rethinking traditional assumptions & business models

I was filling out a form for Kairos Society, where I am a fellow. It is a global network of student entrepreneurs and we basically are there to help out each other in whatever possible ways. I am infact looking out for more fellows from the India-West region. If you or any of your friends have an inclination towards entrepreneurship, then you should definitely apply  for Kairos Fellowship.

 

Here is the question which I was to answer –

Historically, some of the most innovative and pioneering entrepreneurs have started by rethinking traditional assumptions and business models. Tell us about an area that you think is ripe for disruption, or about a way to solve new problems with existing technology and resources.

And here is what I wrote as my answer –

Pedagogy has developed at educational institutions over centuries and now we have a set structure of the flow of knowledge in almost all spheres of life. Most of the processes involved in the system have been streamlined or are continuously in process. New Technology is making better of what is left to improve such that the advancements made in tech world get reflected in the education space as well. But there is another kind of learning that happens and is going on along with this dedicated system of education.

Everyone in this world has a passion, interest for which they really care about, in a lot of cases more than their regular day-jobs. Most of these activities are carried out not for their end result or how much they can earn out of it but just for the love doing it. For some this activity of interest can be as simple as reading for others it can be as time consuming as racing motor cars, for me it is photography.

I want to highlight upon the learning process people go through when they are working on their passion, since most of these activities are not learnt through a formal structure of an educational institution, people develop simpler ways of learning – learning from each other. There is always someone out there in your locality who would be interested in doing what you do. That is why there are so many hobby clubs and societies based on similar interests. Social Media is disrupting the way these hobby clubs and societies are functioning. The effects are clearly visible in the reach of such groups, now it is much easier to identify such groups.

But there is much more that is possible with internet apart from taking the offline conversations to online medium. Revenue of social media sites is depends on just one number – active userbase. With increasing reach and acceptance of internet by people of all generations and regions, the critical number to sustain a independent and focused platform dedicated to a particular walk of life is getting easier to achieve. Rather than making a generalized platform for all kinds of communication, it is possible to make learning focused platform for hobbies and interest groups. Some examples of well executed platforms dedicated to a hobby that I love are – goodreads for book readers, last.fm for music lovers, quora for inquisitive souls, and there are many more, but a man has got only limited interests!

The community on these sites are not just focused on sharing the content and neither have they made themselves a forum for clearing each other’s doubts. They are a perfect platform for information consumption and participation. Their userbase is a subset of the userbase of general communication based social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter but they have developed smarter and alternative ways of revenue generation. Since the userbase of any dedicated platform is clear on it’s interests, even targeted advertising is not considered disturbing if it leads to discovery of some innovative product.

I am building Photowalkrs which I believe is the needed learning focused platform for photography. We are starting off with photography events – Photowalks as these events are the time where experienced photographers share their knowledge with new ones. We have an active site where people are already sharing what events they are attending and what they can learn there. With time and active participation by a critical userbase we will be expanding the learning to pre-event, during-event and post-event activities and making the entire offline experience integrated with the online one. It is more important to achieve an integrated eco-system in the case of hobby groups as there is no one-to-many flow of knowledge like there is in a traditional institution style eco-system but it is many-to-many and peer-to-peer form of learning.