Chris Mirabile and Gianni Martire were best friends bored on a Friday night.
“We were social people. We had a lot of friends,” said Martire. After a night of missed phone calls and texts from friends, “we ended up frustrated at a diner,” he said.
So the two started to think about ways to leverage social media so that they’d know what was going on before they went out, explained Mirabile.
Their solution is called The Hotlist, a Web site and Facebook application that aggregates data from the social networking site to let users know what their friends and friend’s friends are doing on a given night.
“It’s really a discovery tool that helps with social coordination,” said Mirabile.
And for users that aren’t active on Facebook, Mirabile said the site can still be useful.
“You don’t need one single friend on Facebook to discover what crowds are up to in your area,” said Mirabile. “You can zoom into a place like Paris or Turkey and see the hottest spots that night.”
So far the company has received more than $1 million in funding and has over 150,000 users. The founders say this Facebook application’s intentions are clear: to get people away from the computer screen.
“Now social media actually makes people more antisocial,” said Mirabile. “I mean you interact with them on Facebook and you feel like you interact with them in the real world, but you really didn’t. With Hotlist, we are really trying to get people away from the computer, away from the smartphones, away from playing games and actually interacting.”
Six Shooter Chris Mirabile and Gianni Martire
When times get tough, what inspires you?
Martire: A lot of things inspire me, but what keeps me going through hard times is working with my friends. A lot of people say never mix business with friends, but I completely disagree--just as long as it's with the right friends. Building a startup is similar to running a marathon. It's all a mental game and having your best friend running alongside you keeps you going. You can't get through tough times alone--it's the people you surround yourself with that enable you to thrive.
Mirabile: I rely on a few things: focusing on all of the positives within the company, like our growth, what we're enabling people to do with our product, and our plans. I also find it helpful to step back and put everything in context, whether it’s from an issue-by-issue, industry, or personal perspective. My coworkers and my co-founder, Gianni, also energize me and keep me in high spirits. Finally, focusing on my end goal -- the vision for Hotlist -- tends to help realign me and keep me focused on success.
What rule do you live by?
Martire: Plan for the worst, but hope for the best; life rarely follows a plan.
Mirabile: Create the life that you want for yourself.
What is your favorite quote and why?
Martire: The famous line Steve Jobs told John Sculley when recruiting him to work for Apple. Steve asked John whether he preferred to "sell sugar water for the rest of your life or come with me and change the world?" You only have one lifetime to do something incredible; you only get once chance to change the world.
What is your biggest tip to other entrepreneurs?
Martire: 1) Invest in a team before spending time polishing up your idea 2) Build something people want 3) Pick one idea and keep it simple 4) Never try to solve too many problems at once.
Mirabile: Focus on what you're creating and measure your success by how much it is helping the people you're building it for. Don't get distracted by trying to make yourself rich, or to meet powerful people, those will come along with your creation, but are not the measures of success.
Why will your startup stand the test of time?
Matire: The foundation to every company is always the team. Industries and markets are constantly changing, especially in our space, that's why it's all about staying ahead of the curve and that can only be done by hiring the most creative and innovative people we can find. There are other factors of course that determine which startups succeed, but it all boils down to the team first. Hotlist has an incredible team, that's why we'll withstand whatever challenges that are brought to us.
Mirabile: We are creating technology that improves people's social lives--one of the greatest sources for human happiness--and doing so by creating technologies that address the inefficiencies and issues that nearly everyone faces. Many others are forming technologies that they then hope to adapt to people, or coerce them into changing their natural routines.
Who is your role model?
Martire: My dad. The guy came to this country (from Italy) with a 5th-grade education, barely knowing a word of English, and became very successful. He did it by working extremely hard and never compromising his values. No one gave him a blueprint to the top, and he didn't care for one. He had his own dreams and figured it out on his own. That's a true entrepreneur! None of us know what tomorrow will bring, but we're all confident we'll figure it out.
Mirabile: I don't have one single role model. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, and I try to focus on the aspects of people that I want -- and don't want -- to incorporate into my own life. With that said, my mom, dad and brother have been the most influential people in my life.