An amazing panel discussion took place between Jeff Yang of the Wall Street Journal and Joe Chen, founder and CEO of the social networking giant Renren (NYSE: RENN). Renren is often referred to as “The Facebook of China” and has a market cap of $2.4 billion in U.S. currency. Chen is one of the most influential Internet pioneers in China and rarely makes an appearance in the US.
It turns out Joe is very approachable, wonderful to talk with, and brimming over with lessons for business success. He presented three tips for entrepreneurs to succeed at the MIT Club of Northern California event.
- Tip number one comes from Jerry Yang and Warren Buffet, who Chen says are two of his biggest influencers. Their advice was to focus and master areas of expertise. Chen’s words were, “Your circle of competence is vital in order to raise and make money.” He stated that you should limit yourself wisely. Hone in on only a few areas of expertise, learn them well, become a master. Then, cultivate a network of support, with members whose circles of competence differ from yours. Tap into these people as resources and allow them to help build your success. He tells an interesting story of how in the early days, his company Renren was burning through the investment cash and would soon run out of money. Out of necessity, he had to cut staff levels by 50 percent and focus the business on one area. It worked. The company grew to $168 million. If you can focus on one area when you have lots of options, you will do well.
- Tip number two states that with social media, you need to enable users to do what they want in the shortest amount of time possible. He explained that the four areas of social media are communication, search, entertainment and e-commerce. Each of these has been profoundly simplified and transformed by social media, which has created rapid adoption. Some successful examples of companies with defined categories are Groupon for e-commerce, Facebook for communication, and Twitter for entertainment. The gaming world was the first to leverage social media, with online games like Zenga.
- Tip number three is about going mobile. In order to be accessible and visible on a small phone screen, online products must be built very differently. Simply put, people will search less on a phone than a computer because it’s hard to type on the phone. So, mobile applications need to be very simple and be built on behavioral economics. The mobile format requires a different form factor. Make your product or service better as a mobile tool. To do this well, he recommends testing, improving, measuring, improving and repeating.
How can these tips be applied to health and wellness? Can social media revolutionize health care, enable community care of individuals, and thus promote a greater general wellness? What would you recommend? Please comment and send your views.
Today, we see health-centric digital devices working wonders mainly for fitness fanatics and quantified self bio-hackers. Yes, the use of digital devices is expanding into the general population via health professionals and devices such as Wii Fit, FitBit and emWave. Yet, what is the best way to promote the expansion of this trend to more consumers? Converting health-conscious programs to a mobile platform offers an enormous opportunity to help wellness and improve health for so many people.
Adopting the above-mentioned principles and applying them to make wellness simple, fun, and easy to use on the mobile platform could make digital health as ubiquitous as taking photos with your smart phone.
Now, I am off for a hike with the dogs and will turn on my mobile app to count my steps and then use the HeartMath Inner Balance mobile sensor to stay in sync for the rest of the day.