There were two big cultural moments in the 1990s — Jerry Seinfeld taught the world to make peace with nothing, as in the concept of nothing. And Sabeer Bhatia captured the imagination of a generation when he and his friend Jack Smith created Hotmail in 1996 and sold it two years later to Microsoft for an estimated $400m. The Chandigarh boy became the face of entrepreneurship, inspiring generations. Now 52, the passion continues to burn fiercely in him. He is still thinking about the next idea. No, it’s not about knowing the right people; it’s about having an idea if you truly want to succeed.
Bhatia has an idea that’s interesting and may catch on. Called ShowReel, it’s an app that with an interesting premise, in fact, a very simple one — job seekers can create professional videos of themselves while responding to questions posed by mentors. The responses are stitched together to create a professional ShowReel.
The app, inside-out
Once you tackle the simple sign-up process, you can either browse through a few ShowReels created by Sabeer, which gives you a fair idea of the app. Next you choose what kind of conversation you want ot have — professional, personal, start-up or leadership.
Many users will choose to go the “professional” way because there are “one billion unemployed people” according to the founder. There is a set of nine questions that Sabeer will ask and each answer needs to be given within two minutes. The first few questions are easy to tackle, like describing your education and your career. But then comes seemingly easy questions that require more thinking — what are your strengths, what is your dream job, what is the hardest problem you ever solve and how you did it… these are not easy.
Not everyone is looking for a job, so it could be about finding where you stand in life — your favourite cuisine, favourite product, how has the pandemic affected you and the very loaded… ‘Do you have any goals for the rest of the year?’
To make things interesting, you can find friends who are using the app, an option for which you need to give access to your contact list. It also makes sense to add details to your profile, like uploading your CV in Doc or PDF format and then adding experience. The final video is yours to upload or send.
At a glance it may appear that ShowReel is competing with LinkedIn but there’s more to Bhatia’s app. Take the case of TikTok and Facebook, both of which have video capabilities but with the former you could act out a video (to popular dialogues or song)s and upload, which made a huge difference. Bhatia hopes that ShowReel will coexist with LinkedIn.
Sabeer Bhatia, the man behind Hotmail and ShowReel
Man of many ideas
If there is any connecting factor between ShowReel and his other creation, Hotmail, it has to be simplicity, which is key to any product. The best apps in the world are the simple ones. Plus, he always works with a team who’s highly inspired by him. In a ShowReel video, Bhatia says, “I try to look at the big picture. How I can motivate people to move towards a common goal. I am great motivator of people.”
When he is not working, he can be found outdoors, playing tennis, golf, hiking, camping or spending time with his family at parks, picnic areas or the beach. At one point in his ShowReel, he asks himself to define the hardest job that he has undertaken: “The hardest job has been identifying the true intentions and motivations of people. That takes years but when you get to know who people really are… that is an art. So it’s a lot of introspection. Understanding the true intent of people and their subconscious desires, that’s a very hard thing to do. And I solved it with a lot of introspective and analysis. And I hope I got to the right answer,” says the man who started his career at Apple and then moved to a small start-up called Firepower Systems before founding Hotmail with Jack Smith.
Whether ShowReel meets the same fate as Hotmail remains to be seen but the idea he has appears sound and simple.