Philip Kao

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Philip Kao

Funded with support from the Jerome L. Greene Foundation
2019 Global Fellow
Founder of Appleseed

Philip Kao 2019 Global Fellow

Bold Idea 

Enhance the ability of development organizations to enact change around the world by showing them how to use behavioral marketing to make their solutions stick in the communities they serve.

Multimedia 

Philip Kao of Appleseed hearing about water drinking habits of Kenyan students directly from the students themselves. Photo credit: Philip Kao
Summary 

Appleseed demystifies behavioral marketing for change-makers around the world. Millions suffer around the world because people must form new habits to drink from a new water source, sleep under a mosquito net regularly, plant an unfamiliar crop, or eat something new. Appleseed offers a systematic process. By conducting behavior change audits and coaching teams to pinpoint target behaviors, Appleseed works to understand people's motivations, biases, and barriers to change, and design programs and communications to drive action across populations. This reduces cost-per-impact and enables organizations to achieve their missions. Appleseed envisions a day when all development organizations will methodically market for impact, like how businesses today market for profit.

Experience 

Philip Kao, co-founder and executive director of Appleseed, is a practitioner of behavioral marketing. When Philip left the corporate world to volunteer overseas in 2010, he was a UCLA engineer and Accenture tech consultant who thought that building water kiosks and distributing water filters would help villagers living without clean water. When his projects failed to consider and address hidden biases and social challenges, they failed to sustainably change behavior and make impact. He, and all the NGO teams, Peace Corps volunteers, social entrepreneurs, and community leaders he worked with, experienced bitter disappointment. Determined to find a fix, Philip rebooted his career with the behavioral marketing firm SGA. There, he led teams and ran campaigns on behalf of government agencies like the City of Los Angeles and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, applying social psychology and behavioral science to change population-wide environmental habits in cities and counties across California. With Appleseed, he has worked alongside local organizations serving poor communities in Ecuador, China, Taiwan, the United States, Guatemala, Kenya, and India to adapt the behavioral marketing approach for the development sector. Philip is a 2019 Echoing Green Fellow.

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Bold Idea and summary information may only be accurate as of the awarding of the Fellowship. Echoing Green attempts to maintain current Experience information, but for their most recent status it may be best to contact the Fellow directly.

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