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Fellows Friday is a weekly series on the TED Blog that profiles one TED Fellow each week. We have asked the Fellows to answer our question below to share their knowledge and advice with other social entrepreneurs, innovators, and changemakers who are coming up with big ideas that can change the world.

Since he was 11 years old, Apurv Mishra has been accelerating change. Inventor of the Glabenator, a device that helps paralysis victims communicate, Apurv is dedicated to helping pioneers connect and work more efficiently. Today, Apurv is thrilled to launch Future.ly, a platform that maps the state of innovation across the world.

Sokunthea: There are many aspiring social entrepreneurs out there who are trying to take their passion and ideas to the next level. What is one piece of advice you would give to them based on your own experiences and successes?

Apurv: My advice and suggestion for a social entrepreneur is to always prototype. Don’t always focus on creating really amazing business plans. It’s really important that a social entrepreneur go back to the field and try to do a minimal viable prototype for the first project. And then try to go from there to understand if everything works. You can’t generalize a lot of this market. So it’s really important to go to the ground and do a few tests.

There was this NGO that wanted to provide toilets to improve sanitation in an African country. So they spent a lot of money and they put some toilets in a town and then they left. That’s very common with a lot of social enterprises. When they came back after one or two years, they saw that people had not changed their sanitation habits. They found out that the toilets were actually used to store rice because it was a place that stayed dry during the rain. So they converted it to a storage room.

So the problem is always out there to understand from the ground level what people want. And I think that’s very crucial to solve any problem.

Read the rest of Apurv's Fellows Friday interview here.

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