This article first appeared on the Boston Business Journal, a sister publication of BostInno.
In a November episode of ABC's "Shark Tank," Boston-based CEO Kash Shaikh pitched the panel of celebrity investors on his Besomebody app, which allows users to sign up for classes or experiences with instructors in “passions” like fitness, team building and art.
But the investors weren't buying what Besomebody was selling. They said the startup was more centered on attracting buzz than establishing a workable business model, and Mark Cuban told Shaikh he was full of "nonsense." Nobody invested.
Turns out customers weren't buying it either. On Friday, Shaikh sent an email to the Besomebody community announcing the app would shut down on Saturday, Jan. 7 at 6 p.m.
"After that time, you will no longer be able to access any of your experiences, messages or information," Shaikh wrote. "It's definitely a bittersweet moment, because our team and thousands of users, supporters and Passionaries poured everything we had into making that dream a reality. We had a big idea and we freaking went for it."
Shaikh cited three reasons for the decision. Most importantly, the demand wasn't there, especially when it came to repeat bookings. He said the business would only work if "tens of millions" of people were booking one to two experiences per year, and that just wasn't going to happen.
Second, people were using the app to book fun, one-time experiences, not to "truly learn" about their passions. And that led to the third problem, which was that the app only appealed to people who had expendable cash to put toward fun experiences, not to the full "multi-million-member community" that interacts with #besomebody content on Twitter and elsewhere on the web.
But Shaikh isn't done yet. He's hoping to rebuild Besomebody around Learning Paths – "vocational training programs that teach Candidates the specific, practical, ‘real world’ skills they need to succeed in jobs they are passionate about."
The idea would be to use Besomebody’s expertise in content marketing and experience in connecting learners and instructors to quickly train aspiring workers for jobs that are already open at certain companies, Shaikh explained in a previous interview. Shaikh said he’s been talking with Boston-area employers in the medical industry and especially in hospitality and food services to understand what kind of skills they want their employees to have.
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