TheCom.it: A Startup for Startups

September 13, 2011

2:30 pm

The startup life can be an uncertain one. You have an idea for a product or service that you love. Your inner network loves it, too, but how can you be sure it has mass appeal? What if you pour your time, money and talent into something, only to find out no one really wants it?

Two Cornell University MBA students understand this challenge well. Arthur Soroken and Gen Furukawa learned a hard, yet valuable lesson when their first web startup flopped quickly. Without customer feedback and an engaged user base at the crucial early stages, their startup was practically destined to fail. From this experience, a new idea for their next company was born.

Soroken and Furukawa took their entrepreneurial experience and growing business knowledge and founded TheCom.it (pronounced “the comet”) to provide startups with a community of users who love to give feedback. No more guessing which features your potential customers will love or hate; now you can ask them.

Setting out to deliver the missing links to early stage startup success, the founders developed a prototype in only 1 week in early July. With momentum and passion on their side, they hosted TheCom.it’s first company for feedback, sneaker startup Bucketfeet. Honest and insightful feedback began pouring in immediately, and Soroken and Furukawa knew they were onto something big.

Three weeks later, TheCom.it hosted their second company, t-shirt startup Sleevecandy. The feedback poured in yet again, and this time with increased quality and insightfulness; the community was starting to get the hang of it! Even Techstars founder Brad Feld got in on the action and provided TheCom.it’s companies with valuable feedback.

Since the beginning, the founders’ vision has always been to help entrepreneurs develop their products with direct input from their users, rather than having to develop their products based on assumptions and hypotheses. The community also provides value to early adopters, as they crave access to the earliest technology and influence over the direction new companies pursue; TheCom.it is the first website to give users a voice on the Internet in that capacity.

The team is working hard to become a hub where innovators and early adopters gather to share their thoughts and ultimately build better products. You can join this entrepreneurial community by visiting their site.

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Meg Rayford is a communications consultant based in Northern Virginia. She previously spent two years as the Director of Public Relations for a nonprofit startup, where she learned a lot about providing clean water for impoverished countries, even within the confines of a bootstrapped startup.

She is the editor of Tech Cocktail, and she develops media strategies for companies in Washington, DC and Virginia. You can read her most recent work in the marketing chapter of the upcoming book, “Social Innovation and Impact in Nonprofit Leadership,” which will be published in Spring 2014 by Springer Publishing. Follow her @megkrayford.

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