December 31, 2013

The Customer is Not Always Right (but Should be Treated with Respect Nonetheless)

I am writing this post from Las Vegas, Nevada, where I am planning to attend the 2014 AT&T Developer Summit and 2014 International CES. I arrived in Las Vegas on Dec. 18, 2013 to spend the holidays with my mom in Boulder City, Nevada. I spend a large amount of my time working from the Boulder City Library, which is a nice facility with ample space for reading, working or performing research. Unfortunately, I had a bad experience with a staff member during one particular visit. This experience serves as a reminder the importance of good customer service even when the customer is not right.

In short, I was rudely scolded by a library employee for possessing a cup of coffee contained in a paper cup inside the library. While I recognize that I was wrong for bringing a beverage inside the library (food and drinks are prohibited), the staff member should have pointed out my error in a more polite and professional manner. Very loudly and rudely, she ask me what was in my paper cup and when I responded that it was coffee, she informed (scolded) me that my beverage is not to be allowed in the library. Given the quiet atmosphere of the library, I was terribly embarrassed for being treated in a manner that I have not endured since I was a small child.

The Boulder City Library also has a no cell phone policy. While I have never violated this policy, I have witnessed the way certain staff members have scolded patrons for talking on their mobile phone inside the library. I recall one experience when a boy of elementary school age was doing some computer research for a homework assignment. With his cell phone, he proceeded to call his mom asking a couple of questions about his assignment. While talking on the phone, a library staff member approached the boy and loudly scolded him for violating the library's no cell phone policy. The boy endured great embarrassment.

In each situation, the boy and I were wrong in our actions. However, staff members should be trained to handle these situations with more professionalism and politeness. It is important to note that I have encountered staff members who are very polite and professional.

The customer is not always right. If any customer or subscriber of ROI3 has a problem with our service, however, please know that my colleagues and I will do our best to resolve the problem. Regardless of the problem, I promise that you will be treated with respect and dignity. Always feel free to contact me directly at or +1 (206) 552-9601. Thank you and Happy New Year!!

[Disclosure: I am a property owner in Boulder City, Nevada, which allows me to possess a Nevada Library Card.]

Aaron Rose serves as President and CEO of ROI3, Inc., a Seattle, Wash.-based company that empowers people in emerging economies through innovative, technology-based solutions. He is also the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

December 18, 2013

Optimistic about China Despite its Slowing Economic Growth and Rising Costs

On November 20, 2013, I attended an event in Seattle, Wash. entitled "Update on Issues in the US-China Relationship," which was co-hosted by the Washington State China Relations Council and the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle. Erin Ennis, Vice President of the US-China Business Council (USCBC), a Washington, DC-based organization representing approximately 220 US companies selling American goods and services in China, focused her presentation on the USCBC 2013 China Business Environment Survey Results.

According to a press release dated October 10, 2013, the USCBC "surveys its member companies each year to gauge China's business climate and assess the top challenges faced by companies doing business there." The press release explains, "As China's economy has slowed over the past year, USCBC’s survey results indicate that companies face business and market access issues in an economy that for the past five years has been a rare bright spot in a difficult global downturn."

Ms. Ennis noted that the growth rate of China's economy is slowing and cost increases are the most significant challenge of member companies. Reading from the report, she said, "Fewer companies in this year's survey report that their profit margins in China are better than that of their global rates, and fewer companies report double-digit revenue increases compared to previous years."

Ms. Ennis said competition with Chinese companies in China is listed second among the ten challenges identified by member companies (see list below). The report's Executive Summary explains that "most multinational companies in China contend with other foreign competitors as well as both state-owned and private Chinese companies. Survey respondents expressed concern over the benefits that Chinese companies (both state-owned and private) receive that are not available to foreign companies."

Interestingly, while intellectual property rights (IPR) are a regular topic in the U.S. media, IPR enforcement is listed fifth among the ten challenges identified by member companies. The report says, "Problems with licensing occur at the central, provincial, and local levels and affect almost every aspect of doing business in China. Licensing issues often overlap with other issues in the top 10, including uneven regulatory implementation, lack of national treatment, and insufficient transparency in government rule drafting and decision making."

