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Sabeer Bhatia bets big on short format videos to mentor entrepreneurs

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Remember Sabeer Bhatia, who co-founded Hotmail in 1996, and then led what was one of the first email service providers as president and CEO, till its acquisition by Microsoft in 1998? The Silicon Valley based serial entrepreneur, who believes in simplicity behind successful business ideas, is now looking to bring innovation to the world of entrepreneurship using short-form video content with his new company ShowReel, of which he is a co-founder.

“I have created a content focussed management programme on entrepreneurship with short form videos, each 24-25 minutes long. These provide a good sense of all aspects of entrepreneurship and what it takes to become an entrepreneur. The new generation has a short attention span and they are not reading books; instead they are watching short form videos.” Bhatia told the Times of India in a recent interview. He believes that the future of education through short form videos, which have been created with artificial intelligence, will be a game changer.

“As a great start to test our product, we have brought 500 start-ups on our platform. The future will be to support entrepreneurs around the world and build partnerships for our product,” he said.

While Bhatia believes that AI is the new technology that will destroy and disrupt many sectors and jobs; he feels that out-of-the-box thinkers who are looking to solve problems, that have so far not been solved, will flourish. “We are at that moment in history when jobs that depend on a certain body of knowledge are in jeopardy and there is no turning back. I created videos of what would have earlier been one-hour lectures in two and a half minute packages. Earlier it would take a year to create these videos; now I personally made them in two weeks,” he said. He added that with lot of unemployment and job losses in different sectors it was increasingly important to create a mentorship and support platform for entrepreneurs with content created with AI.

Bhatia is excited about the future of ShowReel and is now toying with different business models for the company. “The business plan in coming months will be first to educate entrepreneurs and later deploy capital to fund some of them. Initially, it’s an opportunity to get educated on the platform through the free videos, later we could create testing facilities and provide a certificate for a small fee,” he said.

ShowReel has a big focus on India and already has a development team working from Kochi in Kerala and smaller teams based in Silicon Valley and the East Coast of the US. “We also plan to use the short form video format to build more and more content and present knowledge and education on several other topics including health and religion through the ShowReel platform,” Bhatia said.

On the personal front, Bhatia travels to India at least two to three times a year and is now planning a bicycling trip from Bengaluru to Mysore later this month. “My new passion is biking trips to explore different locations and places in India, especially parts where I have never been, such as North East and Kashmir. I would love to explore India’s rich history and culture through bicycling,” said Bhatia who is an avid biker around Los Altos Hills in Silicon Valley where he lives. “It’s a great way to explore places and neighbourhoods that you have never seen before. My biking trips in the Bay Area have helped me to experience nature and see towns and cities that I would never have done when I was driving a car on the freeways,” he said. He explained that on a recent 77-mile bike ride around Gilroy, a city in his neighbourhood in California, he discovered hills and wineries that he had never seen before despite having lived in the area for several years. And even though he is aware of the challenges that bikers in India face; Bhatia hopes that he will be able to explore places which are outside large metros using routes with good roads. “Some of my friends in India are keen bikers and they usually start very early in the morning and ride on routes away from the bustle of metros. I would love to do the same and explore places and nature at the ground level rather than as someone’s guest in a big car,” he said.

Not surprisingly, the co-founder of Hotmail is not willing to sign out of email just yet. “People have been talking about the demise of email for the longest time. But its usage continues to grow and it remains the best tool for businesses to communicate with their customers,” Bhatia said.
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