An open source youth networking platform.
Headquartered in Vellore Institute of Technology Chennai, Cambuzz began as a side project and is now a tiny, bootstrapped idea helping the VIT Chennai family to share their events and is trying to become a go-to resource for discovering and connecting with everyone in the campus. Since the problems students faced in our campus were generic in nature, we open sourced the platform to realize our team’s vision of creating an equal playground for college students in terms of opportunities and exposure.
In my freshman year, I felt that I was at a disadvantage in terms of exposure compared to some of the more premier colleges in India. I realized that lot of complications in the existing education system in India are a manifestation of one core problem: effective communication. So I co-founded Cambuzz with Prashant and we brought together a team of like minded friends who supported the idea.
Since we had literally no exposure to product building, we built Cambuzz solely on our instincts. Repeated user feedbacks helped in design iteration. All our team knew was:
Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough. - Mark Zuckerberg.
Armed with the design critique and a little technical experience at BetterButter, I led most of our brainstorming sessions which happened in the night after classes, using whiteboards to conceptualize our product. Insights from the discussion included bringing the feature set from 8 to 3, changing the project workflow even it meant changing our operating system (Goodbye Windows, Hello Linux!), and learning about each member’s strength and weaknesses.
Core responsibilities included:
- Led the design and development process which included the webapp, android app and marketing and promotional material.
- Hustling and troubleshooting whenever and wherever the team required: getting permissions, getting more team members, helping up setup server.
Starting in May 2015, Cambuzz has garnered 1000+ organic signups, mostly through word of mouth.
The 3 main features:
- Buzz: get to know about all the events happening in our campus.
- Track Teacher: searchable database of teacher’s details and probable free slot for interaction.
- Q/A Forum: ask questions, get answers and network with your peers in our campus.
Initial design ideation process:
I felt that the system set an example to fellow students - by solving the first set of problems of increasing communication through the use of Internet-related technologies, we were able to show students that if “we could do it, you can too”, giving rise to multiple such entrepreneurial activities inside our college. After the initial success, people from other college started noticing and the more we spoke to our friends in other niche colleges, the more we felt that these problems are relevant and are not strictly limited to our own campus. So we open-sourced Cambuzz with the vision of starting a movement of networking and effective communication, without the friction of money and environment. One just needs motivation and little technical skills to deploy Cambuzz in their own university.
Imagine the outcome if every campus in India, (even in the poor areas) have one copy of Cambuzz which is connected to other nodes. A mesh of opportunities, exposure, skill-set and exchange of ideas will be on the rise. We will be able to tap into the very resources that generate the maximum revenue for any country: the youth and enrich them more so they stay in India and make in India. Concept validation: when student lacking brick and mortar schools become successful.
- Reduce user friction: After the launch I realized the users found a lot of friction in even signing up. Since it was student run, our friends had notions like “Can the website be trusted with our privacy?”. User signups could have been much faster if we could have used Google or Facebook accounts for authentication.
- Social Media Marketing: Consumer tech products breath through user generated content. Content being shared on social media is one such way to gather tremendous exposure and increasing word of mouth growth. I forgot to include a share feature in Cambuzz! People weren’t able to share their content outside, which led to isolation of content and minimal consumer reach.
- Stop imagining all corner cases inside one room: I did conduct informal feedback sessions about Cambuzz. But I lacked breadth in terms of demographic since I had mostly interviewed students. Since the teachers also started taking interest, their insights were golden for Cambuzz.