John Pettitt – Repost.Us 1 of 2

"People who have the right tools and the right challenges work harder." Repost.Us is a frictionless instant content syndication platform for web publishers.

Matthew: Hi this is Matthew Wise with FounderLY.com. We empower entrepreneurs to have a voice and share their story with the world, enabling others to learn about building products and starting companies. So I’m very excited today because I’m here with John Pettit, who is the founder and CEO of Repost.Us, which is an open-content syndication platform that enables user to share and embed whole articles just like they would do with video. So, with that said, John, we’d love for you to give our audience a brief bio.

John: A brief bio. I am a serial entrepreneur. I started my first company at 18. It lasted about three months and went bust. 15 [inaudible 00:52] pets if you go back that far in [inaudible 00:54]. And I’ve been starting companies ever since. The ones that people might have heard of would be Beyond.com which sold software, went public in the late 90′s, and CyberSource. CyberSource provides credit card processing for all controlled back ends to websites. It also went public in the late 90′s and got bought by Visa for $2 billion last year.

Matthew: Can you tell us what Repost.Us is, what makes it unique and why are you so passionate about it?

John: We looked at the way content is syndicated on the web. How do you repost something you like? And there seems to be there’s two ways that that happens right now, and they’re both broken. One is you steal it. You can re-paste it and just repost somebody else’s content and it really annoys whoever owned it. The other is you pick up the phone or you e-mail them and you negotiate with whoever’s content it is. It’s kind of like advertising before Google AdWords. You actually have to talk to a rep or you talk to somebody to syndicate content. What Repost.Us does is take people out of the loop. You could see an article you like, push the Repost.Us button, get an embed code for it, paste it into your publishing system, whatever that is, just the same way you would embed a YouTube video, and you’ve got the whole article. 

And we take care of all of the stuff about getting the article from the site, reformatting it to match your site, scaling embeds, scaling videos. So, you get great content on your site and the people who own it can modify it where we’ll put ads in it for them or we’ll allow them to charge for it. And we do all of that without upsetting Google because the embed code looks to Google like an inbound link, not duplicate content. So you don’t get that horrid situation where the syndicated copy actually shows up higher in the search rank than the original, which publishers hate. So, we just make embedding whole articles as easy as embedding video.

Matthew: What are some of the technology and marketing trends that currently exist and where do you see things developing in the future for your space?

John: I think there’s clearly a trend to printing presses are free. Anybody can make a website. And what that means is the competition for eyeballs, the competition for regular readers is going to get worse rather than better. Everybody has four to eight sites that they check regularly. And then everything else that you read on the web probably comes from a social link. It comes from a link from Reddit or from Facebook or from Twitter or somebody emails you a link. The ones you actually bookmark to check regularly, note too I may check more than that, but most people it’s four to eight. And becoming one of those four to eight sites is really expensive and it’s going to get more expensive because you’re competing with more people. 

So the thing that a content site does is they invest money in creating content and it’s an asset, and you really want that asset to work for you by getting as many page views as you can on it. So rather than competing with every other site out there for regular views, maybe the thing you need to do is make your content go where the people are and so that’s where we’re going into the syndication space to let people’s articles go to another site and that other site will be part of somebody else’s set of four to eight sites that they read regularly. 

We’ve seen cases where the primary stats were getting articles that are syndicated generate an additional 40% page views over what they got on the original site. So if you can get a 40% uplift in page views by letting your articles go on to another site, that’s significant. That’s a big difference. And it takes away the need for having to have content farms. The sort of badly written content that doesn’t do anybody any good. Why do that if you can get good content syndicated to your site?

Matthew: What inspired you to start Repost.Us?

John: A realization that getting eyeballs for a content site was really difficult and building that regular audience is really difficult and filling a content hole on the other side of that – you’re publishing everyday. The difference between a site that publishes one article a day and a site that publishes five articles a day is quite radical in how often people will come back and check. And we’ve played with getting articles from other sites: Writing to people and saying “Can I publish your…whatever?”. But it’s very labor intensive and very slow. We had people stealing our content, cutting and pasting it and putting it onto other sites. 

And we said, well, take a user behavior, there’s clearly a demand for this. It’s kind of in the same way that there was a demand for buying one tune at a time and not the whole album and iTunes filled that. If you can let people take one article from your site and reprint it or repost it on their site in a way that makes you money, guarantees the content integrity, doesn’t screw your Google rank and lets them have the benefit from the content on their site – it’s a win-win all around.

Matthew: So, John, who were your co-founders, how did you meet and what qualities or skills were you looking for?

John: Well my co-founders are Tim and Teresa and we were all friends. I mean, that’s fundamentally the first thing: We’re people who get along, call each on a BS and have complimenting skill sets. I’m very technical. That’s my background. If you’ve seen Dilbert video “The Knack”, that’s me. Tim is very much a writer. He sees things in words, he comes from a journalism background and a publishing background so he’s looking at much more of that side of the world. And Teresa comes from a people skills background. So she has very much the sort of people culture concept “How do you get the most out of people? How do you make people happy to work?” And that’s very much her role in the company. Plus, she keeps the rest of us sane.

Matthew: From idea to product launch, how long did it take and when did you actually launch the product?

John: From the idea to coding was probably six months because was just sort of kicking around or thinking about it and thinking about all the issues while I was doing something else. And then there was about six months of development work, the last two of which were crazy. We actually worked every single day between New Years and March 1st including weekends and everything to get it done. We launched beginning of March into a beta sort of soft launch so we’re still in Beta and playing right now.

Matthew: Are there any unique metrics or social proof about Repost.Us that you’d like to share with the audience?

John: I think that the interesting one is that stat about how many extra page views you get when people can put an article onto another site. And I was doing an analysis earlier this week actually for a release we’re going to do on stats and we looked at the site, we looked at how many page views the original articles were getting then we looked at “Okay, if you take those articles and put them on other sites, how many page views did it get on the extra site?” And for every 100 page views they got on the original, they got another 42 on the syndicated copies. And that’s a pretty impressive stat. If you can get a 40% bump in page views by letting your readers copy your content legally and do it in a way that monetizes to you, that’s a really, really important thing for a content site.

Matthew: We know founders face unique challenges when they decide to launch a company. What was the hardest part about starting Repost.Us and how did you overcome the obstacle?

The hardest part is the fight we’re still in which is getting traction. There’s a lot of noise out there with a lot of companies. Repost.Us is good in that it’s inherently viral in the sense that every time you use it or you see an article that’s using it, it advertises itself. But it’s still that you’ve got to reach out and it’s the old fashioned boots on the ground, BizDev, go talk to publishers, do deals we have to put it on the site. And once you get to a certain traction, people self sign up and do things but, you know, if nobody has heard of you, they don’t do that.

 
 

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