September 10, 2008
Akoha, a developer of real-world social games that launched a private beta at the TechCrunch 50 conference today, is partnering with Room to Read in a community challenge to sponsor the construction of a library in Nepal. Together with Room to Read and a local school community, Akoha will sponsor the construction of a new library and fill it with books, games and posters to give children access to enhanced educational resources.
Akoha is a new social reality game based on the pay-it-forward concept. Using mobile, web and real-world mission cards to create a launch pad for traveling acts of kindness, Akoha answers the question: What if playing a game could make the world a better place?" Akoha players carry out missions that involve performing small acts of kindness for others. The activities of Akoha players are described on "mission cards" that involve real world and virtual challenges. As Akoha players perform more missions, they advance in the game, recruit new players and spread good deeds across the planet. Akoha mission cards include activities such as "Donate an Hour of Your Time", "Give Someone a Book", and "Send Drinks to a Couple in Love".
The goal of the Community Challenge is to ensure that Akoha game play during the private beta period will support educational opportunities for children in the developing world. In the future Akoha players will be able to link their game play to various charitable organizations of their choice. During the beta, the playtesting community will be able to participate in this community challenge so that their game play will create positive real-world change.
Room to Read had its humble origins in Nepal in 2000, where founder John Wood started bringing donated books to rural communities. Since then, Room to Read has expanded its work into nine countries throughout Asia and Africa and impacted the lives of over 2 million children. Room to Read's libraries give children a friendly space to read and explore. Their children's books allow students to read stories in their local language. Their schools give children a safe place to learn. Their computer labs make it possible for children to gain twenty-first century skills. And their scholarships enable girls to enroll and stay in school. Room to Read's goal is to impact over 5 million children by 2010 through bringing educational opportunities and resources to children throughout the developing world.
"Akoha is a new kind of game experience that allows players to spread deliberate acts of kindness in a fun way", said Austin Hill, co-founder and CEO of Akoha. "Throughout my long friendship with my business partner Alex Eberts, we've always given each other and our friends books, a habit that has influenced who we are today. When we read Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, we were both inspired by John Wood's story. That's why we are especially proud to have Room to Read as our initial charity partner, ensuring that the missions completed by Akoha players will provide quality educational opportunities in the developing world."
"As a fellow entrepreneur, I am thrilled that Room to Read is part of the Akoha launch," said Room to Read Founder and CEO John Wood. "The idea for Room to Read started a decade ago when a Nepali teacher said a few words that would forever change my life – 'perhaps sir, you will someday come back with books.' With all the good fortune I had been blessed with, I felt compelled to 'play it forward' and return with books for his school. This is the same principle Akoha is utilizing and why we are so excited to be their initial beneficiary."
Founded in 2007 by leading technology blog TechCrunch and entrepreneur Jason Calacanis, the TechCrunch50 conference provides a platform for early-stage, and frequently unfunded, companies to launch for the first time to the technology industry's most influential venture capitalists, corporations, angel investors, fellow entrepreneurs and the international media. Companies are selected to participate exclusively on merit. TechCrunch50 is supported by corporate sponsors Google, Microsoft, MySpace and Yahoo!, as well as venture capital firms including Sequoia Capital, Mayfield Fund, Clearstone Venture Partners, Charles River Ventures, Founders Fund and Fenwick & West.
Akoha is a new reality-based game that uses mobile, web and real-world missions to create a new type of game play experience. Akoha was founded by Austin Hill and Alex Eberts, long-time friends and entrepreneurs who first worked together when Hill co-founded Zero-Knowledge Systems (now Radialpoint) and Eberts served as its founding product manager. The idea for Akoha came from a series of discussions resulting from the founders' attendance at the TED Conference in Monterey, where the theme was "Ideas Big Enough to Change the World", and the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, where their friends were discussing movies that can make a difference. Their conversations about game design, social change and Internet trends led co-founders Hill and Eberts to ask the question, "What if playing a game could make the world a better place?" On April 28, 2008, Akoha announced it had received $1.9 million in financing from angel investors. For more information, visit www.akoha.com.