eHub Interviews BlinkList

Posted by Emily Chang on Monday, October 10th, 2005. Filed under: eHub Interviews

Visit BlinkList, originally added to eHub on Sep 10, 05.

imageThanks to Mike Reining, Co-founder of BlinkList and the BlinkList team for this email interview posted October 10, 2005.

eHub: What is your web application or service about?

BlinkList: The vision and goal of BlinkList is to be the leading “Personal Discovery Engine” where people come to discover, share, and organize the most recent and relevant information available online.  Before BlinkList, saving and finding saved bookmarks was a frustrating user experience.  In addition, sharing links and finding the top links that your friends or peers have been discovering was close to impossible.  BlinkList is attempting to solve both problems.  We already have one of the leading applications for quickly saving and retrieving your favorite websites.  In the next version of BlinkList which we will be launching shortly, we hope to also turn BlinkList into the leading personal discovery engine, by making it very fun and easy to discover the most relevant content your peers and friends have been discovering online.

eHub: Why did you start this project?

imageBlinkList: Initially, we just set out to solve our own problem.  Five years ago, there were maybe 50 sites I wanted to visit frequently.  Now there is far more sites I want to return to and far more sites to discover.  However, how do I navigate through this?  How do I find interesting content from friends or peers?  How to I quickly retrieve it again?  These were all questions that we had and when we could not find any sites that solved these problems we came up with the idea for BlinkList “The Personal Discovery Engine.”

eHub: How much time do you devote to its growth?  Do you have a day job?

BlinkList: We have two full-time developers working on BlinkList.

eHub: How large is your team and what are your backgrounds?

BlinkList: We are a very diverse team.

Vishen M. Lakhiani – Co-Founder
Michael Reining – Co-Founder
Kristina Mand – Book Balancer
Adelle Magsombol – Business Development Manager
Jiangti Wan Leong – Chief Web Developer
Hannu Nikupeteri – Database Engineer
Anita Patwardhan – Web Analytics and eCommerce Consultant
Dani Kahil – Code Wiz
Ozzy Labradoodle – Director of Public Relations

Only two of us, Jiangti and Hannu work full-time on BlinkList.  You can see our bios at: http://mindvalley.com/about/

eHub: What is your design philosophy?

BlinkList:
- Less is more
- Keep it simple
- The most important thing is to figure out what features to keep out, not what features to add.
- Be very responsive and community driven

eHub: What technologies are you currently using?

BlinkList: Ajax, RSS.

eHub: If your project is live, what are the most requested features from your users/community?

imageBlinkList: Making it easier to discover the most popular content from friends and peers.  This new feature will be released either this or next week.

eHub: Does your user base reside in a primary geographic location or is it distributed?

BlinkList: No, our user base is very diverse and spans many countries and languages.

eHub: Where do you see the project heading in the next 6 months?  The next 2 years?

BlinkList: As stated above, the vision and goal of BlinkList is to be the leading “Personal Discovery Engine” where people come to share and organize the most recent and relevant information they discover online. Obviously, this is a very bold and broad vision.  However, it keeps us motivated and inspired.  How far BlinkList will go?  I have no idea and we don’t pretend to have a crystal ball.

eHub: What is the greatest challenge to your success?

BlinkList: Execution.  We need to be able to execute and innovate faster than everyone else and maintain that speed of innovation for the foreseeable future.  We are definitely not the only company that is trying to solve the problems that we have identified.  Now we have to demonstrate the ability to execute on all levels.

eHub: What is the one thing you need to get to the next phase of the project?

BlinkList: Stay focused.  We get lots of user requests for new features.  It is important to figure out what features are going to move the needle and what is absolutely necessary and critical to help us achieve our vision and gain user adoption.

eHub: Do you have a business model?  If so, what is it?

BlinkList: Yes, we have a very clear business model and monetization strategy.  However, it is still far too early to be discussing this for BlinkList.  First we have to proof the concept, keep innovating and refining the product for our community.  Once we have gained critical mass we can start to think about our monetization strategy for BlinkList.  Fortunately, MindValley has other ecommerce sites that are profitable and cash flow positive so we have no pressure to generate revenues with BlinkList in the near future.

eHub: If you’re able to disclose this information, how much traffic or usage do you see on an average day?

BlinkList: No comment, we do not disclose this information online.

eHub: What is the one thing you’re most proud of about the project?

BlinkList: The team and BlinkList community.  Jiangti and Hannu have been fantastic and what they have been able to deliver in such a short amount of time is tremendous.  Our community of users has been equally amazing.  They have become an integral part in our success and many of our latest improvements and innovations can be attributed directly to the contributions of the BlinkList community.

eHub: How would you describe the shift that’s occurring with the web right now to future generations?

BlinkList: There is a huge shift to user generated content and user participation.  The web is shifting from a passive medium like TV to a far more interactive medium.  At the same time the power is shifting to micro-content, small pockets and channels that have excellent content and information.  However, finding excellent, entertaining, fresh and relevant content is one of the key challenges facing the web and hopefully BlinkList can help solve this problem through its “Personal Discovery Engine.”

eHub: What site(s) do you visit everyday other than your own?

BlinkList: My personal RSS reader (www.Kinja.com), netvibes (www.netvibes.com), and Google News, and Digg.com

eHub: How many hours of sleep do you get a night?

BlinkList: We do not sleep nearly as much as we would like to.  However, the excitement about what we are working on is easily compensating for the lack of sleep.  :-)

Thanks to Mike Reining, Co-founder of BlinkList and the BlinkList team for this email interview posted October 10, 2005.

Visit BlinkList
Originally added to eHub on Sep 10, 05