Have you ever thought that a web site with 6 million of unique users per month could be a failure? The founder of Twicsy, 10-year startup, demonstrated that this is possible. The amazing thing is that even if he can’t find any fundings for his project, he doesn’t give up. Why? Because he totally love his startup, that’s why!
Today is the 10th anniversary of my startup. 10. Freaking. Years.
This was not a straightforward journey, even in comparison to most startups. I started working on the technology for general web search engine Dumbfind on November 1st, 2003. After a long 20 months of work I raised $500k from an angel investor to turn it into a real company.
But really it wasn’t a real company. It was a bad idea to go head-to-head with Google directly. I knew I would never beat them, but at the time I thought if I built something interesting it would find a place, or get bought by Microsoft to help them beef up their tech.
That didn’t pan out.
So I pivoted. I launched Searchles, a social search engine, that was basically a more social, more searchy version of Delicious. We had some modest successes, but revenue was not one of them. We landed a deals with The Washington Post, The Denver Post, and Perez Hilton, but revenue was quite terrible. We launched a number of products based on the tech we had created over the years but nothing really worked.
From 2005-2008 I raised about $1.7m in angel funding. I hired and I fired. I built and I launched. Over and over. But nothing worked so I had to lay everyone off. In 2009 it was just me again trying to build some cool tech and figure out what to do with it.
Then I had the idea to create a Twitter picture search engine. A niche, to be sure, but I thought possibly an interesting one. I went from idea to launch in just over a week and unleashed Twicsy on the world on June 19th 2009. I sent one email about the launch to the TechCrunch tips line and they wrote about it that day. And then the next day they wrote about it again. Surely the investors would be clamoring to get a piece of this?
Not so much.
I did not have the funds to continue to work on Twicsy full time for much longer. I got a job and worked on Twicsy on the side. Really, all I did was keep it running.
4 years and more than 2.5 billion indexed pictures later Twicsy now has over 6 million unique visitors per month.
6 million unique visitors per month! That is quite a feat for a website mostly set on idle for 4 years. 4 years ago I would have been flabbergasted to achieve that level of success. Any startup would, right? Right? Right??!?!?!!?
But there is a problem.
My stupid, piece of shit startup still doesn’t make any money. I barely make enough advertising money (from 9 different networks) to pay for the servers. And the servers aren’t that expensive.
I have been working on Twicsy again full time since March to see if I could raise some money and turn it into a real business.
So far, I have failed.
I believe that Twicsy has amazing potential and I think it can change the way you search and discover pictures of what’s happening in the world. It doesn’t seem like anyone else believes that though.
Twicsy itself has been an insanely brutal journey, but to realize that this journey actually began 10 years ago is especially… I don’t know what.
And so Twicsy is now officially going on the backburner again.
Twicsy, you son of a bitch. You frustrate me so. I love you, but oh how I hate to love you.