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Linksy founders Lewis Lin and Adam Loving

[Editor’s note: GeekWire is running a series of profiles on the startups participating in this year’s class in the TechStars Seattle incubator program. Check back each day at 1:30 p.m. for a new profile, leading up to Demo Day on Nov. 1]

You’ve got hundreds of followers on Facebook and Twitter. But how do you encourage them to help you spread a key message?

That’s where Linksy steps in. The Seattle startup has created an easy-to-use tool that’s designed to identify influencers on social media channels, providing a way for them to share the blog post or event announcement among their social network. Here’s more of what Linksy is up to from co-founder Adam Loving, a former software developer at Gist and MOD Systems who previously founded Twibes.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: Influencers matter when it comes to turning fledgling product ideas into successes. Linksy identifies important people that help brands spread the word and grow their business.”

Inspiration hit us when: “While talking to R2I – we realized that most companies do not know who their influencers are. Due to the rise of social networking and the ineffectiveness of traditional advertising, companies want to reach out to influencers, but identifying and activating them is an expensive, manual process.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Angel. We’ve identified a huge pain point and business opportunity, and are now zeroing in on the solution. We need a small amount of funding — $500,000 — to grow our team. Once honed that solution, we will turn to VC funding to scale our business.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Combining influencer identification and activation. When you track what people are doing to help your brand, and are able to get their help at the right time, organic word of mouth marketing magic happens.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Rigorous customer development. Taking time to customers early on leads to key insights on their pain. For example, we talked to a marketing manager at a major consumer brand, and she said, “I’d love to be able to email our Facebook fans, and there is no way to do that currently.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Initially starting as single founder, I was slow to recruit co-founders that could help me increase productivity. We quickly identified this and changed roles. Lewis Lin is now the CEO.”

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Mark Zuckerberg is the leader of the online social revolution, and is knowledgeable about how psychology drives customer behavior.”

Our world domination strategy starts when: “Now. Our early customers are seeing the power of activating their influencers and quickly referring us to additional customers.”

Rivals should fear us because: “We believe in close customer interaction and rapid iteration. We talk to customers and push code on a daily basis.”

We are truly unique because: “We understand both people and technology.

The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Having a CEO who is also our lead developer.”

What is the most important thing you learned at TechStars? “How to recognize your fears, get over them, ignore embarrassment, and learn fast.”

What was your most memorable moment in TechStars? “When our mentor, TA McCann laughed at me (in a friendly way) because I was struggling to define Linksy’s vision for investors. When I worked for T.A. at Gist, I would often critique our vision internally (as too grandiose). Now I appreciate how difficult it is for CEOs to balance a bottom-up customer driven product with a top-down pitch that appeals to investors.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just
starting out: “Build a strong network by actually working with people. Don’t forge out on your own trying to be the next Thomas Edison. Startups succeed because they are part of an ecosystem, and you will learn the most from working with others.”

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