Josh Spector from Comedy.com – Intro to Online Communities

Josh Spector is Senior VP of Content and Marketing for Comedy.com. His start-up, whipitoutcomedy.com, was getting so much action that development executives began using his blog as a talent search site. Eventually Comedy.com bought the site and took Josh with it.

I asked how a start-up could afford such a premium one-word domain name, and I was surprised to hear that it may be more of a detriment to the site than a boon. Josh informed us that domain names should include the terms your target audience are searching for. “Funny videos” is searched for 75 times more than “comedy” so Josh’s advice about domain names is to think about the way people say things, be specific and niche, and don’t count on domains to save your site.

Curtis Jewell is President & CEO for MyCypher Inc. He just graduated from APOC in 2008 and created a global social media site dedicated to the Hip Hop community. The website is very clean and well set up, and I love the promo video on the front page. Curtis’s tip for start-ups is to stay niche (also Karen’s mantra) but think big, and to follow your passion and nurture the passion in others.

Ben Gigli is an APOC ’07 grad. He gets 300-500k viewers a month on his start-up 5secondfilms.com. His advice for start-ups is to go where the community already exists and figure out what they’re going to like. Connect with people where the dialogue already exists, and engage bloggers and social networks while abiding by their unspoken community rules. You can tap into games the natural community likes to play so they’ll start playing with you when you inspire them. According to Karen Ben is a genius with side projects and his web stats and advice certainly back up her claim.

Sean Stevens graduated with Ben in ’07. He’s a pro web developer and has created multiple niche websites, including wheresmytaco.com, hotgirlsandexplosions.com, and a local music website in North Carolina. He argues that it’s better to have a smaller community site than a giant site. His main position right now is with JDate, though I’m not fully clear on his role at that site.

Other notes I found interesting this class included: Don’t build your business on a platform you can’t ultimately control. Use simple customizable message board software. Karen thinks building a site just to flip it is a bad idea that’s probably going to fail, and the best way to get bought out is to build something that doesn’t need to get sold. Take advantage of an opportunity in which big companies are wasting money. We also briefly discussed namechk.com and getsatisfaction.com.