Sometimes you want a startup to succeed because their product is simply too cool, and you can’t wait for it to make life easier. Sometimes you root for a company because the people behind the venture seem like genuine, hard working, kind souls that if given the right turn would affirm all the assumptions about a benign universe you’ve been carrying around in your head. And sometimes, as with Mixy.tv, the startup meets all the above qualifications.
Mixy.tv is a website that aims to make watching videos online faster. The increased velocity will come from a video platform that streams relevant videos from friends’ postings on sites like Facebook, or Reddit before videos go viral. Say goodbye to segmented video space and tiresome searches for what you’d like to watch.
They haven’t generated revenue yet and they’re waiting to hit critical mass before they introduce advertising, but they’ve been doubling their user base every two weeks. Check ’em out.
Killerstartups caught up with Mixy.tv co-founder Calvin Lai recently to learn just how they’re mixin’ it up (not to mention, share our love of NYC falafel).
How long have you been involved with the internet? What were your first steps?
What time do you usually start work each day?
I’m a bit of a late-riser in general, that’s never changed for me. 9AM is an early day for me. Most of my days get started around 10AM and end somewhere between 1AM – 5AM.
Do you have an office or work at home?
I currently work at home. Several years ago, after proving myself as a competent telecommuting developer for several freelance gigs, I was given a full time position at a sports marketing agency called row27 Studios, who made me their lead developer. That gave me the freedom to move to NYC and really dive headfirst into the tech scene here. Since I’ve been given that freedom, I’ve never worked another office job again. Though I suspect if we ever received funding for mixy.tv I’ll have to drag myself into the office (with a smile of course).
What’s the very first thing you do at work everyday?
Get a coffee, pull the latest changes from our source code repository, check emails, check Reddit. 6 hours later, I’m ready to code!
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
I wish I had a fun and quirky story about how Mixy was the name of my childhood canine friend that I would roam around with, but in reality I just typed the name into a domain registrar. It was short, easy to remember, spelled like it’s pronounced, and best of all, available.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
We have 3 co-founders and 1 employee. We’re a team, so no one really works for anyone else though.
Do you guys work with a designer? / Who designs your website?
Karl and I designed the website. We’re developers though, so we’re not the best designers, and we’re always looking for ideas and ways to make it more aesthetically pleasing. When we get funding, we’ll probably try and hire Sir Jonathan Ive from Apple to make a pilgrimage to Mixy (kidding).
Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describe the struggle you went through?
We’re still in the midst of our early days so we look forward to when we can reflect on those now insignificant struggles you speak of. I think it is always important to keep the team motivated mentally; god knows there’s no glory and definitely no money in it in the beginning. We’ve all had those days where we contemplate if we’re doing the right thing, but we regroup, reinvigorate ourselves and get back to it. These are the non-tangible things that you hear about but can’t really prepare for until it happens. Like most startups, we have funny stories about going insane after all night hack-a-thons. Karl, our other tech co-founder, once launched two startups in one day (marqueed.com and mixy.tv) after a 52-hour hack-a-thon. Afterward, all he really wanted to do was eat some falafel.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food? Give us the deets, dude!
Video games got me started, but what really keeps me going is the developer community. I have a lot of respect for the guys who carry full time jobs or run their own startups, and still have time to release or work on awesome open-source software for the benefit of the community. David Hansson of 37signals did that with Ruby on Rails while working on Basecamp, and that’s just absolutely amazing to me. I’m constantly aspiring to be on that level, in both skill level and in the altruistic sense.
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowd-funded? Where’d you get the money, man?
We are fully bootstrapped for now but plan on looking for sustainable funding within the next 3 months. Our CEO, Andrew, is an amazing leader and it’s like having our very own visionary in the office when he’s not out meeting new people and preaching the gospel (of Mixy).
What keeps you (guys) going everyday?
Our combined love for technology and entrepreneurship. Also, after a certain number of failed startups (3 specifically, for me), you kinda just have to keep going until something works out.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Keep it lean and don’t over purchase based on assumptions of growth. React to what is needed and keep cool when things mess up, upgrade from there and keep moving. Also, start collecting ketchup packets from McDonald’s. Those really come in handy.
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 US to spend?
Asking an entrepreneur this question is like asking a kid if they want candy. There is no doubt that I would use $450,000 to bootstrap Mixy (mostly going toward hiring more engineers and keeping them happy, but I’d also fund a few mixers and/or networking events). The other $50,000 I’d use to buy my mom a nice scarf for Christmas, and maybe an eggbeater.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now? If not, what’s it gonna take to make you feel successful?
That is a tough one. I don’t think it takes an IPO, acquisition, or even positive revenue to call yourself a success. I do think it requires having built a product that is either widely used or heavily relied on. What’s really important is that you have fun doing it, and, with that sentiment, I’m probably the most successful entrepreneur in the history of ever. I do believe that every failure–no matter how large or small–is necessary to lead to success. So, I think I’m heading in the right direction.
Web App or site you couldn’t live without and why:
Facebook. I know it’s probably the most obvious one, but I love keeping in touch with what my friends are doing. It’s also one of the best ways to promote a new product, and absolutely the best way to get people to sign up hassle-free on your own site.
Mobile App you’re in love with:
I really like the Pair app on iOS right now. It’s an app for couples, and it lets you share drawings, photos, texts, and to do lists with your significant other. My girlfriend and I use it all the time. For the guys, the best feature is a one-click button that lets her know you’re thinking of her.
Favorite jams to listen to as you work?
I’m big on West Coast 90s Hip Hop. I put on some Tupac and I’ll attack the keyboard like ‘Pac attacked the mic. When I’m in a less violent mood, I prefer indie rock/pop, The XX, Arcade Fire, and so on. My co-founders would probably agree with me in this area.
Favorite video of the week?
This video gave me the chills a few days ago:
Dogs or cats?
Dogs. Although apparently I’m not allowed on the internet if I don’t like cats.
iOS or Android?
iOS. I see the fragmentation of Android to be a huge problem for developers. It reminds me too much of the problems Internet Explorer created for web developers. A lot of Android users are still on older versions, and that represents a lot of development time and effort to get things working correctly for people across the board. I’m big on cross-platform usability, and the problems in that area make me really wary about Android development.
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website/idea?
Saving people time! I think that a great product should always help people save time. With Mixy, that’s really our ultimate goal. Our users save time by being able to find the videos that they’re interested in quickly. One way we do that is by pulling videos that your friends have posted on Facebook and Twitter. A feature we’re working on right now is to leverage Reddit — we want to pull videos from the subreddits (kind of like a subcategory of Reddit) that you’re subscribed to. That would really help users get videos from the topics they’re interested in.
Besides our core product, I think we have a really great team. We all complement each other and can fill in the spaces where the others are lacking in. Our Marketing Manager Jennifer has a super keen Twitter swagger, and her artistic outlook on life I think really gives us a creative voice in the tech space.
Interested in angel funding Mixy.tv or learning more?
Here’s how you can track ‘em down.
- http://robotslacker.com (a neglected blog that they will be updating soon)