“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” — Steve Jobs
A few months ago, former Facebooker Sacha Tueni and Matthias Wagner were working on a Twitter client. Yes, a Twitter client — several years after Tweetdeck launched and Seesmic pivoted toward being a social media reader. While their app Zerobird was good at filtering interesting content, investors weren’t biting. It was also going to be a long uphill battle in the app store and on Twitter’s increasingly politically complicated platform.
So they took some good advice to heart. Steve Jobs’ advice, in fact. They built a tribute site to the late visionary. It was spartan, with that famous photograph of him sitting in an unfurnished house. They overlaid some of his best advice on that picture.
The barebones site quickly went viral, accumulating 3 million pageviews in about 48 hours. Surprised by the response to such a simple concept, they redid it with other figures. They did it with Yoda, and got 300,000 visitors. Then they did it again with Albert Einstein, and immediately got 400,000 visitors. Again, they did it with Lady Gaga, and got 700,000 visitors with 16 percent of them clicking through to a music track.
Thus, a new idea was born. What if they built a platform where anybody could share and accumulate bits and pieces of aspirational wisdom? So they created Changemakrs, which is a site full of inspirational quotes from different people ranging from celebrities to intellectuals, and even entrepreneurs from this community. It’s in beta and invited members can piece together quotable advice from anyone else.
It is a kind of brain-dead, simple concept. While there are plenty of quote sites across the web, Tueni says they’re kind of like Craigslist or eBay with weird, 1995-era web design (see below). Plus, they’re not designed to be particularly social or viral.
The positives of the concept are that it’s something that brands may be more willing to advertise against because these figures and quotes are inspirational and generally positive. Red Bull already featured a Changemakrs profile of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But the flipside is that while company has proven this is very viral in a handful of cases with just the right figure, is it broadly repeatable and scalable? And with just regular people instead of world-reknowned entrepreneurs or Star Wars characters? That’s Changemakrs’ test.
The company is bootstrapping for now, and is four people, with a recent hire of designer Brooks Hassig.