While my colleagues and I at ROI3 recognize the slowing pace of China's economic growth, we continue to remain optimistic about the opportunities to monetize our mobile software-as-a-service in the world's second largest economy and one of the world's largest mobile telecommunications market. As outlined in previous posts on this blog, China currently has over 300 million 3G subscribers and will see smartphone shipments exceed 460 million units by 2017 including 440 million 4G users by 2017. We are committed to producing localized mLearning apps and content that will empower smartphone and tablet users in China to improve their lives.

The top 10 challenges cited by USCBC member companies are:

#1  Cost increases
#2  Competition with Chinese enterprises (state-owned or private)
#3 (tie)  Administrative licensing
#3 (tie)  Human resources: Talent recruitment and retention
#5  Intellectual property rights enforcement
#6  Uneven enforcement or implementation of Chinese laws and policies
#7  Nondiscrimination / National treatment
#8  Transparency
#9  Standards and conformity assessment
#10  Foreign investment restrictions

Aaron Rose serves as President and CEO of ROI3, Inc., a Seattle, Wash.-based company that empowers people in emerging economies through innovative, technology-based solutions. He is also the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

November 27, 2013

Tech Summit Aims to Connect Leaders From China and Washington State

I attended the Seattle Biz-Tech Summit on October 19, 2013 in Bellevue, Washington. Produced by Kirkland, Wash.-based Nan Hai USA Co. Inc., the conference attracted leaders from companies operating in China and Washington state, respectively, from the information and communication technology, clean tech, and biotech sectors. This blog post will focus on a panel I attended entitled "Commercial Gateway to China: An update on US/China Trade and Investment." (This is a picture of me standing in front of the China Telecom Americas exhibit at the Seattle Biz-Tech Summit.)

In an interview by Dahlia Peterson of contextChina, Nancy Yang, Nan Hai's senior manager, explained that "the aim of the summit is to provide a 'dynamic platform for both large companies and SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) to develop business opportunities, learn about cutting-edge innovations, identify emerging markets, expand their business, and showcase their products and services to hundreds upon hundreds of summit attendees.'"

In her article published by contextChina on October 30, 2013, Wen Liu notes that the participants of the "Commercial Gateway to China" panel consisted of "some of the most experienced business leaders in the region, including Sidney Rittenberg, China business consultant and life-long China watcher; Robert Kapp, consultant and founding executive director of the Washington State China Relations Council; Ben Zhang, CEO of Greater China Industries; and Karl Kou, vice president of Huawei USA. Serving as moderator was Mark Wen, a commercial strategy manager at the Port of Seattle and president of the Washington State China Chamber of Commerce."

Sidney Rittenberg began, as Ms. Liu writes, by "sharing with an audience of American and Chinese business people his wisdom in achieving success in China. To understand China, he said, one has to look at the country from its own context, not try to apply the formulas that work in the American economic paradigm to the Chinese paradigm. When doing business in China, one should stay out of politics completely, he advised. 'When you are in another country,' he said, 'you are expected to obey that country's laws even if you think they are horrible laws.' Rittenberg also believed that Google made a tragic mistake by pulling out of China, as it could have had an enormously positive influence in Chinese society if the company had stayed." Having done business worldwide, I can attest to the importance of respecting each country's customs or laws no matter how odd or unjust they may appear to me.

Ms. Liu says that "an audience member, the owner of a small tech company operating in China, voiced the worries of many companies when he said, 'IP protection is still what keeps me up at night.'" That audience member was me (see photo on the right).

Robert Kapp responded that intellectual property problem is unresolved and it may never get fully resolved. "The standard answer, he said," notes Ms. Liu, "is that as China rises up the technology and scientific sophistication ladder, and as the Chinese create more and more intellectual property, they would want IP protection themselves. Before that, however, American companies would do well, 'to be very, very, very thorough in protecting the access to that mixture that constitutes intellectual property,' he said."

