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Jon Wheatley has an early start. At just 21 years of age, he has created one of the most original startup on the block called Dailybooth. The concept is simple: a picture a day for years to come. In this fascinating interview, learn why focusing on building a good experience should trump everything else and how age doesn’t matter as long as you’re committed to deliver something of value to everyone.
Allentrepreneur: Hi Jon, very nice of you to share your story with us. You recently recounted your start-up experience in an excellent blog post. How about you tell us a little about yourself?
Jon: I’m a 21 year old entrepreneur from the UK. I’ve been working on the internet in some form or another for almost 10 years now. Ever since getting my first 500 free minutes AOL dialup CD I’ve been trying (and failing mostly) to make cool things that people enjoy using.
When I was 17, a website I was running at the time called onlinegames.net was acquired for what was (at the time) a non-trivial amount of money. This is what really got the ball rolling in my entrepreneurial career. I had a bit of money to play with and I had loads of ideas I wanted to develop. From that point on I’ve been working hard trying to make things happen.
Allentrepreneur: The concept behind Daily Booth is quite simple. A picture of yourself, everyday for years. When you first came up with this idea, what made you invest your efforts in this particular project and not another?
Jon: I thought the concept of taking a picture of yourself every day was an insanely cool idea but I knew deep down I would never keep up with it. I also thought it would be something that other people would probably like to do, if there was a way of easily doing it.
Slowly the basic idea was developed further. The more I thought about it the more it seemed like something that could have some legs and hopefully something people would use and enjoy.
The concept seemed really “sticky”. With other social networks users visit once every so often and see what’s happening, then leave. With this users would be coming back to the site every day to snap a picture of themselves and also have some great content to look at every time they return. I decided to roll with it.
Allentrepreneur: So far, what has been the reaction to Daily Booth? How big is the community?
Jon: So far the reaction has been fantastic. We launched the site 4 days ago and already over 3,000 people have signed up.
Allentrepreneur: How did you manage the marketing aspects of Daily Booth, such as getting the word out and building a community?
Jon: All I’ve done that could be even remotely classed as marketing is sending out a tweet saying the site was launched. Since then everything has just snowballed. We’ve been featured on a few blogs which has helped and some awesome people have made some awesome videos on youtube that have driven a lot of traffic.
I’m a firm believer that if you build something good, people will come. You only need to have a marketing budget if whatever you’re building isn’t good enough to market itself.
Allentrepreneur: Do you intend to monetize Daily Booth sometime in the future?
Jon: We have a few ideas but we’re not really worried about that right now. We’re just making sure we’re building a great community.
Allentrepreneur: What are some of the biggest lessons, business or otherwise, you’ve learned from working on Daily Booth?
Jon: Deadlines are impossible to hit however liberal you are with your estimates. That was a lesson I learned again and again.
Allentrepreneur: Care to give us your personal suggestions for facing setbacks?
Jon: As cliché as it sounds, and I hate myself for saying it, but just don’t ever give up however hard things might get. — The bigger the mountain is you have to climb the nicer the view will be when you get to the top.
Allentrepreneur: What’s next in line for you Jon?
Jon: I’ve been working on a side project for the past few months called moof.com which will be launching very shortly. Moof is a pretty cool project that is based around socially listening to music. That wont take up much of my time though and my main focus for the foreseeable future will most definitely be dailybooth.
Apart from that, I’m not sure. Just keep trying to make things people enjoy using.