Wow! Today is Jay Laney’s one year anniversary at CrowdVine. I was rereading the blog post I wrote, Introducing Jay, and noticed that it wasn’t written until November. We had such a backlog of work that it took three months before Jay could get even set up an official blog.
It’s been an amazing year, and a lot of it is because of the work Jay’s been doing. He’s been behind the customizations for a number of our best customers. He did our Facebook integration. We’ve seen a massive improvement in performance, many of our pages moved from an F to a B+ in the YSlow grading system. He did our private messaging system, our new microformats spider for calendar integrations, our improved feed spider (much faster and reliable) and much more. Basically he does the hard work while I talk on the phone.
Some stats, since Jay started we’ve gotten 91% of our users, 83% of our networks, 94% of our revenue, and 100% of our New York Times mentions. So clearly, he panned out!
The result is that CrowdVine has been able to go through two major milestones. First we figured out an important new business model, social networks for conferences and were able to build a product that can reliably serve them. Then we were able to build a business that wasn’t just break even, it was profitable enough to expand.
The day before hiring Jay, TechCrunch had described us as a one-man Ning. His hire meant changing the company description. Well, I just saw Jay describe himself to a customer as the other half of CrowdVine.
Unfortunately (but very much thanks to him), Jay is going to need to change his description. We’re expanding. We have a team of designers on contract that let us customize our networks so that they match your existing design and branding. We’ve brought in help for a site redesign. And we have a good friend helping us with the services side of our business.
I want to give our friend a proper introduction when he’s ready, but the summary is that we’re definitely much more than a two-man Ning. We’re a three-plus-friends-amazing-social-networks business.
Thank you Jay!
I nominated us for Best Boot Strapped company for The Crunchies (an award ceremony run by TechCrunch). I’m not sure we are a bootstrapped company, but I’d still appreciate it if you nominated us as well:
Are we a bootstrapped company? The TechCrunch criteria is that we took less than $100k in investment. That’s true–we didn’t take any investment. The first half of this year was funded by me doing consulting work. I wrote a book, did some corporate training, wrote some articles for Salesforce, and recorded a screencast. It definitely felt like bootstrapping.
However, since August we’ve been entirely funded by our customers. Some companies think of this as a bootstrapping technique. I think of it as a business model. I don’t think we’re a bootstrapped company anymore–I think we’re a small business. (But please, don’t let that stop you from voting for us above)
It’s not just semantics to me, and it probably shouldn’t be to our customers. I meet a lot of people who call themselves founders and call their companies startups. Founder puts all the value on having the idea rather than on executing or finishing. Startup tells you how long they plan to be around, at the start but not down the road when you need them. I’d rather call myself owner and my company a business.
In early August, Mark Hendrickson from TechCrunch interviewed me for an article he was writing on hosted white-label social networking services. Once he got the idea he summed up the company as “You’re a one-man Ning.”
I immediately corrected him, “I’ve got a second person starting tomorrow.” Then I went on to explain all the ways that our product and goals were different. That second person is Jay Laney and we’ve essentially run as a two-person shop ever since.
He’s a Graduate of O’Reilly where he used to be Lead Engineer for their online group. We worked together there on a lot of things, including a social network for alpha geeks that never quite got off the ground.
He’s also a graduate of Marc Hedlund, having spent time getting Wesabe established.
He’s also responsible for a slew of CrowdVine improvements: OpenID, backups, our deploy system, this blog, friends from other CrowdVines, and a bunch more behind the scenes.