Plenty of entrepreneurs would give anything for start-up advice from the likes of Steve Jobs, Larry Page and Fred Wilson. That's why Ray Chan and his brother Chris launched StartupQuote.com, a website that gives people in the startup world access to the wisdom of their idols.
The site features head shots of the world's greatest entrepreneurs and innovators, above which is a speech bubble containing a single quote on what it takes to succeed. Since Startup Quote went live in April, it's amassed more than 4,000 Tumblr followers, doubled its page views each month, and attracted attention from the founders of Foursquare, Twitpic and blip.tv, among others.
Ray Chan spoke with Inc. reporter Issie Lapowsky from his home in Hong Kong about Startup Quote's popularity and what the project has taught him about the spirit of entrepreneurship.
Where did the idea for Startup Quote come from?
Startup Quote was a side project for our web design team, Rollin' Egg. Our main work is a comedy site called 9GAG. When we're working on it, we have to go through quite a lot of articles to keep up with the latest trends and developments. From time to time, we'd find articles that talk about entrepreneurship and start-ups. We thought, "˜Why don't we start a quote site with remarkable quotes to help people get inspired?'
How do you choose which quotes to feature?
The person who said the quote should be well-known. The person has to have really done something, because that means the quote is meaningful. We get submissions from time to time. It's interesting, because a ton of submissions are just people sending quotes from themselves. Some quotes are sent to us by founders. For example, the founder of Foursquare sent a quote about talent. It's kind of like an interaction between us and the founders, which is one of the coolest things about the Startup Quote project.
Do you have a favorite quote so far?
There's a quote by Marc Andreesen, the co-founder of Netscape and Ning.com. The quote is, "In a start-up, absolutely nothing happens, unless you make it happen." That's something we really appreciate, because, like Startup Quote itself, we had the idea for so long, but if we didn't start it, it wouldn't have happened. It's really inspiring.
Who are Startup Quote's readers?
I think most of them are related to the start-up world, the employees of those start-ups, the founders. They're working in the field. They want inspiration from the heroes or idols of the industry.
Is the site as popular in Hong Kong as it is in the United States?
I think it's more popular abroad, because Americans treasure start-up culture more, and they treasure the thinking of the individual. They tend to develop their own businesses more. In Chinese society, we work hard and support a family, but you don't just start a business. This isn't the way of life in China.
Why do you think the site's become so popular so quickly?
Every big business nowadays started as a start-up. It's a very progressive story: if we work hard, if we put all our efforts on our work, then we have a chance to achieve our goals. I think this kind of attitude is very important to our society. Startup culture is not just about businesses. It's not just about the internet. It's about the attitude.