Besomebody Closes App, Launches Learning Paths for Vocational Training
Boston, MA (January 9, 2017) – Besomebody, a global platform to help people live their passions, announced in an email to community members that it was shutting down the original “#besomebody” iOS app. The app, developed, launched and tested for 18 months in Austin, Texas, enabled people to learn anything they were passionate about by booking experiences with experts around them. The experiences were booked online, and then enjoyed in-person.
The company has pivoted to focus on a new core product called Learning Paths – vocational training programs that teach Candidates the skills they need to succeed in available jobs. Besomebody Founder & CEO, Kash Shaikh, cited two primary factors for the pivot: a slowing demand in people booking ‘fun’ experiences on the app; and the aftermath of the student debt and skilled worker crises, which has left millions of Americans out of work, without the skills needed to succeed.
To design the Paths, Besomebody is partnering with leading Employers in high-growth industries to understand their job openings and the skills needed for those jobs. Then, Besomebody brings on professionals in the city to teach the Paths. Finally, selected Candidates learn through a series of in-person, skills-based experiences until they complete the Path. Path graduates who complete the Path on time and meet certain performance requirements are guaranteed a job with the endorsing employer.
The company stated that Path development and testing is happening in “stealth” with a few select employers. To learn more and request an invite to the pilot, employers can visit besomebody.com/employers.
In addition to Learning Paths, Besomebody has expanded its website to become a complete destination for people looking to live their passion. Visitors can watch inspirational videos, read expert advice and host, submit or share their own community events and passion projects.
Shaikh said the company would share much more about the Learning Paths and new direction in the weeks ahead, but focused his note to community members on what the company learned during the app launch.
Shaikh’s full message to the Besomebody Community is transcribed below. To join Besomebody’s global community, sign-up at besomebody.com.
Email from Besomebody Founder & CEO, Kash Shaikh, to Community Members (originally sent January 6th, 2017):
I hope you’re having a great start to the New Year, and that you’re focused, excited and ready for a big 2017. At Besomebody, this time of year has always been sentimental to us. Not just because of the clean slate and fresh start that comes with the turning of the calendar, but because it’s a season of new beginnings. And, it’s the month that this whole journey began for us. My brother and I created the original #besomebody blog on January 11, 2011 – 1/11/11. And as we get set to celebrate 6 crazy years of unimaginable highs, heartbreaking lows, and so many spaces, places and experiences in between, we’re excited for yet another new beginning.
As of tomorrow, January 7th, at 6pm EST, we are officially closing the #besomebody app. After that time, you will no longer be able to access any of your experiences, messages or information.
It’s definitely a bittersweet moment, because our team and thousands of users, supporters and Passionaries poured everything we had into making that dream a reality. We had a big idea and we freaking went for it. That is what #besomebody is all about. I am really proud of our team, and I am really proud of what we built, learned and achieved.
In 2013, while traveling the world spreading the #besomebody movement through talks at schools, art on street corners and all types of passion-led events and experiences, I saw that so many people weren’t happy. They weren’t happy because they weren’t living the life they truly wanted to live. They were feeling caged into something smaller than they dreamed. They felt trapped into being who someone else wanted them to be. They were lost because their profession and their passion felt light years apart.
That’s when I realized my personal mission, and the mission of #besomebody: to help people live their passion.
And I realized that a powerful way to do that was through teaching and learning. Connect people who had a passion, and wanted to learn, with people who shared that passion, and had the ability to teach. And, most exciting of all, enable those who did the teaching to make money doing it. So, after a ton of work from a small group of people, we created an app that brought that concept to life. And by the end of 2014, that idea was a reality in our test market of Austin, Texas.
I am proud to say that over 100 Passionaries in Austin and surrounding cities made a total of $109,000 during our test market. And more than 2,000 experiences were booked and completed, everything from archery, boxing, and cooking, to wakesurfing, watercoloring and yoga.
It was awesome and we are truly grateful for the life-changing experience of taking an idea from mind to market to monetization in 18 months.
But, there were some issues with our model. Three big factors caused us to decide to change directions.
1. Demand – i.e. people booking Experiences – was weaker than we expected. This honestly really surprised me. After spending years talking to people about their passions, I expected a more consistent and steady flow of bookings on our platform. Initial bookings were great, and people loved their Experiences, with an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars across the board. But, rebookings were less frequent than we hoped, with weeks and even months passing between Experiences. In order to make this a successful business for us, AND for the thousands of Passionaries looking to make money doing what they loved, we would need tens of millions of users booking 1-2 Experiences per year on our platform. Based on the cost to grow from city to city, and the slowing demand, we just didn’t see that happening within the time constraints and financial limitations we faced.
