Suppose I were to tell you there's a resource available to you that enables you to easily set up your own Web page to advertise your skills on a site that potential employers use to find the skills they need. And suppose I were to tell you that there are absolutely no ads involved, and that this resource is absolutely free. Sound too good to be true?
That site is called Tischen, and it was set up by a remarkably talented guy named Saman Rahmanian who is dedicating himself to the aim of helping to rid the world of unemployment. If you Google Rahmanian, you'll find that he was an award-winning art director at the high-profile ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky who decided to give it all up to help other people find jobs. I spoke with Rahmanian yesterday to get the story behind his site, which he says is best described as a "talent directory." He explained how it came to life this way:
I was an art director at CP+B, an ad agency, when the global recession really hit the U.S. the hardest. Even though I was lucky that my job was safe, I saw that there were a lot of very skilled and talented people suddenly out of a job. That's when I realized that this wasn't as much of a problem as it was an opportunity. Suddenly, you could tap into all these resources-these people had a lot of time on their hands. I felt compelled that there needed to be some way to bring together these skills and talents with a platform. So I created Tischen based on the premise that even though there was an economic recession, everyone still needed to get their stuff done, and there were a lot of people with time on their hands and all the skills and talents that were needed. I started building Tischen while I was still employed full-time, and then I decided I needed to pursue this further, so I quit my job and I'm doing this full-time.
There are no ads, so the only income Tischen receives is from a sprinkling of users who opt to pay nine dollars a month for a "Plus" membership, which really doesn't provide all that much more than the free membership. But Rahmanian isn't trying to push that-he's far more interested in ensuring universal availability:
Right now the focus is really on building the platform and making sure that as many people as possible are benefiting from the platform. Almost all the value that you get from Tischen is in the free membership. And we felt this was an important step-if we really want to rid the world of unemployment, then probably the only price model that would work is making sure it's free and accessible to everyone without paying anything. We have the Plus membership for nine dollars a month, which is for those people who are doing well in their job search, and they need to have some extra features, such as an individual domain name, getting direct job-request alerts via SMS, a preferred search ranking, and more options for your Tischen page template. But the majority of people find that all the value they need right now is in the free membership.
How on earth is he able to keep it going with so little income? Rahmanian says you'd be surprised how much can be accomplished with very limited funds:
We're managing to keep the servers very efficient, so the cost to run the operation is very minimal at the moment. It's basically myself, who is doing all the design, information architecture, and promotion. Then there's my wife, who's a lawyer and has been helping with all sorts of legal issues, as well as doing most of the language work. And then we have one full-time programmer who's developing the code. So it's really two to three people who are running Tischen right now. For sure, in the future the more users we have, the more expensive it will get, and at that time we will just put some extra value into the Plus membership. But the focus right now is on making sure we reach a lot of people.
So anyone who wants to use this service can do so with zero ads, zero hassles, and zero cost. It all begged a final question: What's Rahmanian's response to people who say there has to be a catch-that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is?
Those people probably often miss out on opportunities in life, if they think there has to be a catch in everything they come across. The proposition we have is not that farfetched.
It isn't that farfetched if you're able to accept the notion that there are really good people in this world who just want to be of service to others. Sometimes, if it sounds too good to be true, it's only because true goodness has prevailed.