As I was thinking about all the exciting things our team did last year, with all of its pandemic-fueled craziness, I wanted to highlight a major recognition received by Nick Hurlburt, our Director of Engineering for Aselo. At Twilio’s SIGNAL developer conference this past fall, Nick received the inaugural “Hope, Power and Freedom” Award in a virtual interview/ceremony.

Twilio’s team wanted to honor a developer who had used communications technology for positive social impact, and I can understand why they landed on Nick! Nick spearheaded the development of our Aselo crisis response platform since it was just an idea, and he made the technical decision to base Aselo on the Twilio Flex technology. Aselo launched in 2021, and is now being used by child helplines in Zambia, South Africa, Ethiopia, Malawi, and Brazil.

Crisis response helplines are largely stuck with technology optimized for businesses doing sales, marketing, or technical support. That’s not a great fit for counselors that focus on counseling, referral and managing cases of children desperately needing assistance. Nick and the development team he recruited utilized a bunch of cool Twilio features, but added entire new capabilities specifically designed for the unique needs of child helplines.

Nick has a long history of commitment using tech for social good. Along with stints at successful tech companies like Amazon and Sift, Nick spent more than five years in conflict areas in South Sudan and Southeast Asia working with humanitarian organizations assisting refugees. Now at Tech Matters, he’s doing what many techies dream of: using technology to truly help what will almost certainly be millions of people.

Of course, Nick has a great partner in our lead product manager, Dee Luo, who works with our helpline community to understand their needs, and the needs of the children in crisis they serve, and then translate those needs into product development challenges. In a separate session at SIGNAL, Dee and Nick did a technically oriented presentation that breaks down all the cool tech going into Aselo.

This work is at the heart of what we do at Tech Matters: we build on top of the latest and greatest technology, and bring solutions to bear on the social problems that generally don’t attract for-profit companies. I hope Nick’s award, and his work, inspires more developers to do the same!

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