Thursday, 23 May 2013

A tribute to 'Fuck it'

Some of the most enjoyable moments and achievements have been preceded by the words 'Fuck it'

Robert Frost would be turning in his grave but:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I said 'Fuck it' and took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.




'Fuck it' is productive.





Friday, 16 November 2012

7 lessons learned and I'm still re-sitting the exam


This is what I've figured out working on this startup so far. It's one of those 'social' startups which always have a high chance of failure but... we'll see.

Lessons I've learned and which we are re-building around:

1. Make it work for 50 people and it can then scale up. We have not done this yet. I should have done this from the beginning. There are no words for how dumb I was

2. It is right to dream of a big crazy idea because the 'concept' or 'direction' is important and the details do fall into place e.g. learning to make it work for 50 people. It's not an A to Z path and it's not comfortable.

3. We should have been making what we would have loved to use rather than what we thought others needed. However, the time taken to research what others wanted has paid off because the first way is suspect to introversion. Chicken <> egg

4. F**k the sign up processes first time. It should have been 'We have a problem. How would we want this app to solve it in the fastest way possible without pissing us off the way most apps do'. (this is still slightly defensive thinking though). Visualise and be creative around raw instinct for what works or does not.

5. This is one thing we have done but did not quite get it right: "Have a core". The objective has always been the same, we've just never expressed it well enough. Read this: http://andyswan.com/post/16525016414/having-a-core

6. Following on from number 5. This is what I've always kept in my head: It takes 70% instinct, 30% technique and the passmark is 95%. We're re-sitting the exam. While technique only makes up 30%, it takes up 90% of the total time. However, it has to filter though instinct (love of solving the problem)

7. There is defensive thinking and attacking, passionate thinking. Defensive: How do we improve our messaging to help the user understand the site? Passionate: This whole site will be like a great movie that the user is going to love to watch. You're in a relationship with the user, which personality would they rather date?

Pardeep Kullar
@kullar
Chief muppet of LikeOurselves.com

Friday, 26 August 2011

If only we could read each others minds. Well, now we can.

A universal problem: Today you walked passed a potential friend, a great neighbour, a date to remember, an adventurous traveling companion... because you didn't know if the other person wanted to talk



Why does this problem exist?
There are a thousand social networks but none of them help you get over that final barrier of actually having a conversation. This is largely because you just don't know if the other person wants to talk. Fear of interrupting someone, misunderstanding their desire to talk or just rudely being told to go away puts us off.

Who is this a problem for?

The guy and the girl at the bar

The neighbours within an apartment block

The travelling company man stuck in the hotel with nothing to do on Friday night

The guy looking for a co-founder for his new startup

The backpacker at the airport

The fresher at university,

The new mum suddenly finding herself out of her work circle and instead shopping with baby


The simple solution: Double opt-in


So...

You click hi and it stays hidden. Your hi's are only revealed if they match i.e. when you both click hi to each other. This way, you don't ever worry about what the other person thinks because they are thinking the same thing as you.

The guy and girl at the bar silently confirm that they want to talk to each other and two groups of friends become one for the night

The neighbours within an apartment block confirm they want to talk and start doing regular movie nights with local takeaway

The travelling company man stuck in the hotel with nothing to do on Friday night finds a fellow traveler to go see the city and have a memorable night

The guy looking for a co-founder for his new startup meets dozens and finds the perfect person with the right skill set to build a brilliant company

The backpacker at the airport finds someone to share the flight with and swap travel stories

The fresher finds more friends than he or she can buy a round for

New mums down the high street find fellow new mums to talk and share the experience with


Chat box

Of course, if the person is not in the exact same room as you, you'll want to chat on your desktop or phone, so a chat box opens up if you've both said hi, allowing you time to get to know each other.

But one thing is missing: The 'why'

You still need to know why the person wants to talk. It might be because they are single, they want to make new friends, they want to go party or they just want to chat.

The solution is another mind reading feature.

You choose tags and only tags that match are shown to the other person e.g. if you have both chosen 'I want to meet new people' then that is what you see in each others profiles.

Other examples are 'Happy to meet any of my neighbours', 'drink tequila together', 'I'm bored in this hotel, lets go out and party in the city tonight', 'spontaneous date' etc


Sign up and we'll send an email to kick off huge 'say hi' nights :) You don't have to give your exact location. You can check-in to a general area if you wish. All information is wiped each day to keep the site free of spammers and to keep your information private.

Http://www.LikeOurselves.com "Saying hi just got easier"


Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Bring people together by letting them vote on where to go

What?
Every website, company or group can let its users get together without having to plan anything.

