Two years ago, Alex Taub asked a late night question of his friend Michael Schonfeld that launched them both on a slow burn adventure kicking off to much fanfare today. But before we get to today, let’s jump back to two years ago.
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The question Alex asked Michael turned out to be a question that he was not alone in wondering, “On Twitter, who is the most valuable person that follows me?” That late night musing turned into an answer the next morning when they built a site that would simply be called “Most Valuable Follower.” Over the course of the next week, more than 50,000 individuals and brands logged in to learn who held the coveted title of Most Valuable Follower.
But, while an interesting hunch, it wasn’t something that Alex and Michael were ready to chase down with full time effort. They shortly there after joined payment start-up Dwolla and helped open the Iowa-based company’s New York office. Over the course of their next two years while with Dwolla, they continued to receive interest in the insights their MVF project had hinted at. These inquiries came especially from large and socially active brands wanting to understand more about who followed them and unlock new opportunities to connect.
As the late night musing continued to gain traction even without an official presence online, Alex and Michael decided there was enough more to explore to leave Dwolla and found Modern Mast at the end of 2013. Today, with partners like Spotify, GoPro, and Harry’s Razors already signed as early clients, the question of Most Valuable Follower is being answered with Modern Mast’s launch of SocialRank. In addition to answering the MVF question, SocialRank has enhanced its offering to also include Most Engaged Follower and Best Follower.
I have often ranted about companies that exist because the founder was a hammer looking for a nail. Far to often the statement is: “I can build this, so I should” and they then get three buddies to agree with them and they go buy a domain and one of them calls themselves the CEO. What strikes me the most about this story of a late night musing leading to a launch is that it was a slow process that is truly just getting started. But getting started with partners validating its market fit. As the barriers to entry into the start-up game continue to shrink, this is an example of business acumen and market fit outweighing an ego-based rush to be in the game.
For more musings on other’s musings, follow me on Twitter: @andyellwood