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Startups Uncensored 44 With Joe Fernandez, Founder of Klout

In the world of social media, everyone has a voice, and through these sites, everyone can broadcast their thoughts and ideas to millions of listeners. Unfortunately, the majority of these broadcasters aren’t worth our time. But luckily for us, Joe Fernandez recognized this dilemma and created Klout to help us figure out who is and is not worth listening to.

Klout scores the influence of social media users by monitoring and measuring the way people respond and engage with individuals’ social media posts. In this way, he helps us identify trendsetters and subject-matter experts, which goes a long way to simplifying and improving both our professional and personal social media browsing.

Joe sat down with Docstoc CEO Jason Nazar, where he discussed the ups and downs of his career that led to a successful startup and subsequent payoff. Here, we highlight a few of his points to help guide your own startup aspirations.

“I Prayed for an Earthquake Everyday”

After leaving college early to take a consulting gig in Los Angeles, everything was rolling smoothly for Joe, until the Recession hit. Overnight, Joe went from a six-figure salary to nearly nothing. Although he lamented his plight and hoped for disaster, his perseverance and frustration led him to meet his future business partner Binh Tran and introduced him to the world of startups.

Silence Is Golden

The idea of Klout came to Joe while he suffered in silence with his jaw wired shut. Left without speech, he became absorbed with the influence that word-of-mouth plays in today’s social media-driven world. With dreams of scaling word-of-mouth marketing, Klout was born.

“We Were Screwed”

Despite being armed with a great idea, Joe’s startup path wasn’t easy. Working with Binh Tran, the two created the site and presented it to a panel at SXSW. The team had an audience of four watching as the judges dismissed and criticized the idea. Luckily, the two weren’t deterred, and an early relationship with a young social media site called Twitter led to great success. 

The Only Thing to Do Was to Build the Company 

After spending months trying to iron out a business plan and find investors, Joe decided to go ahead and build the site with only the help of his Co-Founder. He figured he could build what he envisioned and the funding would come later, which it did, culminating in a $200 million acquisition by Lithium Technologies.

The Secret to Klout’s Success

Klout found success through an insight that came to Joe while building the site: The internet is no longer page-centric; it’s people-centric.

The Future of the Internet

As the internet continues to evolve, Joe sees social media playing an even bigger role in our lives. As he said, “15 years ago, you had to be competent on a PC. Today, it’s about being savvy on social media.” To Joe, social media savvy is creating content people engage with, and in this way, we can boost our influence and have our voices standout amongst a crowded social media landscape. 

Article by Mircea Vlaicu

 
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