I came up with the idea for Klout while my jaw was wired shut from surgery in 2007. I was stuck in my tiny Manhattan apartment, recovering, and spent a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook--the only way I could communicate. I realized the world was about to change--that everyone was creating content--and thought, Why can't I measure everyone's influence, using social media as data?
I built the prototype for Klout and launched on Christmas Eve 2008. Two weeks later, Tech Meetup invited me to present in New York. I stood in front of all these important people and said, "I invented an algorithm to determine how important you are." My idea was to use data from social networks to gauge individual Klout scores, ranging from 1 to 100. The higher the score, the more influence you have.
I pitched that idea 150 times during the 18-month postlaunch period and was told no by at least 130 investors. My biggest mistake? I kept tweaking my story.
If someone said, "This would be really cool for advertising," I'd refine my pitch to focus on that. The next person would say, "I like the idea, but advertising is dead! It should be more analytics focused." I kept spinning in circles until I finally decided to pitch the company I originally wanted to build.
My refined story was, and still is, that I want to help every person in the world understand his influence and be recognized for it. My clarity and confidence in the idea was what made my core investors sign on.