Roughly a year ago, I was evaluating relocating to Silicon Valley to start another venture. I decided to pursue the education path to plug myself into an environment where I ’d have higher flexibility to take a step back and think about what would be the problem I’d love to solve for the rest of my life. I discovered Software Management program @ Carnegie Mellon University Silicon valley campus and began evaluating whether it would be a good choice for me. I din’t know that this evaluation experience will take me deep down the very basics of Social Networks. The “Friend Request” culture that we live in today and how it has slowly become the only way to connect with people.
As obvious by now, I found it terribly difficult to connect with people to leverage their experience in order to explore perspectives of different people specific to my interest. I spent lot of time browsing LinkedIn and Facebook to explore relevant folks who were either studying or graduated recently and reached out to them. Here is what was the outcome!
- Sent friend requests to 5 students. No response ever. I totally understood.
- Subscribed to a premium plan and sent 10 InMails. One response ever. I didn’t totally understand.
Wasn’t I supposed to have gotten better conversion here?
Anyway, that one conversation helped me discover valuable insights and I chose the program on that basis. Guess what! My decision was half baked! It’s got nothing to do with the person who guided me but my limitation in asking all the relevant questions to that person. The point is because it is so difficult to connect with people we do not know, we have no choice but to jump at conclusions much faster for small or big decisions alike.
The experience was so painful that I ended up pursuing a raw idea addressing this pain point in one of our classes. It occurred to me that 100s of thousands of students must be trying the same way every year, while the social networking tools that exist today are actually not designed to serve this specific need. After 8 months of research and toying around with many ways to address the challenge, my appreciation for the problem statement increased tremendously.
Eventually, I concluded that the Person-to-Person connection experience on web is completely broken. None of the famous social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Quora is designed to serve a very simple human need, which is the “Right to Request”. Internet seems to have completely missed the opportunity to create a platform that would give people their Right to Request anyone in this world beyond the complexity of degrees of connection. I discovered meaningful insights, developed interesting theories, and conceptualized few ideas. I’ve just begun to develop a platform to use it for myself and hopefully it will be a fun journey.
Meantime, anyone who wants to connect with me to discuss about the SM Program (or the ideas) is welcome! If you intend to start a company during or after the program, I may be able to add much more value to the conversation.