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It all started with a viral dance video.

Karen Cheng wanted to become a better dancer, and posted a YouTube video of herself learning and practicing to dance. It attracted millions of views, and she received hundreds of emails from people who she inspired.

This inspired her and cofounder Finbarr Taylor to build 100, a platform that helps people find motivation and support to accomplish a goal or learn a new skill.

“Most of the dance videos out there show people who are already awesome,” Cheng said in an interview. “Rather than showing the perfect, glossy moments of people on top of their game, I wanted to show someone just starting out. It’s something you aren’t really supposed to see, but the message is that everyone starts out as a beginner.”

100 prompts people to take a 100 day challenge, where every day they dedicate a certain amount of time to learning a skill and post a 10 second video showing their progress. The site shares stories of people’s hard work, struggles, and mistakes, and creates a community around people all striving to better themselves in some way.

“The two hardest parts of learning something new is getting started and keeping it going,” Cheng said. “What seems impossible or magical is possible through loads and loads of hard work. Everything you do is a matter of trying and pushing yourself, and every time you get proficient at something, it is a huge boost of self confidence.”

Cheng also talked about the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

In a fixed mindset, people believe they are the way they are — the ability to learn foreign languages or an aptitude for music are fixed qualities that you either possess or you don’t. People with a growth mindset believe that their basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work, with natural intelligence and talent as a starting point.

The goal of 100 is to move as many people as possible to a growth mindset.

The rise of the quantified self movement and online education have created an upsweep of interest in self improvement. Technology can not only help people gain greater insight into their personal habits, but it can also make personalized suggestions on how to change behavior and offer accessible resources.

Companies like Lift, Lumosity, and Endomondo all encourage people to better themselves in some way, and use the power of social accountability to keep people on track.

Beta users on 100 include a woman re-learning how to walk after an accident, a guy building a race car, and a girl training her puppy to do tricks. The wait list is 4,700 people long.

Using the platform is free, and the cofounders have a couple of ideas on how to monetize. They are considering some sort of gamified advertising, where achieving milestones can unlock a reward, branded sponsor accounts, and possibly creating a directory of students where teachers can look for potential clients.

100 is based in San Francisco.


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