[Editorial notes : Wanna learn entrepreneurship? Don’t write a bplan. Guest author, Abhishek tells you a quicky way. A quora way!]
If you think you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, go test yourself against one of the most unforgiving customer subset – the intellectuals (pseudo-intellectuals if you wish) of Quora. The metric is simple: Make 50,000 Quora Credits in a month.
The Only Rule
You cannot be “Anonymous”. A startup founder will have to face criticism, pissed-off customers, semi-mad suppliers and what not! Real world sees your face, remembers it and only then forgets it.
What You Will Learn
By the time the challenge will end, whether you would have failed or succeeded, you would learn immense insights on the way this sinister world of ours functions. Playing this challenge could be the least costly way for you to get some dope on whether you will like the grass once you reach the other side.
So, here are some of the many things you might get as a bonus:
1. Bootstrapping: You start with 500 Credits. These can be used either to promote your answers (or questions you have answered) or ask people to answer questions for you. Both ways can be used to “market” your products (answers in this case). Invest wisely!
2. Fundraising: You can raise Quora Credits from friends. Try it and may it make you understand a few things about borrowing money. And do note that they are borrowed credits! You can spend them and go bankrupt but cannot count them towards the end goal.
3. Product Conceptualization and Creation: You will write answers (create products) and wait for them to sell (get upvotes). You will keep rechecking the notification bar (cash-register) and nobody will come calling. Will it hurt? Why won’t it? But slightly lesser than the real deal.
4. Marketing (Advertisements): You will spend your first lot of Credits promoting, it won’t work.
What’s worse (in a good sense) is that Quora shows you the number of people who have sampled the product and not bought. You will get to see in real-time how your marketing budget can erode if spent just because you “had to something”. The best part will be the anguish you will feel around the mid-point of your promotion when you could potentially pull the plug on the promotion and salvage 50% of your hard-earned credits. Maybe you will pull the plug and keep wondering if it would have gained traction later on or maybe you will splurge it all and curse yourself later. Either ways, you would learn crucial lessons on bleeding cash, defining target audiences, market-timing, etc.
5. Marketing (Celebrity Promotions): You will write a great answer (according to you) but since nobody is coming and it’s rotting on the sidewalk, you might get tempted to A2A (Ask-to-Answer) a Quora Celeb with an enviable celebrity following, expecting to boost visibility via his answer through spillover effects. They will come in hordes indeed but show their respect to their God and leave. Some will throw a coin or two your way but it would be nowhere close to what you had spent.
Oh, by the way, all this is subject to the Celeb giving you his precious attention in the first place and even then on him not acting like a show-piece with just a half-hearted performance.
6. Unique Selling Proposition: Once the depression would have given way to anger, you would get another boost of energy and might try to game the system. You would have by now thoroughly convinced yourself that the market is full of crooks, customers are stupid and only cheap entertainment (said thrice) sells. You might then try your hand at selling what other are selling, massaging egos and writing what the audience wants to hear.
You will make progress. In fact, a lot of progress if you are not a miserable dimwit. But no amount of following the trend will bring you the riches. You will have to buck-the-trend and figure out your USP or you will find this very similar to the boring job you are doing today you idiot! Where would be the adrenaline rush you were aspiring for in the first place?
7. Only customer’s opinion matters
You will learn quite early in the game that a good product just sells. It needs no marketing, it needs no celebrity endorsements, it needs nothing, it just sells. What you will learn as the game nears the end is that only your customers get to define what is “good”.
Best of Learning!
Important Note: I do not give you anything if you win!
[Guest post by Abhishek Dabas. Abhishek is a social entrepreneur and believes trust can be engineered, choices should be taken away, life must be randomized and playing it safe will kill you sooner. You can follow him on Twitter or Quora.]
Recommended Read : Why are Indians so damn active on Quora?