Another Garage Startup in the News
Triggit.com (staff pictured above).
Why did we post this article? To make the point that you don’t need a big team or a perfectly mapped out plan to do a startup. You need a small group of smart, creative and driven people, who admit mistakes quickly, wear many hats and do whatever it takes. You could list lots of other individual and team characteristics, but you get the point. Small and agile is best for this kind of thing. It works for special ops, it works for startups. Now on to the article!
From Wired.com 2008-1-17:
Web publishing tool Triggit launches Thursday, and its staff is smiling.
Zach Coelius came to San Francisco at age 25, as a Minnesota native and Silicon Valley outsider. Within a month he crashed the high-profile Demo conference and charmed his way into a top-secret poker game among venture capitalists, where he won a thousand dollars in seed funding for a then-nonexistent company.
A little more than two years later, Coelius is CEO of Triggit, a new web service that helps bloggers easily add pictures, video and ads. And Coelius, 28, has hustled his way into the upper ranks of the Silicon Valley web scene — thanks partly to his poker habit. When he first arrived, he played several nights a week, occasionally paying his rent with his winnings. He admits he’s a “pretty good” poker player.
“When I first moved (to San Francisco), I played all the time. If you wanted to, you could go to a poker game every night of the week. I didn’t really know anybody, and it was a good way to meet people,” Coelius says. “Now I just play my own game once a week.”
In a cutthroat business environment such as Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs use whatever tools they’ve got to get ahead. For Coelius an appetite for risk and fine-tuned poker skills helped him secure funding and get his startup off the ground.
Triggit, which officially launches to the public Thursday, has already attracted a couple of “big” companies interested in acquiring the startup, Coelius says. That’s even though the company has been in stealth mode until today, with a tiny user base and an unproven business model. (Coelius thinks the company will eventually negotiate deals directly with ad networks.)
Even with a hazy profit outlook, the company scored $500,000 in seed funding from Bay Partners. Salil Deshpande, a partner at Bay, played poker on the VC circuit with Coelius for about a year before he made the investment in Triggit.
“Zach is a high-IQ individual,” says Deshpande. “When we invested, it wasn’t clear what he was going to build. And it’s still not clear whether they’ve built the right thing. But it’s a process, and I felt like even if he hadn’t figured it all out yet, there’s a good chance that he would.”
Triggit, which was literally conceived in Techcrunch co-editor Michael Arrington’s backyard, lets bloggers link to products or photos on the fly. The idea is this: The easier it is for bloggers to link to advertisers, the greater the potential for generating revenue from affiliate sites such as Amazon.com or Shopping.com.
It looks like a win-win situation for advertisers and bloggers. Affiliate marketing is a cheap way for advertisers to expand their reach. For bloggers, Triggit is a nifty way to link to products or to pull photos from Flickr, ideally increasing their blogs’ visual appeal as well as enhancing their revenue. The tool lets bloggers drag and drop ads, YouTube videos or Flickr pictures directly into their sites.
“Triggit’s made a little difference in terms of sales, but overall sales are down this year for a number of reasons,” says Anne Levy, a Chicago full-time mom, blogger and Triggit user. “But really I use it because it’s so much easier for me to load links.”
Coelius and his sister Susan Coelius Keplinger (Triggit’s COO) are longtime entrepreneurs, having started three other businesses together. They’ve led a pretty charmed existence in Silicon Valley: Shortly after they arrived, a friend of a friend hooked them up with angel funding and raw office space in San Francisco.
They furnished the entire office with free stuff (including free artwork courtesy of Flickr). In fact, the founders have collected so much free stuff that they’ve since sold some of it, turning a $1,000 profit.
Although it’s been a seemingly effortless ride, the economy is positioned to take a nasty turn, by the looks of it. Internet advertising could be particularly vulnerable to weakness in consumer spending, a concern that Coelius dismisses.
“We’re uniquely positioned for a downturn,” Coelius says. “Our users are small publishers — like stay-at-home moms. Those are people who will need Triggit.”