Normally I wouldn’t write about my own startup on the Stanford blog. But I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw how fast and powerful just one blog was in spreading the word about Homeslyce, now servicing students starting college.
As you can see from the graph on the right, the number of unique users and page views shot up exponentially in just three days.
So I thought I’d write and share some things I saw and learned with my entrepreneurial home.
I’m not sure if you remember Homeslyce, but we did some advertising on campus and we were also featured on sites like CNET’s webware.com and a Stanford favorite: iwillteachyoutoberich.com about a year ago. Originally we focused on birthdays and helped “slice a gift with friends.” In short, we dealt with the inconveniences that arise when you try to get people to pitch in money for a nicer (a la more expensive) gift for a friend’s birthday, like when someone doesn’t pay up and the gift organizer has to pick up the slack.
This summer, Jen Gee, Mickey Asavanant, and I went to Singapore to be incubated by the VC, FrontEdge Capital. They offer an incubation program for students from universities like Stanford. (Email me if you’d like to hear more about entrepreneurial opportunities.)
Anyway, after some intense brainstorming and research, we decided to add a twist to group giving for birthdays. Instead of just group purchasing, we wanted to extend our idea to help roommates collaboratively purchase everything for their dorm and make a smooth transition into college. It was pretty crazy! In just three weeks, we started from scratch, mocked up the whole site, designed the front end, built in smart logic from the back end, tested it on lots of our target users (incoming freshmen), managed engineers from India on some side features, and launched the site – just in time for all our banner ads to go out.
We spent about $10,000 on ads on Myyearbook.com and Myspace.com targeting users between the ages of 17 and 18. We made some pretty smart ads. One clever trick we found was that when you add the message “Drag and drop,” users would try to “drag” and end up clicking on the flyer and showing up at your site.
With our ad campaign, we did get quite a bit of click-throughs. However, it was nothing compared with what happened a few days ago.
One blogger, Heather Craven blogged about Homeslyce on DIY Life. That first day, we had an increase of 450 unique users and 1500 page views. The next day, Grant Robertson referenced DIY Life on Downloadsquad. This resulted in a further increase of users and page views. The third day, Adam Pash blogged on Lifehacker increasing our unique users to over 6,000 and page views to about 22,000. After Lifehacker, we were blogged about on Yahoo! Tech, ParentDish, and others. We were even translated into other languages, like Japanese on 100Shiki.com.
We haven’t been able to find out how the first blogger found our site, but maybe it was due to some of the online adverting we did.
Bloggers love fresh content. And what Heather essentially did was validate our market and the need for collaboration between roommates as they prepare for college. And lots of other bloggers followed suit. Our intern, Yow Enning, got us in contact with The Washington Post, and this week, we’ll be featured in their Home section. It’ll be interesting to see the effect of this article on other blogs and press.
These past few days have been really exciting for us and it’s been a great learning experience. If you can enlighten us further about what we’ve observed, please comment! So here’s one take away from us: Get blogged.
Thanks and have a great day!