Introducing Raveena, Shreevar, Tanmay and Vanita
Many companies talk a lot about being obsessed with their users and their customers.
However, Airbnb takes thinking to a whole new level.
Here’s Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, in conversation with Reid Hoffman in his podcast titled Ladder Mastersdescribing how Airbnb thinks about shaping its guest experience.
Just look at the thinking that makes Airbnb one of the most customer-obsessed companies in the world.
If you want to create something truly viral, you have to create a total mental experience that you tell everyone about. We basically took part of our product and extrapolated what a five-star experience would be like. Then we went crazy.
So a one, two or three star experience is that you arrive at your Airbnb and there is no one there. You knock on the door. They don’t open. It’s a star. Maybe it’s a three star if they don’t open, you have to wait 20 minutes. If they never show up and you’re pissed off and need your money back, it’s a one star experience. You will never use us again.
So a five star experience is you knock on the door, they open the door, they let you in. Awesome. It does not matter. You’re not going to tell all your friends about it. You might say, “I used Airbnb. It worked.” So we thought, “What would a six-star experience be?
A six-star experience: You knock on the door, the host opens the door. “Hi, I’m Reid. Welcome to my place. You are the host in this case. You would show them around. On the table would be a welcome gift. water. You go to the bathroom, there are toiletries. The whole thing is great. It’s a six-star experience. You’d say, “Wow, I like this more than a hotel.” I will definitely use Airbnb again. It worked. Better than I expected.
What is a Seven Star Experience? You knock on the door. Reid Hoffman opens. Come in. “Welcome. Here’s my full kitchen. I know you love surfing. A surfboard is waiting for you. I’ve booked lessons for you. It’s going to be an amazing experience. By the way, here’s my car. You can use my car. And I want to surprise you, too. There’s this best restaurant in town in San Francisco. I got you a table there. And you’re like, “Whoa. That’s way beyond that.
A ten star recording would be the Beatles recording. In 1964. I was getting off the plane and there were 5,000 high school kids clapping my name with cars welcoming me to the country. I would go to the front yard of your house and there would be a press conference for me, and it would just be a fucking experiment.
So what would an 11-star experience be? I would show up at the airport and you were there with Elon Musk and you said, “You’re going to space.”
I know this all sounds crazy, but Chesky says all of this to make this key point.
Here he is, right at the end of his conversation with Hoffman.
The point of the process is that maybe 9, 10, 11 is not feasible. But if you go through the crazy exercise of continuing, there’s a perfect moment between when they showed up and they opened the door and I went into space. It’s the good place.
You almost have to conceive of the extreme to go back.
So, doesn’t not knowing my preferences and having a surfboard at home seem crazy and reasonable to me?
It’s actually a bit crazy logistically, but that’s the kind of stuff that creates a great experience.
At The Ken, one of the biggest feedback loops we’ve used to figure out what stories to write and what products to create has been our followers, but last month we decided to invest a little more in that direction.
Raveena joined The Ken through a Twitter thread. True story.
A few months ago, as part of her flagship project for 10K designers, she decided to interview subscribers to find out how they read, experience and consume The Ken. At the time, Raveena was freelancing on a number of projects, and she did so as an experiment – and published her findings on Twitter.
Well, she definitely caught our attention.
When we spoke to Raveena, she shared with us more insights and insights that she learned from her conversations, many of which were quite counter-intuitive and challenged our assumptions. Fast forward a few more conversations, and Raveena has joined us full-time in a position we created for her – user researcher. Primarily, it’s there to do one thing, and that is to help us understand our followers. Over the past few weeks, she’s already interviewed dozens of subscribers, across geographies, plans, and verticals. Through his conversations and insights, the voice of our subscribers will be a key part of our decision-making across The Ken.
Raveena has a varied background and education. She graduated in political science from the prestigious Miranda House, Delhi University. After that, she completed her post-graduation in journalism at the IIJNM. She spent several years learning and working on UX design. It is this rare and unique combination that makes it perfect for understanding The Ken subscribers.
When she’s not making Twitter feeds, Raveena enjoys yoga and cycling. She has two dogs with her parents in Jodhpur – Peach and Shiro.
If you’re a subscriber and want to share your thoughts, just ping raveena at the-ken dot com. Chances are she would like to talk to you. 🙂
One of the things we focus on is audio and podcasts.
Well, because subscribers asked us to.
Enter Shreevar. Or rather, that of Shreevar voice.
Shreevar has been associated with audio for as long as he can remember. As a voice-over artist, he has lent his voice to brands like Mercedes Benz and PolicyBoss. Oh, he even has his own podcast, “That’s What Shree Said” – a tribute to protagonist Michael Scott’s catchphrase “That’s What She Said”. Prior to joining The Ken, Shreevar was at JioSaavn, where he ran the in-house music label for South Asia’s largest audio streaming platform, Artist Originals.
He joins The Ken’s podcast team to continue his audio journey, and you’ll soon hear his suave tones hitting your ears as we continue to ramp up production of our audio products. He graduated in advertising from the Symbiosis Center for Media and Communication in Pune, and although he doesn’t do podcasts or listen to podcasts, he enjoys photographing cities and writing comedies.
You can write to him at shreevar on the-ken dot com.
Until now, although we are a subscriber driven company, we have never hired anyone to manage our community. There are many reasons for this – at various points in our journey, we felt it was too early, too abstract, or too tactical to hire a community manager.
Well, that all changed when we met Tanmay.
Tanmay contacted us and expressed a desire to work closely together to build, nurture and grow The Ken community. As someone who has worked in cross-functional roles in consulting, media and start-ups, and a long-time subscriber of The Ken, he believed there were several initiatives we could launch to create a memorable experience with our community of subscribers.
I’m biased, of course, but I think The Ken’s community of subscribers is one of the most exclusive groups of ambitious and career-oriented leaders, executives and individuals in India and South Asia. -East. From the hundreds of companies that pay to unlock The Ken for their employees, to the dozens of educational institutions like IIMs and IITs whose students read us, all of our subscribers are united in a common vision – they rely on The Ken to understand the world better.
Tanmay will go even further. He will work closely with subscribers and lead all community activities, including meetups and events, to make The Ken even more valuable to all of our subscribers.
Prior to joining The Ken, Tanmay helped develop go-to-market and marketing strategies at consulting firm ZS Associates. He also interned at Newslaundry and spent a year with Students for Liberty, an organization that aims to generate student activism around freedom. He also helped lead The Millennial Man Co. to raise awareness through conversation and community engagement about issues facing men around sexuality, identity, health, and more.
He spends his free time reading and consuming content on economics, politics and technology or exploring the variety of culinary delights his hometown of Delhi has to offer. His weekends are spent watching a wide variety of books, sitcoms, and movies, as well as watching cars spin around in a circle.
You can say hello to tanmay at ken dot com.
Vanita is the latest in what is quickly becoming a tradition of unconventional hires at The Ken. Our writers have a wide range of backgrounds; MBAs, economics graduates and now, a lawyer.
She joins us as our latest writer-in-training, where she will focus on telling stories at the intersection of business and public policy, law, regulation, and diversity within organizations.
Vanita is a graduate of Symbiosis International University and a graduate in Human Rights Law from the prestigious National School of Law, University of India and has over 5 years of experience in writing, research and even training others on various aspects of the law. She began her career in the social development sector with a specialization in sexual harassment prevention laws in the workplace.
She is based in Alwar, Rajasthan. When she’s not writing, you can find her dabbling in the streets, reading Super Mario adventures or making latte art.
You can email her your thoughts at vanita at the-ken dot com