The Seattle Biz-Tech Summit was interesting and relevant to the objectives of my company, ROI3, Inc., as my colleagues and I prepare to fully introduce our suite of digitally-animated mLearning apps and content for smartphone and tablet users in China. I look forward to attending the next conference scheduled for September 27, 2014.

Here is a news report from China about the conference:

Aaron Rose serves as President and CEO of ROI3, Inc., a Seattle, Wash.-based company that empowers people in emerging economies through innovative, technology-based solutions. He is also the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

November 14, 2013

PATH does not Consider China a Recipient, but a Partner

The focus of the previous post on this blog is on the role China plays in the strategy of ROI3, Inc. In doing some research for the post, I found some notes that I took while attending an event at The Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) on March 15, 2013 entitled "China's Evolving Health Industry Investments" featuring Jiankang (Jack) Zhang, PATH’s China Country Program Leader. While the event occurred eight months ago, there are a few points that remain relevant and worth sharing in this post. [Photo of Jack Zhang: PATH/Mike Wang]

Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH)

"PATH's mission is to improve the health of people around the world by advancing technologies, strengthening systems, and encouraging healthy behaviors," according to its website. The Seattle, Wash.-based international nonprofit organization, which was founded in 1977, says that it "transforms global health through innovation. We take an entrepreneurial approach to developing and delivering high-impact, low-cost solutions, from lifesaving vaccines and devices to collaborative programs with communities. Through our work in more than 70 countries, PATH and our partners empower people to achieve their full potential."

In 2011, according to its Consolidated Financial Statements, PATH's total revenue was $283,838,000. Their funding derives from foundations; the United States government; other governments, other nonprofit organizations, and multilateral agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO); individuals; and interest from investments 75.5 million people worldwide benefited from PATH's work in 2011 including 4.8 million mothers, newborns, and infants; 8.3 million children and adolescents; and 5.4 million people living with HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis.

Specific to China, PATH, since 1979, "has worked with Chinese government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, research institutes, and manufacturers to improve health. Our team in China has focused particularly on addressing reproductive health and infectious diseases." Coordinated from the organization's office in Beijing since 2003, PATH's strategy for success includes:
  • Developing and expanding public-private partnership models for health product development that take into account health needs, the best interests of donors, PATH's core competencies, the interests of Chinese public agencies, and synergies with Chinese public and private companies;
  • Identifying opportunities vertically and horizontally to build on this model to meet the multiple health needs of vulnerable populations in and outside of China; and
  • Promoting global access and supply of affordable, accessible, and sustainable health products in China, and through China to other low-resource settings.
PATH in China explains how "PATH views collaboration as the key to providing innovative, sustainable, affordable, and culturally appropriate health solutions for low-resource settings. We conduct rigorous monitoring and evaluation to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of our work. PATH's strategy in China includes:
  • Developing and expanding public-private product development partnerships that align with donor interests, PATH’s core competencies, the interests of China’s public health agencies, and the needs and perspectives of Chinese companies;
  • Identifying opportunities to build on these partnerships to meet multiple health needs of vulnerable populations inside and outside of China; and
  • Promoting sustainable access to supplies of affordable health products in China and through China to other low-resource settings.
PATH's specific initiatives in China include work in vaccine research, development, and introduction; Woman's Condom product development and promotion; and new diagnostic tools for tuberculosis (TB). A sampling of PATH's projects includes the advancing rotavirus vaccine development; assessing Chinese vaccine manufacturers, the Japanese Encephalitis project; polio vaccine development and scale-up project (PVD); Protection Options for Women (POW); the tuberculosis new diagnostic demonstration project; the Woman's Condom project; and the Safe Water Project.

"China's Evolving Health Industry Investments"

As PATH's country program leader in China, Jiankang (Jack) Zhang is responsible for program development, project management, office management, and liaising with local and international collaborators, including local health authorities, public and private institutions, and other nongovernmental organizations in China.

During his presentation, Mr. Zhang said that the Chinese government is encouraging more private investments in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors. He noted, however, intellectual property protection remains a significant concern by private enterprises, particularly companies based outside of China.

