Let the Creatvity Flow!
I was inspired to found CafeMocha after a SAT weekend…. Many of my friends sat and memorized terms for this SAT; they by no means enjoyed their time, but studying was more or less required of them. They weren’t learning much in the long term; they were probably going to study for the test, and then forget everything afterwards.
But in reality, people will do their best and most innovative work when they want to—when they are intrinsically motivated, not when working for grades, college admittance, or money. In this sense, schools truly are killing creativity. High school basically shuns them from taking risks and rather teaches them to follow a set formula. People are thus afraid to take risks and be creative.
However, there are still tons of students who love to write poetry, essays, stories, and research, but they have no output to share their stories. Why not make a site that allows students to publish creative works and then share them with the world? That’s exactly what I did.
Students can visit CafeMocha.org and then publish their creative essays, papers, research, and poetry. Then other users can come and “sip” (or up-vote) their work, “spit” (or down-vote) their work, comment, and give creative criticism for the work.
Professional publishers can also view student’s works and recruit them to publish another work in the future.
Additionally, students can share all their creative works on previously established social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
Users can chat and message each other potential edits/variations on all the works though a messaging system.
Students can also invite their friends to CafeMocha though the above social-networks not only to show friends their work, but also to let friends experience the creative works of other worldwide users.
Users can view a “profile page” of each user and see an outline of the stories sipped, spit, commented on, and published.
Currently, if I’m a photographer, I can publish my photographs to the social-network Flickr. Similarly, if I’m a musician, I can publish to SoundCloud. But how do I publish writing and poetry to share with the world? Truth is I currently cannot; not efficiently and easily at least.
Blogging has extremely low scope since users have to go to independent pages to view work, and will most probably only go to friends’ blogs. And Tumblr is un-academic and not very compatible with high schools; CafeMocha would be a social-network for more academically oriented works that can be directly incorporated into the curriculum of schools.
CafeMocha is truly the only social-network that is truly aimed at high school students. Just as LinkedIn is for job seekers, CafeMocha is for high school students.
I am the founder and CEO, and as such, I managed website building, website designing, public relations (including press releases), search engine optimization (including website speed/optimization, off-page SEO, on-page SEO), blogging (at http://cafemocha.org/blog), article posting (on sites like Quora, Yahoo Answers, & Wiki-Answers), social medial marketing (on Twitter, Facebook, & Google+, LinkedIn, Youtube, & Vimeo), and social bookmarking (on reddit, Stumbleupon, digg, and delicious).
What’s important to remember is that for the average user, switching to a brand-new social network form a previously existing giant (i.e. Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter), takes time.
Still, after about a month, CafeMocha has about 30,000 page views and hundreds of unique visitors.
Almost everyday, I receive multiple emails exclaiming the site, offering feedback, and informing me that the sender will recommend the site to friends.
I have had multiple interviews about CafeMocha.
Dozens of people publish their creative stories, papers, essays, poetry, and research weekly to CafeMocha.
Hundreds of people have liked the Facebook page and the Twitter page is booming with hundreds of followers, retweets, and favorites.
Everyday I receive feedback not only from my peers but also from users on the website. And as such, I continuously had a feedback loop. As users gave feedback, I continuously implemented the feedback and improved the functioning of the website. For example, after a user informed me that he wanted to only publish a document and not a story (i.e. words in a textbox), I managed the creation of a second “Publish” page called “Published a Document” in addition to the already existing “Publish a Story.” There have been dozens of changes and improvements similar to this one.
Of course, as I devoted more time to search engine optimization, social-media marketing, and marketing in general, the number of Twitter followers, Facebook likes, users on the website, page views per month, and unique visitors all skyrocketed. In other words, the publicity increased internationally.
Well during the enlightenment period of European history, thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant, and John Locke used to meet up in cafés to discuss secular ideas—ideas that the church would most probably excommunicate and maybe even exile them for discussing. In the secrecy of cafés, enlightened thinkers were able to write books and spread their creative ideas.
I used the principle that a café was used to discuss, publish, and share innovative ideas to derive the “Café” part of CafeMocha’s name.
And a “mocha” beverage is a combination of items—specifically espresso, hot milk, and chocolate. And just as mocha is comprised of a variety of items, so too is CafeMocha’s website comprised of various stories—specifically poetry, research, fiction stories, and essays.
In the future, I hope to establish CafeMocha as a major tool that schools can use to inspire students as a whole, and young writers can use to showcase their writing & receive feedback.