2. It wasn’t true learning. Because people were booking one-off experiences, our mission to enable people to live their passion through in-person, experiential learning was not coming to life. You can’t truly learn something unless you commit to it. And that commitment takes weeks, months or even years. While we had some really inspiring success stories of people learning things – like how to ride a motorcycle or horse; or how to paint or play piano – the vast majority of people were booking experiences for fun, not learning. Now, don’t get me wrong, FUN is awesome. But, fun is a luxury to many people. Fun doesn’t always pay the bills. Passion and learning and career all need to come together to put people in a position to have fun “loving what they do” every day. And we were falling short on that. So we realized we needed to evolve our product and strategy to enable this to happen. (Btw, we worked our butts off all 2016 to figure this out, and we believe we are onto something big with our new Learning Paths. More below).
3. We weren’t serving our core community. Because our app evolved into a ‘fun and cool things to do’ marketplace, only a small sliver of our multi-million-member community (our content now reaches 10 million people every week, across 180 countries) could really take advantage of it: people who had disposable time and income. Our app customers were trending to a much more affluent demographic than we original set out to serve. Again, there is nothing wrong with this, and in a lot of ways, from a business standpoint, focusing on a higher-income audience is a no-brainer. But at #besomebody, most of our community all around the world isn’t there yet. We are grinding. We are in the trenches. We are working our asses off to build a dream. We’re just not in a place (yet) where we can afford fun stuff all the time. I realized that to really serve our vision, we actually needed to begin with the opposite. We need to focus on helping the people who are hurting the most. People who are unemployed and underemployed. People who are ready to work hard, but just need a little advice and inspiration and direction. So we’ve created a new model that we believe can help people get to where they want to go.
This note is already long enough, so I won’t share all the details of our new direction with you here. Our official launch of the new besomebody.com is – you guessed it – on January 11th (1/11/17). At that time and the days after, we’ll share more about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. I can’t wait!
But for now, I wanted all of you to get the first peek. It all starts now at besomebody.com. We’re creating a platform to help people everywhere live their passion – Inspiration, Advice, Community and Careers. We believe – we’ve learned – that those four areas all work together to help people find their path.
And speaking of Paths again, our Learning Paths are the centerpiece of what we’re building. Besomebody Learning Paths are vocational training programs that teach Candidates the specific, practical, ‘real world’ skills they need to succeed in jobs they are passionate about. The Paths are 100% in-person, experiential learning, and are managed through our online Path product and dashboard on besomebody.com. We are working in “stealth” with a few select Employers to pilot and prove a few Paths, and we’ll share much more on these in the future. Including the two crises – the Student Debt crisis and the Skilled Worker crisis – that are colliding together to make the need for these Paths more important than ever.
I have never been more excited about ANYTHING we’ve done at Besomebody than these Learning Paths. And we are going to do all we can to bring them to life.
In addition to our Paths, you can watch our top trending videos in our Inspiration section; read honest, helpful articles from experts and thought-leaders in our Advice section; and host or attend events and projects in your own city through our Community section. These are the early days and we will constantly be improving and expanding each of these areas as we go, and grow.
If you’re still with me on this note, thank you. And if you’ve stayed with us through all these years, THANK YOU.
It’s been a wild ride. I never imagined ANY of this when I first wrote “The #Besomebody Lifestyle” on January 11, 2011. We are so grateful to all of you, and to all the opportunities and experiences that have led us all over the world, to the biggest stages and under the brightest lights. And now, true to form, we are beginning again. A new year, a new set of challenges, and the same crazy dream. The same vision: We want to help YOU live your passion. And I truly believe that we can make it happen. We sure as hell are gonna give it everything we got. Winning is going for it.
Thanks very much. We are building this together.
Kash Shaikh, Founder & CEO of Besomebody, on behalf of Rick, Alex, Matt, Kayla and Love.
About Besomebody, Inc.
Besomebody, Inc. is a global platform to help people live their passion – inspiration, advice, community and careers. Besomebody’s motivational content reaches more than 10 million people in 180 countries through both online and offline engagement. Besomebody’s Learning Paths are vocational training programs that teach selected candidates the specific skills they need to succeed in specific jobs they are passionate about. Besomebody was founded by Kash Shaikh in 2014, after beginning as his personal blog in 2011.