In Mr. Zhang's interview with NBR's Claire Topal and Karuna Luthra on May 25, 2011 entitled "A Pivotal Moment for China and Vaccine Manufacturing," it is noted, "The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on March 1, 2011, that the national regulatory authority of China—the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), along with affiliated institutions—now meets WHO indicators for a functional vaccine regulatory system. This means that Chinese-made vaccines are now eligible to apply for WHO pre-qualification."
WHO prequalification ensures that vaccines used in national immunization services in different countries are safe and effective for target populations at the recommended schedules, and that they meet particular operational specifications.
During the 2011 interview, Mr. Zhang said, "WHO's clearance opens the door for [Chinese vaccine manufacturers] to apply for WHO vaccine pre-qualification—a regulatory status that opens the door for United Nations agencies and governments to begin ordering the vaccine— with the aim of becoming eligible for vaccine procurement by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)."

Responding to a question, during the 2011 interview, on the implications of the announcement for China's role as an international partner in global health, Mr. Zhang explained, "The Chinese health authority considers the WHO clearance a significant step in China's efforts to contribute to global health, notably to African countries where China has already donated to infrastructure, health systems, and anti-malaria treatment and control programs. The addition of vaccines to this portfolio is truly exciting for the Chinese government."

However, according to Mr. Zhang, "Obtaining a WHO pre-qualification certificate is complex and can be difficult to maintain. Ultimately, in my opinion, the biggest challenge for China won't be in building infrastructure, but instead in sustaining the commitment of public agencies and encouraging manufacturing executives to strictly comply with WHO requirements and the new Good Manufacturing Practice code."
The new Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) code, adopted by the SFDA and effective March 1, 2011, aligns with WHO GMP standards, containing stricter requirements for the production of pharmaceuticals (including vaccines). The SFDA has asked that all newly-built pharmaceutical manufacturing enterprises should comply with the new GMP code. Existing factories, which produce sterile drugs, including blood products, vaccines, and injections, are mandated to reach the new code before the end of 2013. The deadline for other plants is Dec 31, 2015. Companies that cannot meet the new requirements before these deadlines will be forbidden from continuing to produce drugs. See SDA website,
While Chinese companies may apply for WHO pre-qualification to manufacture vaccines for the African market, Mr. Zhang remarked during his presentation on March 15th that most vaccines used in Africa are manufactured in India. Despite the lack of Chinese-manufactured vaccines in Africa, he emphasized that the 4th International Roundable on China-Africa Healthcare Cooperation, which is scheduled for May 2013 in Gaborone, Botswana, will attract senior government officials and company executives from China and throughout Africa alike. (The World Bank published an article on December 10, 2009 about the initial China-Africa Healthcare Roundtable that was held in Beijing from December 4-5, 2009. This article by UNAIDS dated May 7, 2013 provides a summary of the aforementioned conference held in Botswana.) (Photo: UNAIDS)

Upon the conclusion of Mr. Zhang's presentation, I asked for an update on how China's vaccine manufacturers were complying with WHO requirements including the GMP. He replied that while Chinese-made vaccines are now eligible to apply for WHO pre-qualification, not a single manufacturer has yet be approved for pre-qualification.

While polio was eradicated in China, Mr. Zhang noted tuberculosis remains a problem. PATH produced a document, Collaborating to Control Tuberculosis, about its work to combat TB in China that says, "China has the most MDR-TB (management of multi-drug resistant TB) cases in the world and the second largest number of overall TB cases. The World Health Organization classifies China as a high-burden country. There are an estimated 120,000 new cases of MDR-TB each year in China, accounting for 24 percent of the global total."

Furthermore, according to the TB document, "With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, PATH is responding to the challenge. In collaboration with the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics and the Hong Kong Supranational Reference Laboratory, PATH assists the Chinese National TB Reference Laboratory with determining the operational feasibility, cost-effectiveness, and impact of new TB diagnostics in order to help the Chinese Ministry of Health decide whether to introduce and scale up these technologies."

