Phil Michaelson is 28 and the founder of KartMe.com. Phil is a great example of why you should start a company in college. As he said it was only a side project at the time but upon graduation he had something to run with. This is a great way to jump start your company. Phil continues to explain how he did the testing, tweaking and learning before he jumped in full-time which is a great strategy for college students.
Today KartMe has been recognized by tech giants like Apple and is serving over 1 million page views each month!
What motivated you to start your own business rather then a career path?
I had too much fun working on this side project while at school to even consider looking for a job. I love sharing recommendations and discovering the great restaurants, recipes, books and music my friends share on KartMe.
How did you take KartMe from idea to reality?
I started testing small parts of KartMe’s consumer value proposition, marketing plan and business model. For example, I met with lots of potential members to learn about how they discover great things and share them with friends. I then built a very cheap first version of the product using contractors overseas and saw people use the product and saw freely acquired traffic using their lists for decisions.
Could you explain KartMe. Who is it for and Why do people need it?
If you’ve ever emailed yourself a link, used a MS Word file for a list, or taken a note on your phone, than KartMe is for you. We help people collect recommendations of restaurants, recipes, design ideas, wedding vendors, and more in online lists. Unlike other tools, KartMe puts maps and prices in your fingertips when your traveling or in the store–saving you time and money. Also, KartMe is social so you can share your taste and follow your friends who have great taste–keeping you in the mix.
KartMe has seen some great growth. How did you get the word out? What marketing techniques did you use to serve 1,000,000 pages/month?
We use a mix of channels to get members to create and share great online lists.
-We produce helpful content on our blog at http://kartme.com/blog that gets picked up
-We make it easy for members to share lists of travel tips or favorite websites with friends via email, twitter and facebook
-We help members put widgets on their blogs
-We use search engine optimization techniques
-We actively listen to our members and try to deliver customer service worth talking about
What has been your biggest challenge while building KartMe?
I find moving quickly without capital to be a big challenge. There is a saying that you can do things good, fast or cheap. Pick any 2. We’re doing it well without spending much money, so progress is slower than i’d like.
Could you name some big achievements KartMe has had?
We received a “Staff Pick” from Apple for our mobile web app.
TechRadar named us one of “8 really useful websites you’ve never heard of”
SmashingApps said KartMe is a “Must-have Web App”
We recently raised a bit of money from investors who have done over 100 private deals
Members have shared 10,000 favorite books, movies, travel tips, cosmetics, and dresses
What are some of your future goals?
While our product is viral, our short term goal is to get the viral coefficient greater than 1.
Our long term goal is to be the place for sharing anything you’d or your friends would like to someday eat, see, buy or do. That way, we can ensure people always experience the best.
Where can people find either you or KartMe online?
You can browse and share lists for free at http://kartme.com.
You can get our iPhone app at http://itunes.com/apps/kartme
You can use KartMe on-the-go at http://m.kartme.com
You can follow our news, hear about great Karts and ask questions at http://twitter.com/kartme
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