Top 10 New Year’s resolutions? Top 10 Christmas presents you wanted and didn’t get this year? Top 20 new startups of 2012? 1… 2… 3… Go! No, don’t write me here. I have way too much egg nog and champagne within reach. Instead, create an online list with Listnerd, an interactive list platform. That way everyone can join the fun of weighing in. Let the voting and debates commence!
As much as we all love making listing, especially of our favorites, it’s hard to believe this space hasn’t seen a mad rush online. Listnerd hopes to get the party started and become the Pinterest of lists, a place where users can create and share lists about everything under the sun. Genial co-founder Eric (Erling) Andersen had this to share about his disruptive startup:
What’s the story behind starting Listnerd? Where did the idea come from?
Well, I’m a developer and a designer. We own a company, Omega Media AS. We make websites for lots of clients and we also have some of our own websites, such as a social networking site here in Norway called Biip.no. We’re always making new products.
I’m also a beer enthusiast. I drink a lot of Belgium beer and Dutch beer, and we began talking about making a website just for fun. It was supposed to be like a website for the top 100 beers of the world. We wanted people to get in on the action and vote stuff up and down.
So we started creating this website based around beers and then one of the guys on the team is also into red wine. So we started to think that maybe we should make two websites. Then…[laughs] We realized you could take the basic concept of the list and apply it to any interest or passion. A lot of people have a passion, whether it’s about books or red wine and beers, sports, TV series or what not. So we kind of went from there, from the idea of one area to creating a platform to cover multiple areas.
After we found out that we wanted to create a platform, we started researching names. We wanted something that says something about the people that are most dedicated and invested into a list, and we came up with the name Listnerd. We think that the people who make lists are definitely going to be nerds in one sense of the word – they’re really dedicated to the thing that they’re making the list about.
Do you intend for the site to become more informational or social?
Our vision for the site is to become the Pinterest for lists. Pinterest started out only for fashion bloggers and they evolved. Now you find Pinterest boards on just about anything. I think that’s also where we want to take Listnerd. I saw just yesterday that there is a guy, a Ph.D., who made a list about the top anatomy textbooks. He made a directed toward students or something like that.
I think there’s a potential for both very entertaining lists but also more serious lists.
What first drew you to startup entrepreneurship?
I’ve always loved building stuff. And the other guys working on the site – we all love building stuff. There’s a moment when you build something and you see people using it, interacting with the site. That’s very satisfying. You can do as much planning as you want, you can plan out stuff months, but there’s when you sit down and see users, how they’re using the site. You find out if you’ve done a good enough job or not. I think that’s really the main reason why we do this, because we love to build stuff and see how people accept it. That’s why we’re really invested in and excited about the Listnerd launch.
So far it’s going really well. We have nearly 10,000 visitors per week now, and we haven’t done any advertising at all. It’s just viral. So, it’s looking really good.
Is there a best time or ideal circumstances when your ideas come to you?
We always look for problems that need solving. With Listnerd it was all about that. I don’t think anybody has done lists well enough on the Internet. And it’s kind of strange, because if you think about it, every year you have Time magazine select the person of the year, or People magazine compiling a list of the top 100 sexy men or something like that. You have countless magazines that tell you everything from the best Christmas shopping ideas to the best makeup to wear, but the thing is that when these find their way online they’re always like a WordPress article, saying these are the top 100 things.
We always said that lists are broken online, because you have polls and surveys, but you really don’t have interactive lists. That’s where we come in. We saw that there was a gap in the market, just like nobody had done image boards before Pinterest. Pinterest is just a platform for image boards, just like Facebook is a platform for social communication online. We think that a platform for interactive lists was missing. So we saw a problem and we set out to solve it.
Do you have any advice for other startup entrepreneurs?
Tough question. I was browsing a lot of startup websites the other day, and there are thousands of startups, and I think that one thing startups often overlook is the importance of marketing. Sometimes I have the feeling that people get this really great idea, and then they make a site out of it and think that the idea is good enough to market itself. But… I was researching Pinterest, and it took nearly two years before they had their breakthrough. So I think that the key to all startups is to just keep going at it long enough, not stop doing your startup just because you haven’t had success. Sometimes it just takes some time, and you really have to invest in the marketing.
