Ramsaur Brothers Perservere To Launch Their ReKommend Add-On
Michael Ramsaur might be thought of as a link expert, even if he can’t attach a credential to his name. The co-founder of his startup reKommend is his twin brother Erik. I imagine sharing is an essential tool for such siblings. Together, Michael and Erik have created a link sharing system they hope will take the hassle out of passing information and recommendations along to both family and friends.
The reKommend sidebar makes it easy to organize links and to share them–either sidebar to sidebar or via email and social networks. Simultaneously if you please. Meant for use as a bookmarking tool as well, the add-on is available through Firefox with plans for Chrome and IE versions in the hopper. Don’t put anything past Michael and Erik.
This Oregon startup is 100% bootstrapped. It took the brothers five years to launch their project. Two web design companies failed to deliver a workable add-on over the course of two years.$90,000 down the drain, dejected, and about to give up, the siblings found the resolve to press onward. With the help of a XUL expert/ Delta pilot they found through oDesk, the reKommend sidebar launched at long last. Michael Ramsaur tells KillerStartups more about the twins’ startup odyssey.
How did you come up with the idea for your company?
I got the idea for reKommend from Netflix. They introduced a new Friends section where you could send movie recommendations to your friends. I loved it! Then I started thinking, wouldn’t it be cool to also be able to send books, restaurants, TV shows, news articles and videos. I drew a rough draft of the first version on a piece of paper and showed it to Erik, and he immediately wanted to be involved with the project.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
My twin brother Erik came up with the name. We wanted to name it recommend.com, but it was taken. So my brother thought about replacing the c with a K, and we both liked it.
What’s the very first thing you do at work everyday?
When we were in the building process, a typical day would be to meet at the board room. I would usually mock up a new feature on the board, and Erik would give me feedback about what he liked and disliked. After lengthy discussion, we would agree on something we both liked.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
2 and 2. We plan on hiring more employees as we grow.
Maybe you can share one anecdote that describes the startup struggle you’ve been going through?
We had to re-code the add-on from scratch after the second company wasn’t able to deliver a working product. We had spent 2 years and $90,000 on code that we could not use. When we found out, we were devastated and came close to giving up. Our Mom gave us some words of encouragement, and that helped us to give it another try.
How do you handle frustration? When/how was the last time you dealt with frustration?
When we get frustrated, we problem solve and focus on the solution.
What’s your office environment like? Is it the kind of place where everyone is bumpin’ away to house music or is it more traditional?
We have a small traditional office. I have a desk and Erik has a bean bag. We also use a projector in our office to discuss bugs and changes.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
In 5 years, we want reKommend to be the best and most popular link sharing browser add-on. We also want to have the largest database of recommendations and bookmarks.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food? Give us the deets, dude!
Creating innovative products for the internet, business books about start-ups, Apple, Netflix, Steve Jobs, our dogs, snowboarding, bodyboarding, basketball, auto racing, exercise, NBA Live 08, Forza 2, Harmless Harvest coconut water, Zevia, Justin’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, Caramel Apple Pops, donuts, honey roasted macadamia nuts and salted caramel ice cream!
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowd-funded? Where’d you get the money, man?
We are self-funded. We each started affiliate PPC advertising companies in 2001 and used money from those companies to fund reKommend in 2006.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Try to borrow from your family and friends and pay them back.
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend (and you couldn’t spend it on your current startup / projects)?
Buy 2 Ferrari F458’s and take them on the Autobaun for a top speed test.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now? If not, what’s it gonna take to make you feel successful?
Yes, we have had success with our advertising businesses and hope to have similar success with reKommend.
Website you couldn’t live without and why?
Yelp! We found 3 amazing restaurants and 1 awesome gelato place near our hotel in Tucson.
Mobile App you’re in love with and why?
Pandora. We love listening to new music.
Dogs or cats?
iOS or Android?
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website/idea?
That we created an innovative link sharing system. We have the first browser sidebar that can share links to other sidebars, to e-mail addresses and to social networks. Our sidebar is also the first one to be able to bookmark websites.
Where can our readers get a hold of you?
You can get a hold of us through e-mail and our Get Satisfaction help page. We are planning on having Facebook and twitter pages.