Hangouts, The Next Crowdsourcing Space for Startups

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Hangouts, The Next Crowdsourcing Space for Startups

By Andres Garzon
Wed, May 16, 2012

Working in a startup means resources are scarce and creativity is abundant.  It means managers have to find ways to achieve goals without a budget.  It means freedom instead of complex processes and approvals. So... with such great communication tools these days, crowdsourcing is definitely a great way to be creative, spend little cash and try new things with little risk.

That said, I’m going to give you a personal story on how we successfully achieved  a small, but important, task using Google Hangouts. The buzz around Google Hangouts and how awesome it is got our gears spinning and we asked ourselves - Why not start using it to share experiences among the different teams we have around the world? So far it’s been a great experience as UX and video latency are both great, and you can even use effects. I’ve also been joining some interesting public hangouts just to listen in on what people are talking about.  

Google Hangouts Crowdsourcing for PricetagLast week, Pricetag contracted a phone service called Grasshoper and consequently needed to record a sleek automated message so callers would be greeted by a nice and inviting voice. It was 1:00 AM when the transaction with Grasshopper was completed and I was desperate to get the message going. I don’t have a great voice or accent and neither does my wife, so I needed a “professional” native speaker that could do the job. Got deep into my creative thinking and started searching for solutions. First in mind was my wife’s partner that is great at this stuff and has a great voice, however, making this request at the wee hours wouldn’t have gone well.  Second option was a single friend that always stays up late, but when I called him, he was in a bar with a couple of beers in the tank, so it was going to be impossible to even give it a try. As a last resource I thought of hiring a $200 professional service but couldn’t because they only work during business hours and the turnaround time is two business days. It was Thursday, so going with the professional service would mean “task accomplished next week” and that was unacceptable. When I was about to give up, close my Macbook and go to sleep, a crazy idea popped into my mind. What if  I create a Hangout with the topic set to “help me record my startup phone system message”?  After a couple of interviews the right guy came in:  Matt Szalankiewicz helped me from the start. He was interested in knowing about the product and if the request was real.  He made some interesting questions and we had a great conversation.  All the pieces came together and he not only had a professional voice, but had also done audio work in the past, so he had a professional mic and a recording software.  In 15 minutes, Pricetag had its first phone system message.  I was happy and went to sleep, mission accomplished :)

Bottom line, the story is short and sweet, but the idea behind it is how creative thinking applied to finding solutions can solve problems in instances where most people tend to give up.  If you just have the courage of trying it out, luck will join and random positive actions will pop up. I always ask myself, “what’s the worst that could happen?" if the answer is below my risk level and it mostly affects my ego of embarrassment, I usually do it.

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