By Joe Procopio
I see Anil Chawla everywhere I go. And while my ego told me he was probably stalking me, it turns out he’s been an entrepreneur for a long time, even though it’s only been a year since he let everyone know.
That was the day Anil left his posh job pushing code at IBM, where he had been for over six years, to hop on the roller-coaster ride of full-time founder. Anil had been working under wraps to polish his product, TweetyMail (yes, I’ve spoken to him about the name, but you’ll remember it when you’ve finished reading this column). It’s a framework for accessing Twitter via email. He later expanded to TheFriendMail, which accomplishes the same for Facebook.
Anil Likes Email
But on Thursday, January 12th, Anil will be one of the five startups launching new products at the third version of Launch Day, which gets started at 5:00 p.m. in Bay 7 of the American Tobacco campus in Durham.
In fact, Launch Day will be a reunion of sorts for me. I’ve known co-host Jake Finkelstein for about 10 years since we worked at a startup together, and I met co-host Sarah Wechsberg at last year’s Triangle Entrepreneurship Week, where she is a co-founder.
Launch Day will also have music provided in part by Argyle Social’s Danny Olinsky, who was the winner at last year’s StatSheet Pongageddon .
But back to Anil. On Thursday he’ll roll out Archive Social, which helps companies that are under strict communication regulations (think financial and healthcare), monitor and capture social media activity and preserves the data in a way that those businesses need to remain in compliance.
But Archive Social isn’t just about compliance, the product will capture and store social media communication in an automated way for any company that needs that data stored.
This sets is up as potentially disruptive. We’re all using social media, we apparently can’t get enough of it, and we all know that there’s a social paper trail out there, but we’re not archiving it, even our own personal communication like we would with email.
All That Interest in Email Paid Off
Anil actually got the idea for Archive Social while working on another product during Durham Chamber’s Startup Stampede. And like the four other companies at Launch Day Thursday night, he’ll be on stage making his pitch to the public for their participation. In his case, the ask is for companies to participate in the pilot.
Why archive your social? Businesses have been largely cavalier about their social media usage, but ultimately they may find that they have to trust that said data will be there when they need it.
Those companies in Archive Social’s sweet spot, the ones that are under compliance, find the storage regulations far more stringent. But if we’re all going to start storing our social media communication, which we likely will soon, then won’t we want the same protection that the most stringent archivers are using? Like maybe something that will hold up as evidence in a court of law?
Some of you care about this more than others, and I think we both know who you are.
The Accidental Entrepreneur
Anil isn’t what you’d think of as your traditional entrepreneur. He wasn’t selling lemonade when he was four years old. In fact, he had very little entrepreneurial background at all. He went to school like all the other kids, knew he had to get grades, go to college, get a job, and kick ass at it.
But from day one he couldn’t escape feeling like he was not living up to his potential. He said to himself that if he spent the next year doing what he was doing, at the end he wouldn’t be fired up, he’d be disappointed.
Most people think that someday they’re going to leave their job and start their own business, and ultimately most people do not. When Anil left IBM, he wasn’t far enough along to live on the income from his startup, but he had gained the confidence that this would happen down the road.
Everyone Has to Jump
TweetyMail and TheFriendMail do well, continue to grow, and currently process about 1 million emails a month through the service. A chunk of his customers are paying, and it’s profitable.
Archive Social is a pivot. He’ll look to do a public launch in the middle of the year as a small/medium business play. The product will be his flagship… for now. If he finds something else that has the same kind of potential, he’ll build that, but like the other products that came before, he’ll continue to grow what he’s got.
Launch Day III: The Launchening
Like previous Launch Days (and most public pitch formats), each founder gets 3-5 minutes to drop knowledge followed by another 1-2 minutes to answer questions. It isn’t meant to be a contest, but rather a public request for help, whether that help comes in the form of pilot customers, testers, employees, or the old standby, investment, that’s up to each founder as they take the stage.
Launch Day founder Scott Kelly has also expanded, so to speak, and created a series of programs this year, including Startup High, a mentoring and educational program for local startup CEOs to show the ropes to high school students over two weeks this summer, and Startup Madness, an all-ACC program that pairs a local executive and a local student from each of the ACC schools. He’s even working on Pittsburgh and Syracuse, even though they aren’t official until 2013.
The four other presentations are Pruvop, who will be rebranding, INRFOOD, the latest from GoToAid maker Jaargon, Pengo working on peer-to-business loans for emerging markets, and Pasplore , a browser extension grabs data and brings it into a workable format.
Joe Procopio heads up product engineering for automated content startup Automated Insights. He also founded and runs startup network ExitEvent, consulting marketplace Intrepid Company, and the Intrepid Media writers network (http://IntrepidMedia.com). You can read him athttp://joeprocopio.com and follow him at http://twitter.com/jproco.
- Triangle Startup Factory names inaugural class
- Don’t wait for trouble to keep records of your business social media
- Social Sidekick app helps streamline social media posting for small business owners
- Triangle Startup Factory launches six startups at Pitch Day
- Don’t put all your eggs in one startup basket
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Tags: Anil Chawla, Archive Social, Argyle Social, Danny Olinsky, GoToAid, IBM, INRFOOD, Jaargon, Jake Finkelstein, Joe Procopio, Launch Day, Pasplore, Pengo, ruvop, Sarah Wechsberg, Scott Kelley, Statsheet Pongageeddon, The Friend Mail, Triangle Entrepreneurship Week, Tweety Mail