Regarding his organization's operations in China, Mr. Zhang remarked that "PATH does not consider China a recipient, but a partner."

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

November 12, 2013

Understanding China - Its Role in Global Business

In addition to making a presentation to Seattle University's Global Business Club on October 31, 2013, I was invited by David Reid, Ph.D., Professor of Global Business Strategy at Seattle University's Albers School of Business and Economics, to speak in a class he teaches entitled "Understanding China - Its Role in Global Business" on November 4, 2013. In his course syllabus, Dr. Reid explains that "this course is geared to students who want to learn about the reality of China as a business opportunity as well as a threat, together with China's state of market development." This post will highlight a few points from my presentation and subsequent discussion with the students.

The focus of my presentation was to present the role China plays in the strategy of my company, ROI3, Inc. While my colleagues and I see opportunities to develop digitally-animated apps and content for smartphones and tablet computers worldwide, China serves as our initial market. As indicated in my post, "ROI3, Inc. - Tools for Empowerment," China had over 300 million 3G subscribers as of May 2013, according to a Tech in Asia article. China will see smartphone shipments exceed 460 million units by 2017 and is expected to have 440 million 4G users by 2017. By 2020, China will be the largest market of smartphone users utilizing the latest mobile broadband technology.

I addressed the many challenges my colleagues and I face in the world's second largest economy. One challenge is the fragmented revenue channels for app developers. While the business-to-consumer (B2C) market offers significant revenue growth, there are multiple B2C channels including AppChina, Baidu App Store, Google Play, HiMarket, Taobao App Market, and Tencent's App Store just to name a few. Furthermore, in-app advertising serves as an integral component of our B2C monetization strategy. (Masanari Arai, founder and CEO of Kii Corporation, a Tokyo, Japan based company that promotes itself as "the only mobile backend-as-a-service (MBaaS) provider that helps developers turn their apps into full-fledged, global businesses," wrote an insightful blog post on November 9, 2013 for VentureBeat explaining China’s mobile app ecosystem.)

In addition to the B2C opportunities, I explained ROI3's business-to-business (B2B) revenue model that resides in enterprise customization and direct licensing. We also see opportunities to monetize our apps via mobile network operators or equipment manufacturers as a value-added service for original equipment manufacturers.

When talking about the specific components of ROI3's apps, I highlighted the following five features: (1) security, (2) simple, user intuitive user interface, (3) engaging graphics through digital animation, (4) social interaction among users, and (5) reward system (gamificiation). While other apps in the China marketplace may provide similar content in the area of English language learning or health, my colleagues and I feel our competitive advantage lies in the technology of the app's back-end infrastructure and front-end user interface, thereby creating an engaging and unique experience for our subscribers.

I wish to express my sincerest appreciation to Dr. Reid for providing me with the opportunity to speak and to the students for their well-constructed questions and critical feedback.

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

November 3, 2013

How to be a Successful International Entrepreneur

I had the pleasure of making a presentation entitled "How to be a Successful International Entrepreneur" to the Global Business Club at Seattle University on October 31, 2013. While I made several points during my presentation, there are a few worth mentioning in this post.

The title of my session should be "How to Not be a Failing International Entrepreneur." Too many people have a glamorous view of entrepreneurship, which may include the financial reward, schedule flexibility, and the (perceived) power of having an executive title such as President, Chief Executive Officer or Chairman of the Board. They forget (or do not realize) that most businesses fail within their first two years of operations nor do entrepreneurs anticipate the personal sacrifices involved. Such sacrifices include limited or no income or time spent with friends and family. Working long hours (often 110-120 hours a week) is the normal course of entrepreneurship.

Sensitivity to cultures is essential to any business operating outside of its home country. Each culture has a uniqueness about it and the more an entrepreneur understands the nuances of their customer, the greater chance of their business succeeding. Business is about people and entrepreneurs must understand their customers' culture. This point is supported by an interview of Frits van Paasschen, Chief Executive Officer of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, dated October 25, 2013. Scott Mayerowitz of the Associated Press notes that Mr. van Paasschen "moved the company's entire leadership team to Shanghai for a month in 2011 and to Dubai for a month earlier this year. He plans another month overseas in 2015. He wants his staff to better understand the cultures they are opening hotels in."

