The Hive

Fighting poverty with apps and surveys

Yoav Shapira wants to break down the digital divide to help fight poverty.
Yoav Shapira wants to break down the digital divide to help fight poverty.

Highlights from, Boston’s source for innovation news.

Since helping to build HubSpot and tackling emotional wellbeing at Happier, Yoav Shapira’s ambitions have grown: Now he wants to break down the digital divide and fight poverty at the global level.

Shapira is joining Jana Mobile, which helps consumers in emerging markets lower the cost of mobile air time, as vice president of product. Jana says it is the world’s largest rewards platform. It works with corporations to run promotions and trials that reward consumers in emerging markets with mobile air time. It also has an opt-in program for consumers to earn mobile credits by completing surveys and accepting targeted offers from Jana’s partner companies.

Last summer, Jana announced a $15 million investment from Paris-based Publicis Groupe, a public relations and advertising company. Previously, it raised close to $10 million from Spark Capital and other investors.


Bringing Shapira on board is a coup: He is widely regarded as one of the best product managers and developers in Boston. It is no secret Shapira had been sought after, and he played a key role in HubSpot’s initial growth as one of its first employees. Shapira took a year off to travel the world before returning to Boston to advise startups.

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At one point, Shapira considered returning to his native Israel but was convinced by Nataly Kogan to join Happier as chief technology officer. He helped build a social platform that allows users to share their moments of joy in order to improve their emotional wellbeing.

Shapira said the opportunity at Jana was compelling, particularly in terms of the company’s vision: paying billions of people a dollar or two for installing an app or taking a survey.

“To these people, $1 to $2 a day will lift them out of poverty,” he said.

Dennis Keohane


A wallet that won’t stuff your pocket


I’ve been considering cosmetic surgery to reduce the size of my rear end — specifically, where my overstuffed wallet occupies a pocket. Technology is close to providing an affordable, nonsurgical solution to my unsightly problem. A Woburn startup, Loop, has just shipped a $39 iPhone plug-in, the Loop Fob, that stores up 100 debit or credit cards.

The Loop Fob is basically a miniature credit card reader. You swipe a card and the Fob digitizes the information on your phone. You can also take a picture of the card, to show your signature or the CVV number.

I stored three cards: a work Visa, a personal MasterCard, and a debit card. (I felt fairly secure because Loop’s founders previously built ROAM Data, a major player in point-of-sale technology.) You pick one to be your default card, and that card’s information is loaded on the Fob. You can disconnect the Fob, opt to leave it plugged into the phone, and switch back and forth between cards as necessary — but that’s a bit awkward.

At lunch recently, I explained to a waitress that she had to press a button on the side of the Fob and touch it to the card reader. She came back and said it had not worked. “Our cash registers are really old,” she said apologetically.

My next attempt, at a CVS, worked great; The Fob also worked fine at Dunkin’ Donuts. I plugged the Fob into my phone and switched to the personal card at McDonald’s, and then switched to the debit card at a different CVS at the end of the day. More recently, I tried using the Fob at my neighborhood Starbucks. It didn’t work, even after three tries.


Every time you access the Loop app on the phone, you need to punch in a PIN. You can set the Fob to deactivate after a set amount of time whenever it’s unplugged from the phone.

There’s still a lot the Loop doesn’t do. It can’t replace a bank card, which needs to be grabbed by the ATM. It can’t be your MBTA card, which uses an RFID chip. You can’t even be sure it will work with cards loaded onto it.

Loop’s next product is a phone case that’s a back-up phone battery that can impersonate your credit cards. That ends the need to plug in the Fob to switch cards.

Scott Kirsner