Advice Hot or Not Entrepreneurs on Creating a $20 Million Dollar Site

Advice from James Hong on starting a $20 million dollar social website from his living room. He founded which lets users upload photos and rate other people’s photos. The killer paid feature of this social service is the ability to “meet” or connect with other users that you wish to connect with.

As soon as they launched, there were 100 competitors. The challenge was to increase PR to show they were the leaders in the photo ranking space.

Save information for major publications, they love to break stories. They let the New York Times announce the founders names, and they distributed the press release and gave them huge exposure.

The key lesson is to get other people to tell your story. You can do this by being super interesting, having a great product and being accessible.

Rackspace gave free hosting in exchange for writing articles to let them scale. Rackspace got lots of free advertising, even 9 years later.

Bandwidth was $1000/mps extremely expensive. Now anyone can create a competitor.

Ended up converting 18% of users from free to paid accounts.

Most Important Features

  • website speed
  • removing extra unnecssary steps to view people
  • always see “click here to meet me” button
  • add step: premade message then they can use to communicate easier.
  • Removes mental block of talking to a stranger.

Andrew Warner gives a lively and engenertic interview with this young entrepreneur that will help inspire struggling businesses. Listen to this while you work and get ideas that will help you out maneuver your competitors.


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5 Responses

  1. I just think the hot or not founders should have done something with more social value than a superficial image rating site.

  2. I recommend everyone read the Hot or Not posts, these young entrepreneurs made a killing selling their website.

  3. It’s good to find such topical stuff on the Internet as I have been able to discover here and I love the founders of . I agree with most of what they have created and I’ll be using my full efforts to try to recreate their success in the online dating game. The way they were able to dominate the search engines for photo ratings was unprecedented.

  4. I liked the site when it first came out, but quickly tired of it after other social sites like myspace were created. I would have started my own 20MM site if I had my own development team!

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