"Hire people who are smarter than you," a friend once advised me. One point that I make regularly is the importance of collaborating with talented people. I always equate building and running a business to producing a movie. While I may be a talented producer (business strategist), to produce a successful movie requires talented actors, screenwriters, stagehands, and lighting, set, costume, and sound designers, just to name a few. The same principle apply to creating a successful business and if your company's budget is limited, then it is essential to hire people who possess a multitude of valuable skills.

While many entrepreneurs attest to the value of understanding their company's financials, I am routinely surprised by the large number of business owners who do not. Let me repeat an important point I made during my presentation: UNDERSTAND YOUR FINANCIALS. Understand your company's sales, research and development, and general and administrative expenses. Understand your cash inflows and outflows. Understand your cost of goods sold on a per unit basis. Understand your amortization and depreciation schedule.

Photo of me presenting to
Seattle University's Global
Business Club:
Mohammed Alturki
A student asked, "How do I determine when to expand into different international markets?" "I do not know" was my simple response. "There is a danger in being opportunistic," a mentor explained to me early in my career. Every business has to balance its focus of developing products or services for their key market while exploring new opportunities of expanding the company's offering or entering new markets. Expanding too soon could drain valuable financial and human resources. My colleagues and I at ROI3, Inc. routinely address the benefits and consequences of expanding our line of mobile apps or entering new markets. Ultimately, there is no magic formula of when to expand.

I wish to express my gratitude to Mohammed Alturki, President of the Global Business Club, Quan Le, Faculty Advisor to the Global Business Club, and all the club members who made this experience an enjoyable one for me. Thank you.

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

October 13, 2013

ROI3, Inc. - Tools for Empowerment

This is the first post on this blog since February 6, 2011. What was I doing since then? Along with two partners, Bill Joern of Washington, DC and Steve Drake of Silver Spring, Md., I incorporated ROI3, Inc. in the state of Washington. This blog will serve as a platform to discuss the initiatives my colleagues and I implement at ROI3 as well as communicating with you, our customers, friends and supporters, the latest trends of mobile technology in emerging and developing countries.

Many of you have provided untold support and we are tremendously grateful. All of us at ROI3 are excited by the challenges and opportunities ahead and we look forward to sharing them with you. We encourage you to provide feedback in the comment section located at the bottom of each post. Thank you.

Company and Technology Background

Incorporated on July 1, 2011, ROI3 creates applications, content and services for smartphone and tablet users in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The company’s mission is to empower people in developing countries with innovative, technology-based solutions.

ROI3’s primary goal is to provide exceptional service to each and every customer with a brand that represents integrity, quality, and innovation. Examples of how ROI3’s content and services will help customers include:
  1. Assisting individuals with learning or improving English language skills;
  2. Educating individuals on health, sanitation, well-being and preventable diseases;
  3. Providing farmers with critical and timely information on best practices, pricing, and weather;
  4. Facilitating the growth and development of small and medium-sized enterprises;  and
  5. Promoting financial literacy for individuals, families and businesses.
The value of ROI3's software-as-a-service resides in localized, relevant content delivered through an innovative technology platform. ROI3’s mLearning content will include, among other topics, English Language Learning (mELL), health, agriculture, small business management, financial literacy, and government services. ROI3 will consider developing apps or services in other sectors should an opportunity present itself for monetization through new or existing customers.

ROI3’s software is hosted in the cloud, which users may access through a native app specifically designed for the Android operating system, or an HTML5 app optimized for the iOS (iPhone and iPad), BlackBerry, Windows Phone or a standard web browser. In addition, our software is designed to be accessed through devices manufactured by China-based companies.

With the introduction of new operating systems such as Firefox OS, Sailfish, and Ubuntu, ROI3's HTML5 app provide an engaging user experience with an intuitive user interface, social interaction among users, and security with the latest encryption technology irrespective of mobile device or operating system.

