Before Gabe Lozano founded LockerDome in 2008, he had a simple idea: imagine a social media platform built around what you like versus who you know. That is, the current models Facebook and Twitter operate on connect you to other people, but what if LockerDome could be the platform that connects you to other content?
“I wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal and it was shared across social media about 600 times,” says Lozano. “But what pissed me off was that I couldn’t find the conversation around that single piece of content. And I realized that you’re not going to be able to find what most people are saying about it after it’s shared on Facebook or Twitter. So, I thought, wouldn’t it be really freaking nice if a big chunk of that conversation actually happened where you wrote the article in the first place?”
When he shared his WSJ article on Facebook, there were about 550 first-degree connections that commented with a surface level “nice” or “like” on the article. But Lozano knew that while his friends might not care deeply about his topics of interest, there are 7 billion other people on the planet who might.
Thus, LockerDome adopted a quasi-mission that some folks in Downtown Vegas might find familiar: LockerDome wants to instigate maximum collisions among like-minded people. But before that, in their early stages of operation, LockerDome was geared wholly toward sports content.
They had accrued a somewhat small base of about 10,000 users, but the team began to see that there was a lot to be said for reaching outside the sports-content-realm. So, two years ago, LockerDome was re-launched as a consumer brand driven by a publisher model.
“The market is bigger than what we’ve even touched today,” says Lozano. “And the fundamental behavioral patterns in the market are the exact same when we touch sports as well as things that aren’t sports.”
This is an example of one of those perfect-pivot-moments because LockerDome’s user base exploded from the initial 10,000 users to 20 million over the course of those two years. Granted it didn’t happen overnight, and there were some challenges along the way.
“It’s always been a challenge of value stepping into a relatively unknown market,” says Lozano. “But we iterate quickly, launch stuff, measure it, dump it if it doesn’t work it, and do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.”
Regardless, Lozano stuck with LockerDome through thick and thin, successfully pivoted, re-launched the site, and showed his true entrepreneurial colors to the world. And to his mind, Lozano did two simple things that all other entrepreneurs should work toward when starting their own company.
“Number one, build something. Most people spend too much time talking about what they’re going to build before they actually put a product in front of the customer,” says Lozano. “Second, simply don’t die. If you build something and don’t die, you have a shot at building a real company.”