Startup Spotlight: Alien landings, baseball standings and other iPrediktions

Ken Stanfield

Aliens will first land in Chechnya. Sarah Palin will not run for president in 2012. And the Mariners will be in first place on July 1.

Those are some of the predictions currently running on iPredikt, a social media site that launched June 6th that allows anyone to forecast world events, sports, entertainment and more. Formed by ex-Microsoft developers Ken Stanfield and Archil Kublashvili, the 8-month-old upstart is our latest featured startup on GeekWire. Stanfield has been around the software business for some time now, working for 16 years at Microsoft. And the 48-year-old entrepreneur believes that he has a winning startup formula in iPredikt.

What do you think? Post a prediction on iPredikt, and you can tell him directly if you think he’ll make it or not.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Make a prediction about anything and tie it to a date. Then, throw it out to the world and see what happens. If you’re right, you can prove it.”

Inspiration hit us when: “In 2010 I was listening to Colin Cowherd’s nationally syndicated radio program “The Herd” on ESPN driving to work at Microsoft.  Colin said: “If you want me to read your e-mails, don’t write about yesterday’s baseball game. Who cares what you think about a game that’s over? On the other hand, if you make a bold prediction about a game that hasn’t been played yet, and you really go out on a limb, I’ll probably read that e-mail because that’s interesting.” I remember thinking: “Wow…What if there were a site where anyone could make a prediction about anything…not just about sports? What if you could throw your prediction out there for everyone to see? And what if other users could vote on your prediction and you could vote on theirs? Then, if your predictions and votes turned out to be right, everyone would know it.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “I haven’t drawn a paycheck since last October, and my co-founder, Archil Kublashvili, hasn’t had a paycheck since March, so I guess that makes us pure bootstrappers. Now that we’ve launched, we’ll be aggressively making the angel and VC rounds in Seattle and the Bay Area to get funded. There aren’t enough hours in the day for the two of us to do everything we want to do. We have ideas for a companion iPhone app, an iPad app, full-text search, deeper Facebook and Twitter integration, notifications, a contest framework, a widget for third-party partner sites, and even our own highly targeted but small ad network. All these things need money, and time, and we don’t have enough of either. When we incorporated earlier this year, we went straight to being a Delaware C Corporation to make ourselves as attractive as possible to investors. For a free website based in part on advertising revenue, it’s a race against time to attract as many users as quickly as possible, so we’ll do whatever it takes to find great investors. The trick is to strategically trade away pieces of the company so that we end up with a smaller percentage of a much bigger pie.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “A magic combination of simple gaming elements, rapid voting, ego and prestige, a vibrant virtual community, rich images, and ties to social media.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “From the very beginning, we decided to make the mantra of “Less is More” the cornerstone of our end-user experience. We’re fundamentally an ego-driven site with a beautiful and engaging User Interface. We’re very proud of our UI, and we didn’t get to where we are today by accident.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “We’ve made a few minor missteps here and there, mostly related to how we’ve used our very limited marketing budget.”

Steve Jobs (Wikipedia photo)

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “I’ll put my money on Steve Jobs. Jobs is the visionary’s visionary in the bunch, and he’s the only CEO from this group whose offerings over 2+ decades have both delighted me (I’m thinking of my Mac SE from 1987 and my iPad from 2010) and driven me to tears – who didn’t cry at the end of Pixar’s Toy Story 3? At Apple, Jobs treats software engineers and industrial designers as co-equal players. This is in stark contrast to Microsoft (my employer for almost 15 years) where developers have always been “first among equals.” This shouldn’t surprise anyone, either. Bill Gates is the ultimate developer and he built his company in his own image. Jobs, however, is the ultimate “B2C” guy who totally understands the consumer space. And since iPredikt.com is going after the consumer market, I’d rather have a “B2C” visionary in my corner.  However, we will gladly take investments from any of these industry moguls.”

Our world domination strategy starts when: “The first part of our plan for world domination is to make the term “predikt” part of the Internet lexicon. Whenever anyone has a prediction or a statement about the future, we want him or her to also make that prediktion on our website. So when those talking heads on CNBC tell you to buy gold or sell shares of Apple, they better have proven track records on iPredikt.com, too!”

Rivals should fear us because: “We have the greatest tool that any company could hope to have: the ability to see into the future! Armed with zillions of users and billions of prediktions, we’ll be able to see tomorrow’s news today. Over time we’ll be able to leverage our own “Wisdom of Crowds” to make accurate predictions about money, news, sports, entertainment, politics, and technology. And because we’ll be able to predict what appeals to individual users, we’ll be able to offer up compelling, beautiful and impactful ads that they’ll feel compelled to click on.”

We are truly unique because: “We’re dead serious about what we’re trying to do, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. There’s enough pain and suffering in the world already, and we don’t want to add to that side of the ledger. We recognize that humor and levity can also be great motivators. In fact, we’d much rather hire someone on the basis of values and a great sense of humor than purely on raw intellectual horsepower.”

The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Funding, or lack thereof, and we have yet to overcome this. We’ve been living off our savings, but at some point we’ll need funding to move things to the next level. So our biggest challenges are still in the future…ironic, huh?”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “There’s an amazing multiplier effect that comes from having a co-founder. Just think of some of the great co-founder teams of the past: Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak; Bill Gates & Paul Allen; Larry Page & Sergei Brin; William Hewlett & Dave Packard; and Horace Smith & Daniel Wesson to name a few. Too many entrepreneurs are reluctant to team up with someone else because they want to hold on to 100 percent of everything. This often translates to 100 percent of nothing. But if you form your company with a co-founder, you’ll reduce your risk to 50 percent of nothing. And this makes it much easier to starting trading away other chunks to grow the company. But the real value of a co-founder comes from having someone who can cheer you on, build you up, and fight in the trenches with you.”

  • Streeter

    Ipredikt this company won’t be around in two years….

    • http://ipredikt.com iPredikt

      Then make a bold prediktion on the site and stand behind your words. If you’re right, your score will go up.

    • Ron Edwards

      One posibility is that if Twitter acquires it then it will no longer be iPredikt. It will be TwitterPredikt. 

      • http://ipredikt.com iPredikt

        I have no problems at all envisioning this scenario.

  • http://ipredikt.com iPredikt

    Thanks, guys!  All of the pieces for our master plan are starting to fall into place. Heh!

  • Josh

    Love the idea. I wonder how the guys at the Wall Street could use this?

    • http://ipredikt.com iPredikt

      It stands to reason that this is a PERFECT site for insider trading.  But keep in mind that if this happens, our site is only acting as a neutral conduit for information and/or parody.  The fact is: any site that allows users to craft a virtual personality and post comments could be used for nefarious purposes.  But on iPredikt.com, you get to do it with a date and a cool image!