MyYearbook.com: By Teens, For Teens
At 18, this entrepreneur has already been running her Web site for four years.
Now, it's the fastest-growing social networking site on the Web -- and she's making some big bucks.
Catherine Cook, president and co-founder of myYearbook.com lets us in on her secrets.
What is myYearbook.com?
It's a teen social networking site that me and my brother Dave created in high school. We got the idea to put a normal high school yearbook onto the Internet, as a a better way of actually making friends.
So we thought: what's a yearbook have? It needed superlatives. Every user needed their own space. Now we have all sorts of games and things.
How did you get started?
We told our older brother Geoff about it and he loved it so much he wrote a check at the dinner table for $250,000.
We launched in April 2005. We marketed through t-shirts in school. We wore them every day for weeks. Hundreds of people signed up and all of a sudden people came up and suggested ideas to make it better.
What's your newest feature, "Owned"?
Owned is a user idea. People buy and sell their friends to earn lunch money. Lunch money allows you to buy and sell things on the site. You buy and sell your friends' pictures, so you can "own" the pictures, or so you can you make a profit on the resale.
You own and increase your worth, or use them as collectibles. Some people have millions of dollars to spend on the site.
What's the site like now? Where are your users and how many do you have?
We can be anywhere in the world, but right now we are 92 percent U.S. We have 10 million users, including 6 million unique users per month.
Are you making money, and how?
We make low eight figures in sales. We have ads on the site, which we started in July 2007.
One of the things we do is we sometimes have a featured gift -- like a watch or a necklace or an item tied to a movie. The users buy and sell the picture of the gift, or the trailer or the video from a movie. And the film company advertises on our site.
While you're doing this, you're also a student?
Yes, at Georgetown. I'm a sophomore. I have a major in marketing and a minor in psychology.
How do you handle all that?
Last semester I missed one of my midterms because of a speaking engagement in Korea. But i got an extension because it was an international marketing class, and my professor liked that I went to Korea for the speaking engagement.
We grew 384% this year in market share. We are currently the third largest, but the first [fastest] growing social network site in the U.S.
We just raised $13 million in our second round of funding. Other social networks that are similar in size to myYearbook are already on their Series F raise and still are not profitable.
We are always creating new features. We're working on four right now. We're working on Causes, which will be about charities, and Games.
I see it becoming the largest teen media space on the Web. ___________________________