Do you have plans for how you’ll monetize Listnerd already?
We have a lot of advertising experience. That’s how our other sites financed themselves. So that’s a key component. There’s also a much more sexy approach. At its heart, I think Listnerd is a social recommendation engine for products. For example, we could have a list about the best things to buy your husband for Christmas.
We’re integrating our site with Amazon.com these days. That’s one of the key developments we’re working on. So that list for example, all the list items would have a buy button next to them that would link directly to the product over at Amazon. We would get a commission for each thing that’s sold. So that’s something we’re working really hard on, matching products. Hopefully it will be automatic, so the people creating lists will not have to think about all this. If you create a list, we automatically tie the list items to relevant products on Amazon.com.
How do you handle the challenges or the stresses of starting out?
For us it’s not too stressful. People often tell me that we work too much, because we work like 12 hours a day. I always tell them that we don’t work 12 hours. We work maybe a couple hours each day, and the rest is just our hobby. We enjoy doing the stuff we do, so we’re never too stressed about it.
How long were you working on the site before your launch last November?
I think we started working on the beer site in August of 2011, and then it branched out into the platform site around December. We worked maybe 10 or 11 months on the site. It’s pretty big project. We’re two guys that do project development and design, and two dedicated programmers. So there are four people working on the site.
And how is the split between San Francisco and Norway working?
It’s working well. We have an office in SanFrancisco and one programmer works from there. We have one programmer in the Ukraine, two designers and project leads in Oslo, Norway. But we’re looking to locate everything in San Francisco in two months, sometime in February.
What’s the startup community in Oslo like?
It’s pretty good. In San Francisco there’s something called RocketSpace, which is a work environment for startup companies. Oslo just got something called Mesh. It’s a really great place. I think they have something like 20 startups located in the same building. Mesh was really important to bring everyone together working in one place. Oslo’s not big. I think it’s like not even quite a million people. It’s a pretty small country and place, so I think it’s good to get people together.
What can you tell me about the game exhibition you’re in charge of organizing?
Yeah, that’s one of our hobbies. It’s a pretty big gaming expo [Spillexpo], about 10,000 people, which is a lot for Norway. We hosted that between November-December. We also run a site Spill.no, which is kind of like owning a Games.com in Norway. That’s where the gaming expo came from. We had this pretty big website for games and no one had done a gaming expo. So we thought, “Why don’t we try?” And we got everyone in on it – Nintendo, Sony Playstation, UBI Soft, and all the big gaming companies.
I noticed in your work history that you list Dockworker. How long did you do that job, and did you take anything away from that experience that still serves you today?
I did that when I was 15 until I was 21, through high school and secondary school. I learned a lot about people. You start working in media and often you forget that there are a lot of people out there totally different from yourself. I learned on the docks to work with people without the same experience, but that have a lot of street credit. I learned a lot from that actually.
As a beer lover and given the nature of your site, I of course have to ask you if you have a top 5 favorite beers?
Oh, yeah, more than a top five. But I’d have to say –
- Anchor Steam (from San Francisco, for nostalgia)
- Chimay Blue
- Chimay Red
- Chimay White
- Leffe Blond
Your favorite dogs?
I have an English bulldog, so that would be my number one right now. He’s with me all the time. His name is Bernard.
Judging from Listnerd, it looks like someone is a fan of Arrested Development?
That would be me. [Laughs]
I’m a huge fan – very excited that more episodes are coming.
I can’t wait, man. I’m watching Netflix all the time, waiting, watching the same episodes over and over.
I’ve heard rumors that the new episodes are set to be released in “Spring 2013” and I must say, they can’t come soon enough! Best of luck to you, Eric! Readers, be sure to check out Listnerd to create an online list for each of your end-of-the-year top lists, your New Year’s resolution lists, and any other lists you need to share with the online world.
Courtesy of startup founder | Listnerd