This summer Ryan Eskridge and I decided to ditch sleep so that we could learn about the news business and how to write code. Lot’s of code. By the end of the summer Read With Me (www.getreadwithme.com) was born.
Read With Me is a platform that enables you to personalize any news article by enabling you take any news article and embed your thoughts right within the text of the news article. You can then send your friends your version of the article via email, Facebook, etc. When your friends read the article, they can then respond to your comments and create their own comments right within the article. The discussion, and the article, is then archived in your own personal Cloud, and is searchable and retrievable forever. In many ways we’ve taken the case method online and applied it to news articles.
Ryan and I created Read With Me because we were frustrated by not having a good way to discuss news articles with friends. Everyday Ryan and I would receive emails from friends telling us to read an article that they found really interesting. It was super annoying to keep emailing back and fourth about the article, often I would just not respond because it was big pain to quote and cut and paste from the original article. Additionally, even when we did manage to have a good discussion, the discussion would eventually get lost amongst all of my other emails. After talking to section mates, former coworkers, and friends, we realized that other people faced the same problem. Ryan and I both figured there’s got to be a better way to personalize, discuss, and archive news articles.
We really think the concept of personalized, annotatable news will introduce a new element to the news. Amongst our generation, Facebook and Linkedin news feeds have already become one of our primary news sources and we believe personalized news discussions amongst your friends and social network will be the next step.
With this need identified, we were off to the races. We were awarded the Rock Summer Fellowship and were super excited to get to work. I remember starting my BGIE final half an hour late because I had been up til 4 am the night before learning how to build our first prototype.
However, that level of energy was difficult to maintain as the summer wore on. We had set very optimistic and unrealistic goals for ourselves. For example, by the end of June we wanted to be running a private beta with at least 1k users. It turns out that taking an idea from concept to a fully functioning product is actually really really hard. Over July 4th weekend I was pretty much ready to give up. Our website looked like it was something from 1995 and nothing was really working. That was definitely the low point in the summer.
With the help of mentors, we pivoted and removed several features that enabled us to ship by the end of the summer. One of the most valuable lessons we learned in TEM was to ship early and iterate. We are definitely on that path now, and have a lot of exciting stuff coming up for the next version.
As we reflect on the ups and downs of the summer, we both agree that the summer during business school is a unique time in your life to learn a ton and do something risky, but still in a relatively risk-free way. For us, the Rock Summer Fellowship had a lot to do with that. Besides the financial support, amazing people such as Meredith McPherron and Peggy Yu at Rock Center really go out of their way to help you think about your business and what experiments make sense to run. They can even introduce you to Arthur Rock 🙂 Additionally, for folks coming from backgrounds such as consulting, the experience of starting a company is an unparalleled opportunity to gain some operational experience.
We would love for you to try out Read With Me (www.getreadwithme.com) and tell us what you think.