As a law student, Lauren Leto and her friends started Texts From Last Night, a site where they could anonymously posts real text messages about their exploits going out at night. It turns out a lot of people could relate, and when they opened up the site to anyone to contribute, it became a Web sensation. Today, the site attracts 4 million people a month, 5,000 to 15,000 submissions a day, and the 99-cent iPhone app has been downloaded a million times. It also spurred a book deal for Leto. Not bad for a bootstrapped startup site that only took $20,000 in capital to get off the ground.
In the Founder Stories video above, Leto tells host Chris Dixon how Texts From Last Night got started and how she quit law school to move to New York City from Detroit. She ended up in Brooklyn at the Makery, a co-working space with other startups, which she talks about as well.
In the second video below, Leto gets into her latest startup, Bnter, which is a way to capture text messages and publish them publicly. In that sense, it is the opposite of Texts From Last Night. Or, as Leto puts it, Bnter is “Texts From Last Night pulled inside out. Texts From Last Night by its very nature needs to be anonymous, otherwise it will ruin your career.” Bnter, which has its own iPhone app and which raised money from Dixon’s Founder Collective among others (disclosure: he is an investor), is more about capturing interesting moments. Leto compares it to a social photo app, except its textual. It will also work with Twitter conversations. “Anywhere you are having a conversation we want to capture it,” she says.
Check out other Founder Stories episodes or subscribe on iTunes.
While in law school, Lauren Leto conceived of and co-founded Texts From Last Night, a site that chronicles humorous user-submitted text messages that were sent the night before. After the site went viral, she dropped out of school to continue growing the business. Texts From Last Night has since spawned a book (published by Gotham) and a television show is in the works.
Great moments in conversation deserve to be remembered. Banters is a great way to save funny and meaningful quotes. Use the app by quoting friends, family, overheard conversations and people who inspire you or make you laugh.
Chris Dixon is a Partner at and co-founder of Founder Collective. He is also a contributing writer for TechCrunch. He previously was the CEO and Co-founder of SiteAdvisor, which was acquired by McAfee, and Hunch, which was acquired by eBay. In addition to his work with Founder’s Collective, Chris is a personal investor in early-stage technology companies, including Skype, TrialPay, DocVerse, Invite Media, Gerson Lehrman Group, ScanScout, OMGPOP, BillShrink, Oddcast, Panjiva, Knewton, and a handful of other startups that...