For all of the times a friend asks on social media, “Can someone suggest a person for (fill in the blank) job or task?” Lewis Lin has a solution.
Last year, Lin launched PeopleMaven, a Seattle-based startup that allows users to create lists of people, linking to profiles and other mentions on sites including LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
“It’s a curation tool, a collection tool, and it can mean different things for different people,” said Lin. “The biggest pain point that I’ve got is I’m running a business and trying to scale and we need help, and help can come in different forms.”
Anyone can create a publicly-accessible “who’s who” list on the site. Users cannot add to existing lists, but Lin wants to build a tool that would let people suggest additional entries. Many lists are newsy and pop-culture focused, as opposed to collating a city’s best plumbers. Some recent roundups are “2018 Winter Olympics athletes to watch,” “Amazing men who support women’s careers” and “Donald Trump sexual assault accusers.”
Lin calls himself “an avid collector of contacts” such as talented employees, real estate pros and inexpensive home renovation professionals.
The site currently is not generating revenue, and Lin said he’ll likely add advertising once he’s built up enough users.
We caught up with Lin for our Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “PeopleMaven is a new social network that helps people discover, save and share the world’s most amazing people.”
Inspiration hit us when: “We realized that as people zigzag around the Web, they constantly stumble across interesting people and experts for bucket-list projects. But we think that PeopleMaven can help solve problems that people often discover on the web. Google or LinkedIn does an awesome job of showing you what you’re looking for if you know what it is. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, there’s so much else that comes up and gets in the way. Search is not a great way to discover things. PeopleMaven empowers users to save people and organize them into lists. PeopleMaven users can then follow each others’ lists to find more amazing people.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Today we are a fully bootstrapped business. This is my third startup, and I successfully sold the first two. With PeopleMaven, I’m putting all of my experience and knowledge into building the business and perfecting our product.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Our goal setting. We use the 10x principle when we set goals. We’d rather set an insanely big goal and miss, than set a realistic goal and nail it. We cannot be afraid to fail. Instead, we strive to fail fast and get better every day.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Picked a space we’re passionate about. Growing up, I loved reading a series of kid-centric biographies on Beethoven, Mozart, and Edison. I don’t remember who wrote it, but the stories seemed so magical. I’m lucky that I now work for a company that uncovers the next generation of amazing people and share their stories.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “The tech industry’s mantra is engineering, engineering, engineering. It’s important, but attending to marketing objectives is just as critical.”
Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “We are building a new social network, so the logical pick for PeopleMaven would probably be Zuckerberg. Facebook helps the world stay connected to important people in their lives. Our goal is to help people find important people for their projects, hobbies, goals and professional pursuits. Zuckerberg is a pioneer who taught the world about the power and enjoyment of social networking online. It’d be pretty cool to have him on speed dial at the office.”
Our favorite team-building activity is: “Board games! Our favorite is Grandpa Beck’s Cover Your Assets.”
The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “Alignment with our values and culture. We’re really proud of them.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Expect to hear feedback all the time. Some will be positive, and some will be negative. You have to develop the ability to listen, even when it’s difficult or you disagree. Use feedback to learn how you can get better, and take everything people say with a grain of salt. Some feedback is golden, and some is not. Listen to all of it, and then keep what helps make you and your company better.”