2012 Interview with Meliza Mitra, Sproxil (entered our competition as “mPedigree”)

“The Mobile Product Application (MPA) is a designed technology specifically for emerging markets. Using any cell phone, consumers can text message an item-unique code and get instant responses confirming a pharmaceutical brand’s genuineness.” – Meliza Mitra, Global Business Coordinator

Sproxil provides world-class brand protection for emerging markets through software and services that work anywhere there are mobile phones. Delivering automatic protection, simple labels and robust back-end analytics with its Mobile Product AuthenticationTM (MPA) solution, Sproxil offers a comprehensive anti-counterfeiting strategy for cash-based societies, one that enables consumers to text message an item-unique code for a rapid response that confirms a brand’s genuineness. The WJF’s Conrad Cheeks talked with Meliza Mitra, Global Business Coordinator of Sproxil, to ask her about the business.

Where are you located? 

We are located in the greater Boston area.

What problem are you trying to solve?

We are trying to solve the problem of counterfeit drugs being sold in developing countries. Sproxil wants to help consumers determine if products are genuine or fake and if they could be potentially harmful if used.

How did you become interested in this problem?

I come from a non-pharmaceutical background and I wanted to be a part of the solution for the pharmaceutical problem internationally.

What is your solution to the problem?

The Mobile Product Application (MPA) is a designed technology specifically for emerging markets. Using any cell phone, consumers can text message an item-unique code and get instant responses confirming a pharmaceutical brand’s genuineness.

How many people do you employ? 

Less than 50 globally

Has the William James Foundation competition and mentoring program helped you on your way?

Yes, we have come a very long way since the feedback we received from the William James Foundation. The WJF helped us in the earlier stage of our business. When you are starting a company globally anyone who is willing to help you adds to your future success.

What other resources have you found that are particularly useful for social entrepreneurs?

Anybody that is willing to get the word out about what we are trying to do has been helpful.

What are some of your major challenges?

One of the biggest challenges we face is consumer awareness. It’s not something that’s been hindering our success because we have been really successful in our markets, but we do want to increase consumer awareness and education about our solution, how it could help benefit consumers in numerous ways. A lot of that has to do with word of mouth and putting ourselves out there in the market, but it’s been a big challenge. We’re definitely driving more this quarter and until the end of this year to push consumer awareness programs, especially in Nigeria.

Potential customers are often wary about the success of our product and how it can help them. After clarifying what our product can do and the benefits it has, potential customers trust that our solution could definitely benefit them.

For readers who want to know more about what you’re up to, where can we send them?

Our once a month newsletter: send an email to team@sproxil.com to subscribe

Find us on twitter @sproxil

Find us on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sproxil/168408083214573

Anything else you’d like the William James Foundation community to know?

By the end of 2011 more Nigerians were using Sproxil’s MPA to check for legitimacy of drugs. We’ve recently have built a client portal with all the data we have been collecting, which helps pharmaceutical companies understand the consumer better. Also IBM is helping to enhance our services.