Richard Price did a Ph.D at Oxford in philosophy. Alongside his PhD, he founded a few startups, including a Craigslist for Oxford (Liveout.co.uk) and a Facebook app that was the largest on the platform for several months (PeopleRadar). After finishing his PhD, he founded Academia.edu, which is a platform for academics around the world to connect and share research. He spotted the need for the platform when doing his PhD.
He raised venture capital, and launched the site in September 2008. Currently the site has 1.2 million monthly visitors and about 4.9 million monthly page views. About 1,000 academics sign up every day. Academia.edu’s goal is for every academic in the world to be using the site to share and follow research.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on Academia.edu.
3 trends that excite you?
- Social media as it gets applied to more areas of life, especially areas like healthcare and politics.
- The idea that one day there might be as rapid innovation in biotech and drug development as there has been so far in the internet.
- The idea that in the next 20-30 years, robots will play a huge role in our daily lives.
How do you bring ideas to life?
It’s good to create some initial momentum for the idea, in terms of talking to the right people and getting some initial things in place. And then once there is some momentum, just having the dogged persistence never to give up.
What inspires you?
- People with great kindness inspire me.
- People with great ideas inspire me.
- People who are great do-ers, and are huge sources of unstoppable energy, inspire me.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
The first version of Academia.edu wasn’t optimized for engagement. It was more optimized for growth. We’re now of the view that the thing to focus on above all else is engagement, and growth will come as a result of that.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Reverse Twitter. On Twitter you say what you are doing, and your friends read it. On reverse Twitter, you have a profile page and your friends say what you are doing (e.g. “Jennifer just made a funny joke”, “Sam’s got some new sneakers today”). The page is a feed of what your friends are saying about you. Just a fun idea that came out of an office discussion about Twitter once.
What is one book and one tool that helps youbring ideas to life?
Leonard Greene’s ‘Inventorship: The Art of Innovation‘ had the single biggest impact on me in terms of how I think about innovation. In terms of software, I like to share business ideas on Facebook and hear my friends’ feedback. That’s a lot of fun.
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX and Tesla.
Is Facebook overvalued?
My bet is that no, it’s not overvalued. I’m hugely bullish on Facebook.
How do you decide what things to work on?
I like to be working on things that in ten years I can look back on and think ‘that was really worthwhile’. I don’t want to be doing things that in ten years I won’t be proud of. Time is just so precious.