Abhishek Rai

Head Boy, Shack. Making Build Your Community for #cmgrs .

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What I’m doing now

Validate Product:
I am validating a product/ service idea for digital marketers.
We do research which marketers can use…

  • To run campaigns
  • Plan content
  • Taget audience

I am shifting my base to Guragon or Bengaluru.
I am following Derek’s advice Live where luck strikes .

I am working on my health. It’s about three things.

  • Eat home cooked food three times a day.
  • Walk/ Cycle/ Swim for 30 minutes a day.
  • Free weights 3 times a week.

I am reading again after long time.
I want to read a book a week to start with.
Now I am reading Why Children Succeed.

Project Furniture:
I am building furniture for my new house.

  • A single bed.
  • A double bed.
  • One study table. I want to see if I can help the carpenter set up an online shop.

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Real Internet Angels: Derek Powazek

Internet is cruel. First it excites you about people, ideas, places and lives. Then the reality hits. When I got online in 1999, there was no Google. I had to dig up directories. There were web pages and blogs.

I remember I would read a blog about farming or coffee or design, and think of doing it. At the same time, I would realize that I was in India. I was lazy. I did not try enough to go to the USA. I blame the internet. It was so transparent and forthcoming.

Though, I read about Derek later, I count him amongst the first few pioneers. He innovated. He built things. He wrote great stuff.

I followed the internet greats without knowing about them. I learnt while doing things. I did not get a degree in building a website. I did not get a degree in social media. I did not get a degree in building a product. I did not do great, but I could do things.

As the internet evolves into

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Leave Silicon Valley Alone

 Imitating Silicon Valley Won’t Solve India’s Problems.

Startups are the new magic wand. It will achieve what agriculture could not. Or it will advance us in a way that industries could not. Or MOOCs will teach us better than past’s education system.

 New Narrative

This cycle never stops. Tata imitated the steel plants. So did India’s PSUs. Then we imitated Detroit. Then we imitated telecom. Now we want to imitate Silicon valley.

 Best Indian Startups Are Copies

Flipkart is our best startup. 2nd best is Snapdeal. 3rd best is Quikr or Ola or Shop Clues Or Ask Me. One theme runs common. It is imitating or copying a business from the west and scaling it up. Just that we call it by different names. We finance it through different ways.

 Government Didn’t Build Silicon Valley

Imitating successes from around the world will not help. Silicon valley thrives on three hundred years of

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WOM: Word of Mouth

When I built ‘Build Your Community’ tool, I wanted more and more people to buy it. I met people. I gave them demo. Only six customers bought it. I struggled.

After a year we went back to offer services. I had failed to sell. I stopped offering it. I inquired. I found out that I did not care about the most important thing. Users. I did not care if they really wanted it. I feel that the honesty behind the tool shines through.

I took a step back. I went back to the users asking their problem. I worked with a team. I listened to them. My team and I worked on what they want. This time it’s not about the tool. It’s about building what users want. If I get ten happy users, it’s worth it. Word of mouth is the harder path, but it’s sustainable.

Because no amount of marketing can sell that which the public does not want. You start with the marketing, and then word of mouth sustains you

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Not all that technology replaces is obsolete

I admire Kathy Sierra. She is a programmer, activist, speaker and writer.

I have learnt a lot from her blog ’Creating Passionate Users’. She always stresses that the best go to market strategy is to out-teach your competitors.

In 2012 I started working on [‘Build Your Community’](blog.buildyourcommunity.co) . I had a mission. I wanted to empower social media professionals. I wanted to build a tool for them. Using the tool they could assess the health of their communities, take right decisions and showcase their importance.

I faltered.

I did not engage the community of social media professionals. I did not educate. I did not explain why am I building the tool. I am working on that. I keep going back to her blogs and talks.

Kathy reiterates in her keynotes that the bigger mission or the context is more important than the tool or the product. Recently she wrote a book; Badass

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Secret Of Overnight Success

Overnight success is a scam. The idea of instant greatness, richness and fame lures many. A philosopher said that life is a pathless land. Similarly building a business, big or small, also is a pathless land.

Instagram looks like a breeze, Snapchat seems like an undergrad project and the guy next to you got funding in a jiffy. In reality it takes endless hours of hustling. Uncertainty is the order of the day. Vulnerability is the name of the game.

It’s counterintuitive to embrace the constant hustle, uncertainty and struggle. Though, that is the only way to find one’s own path. Following are three examples how people built something through gruelling hours of work and incessant grinding.

“That wasn’t how it happened with Pinterest. Its early gains were the result of laborious word-of-mouth marketing, with Silbermann leaning on everyone in his network to spread the word

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80% Of Success Is Showing Up

Tren Griffin writes an interesting blog called 25IQ. Every weekend he shares a dozen or so sayings from successful businessmen, founders and personalities. It is not just interesting, but very inspiring.

Recently he shared Steve Blank’s sayings, a VC who is credited to floating the idea of lean start up first.

He writes that 80% of success depends on showing up, starting, putting things out, shipping, doing …

You don’t have to be the smartest person, but showing up is 80% of the game. My career has been all about just showing up and people saying, ‘Who’s here? Blank is here. Let’s pick him.’ Volunteering and showing up has been a great thing for me. But all along the way, I’ve always been very good at pattern recognition. Picking signal out of noise. Not smarter than everyone else, but more competent perhaps at seeing patterns.” Things like being on time, being there when leaders

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What’s a brand?

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 8.58.29 pm.png

Three words maketh that question.

Today I came across a post by Ashish Sinha of Next Big What. He writes,“You Know You Are A Brand When You Are Part of Conversations.”

On reading the post I asked him what about other brands which are not as big as Facebook, Google or Apple? He answered that the rest are utilitarian brands and not part of everyone’s life.

It got me thinking. I looked around.

So, what is a brand?

Let’s hear from the experts.

Simon Clift says,“a brand is the contract between a company and consumers”.

Dan Wieden, legendary ad-man and founder of advertising agency Wieden & Kennedy says,“ Brands are verbs. Nike exhorts. IBM solves. Sony dreams”.

Good read: How Brands Were Born

Well, it’s all about the market.
The market can be of carriages, cars, garments, perfumes, electronics, computers, software, ad platforms disguised as social platforms or anything

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If you only do one thing, do this

Immediately after every lecture, meeting, or any significant experience, take 30 seconds — no more, no less — to write down the most important points. If you always do just this, said his grandfather, and even if you only do this, with no other revision, you will be okay.

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Focus on product or marketing? None.

There are so many questions.
Image–> Creating Passionate Users

Should I focus on sales? Should I focus on customer care? Should I build more features in the product? Should I look for speaking assignments? Should I reach out to the editor of the magazine and offer to write free for her?

When you have built a product, and you are looking to find the users and eventual customers, the mind plays games. I have recently launched Build Your Community. And, the quest is on to meet more and more users and sign them as customers.

Recently I met someone who asked me to change the architecture of the tool so that he can use it as white label for his brands. The offer was exciting, but then we would have lost control. Then I have been thinking of asking a magazine to write about us, but then there are no free lunches. I am sure I will have to return the favour many times over.

Then there are

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