Ever get irritated that you can’t push/pull content between your computer and your social networks and sort it in handy desktop folders? Instead you have to manually update each as new content is added? Martin Pannier did. In response he created SocialFolders.
The SocialFolders app allows you to more easily manage content across your desktop and various social networks. It allows you to centrally manage your content, including backing up your photos, videos and docs. To put it more succinctly, MASHABLE summed it when they said — SocialFolders Is Like Dropbox for Social Media. If you’re not a MASHABLE fan, CNET also puts it simply when they say — It’s Photo Stream for everything“.
I got the chance to to interview Martin (who graciously took time from his busy photo-tweaking-on-his-MAC schedule) to talk about his entrepreneurial experience of starting up yet another app (during this infamous time of free-for-all-app building):
The idea of a push/pull method of updating your computer folders with social networks is damned right useful. What made you think of SocialFolders?
We have content on so many websites today — be it personal content on Facebook, Flickr, Instagram or Evernote or professional content on Google Docs or Box — that it’s a pain to access it and manage it across all these platforms. When we saw how simple Dropbox made it to sync content on your computers, we thought it would be great to apply the same metaphor to our content in the “cloud”. Thus SocialFolders was born!
What is your educational and work background?
I graduated 2 years ago with an MSc from a French graduate school. After trying to fit in finance and then consulting, I realized that what I really wanted was to start my own company! We launched a first startup with two friends called Picuous which was a picture tracking and embedding tool. It got some traction but ultimately we wanted something bigger. So we stopped and two of us started working on SocialFolders with Philippe, the CEO.
When did you start this venture and what has your entrepreneurial experience been like?
We started working on SocialFolders in August 2011. Until now it’s pretty much been an emotional roller-coaster and we fully expect it to stay that way!
What are your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?
One of the biggest challenges of an entrepreneur, on a very high level, is to stay in love with the problem, not the solution. The solution is temporary, the problem will probably always be.
What are your plans, hopes and marketing ideas for the future of SocialFolders?
Our plan is to focus aggressively on user acquisition and we hope to reach our first 100k users by June. We think we have a valuable solution to the problem that is the accessing and managing of content on a variety of websites and we want to bring it to as many people as possible!
We hope to be able to quickly release an API to have partners leverage our sync and file distribution technology to efficiently deliver files to their users computers.
Mostly we hope we’re not going to run out of cash in 6 months! (laughs)
What are some of the mistakes and/or failures that you learned from while starting up?
We executed perfectly and didn’t make any mistakes!
No … of course we made a lot of mistakes. I would like to focus on fundraising, where we think we didn’t time our efforts as well as we could have. You have to not underestimate how long it’s going to take you to fundraise but it’s also really important to not start any fundraising efforts before your product and traction are looking good. That being said, there’s no rule of thumb as to when is the good moment, so I would advise any entrepreneur to onboard an angel as advisor early on and use his feedback to time the fundraising efforts.
If you had it to do all over again, what would you change about your approach and why?
We’d focus even more on the Lean Startup Framework. Metrics have a cost in terms of development time, and when the product development rush came along they left our focus and some of them broke down — I would recommend anyone starting now to always keep the metrics in focus as they are the only tangible evidence that you are going in the right direction.
What has been the biggest surprise been since starting SocialFolders, as an entrepreneur and business owner?
We think we have a very simple product, and that our landing page conveys that. So let me tell you that we were surprised when one day a user emailed us basically asking: “What is this for? How can I use it?”. It reminded us, in a humbling way, that however clear your landing page and product, users understanding your product is never a given.
What development, event, or new understanding has had the most impact on your original plans for SocialFolders and how have your plans changed in response?
It’s only been 2 months of public beta so it’s too early to say :) That being said we’re actively tracking metrics and learning a lot about usage of our product and these metrics are surely going to influence our original plans. Wait and see!
What sacrifices did you have to make in order to focus on your startup, and were they worth it?
Creating a startup is a calling that comes with sacrifices that are made willingly and happily — that being said, especially on a personal level, it’s important to create a boundary so as to preserve a balance between personal and professional life. Personal happiness is one of the main fuels of the successful entrepreneur, so preserve it!
How did you lure your first customers?
We used our network of friends and relatives to test the private beta, and it gradually spread from there. But we really got our first batch of users with initial coverage of the beta by The Next Web.
What made you first think that starting a company is right for you?
Your mileage may vary. As far as I’m concerned I did it because I felt I had no choice. It’s just what I am meant to do, and what my natural skills push me towards. That being said, being an entrepreneur is never easy! And when in a hard spot, it’s easy to think that being an entrepreneur is not for you — especially when you spend too much time on TechCrunch. If that’s the case, I’ve found it useful to remember that whatever the appearances, everyone is fighting an uphill battle.