA/MS degrees from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and School of Natural Resources and Environment, and a BA in anthropology from Trinity College. She was in Ann Arbor recently, and we sat down to talk about the prototyping process for a second generation of the WaterWheel and beyond, how the startup company’s focus on impact metrics has changed over time, and advice she has for social entrepreneurs. Check out excerpts from our interview in the video below.

Education, Impact Assessment, Social Enterprise
impact measurement, product design, social enterprise, startups