This summer, a few months after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian flew to Cairo, courtesy of the U.S. State Department. His assignment was to mentor Egyptian entrepreneurs.
One startup he advised, Bey2ollak, is an iPhone app that allows users to report on and get Cairo traffic conditions, which Ohanian called "appalling." (The government doesn't provide real-time traffic data.) Another, Inkezny, searches for nearby hospitals, ranks them by quality and then, with the push of a button, puts a call through to the hospital to request an ambulance. ("There's no real effective 911 system in Egypt," Ohanian said.)
Ohanian, 28, said he found himself answering the same questions in Egypt that he would have been asked at UCLA or MIT, and in English too. "I'm convinced the best ideas will win on the Internet, as long as it's a free Internet. … They don't have to be served up with an American flag," he said.
Sorry for the late post. I missed this article previewing one of my talks for Chicago Ideas Week. Thanks, Melissa!