I wanted to write about the power of "community" today. It has been on my mind all weekend. After uncovering a few more Indian companies who have built scrapers that aggregated all events data from Facebook, Meetup and other sites, I spent the bulk of my Sunday pondering why they have not succeeded even though they have collected a wealth of information.
The answer, I think, is "community".
Pat Maloney at JMC Academy was the first person I met who used the word "community" in this context. Before meeting Pat in March 2017, everyone used the phrase "network effect". I realised recently that hunting for "network effect" is like trying to win the outcome without identifying the cause. Almost analogous to trying to win a million dollars at the casino without knowing which game to play.
I will leave the rest of that story for another time because a story published on HBR caught my attention this morning. In a tangential way, the article reaffirmed one of the underlying reasons we created VIVA, and what we are trying to achieve with the technology behind it - we want to improve how humans experience the real world.
When we were working on our branding with Tony more than a year ago, we decided the four key pillars for VIVA's branding:
A lot of people have asked - "what the hell does efficient mean?"
Efficiency is about improving the quality of user experiences - eliminating wild goose chases from bad data. Data quality was one of our key concerns when building VIVA. How do we give users better information than they can find on Facebook or Google? Our hypothesis was that if we can deduce more reliable information than would be available on Facebook or Google, then we can use that more reliable information to give more reliable recommendations. Our design philosophy was centred on this idea of improved reliability.
"... and that's why I have been writing a blog every day. Today's will be about community and data quality."
"It will be interesting to see if you still want to write about that when you get back."
Jac refused to have her portrait taken.
"No, Bad Wu!"
I put up one funny message on her Facebook wall years ago, just once, and she has not let that go.
"Fine. Just a photo of the coffee cup then..."
We often meet to chat about life in start-up businesses. It is an inherently interesting topic because the scope is so broad - what do people want, how do we find out what people want, why do they want what they want, how do we satisfy them, and then repeat again but replacing all the "wants" with "needs".
I often feel selfish driving conversations to satisfy my own ends - what about VIVA this, and what about VIVA that? Matt is kind enough to humour these conversations, and help solve the questions.
Marketing is one of our biggest questions at the moment. Many heads have sunk many hours into this question.
Joyce, one of our marketing interns, is spearheading one of our new branding initiatives - one that we internally call "Humans of VIVA" - that name will change. The idea of this project is to capture portraits of people talking about what they love about living life. When everything is boiled away, VIVA is a business that help people live life.
We want to put out one or two photos a week on Instagram, and so we need to capture at least four or five people in order to have enough material. This requires both Joyce and I to spend a significant amount of time talking to and photographing people. My photography skills have rusted since those heady days of my late 20s, when I used to spend hours every day visiting cafes with Penny (my little Pentax Q).
Photography is like riding a bike, I tell myself.
"Don't look at the camera. Just keep talking."
"Is the idea that if you take heaps of photos then at least one of them will be good?"
"I'm hoping so."
Matt was kind enough to humour that conversation too.