Austin’s Besomebody Finds Market in Individuals’ Passions

Kash Shaikh wants to help people make money by pursuing their passions. His vehicle for that mission is a startup called Besomebody.

Shaikh spent 10 years at Procter & Gamble, working on social media campaigns for everyday household products sold by the multinational giant. But it was doing the same for GoPro where he says he realized the power—and marketability—of passion.

“That’s where I saw the vision of the potential to build a brand, not starting with a product or service, but with content and a community and grassroots experiences,” he says.

Austin, TX-based Shaikh started using “#besomebody” as a personal mantra on Twitter in 2009. Two years later, it morphed into a blog run with his brother. And now, Shaikh is building an online self-improvement network that encourages people to follow their dreams, and make money from them, by buying, selling, or trading skills related to their passions.

E.W. Scripps Company (NYSE: SSP), the media company based in Cincinnati, sees the potential. It invested $1 million in Besomebody earlier this summer.

The startup currently has about 50 people signed up for the site’s beta. Shaikh says he hopes to have at least double that amount by the launch in October, which will coincide with an inaugural Besomebody weekend conference in Austin.

“Once I knew we could get funding, and from a media and content distribution company, we could focus on building local communities,” Shaikh says.

So far, Shaikh says Besomebody has a community of 4 million people in 180 countries. I spoke with him about Besomebody’s origins and his plans for creating his community. Here is an edited transcript of our conversation:

Xconomy: How did Besomebody start?

Kash Shaikh: I’m from Houston, a University of Texas-Austin graduate. Right out of school, I spent 10 years at P&G. I led social marketing for Old Spice, Tide. I got to understand how to build big brands at scale. The coolest part of my job was the last two years, when I was creating social marketing for developing markets in South America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and eastern Europe. From 2009 to 2011, I was on the road internationally 80 percent of the time, visiting 43 countries, launching products. On the personal side, I was turning 30, trying to figure out what my purpose was in life. I had a breakup and I was trying to get back into the gym. It was a reflection point in life.

During my traveling, I was inspired by the experiences and people I met. I started writing about what I was feeling and experiencing and shared it on Twitter. I started #besomebody as a personal mantra to push and motivate myself. I got a bit of following from sharing these. The more real … Next Page »

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