Gina Bianchini surprised the tech world in 2010 when she stepped down as CEO of Ning, a company (which she co-founded with Marc Andreessen) that lets individuals and businesses create their own custom social networks. Now, Bianchini is back with a new business, Mightybell, a social network with a self-help bent.
On the site, users can follow step-by-step guides for accomplishing a variety of goals—writing a business plan, for instance, or planning a poker weekend in Las Vegas. Each step of the way, members get encouragement from their supporters, the Mightybell equivalent of Facebook friends. Members can also create their own guides and even charge other users for access. Mightybell receives a 25 percent cut of sales.
The company launched in a limited beta test in September, charging users $1 to join. Bianchini has received $2.1 million in venture funding for the Palo Alto, California, business, which has seven employees, and she hopes to launch officially in early 2012. After Ning, raising money was easy, says Bianchini. "When you've created something millions of people used," she says, "people are willing to take a bet on you."