Austin’s Besomebody Finds Market in Individuals’ Passions

8/11/14Follow @angelashah

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and raw and honest and vulnerable, the better the posts started to do.

I realized there’s a power in words, something about this term, “be somebody,” that connected with people all over the planet. They would attach what they were inspired and motivated by and it organically grew into this community of people. I would have people writing in saying I inspired them to chase his dream of being photographer. I thought there was something there so I was trying to figure out what it was.

Then I thought, I’m full of shit. I’m encouraging all these people … but I hadn’t even done it yet. So I resigned and moved back to Texas. The only other full-time employee is my brother. In the past 15 months, I traveled around the world three times on a spotlight people campaign. I went on a college-speaking tour from UT to Miami to Yale in a 1,500-mile loop around the country.

X: Tell me about the website. What is on there so far? How many buyers/sellers?

KS: We haven’t launched the platform yet. We’re connecting [people] offline. For the next couple of months, we’re looking into how much are people willing to pay for experiences. We want to ensure that the best in the city are on the platform. We’re focusing on four specific categories: art, music, fitness, and adventure.

We have multiple revenue streams. The apparel line we’re creating from scratch. We’ll have events and experiences, including Besomebody weekend in Austin in October when we’ll unveil the mobile platform as well. Our production company will create content and video around the world.

X: What is your revenue model?

KS: We’ll take a cut of around 5 to 10 percent. Uber and Airbnb take about 20 percent.

X: This seems like a very intangible “product.” How did you convince Scripps to invest?

KS: I spent $350,000 of my own money traveling around the world building a community. I could’ve spent a tenth of that on a mobile app. We’re tapping into the share economy, monetizing the unused capacity of your passions. That’s why we raised $1 million without a product.

There is one kid that wants to learn what you’re good at, that the traditional education system isn’t enabling them to learn. There is no single platform that connects them with experts to do that. That’s the premise of our model. This is the next economic revolution, the “passion economy.”

You can discover people across the street or state that share your passion. There’s nothing at scale that does that right now. They decide what to teach and the marketplace dictates the value.

Once we prove it here in Austin, we’ll scale across the world. Nobody is inspired about sitting in front of the computer. We’re connecting with people within the community; this is not an online classroom.

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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