Why?
People want to meet and if you give them the right tools to do it, they will be thankful. If that tool also helps you market your ideas and products to them, then it's good for all involved.

How?
Vote with the crowd on a place to go tonight

Example crowds:
Freshers, startups, expats, Flickr photographers, undergrads, flatmate seekers, new in town, cyclists... and many more


Step 1: Choose your crowd


Step 2: Vote with the crowd on a place to go tonight


Step 3: Feel welcome with a great crowd in a place you all chose


If you owned the service which brought them together, you could also direct the conversation and so this becomes a new marketing channel.


Create your own crowd group
It takes 60 seconds to create your own group here: http://www.likeourselves.com/?lid=create


Create tags within that group
For example, if the group is 'Flatmate seekers' the tags might be 'non-smoker', 'West' and 'budget 600-800'

You create that group with tags and it shows up to users like this:



They select the tags and when they've voted on a place to go tonight, they can see which of their tags match to every other user going there:

By owning the group, you will own a unique growing network where offline conversations can be directed to your service via tags, which themselves are adverts users feel motivated to select.

This in turn increases page views, user numbers and consequently, revenue. In addition, you will own a channel covering a geographic area that, once established with large numbers, is very difficult for competitors to replicate.

Have a look at the user home page http://www.likeourselves.com, sign up and play with it. Then go to the groups and tags page to create your own group.








Thursday, 19 May 2011

A new communication channel for student unions that solves a real problem for students


Some of the problems you face in trying to communicate to students:
  • You want to advertise new union services to students for their own benefit but some people are becoming advert blind.
  • You want to get their thoughts but many students will not take the time to give feedback
  • You personally want the experience of using the latest types of social media communication channels that solve these problems but many of them are unclear
  • You ideally need ownership of this new channel to feel comfortable in using it. This is often not the case. Also, you want it to be free.

Solve a problem for students first and then it becomes easy:

The way to solve this is to solve a problem for students where:
  1. They are deeply thankful for your solution to a genuine problem they had
  2. It involves a method of advertising they actually enjoy participating in
  3. Feedback is given naturally as part of the process

What is a key problem you can solve?

The end of term, brings with it, an end to the student atmosphere. Typically, when students go back to their home towns:
  • They don’t know where other students will hangout tonight, so they run the risk of going to a place full of suits
  • There may be enough students around but there is no easy way to instantly share plans and head to the same bars

What is the solution you can give them?

LikeOurselves.com lets us "Decide, as a crowd, where we all want to go today"

So students, can collectively choose to go to the same bars that night, avoid the suits and avoid that feeling of boredom and separation that can kick in when we've left the campus:


How do you advertise services and get feedback from this?

The key point is that you can create your own crowd, or as we call it, your own 'group' e.g. 'Oxford students'

Under each group, you can create tags.

For example, if the group is: 'Oxford students'

The tags might be: "Single student", "Looking for a flatmate", "I'm interested in going to an end of year ball", "I want more parties in the summer" etc.

You can see how many are interested in each tag, as each one carries a number next to it showing how many people have selected that tag.

This can act as a voting and feedback system. You can add and remove tags any time you want new ideas voted upon.

Users are motivated to select the tags in order to match up to other students in the venues they are going to. For example, if two students have chosen the 'i love tequila' tag then they can see, within each others profiles, that they both like tequila. It is a unique communication tool based on common interests.



For privacy, LikeOurselves has been built so you don't have to show your picture. It is for a 'crowd' to fill a venue, rather than to identify individuals and there are options to turn any images on / off whenever you want.

What do you do now? It takes 60 seconds

Create your own group by clicking the 'Go' button on this page: http://www.LikeOurselves.com/?lid=create

It takes 60 seconds to sign up and enter in a group name e.g "oxford students". You'll be given a direct link to your group which you can pass on to students, so they can go ahead and use it.

Example email

Below is a sample message to send out. You can swap out the link below with your own group link:

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Subject header: Bars full of undergrads this summer, not suits

Hi,

When students go home:
  • We don’t know where other students will hangout tonight, so we run the risk of going to a pub full of suits
  • There may be enough students around but there is no easy way to head to the same bars so we remain separated
There is an alternative.

LikeOurselves lets students "decide, as a crowd, where we all want to go later"

Sign up here: http://www.likeourselves.com/groups/students-357001 and play with it. This summer, you'll get an email to kick it off.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Any questions? Reach co-founders directly by sending an email to admin@likeourselves.com and we'll get back to you on the same day.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Community managers and their offline users

There is a great energy and excitement when like-minded people get people together in the same places. For example, a full student bar has a great atmosphere where people get along easily and enjoy the buzz of being around each other. Also, they made no effort to create this gathering, they just walked into their universities student bar.