My ambition is that schools will incorporate CafeMocha into their everyday curriculum. In other words, teachers can inspire their students to publish creative school assignments to CafeMocha. Then students in a class can go online to see each other’s works, and read works from students all over the world—it would be a kind of system to publish works and then receive feedback for schools.
Ultimately, I hope to establish CafeMocha as a sort of LinkedIn for high school students. To do this, I will find representatives for CafeMocha in every city to help inspire students to share their creative works.
But perhaps the main goal is to find professionals and sponsors who are willing to help high school students by coming to CafeMocha, reading students’ essays, commenting, and perhaps even recruiting them to publish professionally.
In terms of statistics, after about a month, CafeMocha has about 30,000 page views and hundreds of unique visitors. As such, by the end of the summer I hope to have around 150,000-page views/month and around 5000 users. As such, in the short term, the goal is to increase users.
In terms of features, I will add functionalities that allow students (not necessarily friends) to edit/highlight essays and help each other craft creative works. Furthermore, I hope to create a more advanced overarching platform (including the ability to create groups—secret and open)
Yeah definitely! Right now, I am more or less working on CafeMocha independently and don’t really have a team. But at Penn, I’ll be surrounded by incredibly motivated people who will one day be Nobel laureates, Fortune 50 CEOs, and influential scientists. Most probably, I will form a team there (comprised of at minimum a designer, another businessman, a programmer, and a social-media expert), and coupled with my engineering/business education, gain most of the momentum there.
Another small goal of mine is to spread CafeMocha at Penn (since a lot of people there will need outputs to publish their works) and see where it goes from there.
I receive everyday emails not only by professionals but also by teachers and students that CafeMocha is a great idea and that they will tell their friends about the idea.
Already many of my teachers are motivating their students to publish their history research papers or creative stories to CafeMocha, and there is widespread positive commentary. Additionally, hundreds of users around the globe (literally) have published their work into “Mochas” (or categories) spanning from poetry to non-fiction to chemistry.
Classmates (at Sycamore and Penn) are continually publishing their works to CafeMocha, and sharing their CafeMocha story on Twitter, Facebook, and other social-media websites.
In the future, I hope to establish CafeMocha as a website that schools can incorporate into their everyday curriculum. In other words, teachers can inspire their students to publish creative school assignments to CafeMocha. Then students in a class can go online to see each other’s works, and read works from students all over the world—it would be a kind of system to publish works and then receive feedback for schools.
Quite honestly, that one person really can make a difference. The great thing about projects like CafeMocha is that there really are no limitations: there is always room for improvement, whether that means writing better blog posts, adding a more powerful document-upload feature, or reading more about entrepreneurship in general. I’m truly able to do something that truly may one-day change the world. That sense is the most rewarding experience I have undergone.
Also, I just want to thank you for agreeing to write a story for CafeMocha. Currently, CafeMocha is an extremely recent startup and your story could be incredibly helpful in establishing the website as the standard for high schools to use on an everyday basis. I am incredibly thankful.
In many of my classes, people who love to write poetry are being forced to memorize a list of biological factoids. Then they take a test and then forget the terms right after. And instead of learning how to problem-solve through a physics problem, teachers are currently preaching their students to memorize a formula.
In this manner, schools seem to be producing robots in a factory. And so students aren’t able to truly express themselves with writing and other forms of creativity. This is the work in which people will do their best work and will make the most innovative gains.
Another source of inspiration was Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk: How Schools are Killing Creativity
After building the website, the first step was search engine optimization (both on page, off page, and social bookmarking). Afterwards, I made a YouTube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDIabA4XIH8) to help drive further traffic.
Simultaneously, social media marketing was a major component; I continuously answered questions on Quora and Yahoo Answers, and made Facebook and Twitter posts.
And continuously, I am writing more and more blog posts to not only establish an Internet authority, but also to help spread the word about CafeMocha.
This summer, I am writing a couple of eBooks to further drive traffic.
Most of the current visitors are people came to CafeMocha through these methods. But again, everyday I am actively learning new methods.
Well, right now, there are tons of people in book clubs and writing clubs who have no means of communicating their commentary, writing, and essays well. And as a result, they nowadays share all their works though email. This is highly inefficient and doesn’t allow for editing or for people outside the group to see the essays. CafeMocha would give these people a simple and easy-to-use portal where they can share their essays/writings with each other, share them on social-network, and let students see the works as well.
Learn about my personal experiences with CafeMocha!
Read about how I first started CafeMocha
Read about CafeMocha’s Milestones, Successes, and Progress!
Read CafeMocha’s first published article on Cincinnati.com!
One of the reason that Sycamore High School won the Transformative School Award was because I founded CafeMocha!