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Fireside chat with Gobi Dasu, Founder LD Talent

Who is Gobi Dasu?

Hi I’m Gobi, a founder, HCI and ICT4D enthusiast, and traveler (36 countries and counting). I raced through Stanford CS in 2 years (7 quarters) to be a digital nomad for 2 years. Then I did my masters in HCI+AI at Stanford. I am now pursuing a PhD at Northwestern, while running a startup related to my research and inspired by my travels (ask me how). I run LD Talent. ldtalent.org is a network of diverse, vetted, and highly productive developers, financially incentivized to engage in lifelong learning.

What’s the story behind LD Talent?

Since 2014, while at Stanford, Gobi Dasu noticed the high demand for qualified developers, the quality problems with online freelance engineering, and the high attrition rates in massive online open courses (MOOCs). After a number of experiments, in 2018 he launched an effective business model to address these problems with one platform. LD Talent (Learning Dollars Talent) is an endeavor not just in engineering, education, and incentives, but also in meaningful economic uplift and meeting industry’s demand for talent. Our secret sauce is financially incentivized education of talent in our network, which lets us match you with quality engineers at affordable prices. Our goal is to solve the Computer Science skill gap. Industry wants the best and brightest talent but stigmatizes the need for engineers to constantly learn and grow. We have a culture where learning is embraced, and our training and vetting funnels bespeak these values.

What was the most difficult part of your experience in the early beginnings?

Figuring out what customers need and will pay for. Turns out demand for engineers is much higher than demand for English speaking virtual assistants and such. 

What are you most proud of regarding your business?

69 paying customers, 300+ vetted developers, Alexa Rank 14K US / 64K Global, financially supported 100+ lifelong learning projects for developers on https://blog.learningdollars.com/

What is your vision for the future of LD Talent?

https://blog.learningdollars.com/2019/11/17/how-to-end-world-poverty-and-racial-power-imbalance-in-1-generation/ is an article I wrote – One sentence TL;DR for Industry-driven Conditional Cash Transfer: We social entrepreneurs can end world poverty by paying people to learn in-demand skills and entrepreneurship, and achieving profits and scale when those people seize market opportunities.

What’s your advice for the businesses that are trying to adapt to this economic climate?

Respect your remote workforce while at the same time fostering transparent work communication. An example are slack based work sessions for distributed teams as I wrote about here: https://blog.learningdollars.com/2020/03/31/developer-time-tracking-using-slack-beyond-fixed-price-vs-hourly/ 

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business.

Cloud Computing (AWS), AI and other algorithms (for making good matches), HCI (for encouraging developers and clients to engage in design thinking).

What books do you have on your nightstand?

I listen to audiobooks – favorites: Sapiens, Traction, Subtle art of not giving a …, Selfish Gene, Influence by Cialdini, Poor Economics, Making it Stick, Guns Germs and Steel.

Because of the current economic climate our publication has started a series of discussions with professional individuals meant to engage our readers with relevant companies and their representatives in order to discuss their involvement, what challenges they have had in the past and what they are looking forward to in the future. This sequence aims to present a series of experiences, recent developments, changes and downsides in terms of their business areas, as well as their goals, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements.

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