The Catalyst startup incubator has been running at full-throttle for a while now, and I've been blown away by the killer startups that have joined the program. The best part of my job is meeting entrepreneurs who see a need in the marketplace and have a vision for how to meet that need in a targeted way, and the story behind Dudepins — one of the startups in Catalyst — is a perfect example of that kind of thinking. Their goal: Macho visual bookmarking.
Pinterest has been getting a lot of attention since 2011, but it still hasn't really been able to penetrate the male demographic; maybe because it's been so effective at cultivating content around fashion, recipes, DIY home ideas and cute puppies (Watch College Humor's "The Fall of Pinterest," and you'll see what I mean). The Dudepins team noticed an unmet demand for a male-oriented visual bookmarking site, and they seized the opportunity to build that platform.
Their Formula: 2 dudes + 2 computers + 1 idea + infinite scotch – non-infinite income = Dudepins!
I fired off a few questions to the Dudes at Dudepins to get a little insight into how they built their business and what they'd recommend to other entrepreneurs in the same position ... They did not disappoint:
Q: How do you describe what Dudepins does?
Dudepins is a collection of montages — or personal boards — of pictures and videos, sorted into various categories. Dudepins is a place where you can easily save, share and collect everything that you find on the Internet, and you're able to organize that content into different montages (i.e. cars, style, watches, cigars, planes, food, travel, etc.). When you want to see the stuff thousands of other Dudes just like you have uploaded, we make that easy as well.
More simply: Dudes, Gentlemen, Guys, Sirs and whatever else a Man might call himself can use Dudepins to collect, save, view and browse everything associated with being a Dude.
Q: How did you find out about SoftLayer?
A: We were initially contacted by two seriously awesome Dudes: Josh Krammes and Kelley Hilborn. Both Josh and Kelley were in Vancouver on business, and fortunately, we were able to get together with them for some dinner. Sparks flew, and Dudepins was invited to join Catalyst.
Q: What has your experience been since you signed up?
A: We knew we'd get solid hosting when we signed on with SoftLayer, but we were most surprised by how far the support and benefits of Catalyst go beyond the infrastructure actually running Dudepins. The SoftLayer team has been a great resource for technical questions, and they've helped us meet several industry experts who, in turn, have provided a lot of amazing feedback about what can help us take Dudepins to the next level.
You guys (Josh, Kelley, Paul and John) are rockstars, and we highly recommend Catalyst to any startup looking for a bulletproof hosting infrastructure and network of brilliant advisers.
Q: What advice would you give to other startups?
A: It's extremely important to stay focused, motivated, goal-oriented and (most importantly) driven. Don't get married to your ideas, and don't let passions overrule logic ... especially when the sky gets cloudy.
I hate to cut the Q&A short, but TechStars Boulder Demo Day is starting, and I have to go meet the next class of future SoftLayer customers!
If you've got a brilliant, creative, innovative or otherwise awesome startup, and you think Catalyst could be a good fit for you, make sure you hit us up from the "Apply" page on the SoftLayer Catalyst site.