The uniqueness of ROI3's technology, which is accessed through smartphones and tablets, lie within the following technical components:
  • Animation: To make the transition between screens fluid, ROI3 writes its own menu component and combined them with some intelligent loading of screens, optimized to the user’s bandwidth and other factors;
  • Gamification: ROI3 utilizes various gaming components including a rewards system in order to achieve a fun, challenging and satisfactory experience for the user;
  • Scrolling:  ROI3's writes its own components to deal with the rendering issues in browser scrolling including a home-grown slider;
  • Requests: To optimize the pulling of the data, ROI3 uses a combination of methods to detect a user’s bandwidth and latency;
  • Memory footprint: With a hybrid approach, the memory footprint is higher. To remedy this, ROI3 writes optimization code for memory usage; and
  • Global Positioning System (GPS): ROI3 uses GPS to deliver accurate localized information to users with a GPS-enabled mobile device. Furthermore, GPS allows users to submit data, in real-time, that can be analyzed and stored remotely. Features measured with GPS can be displayed on maps and in geographic information systems (GIS) that store, manipulate, and display geographically referenced data.

When appropriate, ROI3 develops its software in collaboration with government agencies, non-governmental organizations or private sector companies.

Market Opportunity

There are 6.8 billion mobile-cellular subscriptions worldwide, including 2.1 billion mobile broadband subscriptions (compared to 268 mobile broadband subscriptions in 2007), according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). In developing countries, the number of mobile broadband subscriptions more than doubled from 2011 to 2013 (from 472 million to 1.16 billion) and surpassed those in developed countries in 2013.[1]

Mobile Broadband Subscriptions (Source: ITU)
Number of Subscriptions
Penetration Rate
93 million
460 million
Arab States
71 million
895 million
129 million
422 million

Among smartphone users worldwide, there is an increasing demand for interactivity and engagement.  At the same time, consumers have embraced the entertainment and convenience of online learning, while businesses appreciate the efficiency and economic value of online learning programs. Expanding high-speed mobile broadband (3G and 4G) infrastructure coupled with access to inexpensive smartphones and tablets has led to a desire by consumers and businesses in emerging and developing countries for innovative and relevant mLearning services. Asia has the highest growth rate for eLearning in the world at 17 percent. Revenue reached $5.2 billion in 2011 and will more than double to $11.5 billion by 2016.[2]

In 2017, Asia Pacific will reach 1.9 billion unique mobile subscribers, almost half of global total of 3.9 billion.[3] China, an initial market for ROI3’s apps, currently has over 300 million 3G subscribers[4] and will see smartphone shipments exceed 460 million units by 2017.[5] Furthermore, China is expected to have 440 million 4G users by 2017.[6]

Countries comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are making similar improvements that will make ASEAN mobile broadband and device adoption rates comparable to China in the near-future, thus creating an opportunity to monetize ROI3’s apps and services across a broader Asian landscape. For example, two in every five mobile handsets sold in Thailand from May 2012 through April 2013 was a smartphone.[7]

As reflected in the table above, Africa and Latin America will experience a rapid growth rate of high-speed mobile broadband subscribers over the next five to ten years as mobile network operators continue to make significant investments to deploy the necessary physical infrastructure. Moreover, device manufacturers are developing mobile devices at a cost that is affordable to a greater number of people in emerging and developing economies. These developments create a demand by consumers and enterprises alike for value-added mobile content.

Management Team

ROI3’s leadership is well-experienced in developing and managing successful businesses. The management team includes:
  • Aaron D. Rose, President, Treasurer, and Chief Executive Officer, is responsible for the overall management and leadership of the company. He possesses 20 years of international business experience and an understanding of the uses and benefits of technology in developing markets.
  • William C. Joern, Executive Chairman, is responsible for establishing the company’s strategic direction and achieving its long-term goals. He has more than 40 years of general management, strategic planning, and program development and evaluation experience.
  • Steven E. Drake, Executive Vice President and Secretary, oversees ROI3’s marketing, communications and public affairs. He brings more than 30 years of experience developing and leading strategic, global communications programs.
Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.