‘Challenges are opportunities in disguise’ said Mr. Arbab Usmani, the founder of UppSkill, a digital marketer and teaching community manager, who has spent over 13 years in the domain.
In continuation to our stories featuring inspiring community managers, we decided to have a chat with Arbab, who has had a long stint in the domain of community teaching and management. As we got ready to interact over the phone, Mr. Usmani was busy preparing for a lecture at IIT Bombay.
He has already delivered many such lectures at leading IITs and IIMs. Through our conversations, we could easily gauge his teaching approach.
‘There was hardly any industry-oriented syllabus on digital and social media marketing back then, though many professionals desperately needed to learn those skills’, he became nostalgic as he talked about the India of a decade and a half back.
Starting off as a digital marketer in PhilaHomes, which was taken over by ZiphyHomes, he was extremely disappointed to find overpriced community based teaching courses made out of materials freely available online.
‘I always knew that communities are the solutions. People, when together, can build anything.’
UppSkill was thus started with a teaching community approach where every classroom is reflected via an online micro-community for peer interactions. The student peer groups are built to provide a safe, non-judgmental, and positive environment that is available 24*7 for help as well as guidance.
‘Non-judgemental conversations are important. A trait we share with LikeMinds.’ This brought a smile to our faces.
UppSkill was one of the earliest to offer courses on online communities in India. During Covid, Arbab grew his student base using UppSkill Comm Grid, leveraging micro-communities. In the process, he gained more students in the last 8 months than the last 3 years combined.
He had planned to open local chapters of his teaching community but pandemic played spoilsport.
‘With the likes of Whatsapp and Telegram groups to get feedback on course and organic word-of-mouth marketing, education is truly being revolutionized by communities.’
His words re-establish our faith in the merits of sustainable community entrepreneurship. Many community managers are fast evolving into community entrepreneurs. These people are instrumental in building viable businesses that are based around socially relevant issues.
From education to mental health, and from stocks to marketing – the avenues are many. Thanks to people like them, the world is slowly becoming one large community – Vasudeva Kutumbakam.
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