However, if you manage a community then trying to create this environment for users involves the pain or impossibility of having to organise it for large numbers, spread over a wide area, along with the fear that few will turn up.

The benefits of successful gatherings are great, including retaining users, getting better feedback and forming stronger emotional bonds between them, your service and other users.

Users want to get together offline, they just don't want it to be weird

Many users don't want to go to an awkward and formal meet and greet event and are looking for a natural way to enjoy the company of like-minded users. Just like students, they want to be able to enjoy that atmosphere whenever they please and without having to plan in advance.

They simply want to be in the same places together

First, lets get one thing out of the way. It's not about meeting people. Out of 100 people, 10 might overcome the discomfort of going to a formal event but if you made it natural, easy and with an element of spontaneity then you will capture the interest of up to 90 out of a 100. They don't go to the event to meet people, they want to enjoy the experience of being among a like-minded crowd and meeting people is a secondary natural effect.

They want to feel like the students, walking into their student bar with friends and able to lean across the table and meet other students by asking the simple question "What course do you do?". If you manage a community, then your users want the same thing and they also have a simple ice-breaker question of their own.

How do you give this to them without having to organise it?

You let them organise themselves. Imagine if, as a crowd of users spread across the city, you could simply choose to go to the same venues today. You were all going out anyway, you don't mind if it's one of several places, you just want enjoy that great atmosphere together so all you want to know is "where is the rest of the crowd going?"

LikeOurselves.com was built for this purpose. One link, created within 60 seconds and sent to users, gives them the power to organise themselves worldwide, every day of the week by making a decision, as a crowd, to go to the same places.

In addition, there are many obvious and not so obvious benefits listed here on the community managers home page:

http://www.likeourselves.com/?lid=create

Once you've had a look at that, see the user demo http://www.likeourselves.com/demo/ which explains how users will enjoy it and how we are moving to a great new age of 'spontaneous planning'

Sunday, 3 April 2011

The things that women should be able to do with complete ease

These things should be easy for women:

a. Find other women to travel with to destinations other friends are not interested in

b. Be part of a network of women in each city so they can enjoy a drink together any day of the week and without planning.

c. Network professionally with other women any day of the week

Why are they often difficult?

'Meeting people' are ugly words. They involve something formal, awkward, obligatory and unnatural and that stops it happening most of the time. This is not the way life should be.

How do we make it as easy as breathing?

1. No planning
2. It should be fun

First of all, don't try and meet people. Yes, don't try. Go out as you normally do but just go to the right places, full of a crowd that wants the same thing.

How does LikeOurselves.com do it?

You choose, as a crowd, where you want to go later today.

Rather than doing one to one awkward meetings, just collectively go to the same venues and feel the buzz of an environment full of like-minded people.

The crowd can be 'women interested in travel', 'women entrepreneurs', any other group or a combination of the above. Go to the place as a crowd and it's up to you if you want to talk to others there but it will be easy and natural as everyone around you is interested in the same things.

It all happens in one day and without planning

The great thing is that you do it without it being a pre-planned event. You do it any day you feel like it. No planning of venues is required, no organiser is needed and it will feel like a normal way of going out but with all the right people.

You can even choose your own venue and the crowd will come to you.

Shy?

If a person is shy but really does want to talk to others then they can use the 'hi' feature. This is how it works (as described in the context of singles but it applies to all groups and types of people): http://blog.likeourselves.com/2010/10/how-single-students-can-use.html

The details of how it works

Learn fast by looking at the demos: http://www.LikeOurselves.com/demo/

100 women interested in travel, networking, entrepreneurship etc. can choose to go to the same venues this evening and without having any organiser to plan it.

It works like this: The first person selects a place to go and any other women within 30km can see this choice. They themselves can also choose that venue or another one. Over the course of a few hours in the day, if they are interested, all 100 can have chosen the same 1 or 2 venues to go to.

Of course, there may be up to a 1000 people within 30km interested in this and so they can spread themselves around a number of bars across the city or even in bars down one street.

Before they even get there, they can chat online to the other people going and they can see which interests they have in common e.g. 'Interested in travelling to South America with other women' etc.

Worried about privacy? Don't show your picture, don't show anything!

They can't be tracked as all personal information is wiped each day and also, they don't need to use their name or a picture if they feel uncomfortable.

LikeOurselves.com team

Life is short, people matter and real conversations count.