10 million in 10 weeks

In my opinion, the most interesting session from todays “Graphing Social Patterns” was probably the least formal.  BJ Fogg, Dan Ackerman-Greenberg & Robert Fan showcased an experimental class held recently at Stanford, where they collectively taught a class on Facebook applications.  Their intent was to cover persuasive applications (and metrics) focusing on three things: Virality, Engagement & Education.

 Each student was to build 3 apps within 10 weeks, with most of the effort being completed in 6-7 [construction] weeks.  They were exepecting aprox. 20 students, and were overwhelmed the first day to have over 120 people showup.  participation later dwindled to aprox. 80 thru the course.  Those dropping were believed to have regretted it upon the success and recognition upon completion.

With help from Jia Shen (rockyou), the cirriculum shifted quickly from persuasive tech interactions, to actually building facebook apps (and quickly.)  The class was so energized, that even when evacuated one day due tao a gas leak, the class kept working from outside, on the lawn.  Students have since formed usergroups, meeting regularly outside of class, and continut to today.

The final exam, was to pitch their applications to 500 industry people, in 3 minutes.  The audience consisted of students, execs, and VCs.  Nobody wanted to leave, the event was so engaging they had to be physically kicked out at the end of the night.

 The aftermath of the program yielded:

– 500k-1M revenue generated
– 3 companies formed
– 2 companies acquired
– more job offers than students can handle
– several drop outs to start businesses (rob & dan included)
                        
Learnings:

– never to late to create winning app
– students knew nothing about creating fb apps
– – opportunities still exist
– interesting to realize, simple apps won, then came engagement!
– dont get too attached to one app idea, iterate quickly, wait for feedback, iterate again.
– many cummy trials beat deep thinking (agile vs. waterfall, surfaces again!)
– most successful students shared code
– often what seemed like killer idea, didnt work
– sometimes what seemed stupid, worked really well
– kiss me, first viral success.
– need virality,  invite friends easily, then add features.
– metrics do matter, but todays tools too weak
– instrument your apps to track virual engagements
– isnt luck or magic, is a learnable skill
– teams who failed first, later created successful apps
– balance chaos/control
– fast cycles (model of silicon valley) – agile-esq

– what doesnt work, is get alot of smart people working on major strategy
– what did work, was quick ideas, quick mistakes, fast learning
– focus is shifting toward ‘engagement’, extended from virarlity. 

In closing:
The presenters believed these results were truly a big deal.  They enabled mass interpersonal persuasion with no budget, and no prior experience. The group was able to reach 10+ million users in 10 weeks!  This kind of persusion/adoption hasnt been realized since “radio”.  They then closed, referencing opportunities exist to change the word in compelling ways..  pretty cool huh?

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