In this episode of the Impact Podcast, Innov8social founder talks to Christopher Robert, the CEO of Dobility, which creates affordable tools for field research and impact measurement. Christopher started his work as early as in high school, developing Bulletin Board Systems (BBS). Those were online systems, which acted as precursor to the modern form of the Internet.

Listen to the Episode

Meet Christopher

Chris is a technologist, entrepreneur, economist,  researcher, and a lecturer. Chris founded Dobility, Inc., which produces SurveyCTO, an electronic data collection platform used worldwide by leading researchers and evaluation professionals. As an economist, researcher, and lecturer, he is involved in long-term projects to evaluate the impact of microfinance in South India. After the advent of internet, a disruptive form of technology Chris, wanted to do something much more impactful, so he took his first international trip Nepal. That kind of unsettled him, and his eager to contribute in a much more impactful way.

So he went back to Nepal and started teaching English, but that was just a start of a 14 year journey, that helped him earn a Phd, in public policy focusing on development economics. At the end of the 14 year journey, he was able to combine his expertise in technology with experience in public policy. He felt that technology backbone really helps him, so he never really chucked it out.  Chris has learned a lot from his experience in staying in places like Nepal, Cambodia and India and he was involved in a project to evaluate the impact of micro finance in South India.

The project was a randomized control trial, and there were numerous dimensions involving massive data gathering. It was during these trials, he felt the need for a more methodological/systematised data collection framework. He felt that the technology is really holding them back. He also realized that a lot of nonprofits, also failed due to the lack of technology. Chris also felt that the tools that were available, are either too costly or complex for the data collection. So he felt the need to develop a private technology or tool which could help rescue this situation.


Chris knows that data collection is hard, and what is particularly harder is collection of accurate data. As data is used for decision making process, it is imperative that quality data is collected and fed to the process. Hence Dobility was born, out of the need to simplify the process of collecting quality data. SurveyCTO is the product, which helps to collect quality data using high quality technology. The SurveyCTO technology helps to make sure that the data being collected is really accurate, by monitoring it at each step. The SurveyCTO was released with a very low monthly subscription cost, and recently they were able to release a beta version of the product, for small scale NGO’s.

SurveyCTO was used effectively for randomized controls, by nurses in South Carolina to understand the effects of a community nursing program. They were using SurveyCTO on phones and tablets, when they were visiting their patients at home. The data collection involves using Android phones, as most of patients won’t have access to internet. The nurses also record audio responses, GPS co-ordinates etc. and it has moved a long way from the fact that it was once captured in paper.

Dobility – Legal Structure

Dobility is registered as C-corp as they want to be flexible, as their commitments change over time. But they wanted to have the concern for social welfare, permeate each and every decision the company makes. The C-corp gives Dobility the flexibility of having foreign talents, to have an equity. This decision helps them to retain extremely talented developers from Greece, Romania to Brazil.

Dobility’s SurveyCTO, is a tool for anyone who wants to use the mobile, as a data collection tool. SurveyCTO also provides a web interface to create survey forms. Anyone can use the technology almost free of cost, by sparing 5 mins of their time. Users can spend that time to provide feedbacks or even be able to contribute anything, which makes the product better.

Show Notes

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